Happy Halloween

by Cindy Post Senning on October 25, 2011

This post originally appeared at my parenting blog The Gift of Good Manners. I will be cross posting some of my favorite content from that blog here at the Etiquette Daily periodically. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.

October 31 is coming along in no time! I always felt so challenged by this holiday. I am not especially creative or handy with a

needle and thread so I worried about coming up with clever and fun costumes. Between store bought and ghosts (a sheet with two eye holes drape

d over a head) I managed to get my boys through many costume parties,

Grange events, and trick or treating. Now that they are adults I am freed from that parental duty – and I don’t really regret it. Although I do know that

for some, Halloween is anticipated with eagerness!

I am often asked about manners for this unique holiday. Last year we posted Halloween Manners on the Emily Post Website. Here they are:

1. Remind your little goblin not to be greedy; one piece of candy from each house is the general rule. And saying thank you is a must.
2. In terms of costumes, ghoulish makeup and army fatigues are acceptable. Guns and bustiers are better left at home.
3. If you don’t like Halloween, you don’t have to participate. Either go out for the night (and suffer the TP consequences) or turn off your front lights. Parents will get the message-but some older kids might, too, so be prepared for possible “tricks.”
4. If your area isn’t kid-friendly, it’s fine to pack up your brood and head to Grandma’s neighborhood or to your best friend’s block.
5. Dumping off a carload of kids in an area where you don’t know anyone or haven’t been invited is definitely impolite-and possibly dangerous.

Keep these 5 Halloween manners in mind this coming Sunday. Enjoy the parties and the trick or treating. Take pictures of your kids in their costumes. Have a great Halloween!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Maggie October 25, 2011 at 4:06 am

Number 5 is strange. I agree that it’s *potentially* dangerous to drop children off unsupervised and far from home. But if the area is safe and your children are not too young, then it is not impolite to trick-or-treat in other neighborhoods. Parents sometimes take their children to safer areas, to neighborhoods with houses rather than apartments, or to see streets that put up fun decorations. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that. On Halloween, a lit porch light is traditionally an invitation to all trick-or-treaters. I see no problem with dropping off well-behaved children in a neighborhood where they can join the fun.


Country Girl October 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm

While I understand the appeal of trick-or-treating in a neighborhood outside your own, I have first hand seen how taxing it is on the houses in nice/friendly/safe neighborhoods. My parents live in a town of 2000 people. Each year on Halloween they have on average 500-700 trick-or-treaters coming to their door. Families from as far as different towns come to this neighborhood, after trick-or-treating their own neighborhoods. Buying candy for such an absurd number of children (many whose parents simply drop them off to run the streets rampent) is very taxing on my parents and their small budget. If/when the candy runs out and they must turn out the porch lights, their house has been TPed/egged/pumpkin smashed/you name it.

A big thing that just gets me every year is also the number of older kids trick or treating. I always cringe when I see a high school aged kid with a giant pillow case running from house to house with the intention of stocking up on free candy, and even repeat trick or treating homes. I want to find their parents and give them a good shaking. Please have a blast trick or treating with your young children, but within reason. Teach them the traditions and customs behind the fun and make as well as how to be grateful and thankful for the candy they receive. Please don’t encourage or allow them to take advantage of their neighbors or anyone else.


Maggie October 25, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I agree that it is rude to drop off children in other neighborhoods if haven’t been taught to not disturb (or TP or egg) houses that have turned their lights off. But I would say that it is rude to let those children go trick-or-treating without supervision even on their own street.


Alicia October 26, 2011 at 7:43 am

The other thing is that when all the kids go to the big candy neighborhoods what happens is those of us who live is safe but not a lot of kid neighborhoods miss out on getting to see all the costumes. I wish all the kids in my neighborhood would tricker treat our neighborhood but instead they go a mile or so away to the townhouse community where you do not have to walk between lots. Thus I end up with less then a dozen kids and eating all the leftover reese cups every year.


Just Laura October 26, 2011 at 9:14 am

“…and eating all the leftover reese cups every year.”

How horrible for you. ;)


Mexica October 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm

What to do about the adults in costume (sometimes) who hold out goody bags and expect treats along with their children?


Alicia October 25, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Give them a resee cup. Anyone in costume can get candy at my house on Halloween.


Country Girl October 25, 2011 at 7:58 pm

At my house they would get an inquizative and disapproving glare to go with their reese’s cup.


ben October 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I have recently started a lunch club between my coworkers and myself in which they suggest a dish and pay for the groceries and I prepare the dish. My boss has noticed the food that I am bringing in and has mentioned it a couple times, even joining us after we finished eating during the last lunch (my boss doesn’t usually join us for lunch). How do I handle this situation? She doesn’t know the arrangement between my co-workers and I, so it looks like I am personally excluding her. My co-workers and I would like to eat lunch together without my boss; but I don’t want my boss to feel excluded.


Jerry October 25, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Tell your boss about the arrangement. Or have someone else in the group tell the boss if you don’t feel comfortable telling her directly. But something tells me (particularly if she is any good) that she’s probably not interested in joining you.


Just Laura October 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm

I’m having a Halloween party this Saturday. Due to the informal nature of the gathering, I created a Facebook invite. Many people have RSVP’d yes, many with “maybe” (which is fine with me for the purposes of FB), and several with “no.”
I just learned that some of the “no” people are actually coming! No, they didn’t let me know, and they haven’t changed their RSVP status. I discovered this from chance conversation with mutual friends. Has anyone else dealt with this? I’ve heard of ignoring an RSVP, particularly an internet one, but to say “no” yet plan to attend?

I’m a little irritated, but maybe I’m just behind the times, and “no” is the new “yes.”


Jerry October 25, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Laura: I wish I knew what to tell you. I’m still hung up on the “Maybe” feature on the electronic invite.


Alicia October 26, 2011 at 7:40 am

Well you actually do not know for sure they are coming or not. Maybe whomever told you was wrong and maybe they will change their status later. E-invites are very lax and people are awful about even formal invites. Relax consider them in teh maybe catagory and you will be fine.
I hope you have a frightfully good party.


Just Laura October 26, 2011 at 9:13 am

Thanks, as always, Alicia. The reason I figured out they were coming is because the people with whom I spoke told me they were all doing “couples costumes” (Thing 1 and Thing 2 for one group). I said, “How can you have a Thing 2 when she said she wasn’t coming?”
The response: “Oh, she always responds ‘no’ to invitations, then comes anyway.”

Oh my.


Kawika November 2, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Kids or should I say, young adults today, just come right up to you, saying nothing, holding their hands out for you to give them candy. After getting what they want, they leave with no “Thank you” or anything. This is what we are looking forward to, as our next generation. Basic parenting (training) has been forgotten about. I’m really scared and sad to see what will become of these people when they become adults. I think that we’ll be faced with overloaded jails and increased crime.


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