October is hurrying onward: time to break out the scarves, decorative gourds, and pumpkin spice. It also means we’re only weeks away from that most beloved of American autumn traditions – no, not Thanksgiving: trick or treating! When costumed children run shrieking through the streets, fueled by the candy they’ve collected from neighbors. And as the saying goes, it’s often more fun to give than to receive, so now that you’re too old to go door-to-door in a superhero costume, why not be the one giving out the candy?
Every year it seems like people on the news and social media are mourning the death of trick or treating. While there has been precious little in the way of actual research into this phenomenon, it seems more likely that parents are opting to bring their kids to alternative trick or treating events such as at malls, churches, and community centers. This article in the Atlantic takes a broad view of recent changes in trick or treating, and is definitely worth a read.
One of the central points the article makes, though, is that trick or treating neighborhoods have a pronounced snowball effect: once a neighborhood has a reputation as being a good spot – for being perceived as safe, for having lots of participating houses, etc. – it gains more and more momentum every year. Making your neighborhood a trick or treating destination, then, is a community effort: making sure everyone (or nearly everyone) is on board is the first step.
Once you and the neighbors are all committed to being The Neighborhood for trick or treating this year, it’s time to prepare. Apartment Therapy has some good tips for being the best trick or treating house, but here are the most important ones:
Number one is all about appearances: all the houses giving out candy should be lit up and (if possible) festively decorated, so trick or treaters and their chaperones know they can approach and expect a handout. Being able to see visitors approaching the front door from wherever you’re hanging out inside is also a good idea; even better is to station yourself out front. Which leads us to the next point:
Get dressed up! If you really get in the spirit, everyone has more fun. Maybe you yourself could be a ghoulish set-piece among the Halloween decorations on the front porch, or make a grand entrance when kids knock on your door. Put those high school theater skills to use! Might we suggest some supernaturally springy Z-CoiLs to keep you on your feet through the witching hour?
Tip #3 is to give up the goods: try to have some good, name-brand candy that you’d want to eat yourself. Store-bought, individually-wrapped snacks are the way to go for convenience and avoiding mishaps. If some houses are unable or unwilling to be physically present and attending to trick or treaters, setting out a bowl of candy is a viable way of ensuring neighborhood solidarity.
If you can get your whole neighborhood to follow through on these three rules, you’ll be the trick or treating talk of the town all year. Do your part to keep a fun family tradition alive, and get to know your neighbors better in the process!