It’s supposed to be one of those annual events which is a bit of fun for kids and parents alike, but Halloween and trick or treating divides people into the love it or loathe it brigade. The tradition came across the Atlantic from the States but has rapidly caught on here too. If you’re planning on taking your kids out this year, or allowing them to go in a group with friends, there are a few rules they should be aware of.
At any other time of year we would actively discourage our children from knocking on doors and asking for sweets, but safety should still be the prime consideration at Halloween. Make it clear to your children that they should only knock on the doors of people they know, or people who their friends know. They should also be told that they go no further than the doorstep, and if an adult tries to encourage them into the house, to let you know right away.
Look for the Pumpkin
Not everyone is a fan of Halloween and for elderly people it can be quite intimidating having groups of children hammering on their doors. It is a generally accepted rule that if the homeowners have a pumpkin lantern in the window, or have decorated their home with Halloween items, they are happy to welcome trick or treaters. Tell your children not to bother people who have not lit their lantern, and teach them to respect others and their wishes.
Have a Talent Prepared
Given that trick or treating is a relatively new phenomenon, it has replaced several other traditions in certain areas of the country. In Scotland and other areas children are expected to sing a song, recite a poem or tell a joke in return for some sweeties, and older people in particular are more likely to stick to the old ways. Prepare your children with some songs, appropriate jokes or something else they can do if asked.
Everyone has had the experience of opening the door on Halloween and finding a group of teenagers with one cheap mask between them demanding money or food. You don’t have to go to enormous expense to create an outfit for your child, but their haul of sweeties will be greater if they look as if they have made some effort. Most supermarkets stock face paints for Halloween, and with some quick research you can find ideas for transforming your child into a witch, zombie or something equally scary. Be organized though, shops rapidly sell out of face paints for Halloween, witches hats and skeleton costumes, so buy things as soon as you see them go on sale.
Keep it Early
It gets dark early at the end of October, so there is no need to wait until very late to take your children out trick or treating. Neighbors may not take kindly to being bothered very late at night, so aim to be finished be around 8pm, tuck your children up in bed and take the opportunity to raid their sweets.
Morag Peers is a keen writer and busy mother of three who lives in Scotland