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Parents Talk: Trick-or-Treating Etiquette

How old is too old for trick or treating? How late can you knock on a door? Patch and parents discuss the etiquette surrounding the holiday outing.

When I was an eager trick-or-treater, my Halloweens were like a ritual:

Grandpa Bob came over at 5 p.m.

We ate my mother's famous bake dish at 6 p.m.

And finally, once the last rays of sun were disappearing, we hit the streets.

In my opinion, we were gracious little monsters, smiling big as we said "Trick or Treat." Once our bounty was secured in our pillow cases, a heartfelt "Thank you" was said as well. We were careful not to trample fall plants or break lawn gnomes. Two door bell rings was the max before moving on to the next, and once 9 p.m. struck we were herded home, where we counted and traded our treasure. Once we hit high school, or treating days were over.

My mother was the reason we were so well behaved. We went out after dusk as to not disturb those families still eating dinner, the two-ring rule was to respect those who didn't participate in the holidays, ending the tradition at high school helped transform us into buding adults, and, well, thank yous were required for everything.

So what's your take on the trick-or-treating tradition? When do you start kids? When is it time to quit? What time of night should it all start? How many times can you knock before it's polite to move on to the next? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Mary Costello October 27, 2011 at 04:02 PM
And it begs the question... how old is too old to be trick-or-treating? My parents let us go until we were in 8th grade but not in high school. I wonder what others think?
Michael Rose October 27, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Personally, I went trick-or-treating until I was about 13 or 14. I was never really told by my parents that I had to stop—kids at school just kind of stopped going. The start of high school seems like a natural ending point.
Michael Hindin November 02, 2011 at 01:48 PM
I personally don't like Halloween trick or treating, but I do like to meet neighborhood kids so I compromise. Cities should set safe time guide lines from say 5:30 to 7:00 while it still light out. There is no need for parents to drag kids from neighborhood to neighborhood to pig out on candy. I also suggest that there be a sign indicating that trick or treating is welcome. People who are not interested should not be disturbed. It is not pleasant to have a door bell ringing if you are ill or not interested in participating. There could be a yearly contest in the newspapers or websites for pictures with jack o lanterns or other symbols with the words "trick or treaters welcome to be taped to front doors or windows. After about 6th grade kids should only go to friends houses.
Claire Killian November 02, 2011 at 03:30 PM
The rule of thumb in our family when trick or treating in our was: If the front light was on, and the pumpkins were still lit, then that was a house handing out candy. I would turn out the lights at 9pm. This year I I had a 45 trick or treaters between 6 and 830p.
Jesse Lykken November 01, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Start at dusk, end by nine. Don't care HOW old they are as long as they are in costume and are polite.

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