I am a big fan of Halloween. In fact, it is my favorite holiday. Why my favorite, you ask? Because it’s all about playing dress up and eating candy, and you don’t have to go to church/synagogue/etc., and there are no family obligations. (No offense, family.) And its accent color is purple, which coincidentally is my accent color as well. I decorate my house with sparkly-creepy things. I have a costume closet. Some years I throw parties. I am completely envious of my friends with Halloween birthdays – I would rock that shit. And I am always home for trick-or-treaters.
As part of the trick-or-treating social contract let me assure you that I more than hold up my end of the deal. I dress up. Some years it’s just my glow-in-the-dark “COSTUME” t-shirt and my sparkly horns, but that totally counts. My porch light is always on. I never run out of treats. I never give out shitty candy. (True, I don’t always give out candy, but when I do it’s the good stuff. Fun size, but brand-name. None of those foul orange & black wrapped peanut butter things in Wonkaland!) Some years (like this one) I do give out pencils instead of candy, but that is not lame. They are FUN pencils, and as we will discuss later, they are legit treats.
In exchange I have a few rules that I propose we implement. I think most people are abiding by these already, but every year there are some blatant offenders, so clearly we need to spell things out. I do give treats to everyone, even the lame-os, but I would like to have the option to banish someone from my porch, treatless, for not living up to the agreed upon expectations.
Let’s start with a fundamental reminder: I do not owe you anything. I choose to participate, but this should be fun for both of us. If you abuse the situation too much, it might take the fun out of it for me. I noticed there weren’t very many porch lights on along my street; maybe too many people have lost the fun already. Here’s your chance to save Halloween!
Rule one: You. Must. Say “trick-or-treat”. You may not just stand there and stare at me until I put treats in your bag. It’s ok if someone needs to prompt you, or if your big brother says it for the both of you. If you do not, I will stand there and stare back at you.
Rule two: Say thank you. Tons and tons and tons of kids do, which is awesome. Even if you think my pencils are stupid (which they are not), say thank you. It could be worse, I could be giving out those little two-packs of Sweetarts. Also, chaperoning parents, I think it’s awesome when you say thanks too. It’s not mandatory, but it’s a lovely touch to acknowledge that we’ve shelled out some bucks and set aside some time to do something nice for your kid.
Rule three: You have to wear something that could be considered a costume. Or even just elements of a costume. Put on a funny hat and a weird jacket – I don’t have to be able to identify what you’re dressed up as, just that you tried. Hint: I’ll probably give you extra treats if you have an awesome costume. If your costume is covered up with a coat and other weather-appropriate garb, I am totally understanding of that – no worries. But if you have made zero effort and you’re just wearing a hoodie and jeans, you aren’t trick-or-treating, you’re going door to door begging. If you can’t be bothered to put on SOMETHING resembling a costume, you shouldn’t be out there. Have some pride, some creativity, don’t be lame. I don’t care if teenagers who are kind of too old to trick-or-treat come around as long as they put in good faith effort. Also, side note, because this rule really is for the older kids, make eye contact. I don’t care if you’re an awkward teen. Look me in the eye when you say thank you. It won’t kill you, I promise!
Rule four: Parents, we are moving on to you now. This is something I’ve noticed more and more of the last few years, and it bothers me more than anything else in this list. Quit taking your baby trick-or-treating. I’m not a parent, but I’m guessing that if the kid can’t walk and the kid can’t talk, the kid shouldn’t be eating candy either. You’re not fooling anyone, you’re using your baby to get free candy for yourself. I’m sure you’re excited for Baby’s First Halloween. Go ahead, buy an overpriced costume. Take a billion pictures. Go “trick-or-treating” at the grandparents’ houses. Get some candy to have at home. But don’t drag your baby all over the neighborhood under the guise that this experience is somehow for her.
Rule five: Don’t carry a bag for a baby in a stroller (see rule four), or the sick kid at home, or anyone not present. Trick-or-treating is definitely a “you must be present to win” situation. Being sick on Halloween is the worst. Parents should definitely do something to make up for it. But that’s your job, not mine. Share the candy collected. Buy candy. But the second bag smacks of fake.
Rule six: And parents, you again. Don’t carry your own bag. I give you props for being honest about your intentions, and if someone offers you something, awesome, take it. But trick-or-treating alongside your kids? Seriously?
Geez…reviewing this, it kind of seems like parents are the ones fucking it up the most, doesn’t it? The kids actually do pretty awesome for the most part. Don’t freak out and get all defensive now, I’m not talking about all parents.
The pencil treats were actually a pretty good gauge of who should and shouldn’t be trick-or-treating. The really little kids totally didn’t get it, and mostly seemed to be eyeballing me to see where the actual candy was. The big kids gave mumbled thank yous. But the kids in the middle, six to twelvish, were full of “cool, pencils!” True story. Glad they liked them, too, because I have enough for probably three more Halloweens. 😀
So what do you think about the rules? Can we all get on board with this? Did I miss anything? I’m happy to add to the list before the implementation phase.
And because it IS my favorite holiday and I don’t want to sound like a big grump, let’s end on a high note, with one of my Halloween traditions: the sharing of the Muppets!
Comments on: "Wonka’s Rules for Trick-or-Treating" (3)
Photo of said pencils, please! And i totally agree with all of the above, and am thankful for people like you who don’t have a problem with teenaged T-or-Ters. Two of mine went all through high school in full regalia and total earnestness.
As a parent – If I traipse around after my children on a freezing night, and I don’t ask for candy, but I’m in costume and my husband is at home handing out all of our candy, it’s OK for you to give me a treat. I do say “thank you.”