The 10 Etiquette Commandments of Halloween

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Halloween is fun, so we’re not going to muddy it up with a whole bunch of rules. But here are a few suggestions for ways to stay sane, look like a good neighbor, and enjoy your night — especially for you newbies who are passing out candy for the first time.

1. DO spring for the good candy.

No one wants raisins or stale Tootsie rolls. Ditto on the black licorice. I’m not saying you have to shell out for the king-size candy bars (it doesn’t even have to be brand name stuff!), but get a mixed bag that includes things you’d actually want as a treat. Bonus: You can steal a piece or two for yourself.

2. DO leave your light off if you forgot to buy candy or aren’t home.

So apparently not everyone abides by these rules? But leaving your lights off is generally a sign for I have no candy, I’m busy, or I’m out. With any luck, people will respect that.

3. DON’T leave candy outside unsupervised.

Sure, I know it’s a gesture of goodwill towards the neighborhood kids if you’re not home, but there will most likely be one little jerk who will dump the entire bucket into their treat bag. It’s practically scientifically proven and it’s a waste of money.

4. DON’T ask kids what they are.

Go with “Tell me about your costumes!” instead. Or just be complimentary. Asking who they are makes it seem like it’s not obvious, and a 5-year-old is convinced their costume in the most obvious thing in the world — even when it isn’t.

5. DO wear a costume.

If you’re going to a Halloween party or trick-or-treating, the expectation is that you will be wearing a costume. Make the effort! It could be fun too. It allows you a chance to get creative. Plus, there is nothing more confusing than showing up at someone’s house asking for candy when you’re not in a costume.

6. DO be original with costumes.

Sexy mouse. Sexy cat. Sexy anything? You’re totally smarter than that. We all had our years of sexy costumes, and that was back in college when Halloween was a weeklong holiday. I’m not knocking sexy costumes, but there’s nothing better than a clever, I-went-all-out costume. Plus, chances are there will be more to the costume so you can stay warm. What can I say? I’ve gotten practical in my old age.

7. DON’T forget to say please and thank you.

Good manners will take you far. So if you’re trick-or-treating, at a party, or if your kids are out, encourage polite behavior. It makes it so much more pleasant for the people passing out candy or the people throwing the party.

8. DO be extra cautious.

It’s dark. There are kids everywhere, so if you’re driving pay extra close attention to the road. And if you’re out at a party or walking around, make sure you’re paying attention. You want to see and be seen. Extra awareness never hurts!

9. DON’T hand out homemade treats.

Unless you’re having your own party! One of the number-one rules of trick-or-treating is that you’re not supposed to eat anything that is unwrapped. So you’ll be wasting your time and perfectly delicious baked goods because they’ll go right in the trash.

10. DO clear a path so your walkway is easy to navigate.

It saves your plants from getting trampled and makes it safer for little kids that are headed up your stairs or walkway. Lights don’t hurt either. Parents will appreciate it and so will you at some later point.

Any more Halloween etiquette points to add?