14 Tips for a Fun, Safe and Courteous Halloween

Halloween is a holiday that most kids enjoy and look forward to. Before you head out for trick or treating this year, how can you ensure a good time for all while keeping safety and common courtesy top of mind?

Select Appropriate Costumes: Costumes that represent a culture, race, ethnic or religious group or someone with a serious illness, poverty or other hardship, are inappropriate. Sexually explicit costumes and those mocking LGBT or gender identity encourage negativity. During this heated political time, our public political figures are certainly on the table; so expect to see people dressed as them.

Age Appropriateness: While many adults enjoy Halloween dress up, remember this is mostly a children’s holiday. What your teenager might wear, is not a good fit for a first grade Halloween party. Gage the costume based on your child’s age, and the age of his or her peers. Even if you think your young child might be able to handle dressing up as Freddy Krueger, it might be too much for his or her friends.

Candy Alternatives: Traditional chocolate or sugar-laced candy are always a hit. With more health-conscious parents, consider sealed mini bottled water, pre-packaged popcorn, coloring books, pre-packaged healthy snacks, small inexpensive toys, or pens/pencils.

When Not to Ring The Doorbell or Knock: By simply turning off the outside lights, you will alert trick or treaters to skip your house and go on to the next. As an option, consider leaving a bowl of candy by the front door. Putting the car in the garage may also remove the question of whether someone is home.

Knock One Time and One Time Only: If no one answers, move on to the next house. There’s no need to be excessive and knock 10 times. The homeowner might be on an important call or trying to help a baby to sleep. On a related note: know when it’s appropriate to knock. Trick or treating generally starts just before sunset and ends by 9pm.

No Homemade Treats: While it’s a nice thought to want to bake homemade Halloween treats, don’t do it. Parents have heightened safety concerns for good reason, and will discard these items. Buy pre-packaged nut-free candy from trusted brands like Hershey, M&M, Skittles, and Dove.

Teach Your Kids Manners: Halloween is a great opportunity to teach your kids manners, such as greeting and thanking each homeowner who gives them candy. Explain to older kids and teenagers that bullying and pushing smaller kids out of the way won’t be tolerated. When they encounter a bowl of candy at the door, make sure they are considerate and only take one or two pieces. Be sure they respect private property, including homeowner decorations, and don’t leave unwanted candy or wrappers in lawns.

Never Arrive Empty Handed: Anyone invited to a Halloween party does not arrive empty handed. Bring a small hostess gift such as tea towels, diffuser, candle, coasters, fresh fruit, wine, packaged sweets, or children’s game.

School Policies: Education policies vary, so don’t assume children may wear their costumes to school. In many school districts across the nation, costumes are prohibited for safety reasons. Double check and don’t assume.

Stay Safe: Younger children should always be accompanied by parents or a designated chaperone. Older children and teens should trick or treat as part of a group. Never enter someone’s home you don’t know, no matter how nice they seem. Carry a flashlight and mobile phone. Follow your intuition and if you have a bad feeling about something, avoid it.

Buy & Give Allergy-Free Snacks: Unfortunately, some people are uninformed, or worse, don’t believe in food allergies. In addition, with the hustle and bustle of life, many people fail to plan for food allergies. It is polite to plan in advance, buy and give allergy-free snacks does more than protect the trick-or-treaters. It also demonstrates a valuable lesson for future generations, and increases awareness. In this day and age, with the media and PSA’s about not only nut, but also other allergies, we must continue to educate and encourage awareness of food allergies.

Decorate with Teal-Pumpkins & Inspire Others: Decorate with Teal Pumpkins. The Teal Pumpkin Project started as a local awareness activity and launched as a national campaign in 2014. Teal Pumpkin Project’s messages of awareness, inclusion and community. This program encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters through the season. Participants are encouraged to :
Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters.
Place a teal pumpkin – the color of food allergy awareness –in front of their home to indicate non-food treats are available.

Offer Creative Alternatives: Ask your children for ideas and be creative based on your locale and local customs. In Texas or Florida, for example, it can be extremely warm on Halloween, so we give cold mini-water bottles to everyone who comes down our cove. This is well received by the kiddos and parents truly look forward to this safe, sealed refreshment.

Emergency Preparedness: As someone who carried an EpiPen, I strongly encourage all parents with children who suffer from allergies to have 2 EpiPens at all times.

By Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette and modern manners expert, and founder of Access to Culture.