Halloween trick or treating etiquette – hints and tips to keep everyone safe and happy on October 31
With decorated houses, giant pumpkin patches and shops bursting with costumes galore it feels like Halloween gets bigger every year.
And come October 31, thousands of children across the county pile onto the streets for some trick or treating in their local neighbourhood.
But with busy streets, lit pumpkins and some after-dark wandering – it’s important to make sure everyone stays safe and happy throughout the evening.
So here are some tips on Halloween etiquette that you might want to apply:
1. Only knock at houses lit with pumpkins or decorations outside
Placing decorations outside your house - or a lit pumpkin in the front window - is generally a well-accepted signal that you’re welcoming trick or treaters.
Equally if you’re the one out and about with children steer them to only knock at homes that signify they too are getting into the spooky spirit and want to be involved.
If there’s an absence of decorations or all the front lights are off then these are homes that should be missed out on October 31.
2. Clear a path so your garden is easy to navigate
With most trick or treating taking place after dark, now that clocks have gone back, it is sensible to keep your front garden clear of anything that could trip children up, especially when they’re in costumes or masks.
Move that hosepipe, plant pot or garden ornament away from the main path to keep the risk of injuries to a minimum.
If you are welcoming trick or treaters it might also be helpful to switch on any outdoor lights you might have – especially if there’s steps leading to a porch or front door – just to make things as clear and easy as possible as youngsters are tearing about in the dark!
3. Be extra cautious when driving around
Come Tuesday evening it’ll be dark and there are likely to be many small children walking between hedge rows and houses.
If you've got to go out in the car, please be mindful of the extra people on the streets and keep your speeds low, particularly in residential areas.
Some children might not be wearing anything reflective to help motorists see them more easily and – in the excitement of Halloween - could forget to watch out for cars.
If your child is going out, give them a torch, some form of glow stick or something reflective on their clothing or costume to make them as visible as possible to motorists.
4. Don't hand out homemade treats
One of the top trick or treat rules is not to eat anything unwrapped.
Although homemade cakes or biscuits are probably much tastier than shop-bought sweets, they are likely to be discarded by parents as there's no way of knowing the ingredients or how they’ve been prepared. So on this occasion – it's best to buy in unless you’re hosting a party at home and know all your guests well.
5. Be wary of flammable costumes
Your child may have picked out the perfect costume to go out as their favourite superhero, spooky soul or TV star – but many dressing up outfits can be made of synthetic materials that risk being highly flammable.
To avoid any accidents, check the label before making your purchase so that you understand exactly what it is you’re buying and whether it is flame resistant. It is also advisable to perhaps cut away or trim any ripped, long or ragged pieces of material that could catch fire if they swept past a lit flame.
Try also to avoid using bin bags as part of costumes too as they're also flammable.
And for those intending to put their pumpkins outside – use flickering battery-powered tea lights instead of real candles which would give off the same atmospheric effect without putting anyone in danger.
6. Don't leave sweets outside unsupervised
If you live in an area popular with trick or treaters it might be tempting after a few knocks at the door to instead leave a bucket full of sweets outside for children to help themselves.
However while perhaps a more relaxing way to show your generous side to the neighbourhood – it has the potential to be taken over by one or two excited groups at the beginning of the night who may leave very little for anyone else apart from a possible mess.
So, to keep things fair and organised it is perhaps best to only give out treats and sweets to those who knock. And – if and when you run out – place a sign on your front door explaining when they're gone!