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The Horror of Trick-or-Treat


Halloween 2008 will be an entirely new experience for me in my new home. Oh, not because of the tales of haunting -that wouldn't bother me any worse on October 31st than any other day. I'm talking about the custom of trick-or-treat. See, at my old address, no one EVER came to the door for candy, unless they were friends who drove in to show us their child's costume. The houses are too far apart and there's no sidewalk. Sure, we'd buy candy just in case, but always ended up eating it. One time, the dog ate an entire bag of individually-wrapped Snickers bars, wrappers and all! But that's about the extent of the Halloween fun in my old neighborhood.

My new neighborhood is an entirely different story.

The reasons I chose to move to this part of town are the reasons Halloween will be a nightmare. It's an old neighborhood with friendly residents. The terrain is flat, the houses are just close together enough for comfort, and plenty of kids live here. We see more pedestrian traffic than vehicle traffic. All in all, it's a perfect place to trick-or-treat ...if you are a trick-or-treater!

The past few years, my kids have traveled to a different part of town, another area just like this, to beg candy on Halloween. This year I'm on the receiving end of that kind of invasion. People from all over town and out in the county bring their kids here for trick-or-treat. My neighbor across the street warned me about it. She said she went through 80 bags of candy last year! 80 bags? She didn't say what size bag, but a typical bag of trick-or-treat candy goes for about $5. Surely she didn't spend $400 on candy! Maybe she did. Oh-oh, I ain't doing that. What if you run out of candy? She told me you have no choice then but to turn off your lights and lock your door.

KimsYard.pngMy neighbor goes all out for Halloween. The witch at the beginning of this post is hers, too. Homemade. You should see the whole yard together, but my camera doesn't do panoramas.

I found out about this "turn off the lights" business after I put up 15 strings of lights on the porch. Trick-or-treat is limited to 6-8PM here. Daylight Savings Time is still in effect until Sunday. We will run out of candy before the sun goes down, so I may not even turn the lights on at all Friday night. Bummer.

The original idea of trick-or-treat is that if you don't have a treat for these little beggars, they play a trick on you. Um, I wonder if that custom still stands. I heard that the streets are completely filled with people here on Halloween, so there's not much chance for mischief from the little kids. I've also heard there are bigger kids who go door to door with pillowcases trying to stock up enough candy to last through Christmas.


According to this guy, a pillowcase will hold almost 48 pounds of candy. With that kind of haul, you'd have to have a wagon ready to get it from door to door. He also has tips for finding the best neighborhood for trick-or-treat.

You're likely to have the best luck trick-or-treating in a low traffic residential neighborhood where most homes are occupied by families, as opposed to a more cosmopolitan neighborhood where homes may be occupied by childless couples or groups of college students. As most kids instinctively know, the best hunting grounds are traditional middle-class, middle-American suburbs.

The amount of square mileage you'd have to cover also would be determined in part by the density of housing. This can vary greatly in residential areas, depending on how large the houses are, how large the lots are, and how the streets are laid out. Typically, older suburbs closer to city centers have gridlike streets and denser housing, while the loops and cul de sacs of newer housing developments lend themselves to lower density.

Yeah, they're all coming right to where I live. Wish me luck. I only have five big bags of candy, and a few popcorn balls. When we run out, I have a few boxes of raisins and applesauce that ought to scare the kids away. There are plenty of ways to give away candy: generously, stingily, or not at all. I can see myself going through all these giveaway strategies before the night is over. But I'm not the only one with this problem.

Ah, yes! I can go for a subsidy from Hershey or Mars. Or even the company that make those awful Nerds. Sawed-off extortionists coming in from foreign neighborhoods don't need anything better. Wish me luck.

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Can't help you much with this year, but if you want to guarantee that the kids won't return next year, give out those little bibles. Do you remember those ? We never went back to the houses that gave those...major kiss of death!

said CindylovesScara on October 30, 2008 1:33 PM.

So...which code will the trick-or-treaters tag your house with on Halloween?


said Don't Swayze Bro on October 30, 2008 2:12 PM.

Ha! I believe we will begin as "Stingy portions" and end up as "Out of candy, now giving sauce packets from Taco Bell"!

Don't get me wrong, I love trick-or-treat, but everything has a limit. I will take pictures.

said Miss Cellania on October 30, 2008 4:23 PM.

Miss C---maybe she meant the little "put the candy in treat bags" bags? My parents used to live in a bus 'em in from all over the county for Halloween neighborhood (more minivans than a statewide soccer tournament), and the woman above is right--Fridays are the worst night of the week.

Good candy, but one or two pieces only. Then lights out when you run out...if you give too much or the really good stuff you get the ones who double back for more.

The good news is that if Kentucky is like NC, the traffic is cut in half on Sundays (some people don't believe in trick or treating on the Sabbath, so there's actually candy left over).

said sarcastic one on October 30, 2008 6:02 PM.

SO, when Halloween falls on Sunday here, trick-or-treat will be held on Saturday. That makes enough sense. But a few years back, Halloween fell on Wednesday and the local government decided to hold trick-or-treat on Thursday instead because all children should be in church Wednesday night! The next year it was on Thursday because it was October 31st, The next year, Halloween fell on Friday and they moved trick-or-treat to Thursday AGAIN because it would interfere with a local football game! I remember it well because my oldest kid missed ballet class for trick-or-treat three years in a row.

I haven't heard anything about a schedule change this year. The local high school is probably playing an away game.

said Miss Cellania on October 30, 2008 7:18 PM.

Nothing like my Yankee childhood where if Halloween was a Saturday we started as soon as cartoons were over and stayed out all day...

Wow...three Thursdays...that's just kooky....

said sarcastic one on October 30, 2008 8:13 PM.
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