It’s been over half a decade since I’ve withdrawn from trick-or-treating, and retirement isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Despite having a paying job to afford my own candy whenever I want some, I desperately miss my former salary of one night a year filled with all the free candy I was willing to go door-to-door to get.

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 5.12.06 AMUnlike the 40-something mothers still shopping in the Pink section of Victoria’s Secret, I understand my time has passed, and I have to diplomatically pass the jack-o’-lantern torch onto the current generation of trick-or-treaters. In my years of beckoning homeowners to smell my feet and give me something good to eat, I’ve learned a lot, and it’s time to share that wisdom. I figure the Internet is the best platform, since every third grader seems to have an iPhone and a Facebook account these days.

1.)  Believe in the Pillowcase: Parents and children, do not be suckered by grocery stores trying to sell you those adorable plastic pumpkin buckets. They may be cute, but on Halloween night, you’ll quickly realize how flimsy the handles are after one block-ful of candy, and you’ll learn the hard way just how little candy they can actually hold. What you need is a sturdy, hideous pillowcase—pick the one lurking in the back of your linen closet that doesn’t match any of the bedding. In addition to providing optimal storage, once it’s filled with enough candy, it doubles as a weapon if those big kids (or me in a fit of jealousy) start giving you any trouble.

2.)  Wear a Coat: I know it might clash with your costume, but if you don’t carefully regulate your body temperature, you’ll get cold and want to go home sooner, which means you’re not maximizing your candy earning potential. There were several years I made this stubborn mistake. Don’t waste precious energy shivering when you could be getting to the house with the king-sized candy bars.

3.)  Candy Waits for No One: If you already grabbed your Twix bar, and one of your buddies is being indecisive when faced with the options of a Kit Kat or a Butterfinger, go to the house next door without him or her. Because everyone got all sensitive about children’s safety and late night knocks on the door, most neighborhoods have fixed time constraints for when you’re allowed to trick-or-treat. Simply stated, you don’t have time to linger on someone’s front porch for too long—you can make new friends in November.

4.)  Don’t Be Blinded by Philosophy: When you’re a kid, you still believe human beings are inherently good; this flawed philosophy only comes up on Halloween night when you’re faced with a house that isn’t decorated, has no lights on, and hasn’t done any landscaping since 2002. Because you’re pure of heart, you’ll unlatch gates, scale walls, wade through moats, and climb a Möbius staircase only to find out the inevitable: this house hates Halloween or its owners aren’t home. If the candy outlook isn’t promising, skip it.

Look how little candy that container's going to hold. Pity.
Look how little candy that container’s going to hold. Pity.

5.)  Say “Trick or treat!”: You kids these days have no respect for tradition. You show up at people’s front doors in your ratty hoodies and hold out your hands expecting to be given something for nothing. That’s not how this works, pal. In order to get the goods, you have to say, “Trick or treat!” with the same desperate enthusiasm as Oliver Twist whimpering, “Please sir, I want some more.” It’s humbling and pathetic, but it gets you that fun size Snickers. You have to decide how far you’re willing to go for free candy.

6.)  If You’re Not Present, No Candy for You: I don’t care what horrible accident your “brother” or “daughter” got into that they’re unable to go trick-or-treating—if they’re not there with you, you may not take an extra piece of candy to bring to them, because I don’t believe they exist. I know Lucy set a precedent in The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown that people can just go around getting candy for their siblings, young children, or friends who aren’t accounted for, but that will not be tolerated. If you try to get candy for anyone but yourself, the homeowner has the right to release his or her Rottweiler.

Enjoy your free candy kids. I’ll be drowning my sorrows with Nerds and Smartees I actually had to pay money for.

22 thoughts on “Trick-or-Treating Tips from a Retired Halloween Hag

    1. I wish her the best of luck. Hopefully it’ll hold up. Depending on how old she is, you might be okay. The wee ones typically get tired pretty early.

  1. “Unlike the 40-something mothers still shopping in the Pink section of Victoria’s Secret, I understand my time has passed” — This line is just too good, and so true.

    I’m always amazed at this phenomenon. Plastering your body in pink and wonder bras can’t magically turn back the hands of time two decades. Enough is enough!

  2. I totes agree with all your rules. I’m guilty of trick-or-treating all the way through my freshman year of college. I miss it dearly. Okay, I just miss free candy.

    1. Yeah, I could do without middle aged people and the elderly narrowing their eyes at me because I’m taking advantage of my youth. I’m in costume. I’m saying my lines. Give me my free candy without the judgey eyes.

  3. Urgh, last year, buckets of people I had never seen drove into my neighborhood so their kids could trick-or-treat. I guiess they were from the sticks. And the kids STILL didn’t say the words, just held out their hands as you described!

    Kid, I make my precious next-door neighbor toddler girl with the perfect ringlets say “Trick or Treat,” so you’re definitely not off the hook, stranger.

    1. HA! Also, can I just say how much I hate it when people drive to a more ideal trick-or-treating subdivision? Around here, I’ve heard of people taking their kids to more affluent neighborhoods just so they can get better candy. Where’s the fun in that?! These kids should be trudging around like I had to.

      1. What the French Fries?! (I’m trying out new, kid-friendlier expressions since I got busted by my nephew last weekend.)

        Going to the rich neighborhoods?! This is like, the breakdown of society those old people have been raving about for years. You stay in your neighborhood, people! It’s about community, and if old Mrs. Winters on the corner gives out raisin boxes every year, you still have to go and you still have to say thank you! (I think I aged half a year for every word in this paragraph. I just want them to stay off my lawn – can I chuck the candy at their heads from my porch rocker?)

  4. I only went truly trick-or-treating as a kid once, dressed as a cat when I was five. Then I went once in college as a rockstar and felt stupid and very cold, so have never done it again. Oh well. No loss. The candy was crappy anyway.

    1. Really?! I always loved trick-or-treating. Even though there were years I got apples, shitty candy, or a dime from one house on my block, I always thought that was part of the fun.

  5. We were once asked by a parent who was accompanying his child if he could have some sweets too. I’m sorry, are you wearing a costume? No. Do you have a suitably acceptable sweet collecting device? No. Are you currently under the age of 12? No. Therefore, no, you may not have some sweets too! You are old enough to buy your own!

    1. HA!!! Yes! Parents would always ask if they could get another piece for their child’s sibling who’s at home with a cold or polio or whatever lie they come up with. You’re not fooling anyone–we know that candy’s for you.

Don't you sass me! ...Actually, please do.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s