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Halloween: How Old is Too Old To Trick or Treat?

Updated on February 21, 2016

They Said I Was Too Old!

How old is too old to go trick or treating? It's a question asked every year by preteens, teenagers, parents, and people handing out candy. I thought I'd start a discussion about this topic so that we could explore the different ideas and philosophies that people apply to this holiday.

Last year the community made some strong statements. I am including references to the data collected last year, for comparison this year!

When I was 14 I approached trick or treating from a new angle. My girlfriend brought along a guitar and we sang all kinds of crazy songs. We took Christmas songs and rewrote them with Halloween themes. It was over-the-top fun and the people at the houses we visited loved it.

The number one guide to our success was to start early in the evening and end early.

Photos and Writing are copyright by me - © Teapixie! :)

Please note: some of my photos are "dressed up" insects for your enjoyment.

Intimidation Factor

It's no surprise that people can feel intimidated by teenagers who show up at the door. I've had the visit from big guys who don't dress up but still demand candy. That whole experience sucks and I don't wish it on anyone. In fact, I recommend that you not open the door to anyone who intimidates you. Having a peephole or being able to look out the window helps.

One of the better ways to keep people like that away is to fully commit to Halloween, but it can also scare off the wee little ones. One year I scared the daylights out of kids with haunted house decorations in the window, piles of leaves on the walkway, scary music, dripping candles, and a wicked witches costume with full, scary make up. Some kids were crying and screaming and wouldn't come to the door. I discovered that a scary/friendly approach is absolutely necessary at Halloween.

In 2012, 36% of voters said that we are never too old to trick or treat. In 2016, 37% of voters said so. Get voting and let us know what YOU think!

My lil pixie
My lil pixie

So, How Old Is Too Old To Trick or Treat?

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Scary and Friendly Halloween Decorations

Party Inflatable Ghosts - 2 pack
Party Inflatable Ghosts - 2 pack

The happy ghosts will make your home even more inviting, this Halloween.


At What Age Can Kids Start Trick Or Treating?

Have you ever thought about how weird this holiday is? Adults teach children to disguise themselves and go door to door demanding candy. Some kids even do nasty tricks if they don't get candy - which is really awful. So, at what age do you think we should teach Trick or Treating (without nasty stuff) to kids?

By 2012, and then by 2016, 51% of people voted that children should start trick or treating at ages 2,3, & 4. There was no significant difference between the levels of voting for these three ages. Only 5% of voters, by 2012 and by 2016, said they would never allow their children to trick or treat. Does everyone feel the same way, still?

Trick or Treating has been a performance event for our household. I guess because of my positive experience as a kid, singing and playing guitar door to door, I wanted it to become a ritual - if you are trick or treating, you have to do a trick to get a treat. This is what I teach so as to avoid that weirdness that comes from those that are greedy and nasty.

On our very first Halloween, as a family, our child was very small. We rang the doorbell, said "trick or treat" and our child proceeded to walk straight into the house, past the homeowner. All of the adults involved burst into laughter and our child was dumbstruck unaware of how to behave. We didn't know the people at the house we went to, but our child figured we were visiting. It was a fantastic lesson to us, as parents, about the event and how strange it really is for kids.

It seems like the tradition of Halloween is changing. Some people have parties, instead of trick or treating. Some people go out. While others throw themselves straight into the event and decorate their houses for weeks in advance. I have to admit, I love seeing how excited the kids get when they discover a house that is committed to the event. It also helps them to get acquainted with the "scary stuff" so that it's not so intimidating in the dark of night.

Little Pixies

I love that little kids like to start dressing up in September. I hope that many parents make costumes available to their little pixies very, very early.

At What Age Should Kids Start Trick Or Treating?

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At What Age Can Kids Start Trick or Treating on Their Own, But Only If With Friends?

This is another big issue. Let us know what age you think is appropriate and, if you would, please let us know why. Please remember: Kids should not go out "Alone" - they should, at the least, be with their friends!

The response to this question in 2012 was interesting. 79% of people distributed their decisions between 8 and 14 years old, with no significant difference between the different ages. 21% of people said that kids should never be allowed to trick or treat alone with friends.

How Old Should A Kid Be When They Can Start Trick Or Treating Alone?

This is another big issue. Let us know what age you think is appropriate and, if you would, please let us know why. Please remember: Kids should not go out "Alone" - they should, at the least, be with their friends!

The response to this question in 2012 was not clear. People were undecided between 8 and 14 years old.

At What Age Are Kids Old Enough To Trick Or Treat Alone?

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Face Painterly

The best-ever costumes are accompanied by painted faces. Here I list some paints that you can buy for your goblins. At the end of this article I will include a link to a site with recipes for face paint. Happy Howling!

What Time Should Kids Go Out And Return?

I am a stickler on this one. I like older kids to start when it gets dark and be finished by 7:30, and they have to be with friends or taking little kids out. With little kids I go even shorter and am more interested to start before it is dark.

On All Hallow's Eve crazy behaviours begin to happen later in the evening. Because I have lived through many Hallowed Eve's, I have seen a great deal, and talked to many nurses who hate working that night. It can get very dangerous on the streets as the evening wears on. Unfortunately, some kids do end up in hospital.

In 2012, 27% of voters recommended leaving after dinner while 25% of voters recommend a Halloween departure at dark. Please think about your own recommendations and leave your vote to be counted.

Having specific limitations for your kids - from babies to 18 year olds - is extremely important on this evening.

What Time Can Kids Start Trick Or Treating?

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Scary Teens

Have you ever been afraid to talk to a teen? I see it all the time at my local community centre - people afraid of teenagers who come in to play basketball. Well, Halloween is a time when teens will actually try to be scary and I'm hoping these costumes will help with designing your own fantasy getup.

What Time Would You Like to "Turn Out The Lights" on Halloween?

In 2012, people who voted in this poll clearly expressed a desire for trick or treaters to return home by 8:00pm. 53% of voters supported this end time. What do you think?

In 2012, people who voted in this poll clearly expressed a desire for trick or treaters to return home by 8:00pm. 53% of voters supported this end time. What do you think?

What Time Should Kids Return Home On Halloween?

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What are your thoughts on Halloween? Do you participate or do you lock up and go out for the night? I'd love to hear your opinions about Halloween, who should be allowed to participate and who shouldn't, and why you feel that way. I'd also like to know how you handle trick or treaters at your door - do you turn out the light at a specific time and make it look like no one is home? Or do you like to give candy out to the very last stragglers? Some people just put a bowl of candy out. What's your approach?

What is Halloween About For You?

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    • profile image

      Riki 3 years ago

      Not sure yet what I'll be, which is cutting it close (I'm open to ideas)I'll be rocknig some Reverse Trick-or-Treating with Engineers Without Borders, which means knocking on people's doors and giving THEM fair-trade candy, while discussing the benefits of fair trade to small-scale farmers in the developing world! Anyone is invited to join at 4pm in CEME building design studio Saturday.

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      @Stephanie36: I hope silly doesn't equate to bad. ;) Yes, Halloween can seem a bit silly but there really are some great benefits to the event. At it's core, it can be a community building event. The elementary school where my li'l pixie attended takes advantage of Halloween to do just that, build community. They create a huge event where past students come to work and current students come to scream with delight. There are games and a bouncy castle, a haunted house and a graveyard. The best part of all is that one whole floor of the school is "blacked out" with black garbage bags and it is difficult to believe that it's the school that the kids attend every day. It is incredibly transformed and requires hours of planning and preparation time by both parents and students. A huge community of people donate hours of time and it's a fantastic way for people to connect.

      Is it silly? Probably, but then again, many things are and I kind of love silly. I think that's where fun resides.

    • Stephanie36 profile image

      Stephanie 4 years ago from Canada

      I love seeing the little kids trick or treat. They're so cute! I don't mind the older kids coming by, but they should wear a costume. The whole thing is probably a bit of a silly holiday, but it is a lot of fun. :)

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      @hazeltos: Yes! I love it when I get to see the kids dressed up for a month before Halloween. The pure excitement is priceless.

    • hazeltos profile image

      Susan Hazelton 4 years ago from Summerfield, Florida

      I love Halloween. I like seeing the kids all dressed up in their costumes.

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @Sweet_Pea: Well. Next year I'm booking a room at your hotel for the day after Halloween so that I can partake in the leftovers. ;)

      I never liked encountering the unattended candy bowl. The interaction with people really is all part of the event - kids want to be recognized for stepping outside of their persona's. Many are making efforts (especially older ones) to release themselves from the limitations of everyday life when they slip into their costumes. And, the candy bowl was usually empty by the time I got there. Interestingly, the bowls never seemed to get removed! Kids are soooo good. ;)

    • profile image

      Sweet_Pea 5 years ago

      We love Halloween and start decorating 3-4 days ahead with carved pumpkins, hanging demons, a giant air ballon ghost at the door, a grave and various scary critters in our font yard or on our deck. We play loud scary music and have spooky lighting. Some little ones are a little scared but their parents usually walk them up. We give out candy until the visits trickle down but usually turn off the lights and bring everything in by 8 pm. We don't mind teenagers if they are dressed in costume and they are usually the ones that appreciate the effort we put into decorating. I would never put out a bowl of candy for 2 reasons: don't want to encourage the greedy guts and want some leftovers for us!

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @Sylvestermouse: Many zombie thanks. If zombies actually say thanks?!? Well, I'm saying thanks, so there. ;)

    • elyria profile image

      elyria 5 years ago

      We never went trick or treating in Russia (in fact we didn't even have halloween for a holiday)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

      Happy Halloween blessings to you!

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @secondhandrose lm: Your house sounds GREAT! I am sure the kids have you marked on their maps. Last year my daughter got a pair of sunglasses from one house and I think the house number has been permanently engraved in her brain. ;)

    • secondhandrose lm profile image

      secondhandrose lm 5 years ago

      I have to participate. I decorate my house. Carve elaborate pumpkins. Wear a costume. Play scary music. I have an enclosed front porch so I can see who is coming up the street. I have a mix of treats, chocolate and toys and snacks, and I hand out what I think each age group would prefer. I don't mind handing out candy to teens as long as they are in costume. Even my dog hangs out with me. He is a friendly Bichon and he loves to greet all the little kids.

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @Melissa Miotke: Yippeee! I wish I was at your house for Halloween - I'd contribute to the candy. :) You are going to have so much fun! I love how committed you are, a state of mind that truly makes for a great time.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      I've been really enjoying Halloween since having kids, much more so than I did even as a child. I love decorating the house and I take them trick or treating starting at birth. At first it's just to get out and see neighbors and show off the costume and not about candy. We go trick or treating and then hand out candy when we get back. I'll answer the door as late as it rings. This is our first Halloween at our new house so I'm excited to meet more neighbors and get a peek in other people's homes:) We do have one of those neighborhoods that I've heard they bus kids in from other places so that should be interesting. I hope we bought enough candy!

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @anonymous: It is amazing how different the experience of Halloween can be, depending on where you live. Congrats on your move!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love Halloween - it's my favorite holiday & I'm definitely teach my daughter to enjoy dressing up and trick-or-treating. I avoided handed out candy in the past due to problems in our old neighborhood, but plan to hand out candy this year since we're in a better place :)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      We don't get many trick-or-treaters because we live on a dead end street. Around the corner is mecca for trick-or-treaters -- lots of estates. Out of area kids are dropped off in vans, which kind of stinks. I think kids should stick to their own neighborhoods and not be chauffered around town. Boo-lessed!

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 5 years ago

      Dress-up, Fun, Candy - Halloween is one of my favorite Holidays :)

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 5 years ago

      I give to the stragglers, but I think 8 or 8:30 is late enough to be opening the door to strangers, which most of them are nowadays.

    • RosaMorelli profile image

      RosaMorelli 5 years ago

      I tend to go out for the night. There aren't many trick-or-treaters around where I live, but there's a *lot* of teenagers looking for trouble! If they come round early enough I'll pass out candy, but a big gang of kids knocking on the door after dark can be a bit scary!

    • Zhana21 profile image

      Zhana 5 years ago

      People don't trick or treat much here in Britain. I grew up trick or treating in the States, but I really don't miss having to give candy to strangers (i.e. children). I do like to buy Halloween treas for the neighbours' kids, though.

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @Scarlettohairy: I agree! The kids think you are there for them, but really? They're just making it possible for you to be out in the dark, shrieking with them. eeeeeeeeeheeheeheeheehee ;)

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I think trick or treating is a blast! I'm glad now I can go with a couple of cute grandkids!

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @adragast24: adragst, I am so impressed. So many of us spend a great deal of life living in denial of death. I like the way you draw on tradition.

    • adragast24 profile image

      adragast24 5 years ago

      For me, Halloween is more than just a commercial event where people eat a lot of sweets and dress up. It is a time of the year where we can think even more about those who left us and explain to kids who are old enough what it is to die, etc...

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @JoshK47: Yes - I agree! The whole paranormal thing is amazing - perhaps it happens now because there really isn't any other time of the year where it seems appropriate. I like that it's an inclusive event.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      It's about spookiness, costumes, and fun! Also, I love the interest in the paranormal that spikes around this time of year!

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @nicks44: Nick44! You are touching on something very interesting, here. I suspect that many north americans don't connect with the history of this event. It has transformed very dramatically from its roots. Take a look at 'history of Halloween' on wikipedia to learn more about its beginnings.

      It seems, today, that this event has become very popular because north americans have reinterpreted the event into a fun, generous event with very little, if any, connection with agendas that are not commercial. It appears to be uncontroversial because it is seen as separate from any religious significance.

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @karMALZEKE: Thank you!

    • nicks44 profile image

      nicks44 5 years ago

      Not much ... The country where I am from doesn't really celebrate it, so now I a just simply trying to understand a thing or two about it, but deep within it holds little or no significance at all for me.

    • karMALZEKE profile image

      karMALZEKE 5 years ago

      Good lens!

    • cgbroome profile image

      cgbroome 5 years ago

      I used to love giving out candy on Halloween. However, after 3 years in a row where I had maybe 5 or 6 kids under the age of 10 and the rest (60 or more) at least 15 or older show up - I lost the fun of it. Now, for the past 2 years, and will do so this year as well, my husband and I lock up and turn off all our lights. The young ones don't come to our door but even in the dark - teenagers still do.

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @gottaloveit2: If I offered that to my daughter I think she'd give up the trick or treating! She's pretty dedicated to the opportunity to go out for Chinese food. Heeheehee

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 5 years ago

      I go out to eat Chinese food...

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @BunnyFabulous: We have had fun at special community centre Halloween parties. I think there are so many ways to enjoy the fun of this kooky day. :)

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @LiteraryMind: I hope you do, too!

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 5 years ago from Central Florida

      We do Halloween pretty low-key. Our daughter likes to dress up, but we'll do specific events with her rather than doing a lot of trick or treat. We hand out candy when we're home.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thought provoking lens. I just hope I get some trick or treaters this year.

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you, Mike! I really appreciate the praise. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Amazing lense... More lensemasters like you :)

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 5 years ago

      It is becoming far too commercialised IMO. Especially here on Squidoo. Considering I didn't grow up with Halloween, I don't mind indulging for one day - but this over indulgence from Squidoo for the entire 2 months before, is quite annopying IMO. Fortunately we live in an apartment building so we don't need to worry about having anyone come to our door. The security guards downstairs do NOT give out candy - management does NOT allow our building to participate. The building outs up a few decirations around the walls 2 weeks before Halloween - but that's ALL they do and IMO that's more than enough. Assuming my son will choose not to participate this year - that's fine with me.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Never too old, young at heart. cheers!

    • MelissaRodgz profile image

      MelissaRodgz 5 years ago

      For me Halloween is as big as Christmas. We decorate and love dressing up. Of course we love the treats.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada


    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @VspaBotanicals: Thank you!

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @LynetteBell: Yes - it is a little odd that we teach this. Probably the best approach is for parents to be involved by going out with their kids.

      It has been "the cat's meow" for me, to be able to do this with my child. The best experience is when kids encounter people who love Halloween, who love to see children happy, and who are comfy talking with the accompanying parents. And, of course, examine all of the collected candy at the end of the night to ensure that all items are safe to eat.

      This event can contribute to community building.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      I don't really like trick of treat but do give something to kids that come to the door. When you think about it we spend all year teaching kids not to take candy from strangers then on Halloween they go out and do just that!


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