It’s time for scary costumes, carving pumpkins, candy and trick or treating. As Halloween approaches, there are some things parents and children need to remember.
Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author, and founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, offers these 10 Halloween tips and tricks:
• 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 election year, our public political figures are certainly on the table; expect to see Clinton and Trump.
• 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 candies 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.
• Don’t Ring 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 candy from trusted brands like Hershey, M&M, Skittles, Dove, Reece’s.
• 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 a children’s game.
• Office & School Policies: Office culture varies, so be sure to research your workplace policy. Ask a trusted colleague about the ‘unwritten rules.’ Some offices encourage tasteful costumes, while others frown upon the practice. 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.