Man About Menifee: What Are the Guidelines for Halloween?

By David Baker

Last night was Joshuah's second Halloween. We've been working with him for about the last month, teaching him to say something which vaguely resembles "trick-or-treat". Finally last night, we got to put him to the test and he rose to the occasion.

He went around our cul-de-sac, down the street, and up the block before he got tired out. He filled his little McDonald's bucket and came home. When we got home, he helped me pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters. Throughout the night, I was surprised how many people fail to grasp the simple concept of Halloween etiquette.

The rules for Halloween can be broken up into two simple groups. The first is rules for people who want or do not want to receive trick-or-treaters. The second group is for trick-or-treaters.

If you expect for me to bring my children to your door on Halloween, you must do two things. First, your house must have a well-lit walkway and the porch light must be on. Conversely, if you do not expect me to ring your bell on Halloween night, you should turn off the lights and power down your decorations.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people have their houses darkened and very few decorations and wonder the next day why they got almost no trick-or-treaters. It's almost as amazing as people who have a very festively decorated house and bright lights, scowling at me, saying, "We have no candy, go away" and wondering why I rang their bell. If you are out of candy, simply turn out your porch light so people know.

The burden of Halloween doesn't just fall to the homeowners, however. Some of the responsibility must fall to the trick-or-treaters themselves.

If you come to my door, you should be wearing a costume. I will give more candy to children who have a more creative, cuter, or just all-around more amusing costume. I know for a fact that I'm not alone in this. Likewise, if you are old enough to shave, I expect to see some real effort on the costume. If you show up to my door wearing a T-shirt and jeans, you can reasonably expect me to heckle you, at least a little bit. In the true spirit of the season, I will give you candy, but it will not be the same amount and type of candy that I gave to that pretty little princess and that adorable little Spiderman.

I enjoy handing out candy at Halloween. For me, it's about as fun as it is for the kids who are doing the trick-or-treating. I like to see the different costumes. I like to see the creativity, so do not be surprised if I choose to comment on your costume or make observations. This is part of the fun of Halloween and in return I will give you candy. It seems like a pretty fair deal to me.

Next year, you can bet that I will be dressed up in a costume, taking my kids trick-or-treating, laughing and having fun, and passing out candy to all the ghosts, goblins, princesses and super heroes. I will still give the most candy to the best costumes. And I will be probably having as much fun as the children. After all, Halloween is a holiday full of magic that allows us all to feel like little kids.

David Baker, our Man About Menifee, writes about his adventures in and around town every Friday in this space. You may leave comments for him here or email him at


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