Sometimes the scariest Halloween display is rudeness. But never fear: With a little care, the year's creepiest holiday can be fun for everyone...
Sometimes the scariest Halloween display is rudeness.
But never fear: With a little care, the year’s creepiest holiday can be fun for everyone.
“Certainly, kids should be saying, ‘Trick or treat,’ ‘Good evening,’ ‘Hi,’ ‘Hello,’ ” or some friendly greeting to the person who opens the door, says Cindy Post Senning, co-director of The Emily Post Institute, based in Burlington, Vt., and named for Senning’s late great-grandmother, the famous etiquette maven.
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The silent demands baffle Shane Nelson, 39, of Ozark, Mo.: “They show up, and they expect to get the candy. … A lot of them will hold their bag out,” saying nothing.
Not even “thank you.”
“Thank-yous are critical,” says Senning, co-author of “Emily’s Everyday Manners,” even if the goodies aren’t so great.
Katie Morris, 25, of Hanover Park, Ill., plans to punish Halloween ingrates this year with unpopular candy.
“Cute, polite kids in costumes” will score the goodies, Morris says. “Anyone not wearing a costume, anyone excessively rude right from the start and mothers with babies under 6 months old and no other kids” will get the baddies.
Opinions differ on how old is too old to trick-or-treat. Senning says the activity belongs to kids, primarily in kindergarten and elementary school.
But Rebecca Black, a Davis, Calif.-based etiquette consultant, says respectful older children and teens may participate.
“If you feel comfortable wearing a costume, then that’s fine,” Black says. “Just have fun, and enjoy it.”
If the tricksters have to behave, so do the treaters.
“Opening the door and surprising the kids with a scary mask or costume is not the best idea … unless you are sure who is at the door and their ages,” says Sue Fox, founder and president of Etiquette Survival LLC, a training firm in Los Gatos, Calif.
Several Halloweens ago, Debra Jackson’s son, Alex, almost 3 and dressed as Winnie the Pooh, shrieked in tears when a man answered his door with a scary yell.
Apparently, the man had been enduring pranks from older kids and wanted to retaliate.
He picked the wrong child.
The neighbor “seemed very nice, actually, and was so embarrassed and upset that I wasn’t angry,” says Jackson, 37, of San Diego. “It was just very clearly a mistake.”
To make amends, the man dumped a bowl of candy into Alex’s bag.
With parents concerned about safety, treat-givers should consider the goodies carefully.
“Of course, the treats should be sealed and wrapped completely,” advises Fox, author of “Etiquette for Dummies.”
“Unfortunately, these days homemade cookies or other goodies are not appropriate, unless they are for friends and neighbors you know well.”
To keep Halloween pleasant, here are more tips, culled from Senning, Black and Fox’s advice:
• Before heading out, parents or guardians should tell children to be polite, respectful and safe.
• If a porch light is off, move to the next house.
• Don’t repeatedly knock or ring the doorbell; give residents time to answer the door.
• After receiving a treat, step aside to let other children approach. Don’t ask for more.
• Respect property.
• If parents feel a child is too old to trick-or-treat, they may encourage him or her to participate by handing out goodies instead.