Nothing quite beats setting off on Halloween night decked out in costume, ringing doorbells, and demanding treats! Trick or Treating is a fun tradition coupled with excited planning for trick or treating routes, costumes, and strategies. But why do we dress in costume and knock on strangers’ doors to ask for treats? And how can we do it safely and most efficiently? Today we’re coming at you with a brief history behind this Halloween tradition along with safety tips and hacks to help you make the most of all Hallows Eve.
Before dressing up like a dinosaur and trekking from house to house in your neighborhood, there was a pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts (who live 2,000 years ago in what is now Ireland) believed that the dead returned to earth on Samhain. This was a sacred night where people gathered to light bonfires and pay homage to the dead. During some Celtic celebrations, villages disguised themselves in costumes to drive away phantom visitors and banquet tables were prepared to make peace with unwelcome spirits.
In later centuries, people began dressing as ghosts, demons, and other creatures and would perform stunts/pranks in exchange for food and drink. This custom, known as mumming, dates back to the Middle Ages and is thought to be what paved the way for trick or treating. In Scotland and Ireland, young people took part in a tradition called guising, dressing up in costume and accepting anything households would offer. But rather than pledging any homage to the dead, they would sing a song, recite a poem, tell a joke, or perform some sort of trick before collecting their treat (fruit, nuts, or coins).
Another fun fact is that we don’t actually know where the phrase “trick or treat” came from precisely. Most believe the phrase came to life in American pop culture around 1951, when trick or treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip. In 1952, Disney produced a cartoon called “Trick or Treat” which featured Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie.
Today, Americans spend an estimated $2.6 billion on candy for Halloween and the day itself has become the nation’s second-largest commercial holiday.
We love Spooktober and all the trick or treating that comes with it, but a little pre-planning and precaution goes a long way to keep everyone safe and smiling. Take a look at our tips for staying safe before the big night out, that way everyone can focus on the fun!
Follow the Rules of the Road
Decorated houses across the street are oh so tempting but it’s important to stay on track and cross only at corners or in crosswalks. Even if you’re in a low-traffic neighborhood, staying on the sidewalk and reminding kiddos to look both ways will help keep them safe as they’re out and about Halloween night.
Go in Groups
Traveling in a pack is safer AND more fun! Children under 12 should always have an adult along to supervise. If your older kids do want to break off from the group to be with friends and what not, here are some guidelines to follow: kids 12+ should still go with a group of friends and stick to familiar houses + neighborhoods; consider turning on mobile tracker apps so you can follow your older children’s progress; set up a timeline expectation (like having the kids check in at a specific time throughout the night and set a curfew).
It’s time to break out reflective tape and slap it on costumes, candy bags, strollers, and wagons. You might also consider bringing glow sticks or flashlights as well. You want to be visible to others so they see you crossing the street or coming down the sidewalk and you’ll appreciate the extra light when trying to maneuver up steps, sidewalks, and streets. All in all it’s a win-win!
Inspect Your Treats
This actually can be a fun Halloween tradition once everyone returns to homebase. Food tampering is very rare, but going through the loot at the end of the night ensures your kids don’t eat anything they shouldn’t (whether it be a homemade treat, an allergy threat, or questionable sweets). Plus, this is a great time to make some trades if you’re not into sweet-tarts or peanut butter.
Safe Costumes + Makeup
In addition to adding reflective tape to their costumes, make sure your kiddos costumes are easy to walk in and don’t restrict their breathing or vision. Also keep in mind that pointy accessories (like swords or masks) may become a safety hazard as they’re running around gathering candy. Choose accessories made of soft material so if a battle does ensue with fellow trick or treaters, everybody will be alright. We also recommend removing your child’s makeup soon after trick or treating. That way you avoid any skin irritation from wearing Halloween makeup too long.
TRICK OR TREATING HACKS
After hearing about the history of trick or treating and reviewing some safety tips, we’re anxious to hit the road and collect some candy! But before we don our costumes and head out the door, take a look at our hacks for making the most of this big night!
🎃 Get as much sleep as you can the night before so you’re fully energized to hit all the houses you can.
🎃 Eat a great dinner so you have energy to knock on as many houses + carry as much loot as possible. Eating only candy will slow you down!
🎃 Wear comfortable shoes so you can last longer!
🎃 Bring water! Soda and juice will slow you down.
🎃 If it’s cold, bring a jacket or a blanket so you don’t want to quit too early.
🎃 Start early so you have more time to hit all the houses you want.
🎃 Use your phone’s flashlight or bring a flashlight as it gets darker to avoid obstacles or safety hazards.
🎃 To avoid spilling your candy, use a backpack so you can off-load your loot as your bucket gets too full.
🎃 Avoid houses that are dark or dark alleyways - you want to be safe AND don’t want to waste your time knocking on a door that’s not participating.
🎃 Be respectful of decorations and other trick or treaters. Arguing or vandalizing takes away from the precious time you have to gather more treats!
🎃 If possible, drive to another neighborhood that is rumored for handing out more than just candy. Some houses pass out soda, toys, gift cards, etc. So don’t hesitate to neighborhood hop as long as you’re not breaking any gated neighborhood laws.
Are you trick or treat ready?! Halloween is around the corner and we can’t wait for another trick or treating haul, especially with these fun hacks. Be sure to keep an eye out for spooktacular surprises here at KJ too! Trick or treating is all fun and games but it’s not only for kids! To all you ghoulies and ghosties, stay safe and stay spooky!
Kortni + Team