Halloween used to be easy. Costume? Ninja (four years straight, baby). Best candy to go for? Blow Pops. Who to go trick-or-treating with? The usual crew. Where to go trick-or-treating? The neighborhood. … But now it’s a bit more complicated with all the various celebrations. Figuring out which one is best for you and your kid can be tough. But as a dad, I’ve got some pros and cons for you to consider.
Today, you don’t have to just go trick-or-treating around the block. You can go trick-or-treating at various malls. There’s also trunk-or-treating at your local church or community center. Or if your child is so lucky, you can attend one of the many invitation-only child-oriented Halloween parties held in many homes. Wow! See how simple it used to be when we were growing up? (Speaking to the 30-and-up crowd here.) But I just wanted to run down a few pros and cons of each to help you decided how to best spend your precious Halloween night.
Grabbing a pillow case, walking the streets, and banging on doors hoping to hit pay dirt is Halloween at its purest. Pros: It’s like a big spooky treasure hunt. Thrilling! It’s a relatable experience that parents want to share with their kids. It builds kids’ confidence by learning to knock on doors and chime that timeless line. Plus, it opens the possibility for some of the biggest candy/cash payouts ever – if you know the right houses.
Cons: Unfortunately, the growing number of psychos in the world have made this classic activity much more dangerous. Has the candy been poisoned or tampered with? Will we get hit by a drunk driver? What about random criminals taking advantage of the night? Plus, that’s a lot of walking! Are we all going to be too worn-out to have fun? A lot to consider when you have a kid.
Formulated out of the fears from many of the cons tied to trick-or-treating, the very popular trunk-or-treating offers a unique experience. Pros: Usually, the event is hosted by a religious or community group which takes a lot of the “psycho” fear out of the equation. And more than likely, you’ll be at an event hosted by your own group, so there’s great social upside for both adults and kids. Many times trunk-or-treating is done in a private parking lot or social hall which also drastically decreases the chance of encountering a drunk driver. And there is safety in numbers to fend off any criminals who may come lurking. Plus, many of these celebrations also have carnival-like games and a dinner. It’s a one-stop Halloween hit that gets you home by bedtime!
Cons: Depending on the event, it can get packed with a ton of screaming kids – and in closer quarters than the open streets. The candy payout can be hit or miss; people usually bring the bulk tootsie rolls and generic sweets rather than candy bars, etc. Also, if no one shows up there is no loot to be had, leaving you looking for another option at the last minute. And beware of the “creative” mom’s homemade organic sugar-free treat. Your kid, no matter their age, will backhand you for letting them eat one of these.
Local malls now put on special trick-or-treat events to draw large crowds to their retailers and ingratiate themselves with the community. Pros: Here, there’s a greater sense of safety from the “psychos.” These events are often held in the daytime or early evening, working themselves into the schedule before the crabby hours of both adults and kids. Kids are guaranteed to score candy. Plus, malls usually have a special area set up for photo ops, so there is a convenient way to ensure a scrapbook moment.
Cons: Get there early because these events are usually packed with many of today’s on-the-go families getting in some Halloween fun before dinner. It also seriously lacks the thrill of the treasure hunt. Plus, candy payouts tend to be small; don’t expect full size Kit Kats or Snickers. But what do you expect from retailers trying to make 1,000 kids happy?
I’ve seen invitation-only Halloween parties become more popular over recent years. Pros: Private parties offer the security of trunk-or-treating, but at a greater level. The socialization factor is also way up for kids and adults as the event is more intimate. The candy payout tends to be high and of good quality, and scrapbook moments are all around you. Kids also tend to have a great time with plenty of party games and dancing, not leaving much energy to fight going to bed.
Cons: There’s not much downside to this option, if you enjoy the invited adult crowd. The only thing that it lacks is the mystery and wonder of old-fashioned trick-or-treating. It doesn’t fulfill that yearning for the treasure hunt that we’ve glorified all our lives. For some, this con may be enough to knock this option out of the running.
So there’s some quick points to consider from a dad who is in the trenches with you. But my most important tip is to be positive and go all in with the choice you make. This includes telling your kid what to expect, on both the pro and con sides, and show them how to have fun with the choice you’ve made. They’ll follow your lead, so go have fun. Happy Halloween!