Trick or Treat?

Avoiding Halloween OverloadOrange plastic pumpkin with black jack o lantern face and handle for collecting Halloween candy

  • What: Halloween trick or treating alternatives
  • When: Knocking on doors is too scary
  • Why: Keep the fun, get rid of the terror
  • Where: Your neighborhood

While my oldest two kids have always embraced Halloween with all its traditions and rewards, my youngest child hesitates. Even at the age of 4, he’d rather not say “Trick or Treat” to strangers. He’d prefer to miss out on candy.  He cried when we went to our usual neighborhood businesses trick or treating event this year, even though we’ve been almost every year to the same places.

Child waiting at door to hand out Halloween candy

My son had zero interest in collecting candy. Instead, he happily waited at home for trick or treaters to visit, with his favorite lovie nearby just in case.

He loves his costumes and dressing up, and doesn’t seem to mind hordes of people in outlandish outfits roaming freely. But he doesn’t want to talk to people, or knock on doors. I can’t say I blame him, since I don’t love either thing myself. Last year, we both stayed home, where he happily answered the door and handed out candy. This year, who knows? We will do whatever makes it comfortable and fun for him.

If your kid also finds Halloween and its accompanying ghosts, ghouls, and goblins, not to mention the strange rituals (when else can you go bang on anyone’s door and demand candy without even saying please?), you can try some of our alternatives.

Halloween sugar cookies pumpkins with orange frosting, white ghost, half eaten cat

Cookies can be a fun Halloween project to do together.

For a child who enjoys projects or baking, make some homemade treats. If they can’t go to school for the kids, teachers also enjoy treats, especially the day after Halloween when lots of kids come to school tired from staying up late and eating tons of sugar.

Kids collecting candy during Halloween trick or treat from local business

Trick or treating is way less scary during the day.

Look for alternative trick or treating events. We have several neighborhoods where the businesses hand out goodies during daylight hours. Things appear much less scary during daytime. And not having to knock on doors, go inside, or talk can make all the difference. Plus, neighborhood businesses tend to be closer together. While that increases the crowds on the sidewalk, it means little ones (and the parents carrying them) have less walking to do.

Child in chicken tractor costume throwing bean bags a clown carnival game

Local events can feature games, like this down-a-clown bean bag throwing one.

Carnivals and festivals focus on fun. Lots of community centers and other places host Halloween events that don’t involve trick or treating. Our local community center puts on an event with carnival type games suitable for ages 2-10 every year. Kids can enjoy bean bag tosses, fishing, and more with both edible and toy prizes to choose from. These events usually cost very little and the money typically supports a good cause.

Child in chicken tractor costume throwing balls into tall striped hat carnival game

Carnival games offer fun and prizes without the gauntlet of other people’s houses.

Pair up with friends. If your child doesn’t want to go on their own, maybe they would enjoy it more with a buddy. Lots of kids have more fun with friends and good company, and it can help show your child that things aren’t so scary.

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