Halloween Etiquette

Halloween Etiquette

October is the month when fall events and celebrations commence.  Children really enjoy this season and much anticipation and excitement “brews” in preparation for the candy and costume holidayHalloween.  Halloween, with its tradition of trick-or-treat, parades and parties, not only can be viewed as a time to have fun, but parents can use this occasion to teach proper manners, especially those that relate to interacting with strangers.

The following is a list of etiquette do’s and don’ts for Halloween participants.


  • Do say “Trick-or-Treat” and “Happy Halloween” at every house you visit.
  • Do be gracious and express gratitude for treats you receive.
  • Do not trick-or-treat without a costume.
  • Do refrain from grabbing a handful of candy when offered the candy bowl.  Only take one or two pieces.
  • Do not ring the doorbell more than once or bang on the door.
  • Do not walk across anyone’s lawn or trample their flowers.  Stay on the sidewalks and walking paths.
  • Do not trick-or-treat after 8pm-ish.  It is impolite to arrive at homes late.
  • Do have small children and first time trick-or-treaters practice the routine at home.  Go over the do’s and don’ts of trick-or-treating; show them how to ring the doorbell, say “trick-or-treat” and “thank you.”
  • Do not be mean and take or smash other’ Jack-o-lanterns.  Parents and children take pride in their carved pumpkins.  They are on display for your enjoyment, not destruction.

Passing Out Candy 

  • Do turn on your lights and make sure your home is well lit if you will be passing out treats.
  • Do not turn on your exterior lights and leave the curtains open if you will not be distributing goodies.
  • Do distribute goodies that the children will enjoy!  Most children like candy, but gift certificates, glow sticks and Halloween-themed items such as pencils and stickers are favorable and highly rated.
  • Do not distribute homemade treats or fruits to strangers.  Many parents will not allow their children to eat them.  If you give homemade treats to children you know, please attach a “from” label” (From Ms Tina) on the item.  It is also advisable to include your address on the label.
  • Do not allow your pets to greet trick-or-treaters.  Some children are afraid of animals (even friendly ones).
  • Do not scare little children!  Make sure your Halloween decorations are appropriate for all ages.
  • Do compliment children on their costumes.  Most put a lot of effort and serious thought into what they are wearing.
  • Do leave a bowl of treats on the porch if you are willing but unable to personally distribute the goodies.  Do not forget to post a sign that says “Please Take Only One.”

Halloween Parties 

  • Do RSVP and inquire as to what you can bring or how you can help with the preparations.
  • Do bring the host a small gift such as a fall decoration, apple cider or a fall scented candle.
  • Do dress for the occasion by wearing a costume.  Make sure your costume is comfortable and allows you to engage in dancing and activities.
  • Do greet the host upon your arrival and upon your departure, do not forget to extend gratitude for the invitation.

Halloween Work Functions and Costumes

  • Do wear a costume that is appropriate for the workplace.  Remember you are a professional and therefore refrain from costumes that could offend others (political or religious tones) or taint your reputation (overly sexual).

Most importantly be safe and have fun!

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.