Everyday Etiquette: Avoiding Frightful Halloween Behavior
By Diane Gottsman

Bby Diane Gottsman efore your little angel, cheerleader or SpongeBob SquarePants hits the streets to trick-or-treat this year, here are some rules to review.

For the Little Goblins:

  • Stay off the grass and out of the flowerbeds.
  • Only go to well lit doors. If the porch light is off, pass up the house.

  • Don't block the door once you have received your treat.
  • Don't ask for another kind of candy.

  • Ring the doorbell only one time, and don't knock after the ring.

  • Keep your hands off of anything on the front porch.

  • Be respectful of other trick-or-treaters.
  • Don't run.
  • Cross the street at corners and crosswalks only.
  • Wear reflective clothing and sneakers.
  • Carry a flashlight and keep the light out of driver's eyes.
  • Stay close to a parent or trusted adult.
  • Say "thank you," even if you don't like chocolate-covered raisins.

For the Parents:

  • If you are walking with your toddler and holding your infant, who is dressed like a Dalmatian, don't send your toddler up with a plastic pumpkin bucket "for the baby." It is obvious that the bucket is for you and is bad form.  

  • Don't wait for your child three houses away. Follow closely behind your child for his or her own safety.

  • Acknowledge the person giving your child a treat.

  • Don't dress your child in a mask he can't see out of.
  • Make sure your child's costume is appropriate for the weather.
  • If you have teens going trick-or-treating, they should dress in a costume without a heavy mask.
  • If you do not participate in Halloween, don't begrudge those who do. Turn off your lights and go out for a family dinner. It is not your place to lecture other people's children unless they are doing damage to your property.
  • Inspect all treats before letting your children eat them.

The principles for Halloween are the same for any situation where you are around other people. Showing respect, courtesy and consideration for others is the key.

Diane Gottsman is a nationally recognized etiquette and protocol expert who leads programs for children as well as adults striving to fine-tune their skills. To read her previous columns, visit the Etiquette Archives.