Trick or treating might not be on Halloween

Several people have pointed out that trick or treating isn’t always on Halloween itself.

In some towns, trick or treating always happens on a weekend regardless of when the 31st is.

If your town does that, it will probably be announced through the schools, on the radio, on TV and in the paper. You can also google “[your town] trick or treating”. In some areas the designated time for trick or treating is called Beggars Night.

It’s possible that a few people will show up on Halloween itself, because some people won’t know or will forget.

Halloween when you’re too old for trick or treating and don’t like drunken parties

do you or your followers know of any social acceptable ways for teenagers to celebrate halloween? my friends and i are 18-20, so unfortunately I feel too old to be trick-or-treating, and none of us like to drink or go to those kinds of parties. do you have any ideas? thank you.
 realsocialskills said:
Many people your age like to go to haunted houses around this time of year. In a haunted house, you walk through and look at spooking things and various actors scare you. Most areas have at least a couple of haunted houses. There are also haunted hayrides, which are similar except that they are outdoors and you ride through them rather than walking through them.
Many zoos and museums have Halloween events. Most of them are primarily targeted towards children, but some of them also welcome adults. If there are zoos and museums in your areas, you can find out about their programs on their websites.
Different cities have different events. If you google “[your city] Halloween events” you might find something interesting. Here’s a page of events for Philadelphia.
Some people your age enjoy going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Halloween. I don’t really know how to explain what that is or why people like it. But here’s a link to the Wikipedia page, and a fan page that can tell you where to find a showing.
That said, a party is also an option. Parties don’t have to be drunken, large, or crowded. They can be a small group of friends getting together to do something they enjoy.
The party can be a Halloween party just because it is a party and it is on  Halloween. (Maybe with Halloween-related decorations or food). You can also do Halloween-specific things.
   Some things that some people enjoy doing at Halloween parties:
  • Telling ghost stories in the dark
  • Wearing costumes
  • Painting each others’ faces
  • Having a bonfire and roasting marshmallows
  • Carving and lighting jack-o-lanterns
  • Making pumpkin pie, or just eating it
  • Eating other pumpkin-based foods
  • Eating and/or making Halloween-themed cookies (you can buy tubes of dough to slice and cook if you’d like to make cookies but don’t want to do complicated baking)
  • Watching horror movies
  • Watching Halloween-related movies (Nightmare Before Christmas is a good one.) or Halloween episodes of shows you like
 You can also take things you already like and make them Halloween-themed in some way. Eg: If you write stories together, write them about black cats. If you play roleplaying games, play a Halloween scenario. If you like playing Apples to Apples, make a bunch of Halloween-themed cards and add them to your deck.

Some strategies for wearing costumes

Some people like to buy bagged costumes for costume stores, but that isn’t a good option for everyone.

Some reasons bagged costumes are not a good option for everyone:

  • Bagged costumes are often really expensive
  • They tend to have unpleasant textures, fabrics, smells, and seams
  • It might be hard to find one in your size, especially if you are a woman and don’t want to wear a sexualized costume.
  • You might not find one you like
  • The costume store might be too unpleasant or overloading to tolerate

Luckily, there are other options.

One option (probably the hardest one) is sewing your own.

  • That’s a lot of effort, particularly if you do not have a sewing machine
  • The advantage is that if you go to a fabric store, you can pick a pattern
  • There might be some less-difficult patterns available
  • There are a lot more non-sexual options for costumes in fabric stores than costume stores
  • Also, you can pick the fabric and make sure it’s a texture you like or can at least tolerate

Another option: Making a costume out of a box:

  • If you have a big cardboard box, you can cut out a hole for your head and your arms, then paint it or draw on it
  • The easiest box costume is to go as dice. You just draw the right number of dots on each side (or glue pieces of construction paper).
  • If you google “box costume”, you will get a lot of different options and instructions for box costumes.
  • This is fairly cheap and can be fairly straightforward (it can be complicated too, but it doesn’t have to be)
  • If you use paint, it will be messy. So either make your costume outside or put down newspaper or a tarp first
  • The major downside of box costumes is that they are unwieldy. They make it harder to move, and especially to use your arms. This might be very uncomfortable.

Another thing you can make out of a box or cardboard: flat cardboard costumes:

  • Cut out a piece of cardboard in a shape you like.
  • Some shapes that work well: Hershey’s kiss, star, Easter egg, rainbow
  • (You could probably make a Tardis costume this way too)
  • Decorate the shape you’ve made.
  • Some things that work well as decorations: aluminum foil (works great for a Hershey’s kiss or star costume), markers, colored duct tape, paint, stickers
  • Attach a string to the costume and hang the costume from your neck with ribbon or string. You can either poke holes in the top of the costume and tie on ribbon/string, or tape it on with strong tape (regular scotch tape will not be strong enough to hold it up for long)

Wigs or hats:

  • Buying just a hat/wig can be cheaper and more tolerable than buying and wearing a whole bagged costume
  • You can dress as a clown by putting on a big rainbow wig.
  • It helps to paint your face and/or use a clown nose, but it is not necessary.
  • You can wear a jester hat and go as a jester
  • You can wear a witch’s hat and go as a witch. (Wearing black clothing helps, especially a black skirt. Or, if your hat is not black, clothing can be the same color as the hat)
  • If you wear a crown, you can go as a king/queen. This works especially well when paired with velvet clothing.

Going to a party dressed like one of your friends:

  • Eg: if you usually wear tie-dye and flowing skirts, you could borrow clothes from a friend who dresses conservatively.
  • Make sure that this is ok with the person who you’re dressing like. If you show up in a them costumed and they think you’re making fun of them, it will end badly
  • Be careful about costumes that involve cross dressing. Make sure that you’re not making trans or gender nonconforming people the butt of a joke.
  • Be careful about dressing in clothing associated with an ethnic group or religion other than your own. That usually ends poorly.

Minimalist or pun costumes:

  • Costumes that aren’t really a full outfit, but will look like a costume.
  • If you google “last minute costumes” or “minimalist costumes” you will get a lot of suggestions
  • Eg: holding a sign that says “nudist on strike”.

A fairly easy cat costume

  • Get an old pair of tights to use as a tail.
  • Stuff one leg with newspaper
  • Tie the other leg around your waist to hold the tail on
  • Paint your nose pink and draw cat whiskers on your fac
  • (Preferably with face paint. You can use a marker for this, but it’s likely to be very annoying to get off later. OTOH, (non-toxic) markers might be more tolerable from a sensory perspective)
  • If you like, you can make cat ears out of paper and attach them to a headband or hair clips

Other things that look vaguely costumey:

  • A hat with flashy fake plastic jewelery
  • Spraying or dying your hair a bright unnatural color (this will create a smell though; it’s probably best to check if you can tolerate the smell before putting it on your hair). You can also dye your hair with koolaid if you hair is light.
  • A feather boa
  • Face paint
  • Zombie makeup can be particularly effective. Because you can wear whatever clothes you want and be like “A zombie college student” or wear a tie-dye shirt and be a zombie hippie (might be inadvisable around kids because could be read as a drug reference) or a suit/tie/jacket and be a zombie executive
  • A mask, even without other costume pieces (be aware that in some areas, it is illegal for adults to wear masks, or illegal to wear masks that cover your whole face)
  • A prom dress can look like a costume on Halloween

You can also go to a thrift store and find interesting stuff to wear or build a costume out of. That is usually pretty cheap.

Short version: If you want to wear a costume but don’t want to or can’t go to a costume store, there are other options. Scroll up for some examples.

Trick or treat ettiquite in the US

In most areas in the US, it is traditional for children to go trick-or-treating on the evening of Halloween (October 31st). This means that they put on a costume and go door to door asking for candy.

If you put up Halloween decorations, or you have your porch light on, people will assume that you welcome trick-or-treaters and will be annoyed with you if you don’t give them candy. If you have no Halloween decorations and turn your porch light off, most people will leave you alone (but you will probably get a few obnoxious people trying to demand candy anyway, and possibly a few kids who don’t understand that rule).

When you give out candy at home on Halloween, it’s considered acceptable to wear either a costume or normal clothing. If you wear a costume while giving candy to trick or treaters, make sure that it is not sexually suggestive. (Suggestive costumes are ok at Halloween parties for adults, and are likely to be considered ok on the street, but they’re not ok to wear if you’re interacting with children.)

The expected candy to give out is miniature (“fun-sized”) candy bars or other small, individually-wrapped candly. You can get bags of appropriate Halloween candy at grocery stores, drug stores, and many other kinds of stores before Halloween. Candy you give out needs to be individually wrapped because most children are taught that it is dangerous to accept unwrapped candy. Most children are also taught that it is dangerous to accept homemade treats.

Do not invite trick or treaters inside. Children are taught that it is dangerous to go into a stranger’s house.

(A partial exception: In some communities it is considered acceptable to set up a haunted house in your home and invite trick or treaters to walk through it. Figuring out whether or not this is ok is complicated, and it is easy to get wrong and end up seeming really creepy. It’s the kind of thing that’s only likely to be ok if you’re in a neighborhood where people know each other, you are friends with the parents in the neighborhood, and kids already spend time in your house. Don’t do it if nobody knows you.)

The easiest way to distribute candy is to keep a bowl by your door and to drop a piece into each trick or treater’s treat bag. One piece of candy is enough; people will be pleased if you give more than one piece. Some people let kids pick their candy from a bowl with a variety of candies in it. If you do this, some kids will take more than one piece, and it’s best not to get too upset or confrontational about it. (If you can’t tolerate kids doing that, it’s better to just put the candy in their treat bag yourself, which is considered completely acceptable.)

It’s ok to compliment costumes. It’s considered rude to say anything critical about them. If you can’t tell what someone is dressed as, it can be ok to ask, but you have to be careful about tone. (“Who are you?” or “What are you dressed as?” is more likely to be ok; “What are you supposed to be?” is likely to be heard as insulting, especially if you sound annoyed.)

It’s probably better to err on the side of not calling a kid’s costume cute, because kids who are old enough to understand what cute means are often sensitive about not being perceived as little kids. If you want to compliment a costume, “cool”, “creative”, “pretty”, and “beautiful” are more likely to be appreciated. Or something specific, eg “Wow, I love superheroes!” or “That’s an awesome shade of blue.”

Be careful about assuming gender – some kids dressed as Batman might be girls, and some kids dressed as unicorns might be boys. (Eg “What a lovely Rainbow Dash costume!” is better than “What a lovely girl!”).

Trick or treaters are often accompanied by parents. It’s not considered necessary to give candy to parents. When teenagers take children trick or treating, it’s good to also give candy to the teenagers (especially if they are wearing a costume). It’s no fun to watch younger siblings get candy without getting any yourself.