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Trick or Tween! How Old is Too Old to Go Trick-or-Treating?

The ideas expressed below are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of halloweenalliance.com.

Image: talkinrestless.com
Image credit: talkinrestless.com

Last October, a friend and I went Halloween candy shopping together. As I tossed bag after extra large-size bag of candy into my cart, my friend stared at me.

“Do you really need that much candy?” she asked.

“I don’t want to have to run out again at nine o’clock at night for more candy for the stragglers,” I explained.

“Oh,” she waved away, “it’s always the older kids who come later. I turn them away. Kids over 10 really shouldn’t be trick-or-treating anyway.”

Okay, it’s not like I’ve never heard this type of comment before, but…et tu, Brute? My own friend, one of the “trick-or-treating age police”?

You see, I have the opposite opinion. On that spookiest night of nights of the year, anyone…I repeat, anyone who comes to my door (including, one year, the UPS delivery man…nope, not kidding) gets a treat and a cheery “Happy Halloween!” Every knock and doorbell-ring, full stop.

I know I may be unusual. But here’s my reasoning.

They’re Still Kids. Really

They may be getting bigger, but trust me: tweens and teens are NOT grown-ups yet.
They may be getting bigger, but trust me: tweens and teens are NOT grown-ups yet.

You may look at a “little” monster with the cracking voice and suspiciously five o’clock shadow-appearing lip and think, “That kid is just too old for this.”

Here’s the thing.  Yes, their bodies are changing (at irregular rates – so that “youngster” could be 16…or he could be 11 and very tall for his age). Yes, they’re getting pretty savvy (or think they are). Sure, they’re X amount of years from legal adulthood. Roger that.

But think back. Even when you were “legal adult” age – 18 – exactly how mature were you? Now go back from there. At 16, 15, 14, were you skimming the Dow Jones each morning just to keep a heads-up even though you were pretty confident that your conservative stocks weren’t about to tank any time soon? Or were you thinking, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious right now if I sat on my brother’s head and farted?”

Come on. The teen years are still kid years…I don’t care what anybody says. And as the song (sort of) says, kids just wanna have fun.

We complain that kids grow up too fast nowadays. Then we strip the childish fun times from them. Err, huh?

Halloween ISN’T Just for (Little) Kids Anymore

First of all, “American Halloween” as we think of it today – with tiny children innocently going door-to-door in cute costumes, holding Mom’s hand – is an idea that didn’t really take root until the mid-20th century, after World War II. (Before that, “trick” or treat meant just that, including some dangerous tricks that were literal vandalism – and farther back than that, it was primarily grown-ups who caroused on Halloween Night at a local gathering.)

But rather than bore you with history, I’ll just say this: there’s been a movement during the past two decades or so back toward grown-ups being “allowed” to celebrate Halloween, complete with fantastic costumes and go-all-out parties.

So, here are your options: 1. Be an adult. Dress up, eat, drink and carouse. Have a fantastic time  you’ll talk about for weeks. 2. Be a very, very young child. Dress up, get lots of candy. Have a fantastic time you’ll talk about for weeks. 3. Be a tween or teenager. Sit at home on Halloween night hoping a halfway-decent movie comes on.

Is that really fair? And how much sense does it make, really – “Sorry, Junior, but you’re too old AND too young to have fun”?

Of course in-betweeners feel left out. And since attending the grown-up party with alcohol and sexy-everything (sexy pirate, sexy nurse, sexy librarian, sexy accountant) costumes is probably out of the question, what say you just let the poor kid go out trick-or-treating?


About Melanie Henson

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One comment

  1. I go all out at Hallowe’en, with a big yard display, and started doing this when we moved here 12 years ago. Many of my neighbors were 6 or 7 at that time, and will still come by. My rule is, if you come to my house dressed up, even if all you wear is a mask, you get candy by the handfuls (and I buy the good stuff). If you DON’T dress up, you get ONE piece of candy. I explain this and say if I go to all this effort to make my house fun to view and visit, the least you can do is make an effort to be a part of the spirit. One tween, about 13 or 14, came to my house all dressed up, and reminded me that she had come the year before without a costume of any kind, and got only one piece of candy. She had told her mother when she got back in the car, and her mother said she thought that was fair.

    I figure these older kids are the ones who will be doing the yard haunts in the future, and I want them to have as good a time as any other kiddo out there. Heck, I give candy to the parents who dress up, and offer cups of hot cider to all the adults who come by. Hallowe’en should be fun for all!

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