Trick-Or-Treating: The Perfect Time To Judge Your Neighbors

Lagging behind my kids as they weave through the neighborhood on Halloween can be monotonous.

I repeat the same few phrases over and over again:

“Wait for me!”

“Watch for cars!”

“Say thank you!”

“Please don’t walk on their flowers, honey.”

“We’ll eat the candy later.”

“I’m not going to eat all of the candy, buddy, I’m testing a few to make sure they’re safe.”

To stay keyed in, I play subtle mind-games.  My favorite is to walk from street to street connecting a home’s Halloween decor to the homeowner’s propensity for being neighborly – all while predicting the candy they will be giving out.

In doing so, I’ve come up with four categories of Halloween Houses – my own version of neighborhood profiling.

(1) The Full Monty House

This home has a Halloween-themed display that would make Clark Griswold jealous – complete with skeletons, smoke machines, gravestones and spooky music.  These houses can be scary for the little ones but a ball for kids over 8 and us parents.

My older kids will run to the door of the Full Monty while my little ones will be hugging my leg as I coax them onward.   

What candy will they be giving?

The outdoor showcase is not the only extravagance – Full Monty’s will be giving out a full-sized candy bar, a delicious homemade treat or can of soda.  This house will have the high school-aged, trick-or-treaters texting their friends about this must-stop location.

What must these neighbors be like?

If they are taking this much time to decorate their yard, these neighbors must have more time and energy for Halloween than me.  I’ll give kudos to their creativity but secretly chuckle at the thought of the November 1st take-down operation.  My scoffing is really masked jealousy.

(2) The Lights Are On and Pumpkins Are Lit House

This home is the run-of-the-mill, average Halloween celebrator – nothing over the top but very cordial.  I assume the lights of these homes will stay on until all little ones are satisfied.  These neighbors answer the door with a smile, no matter the time of evening.

What candy will they be giving?

These neighbors will be handing out the popular, safe choices – Snickers, Baby Ruth or Butterfinger.

What must these neighbors be like?

These neighbors are solid and pleasant – the type that you can borrow tools or a cup of sugar from.  They would be candidates for holding onto a spare key to my house.    

(3) The Lights Are On But With No Visible Pumpkins or Decorations

This is the home of a Halloween partial-participant.  These neighbors aren’t boycotting Halloween but are eager to give out their candy and turn the exterior light off.  For kids, this house is a goldmine – they’ll be handing out handfuls of candy in the hopes of a quick return to a quiet evening.

What candy will they be giving?

These neighbors will be giving away whatever candy is on sale in the following sequence:

Before 7 p.m., they’ll be personally handing out candy to little ones – a few at a time.  

From 7 to 8 p.m., the bowl of candy will be left at the door step and grabbing handfuls is acceptable.

By 8 p.m., any remaining candy is gobbled up by the pack of borderline-too-old-to-dress-up teens still circling the now kid-free streets. 

What must these neighbors be like?

These neighbors must have grown children.  They’ve been there and done that – they aren’t interested in over participating but not keen on being a neighborhood Scrooge either.

(4) The Neighborhood Halloween Scrooge

These home are dark, uninviting and easily identifiable by the herds of kids stopping in their driveway to ask their parents, “Can I go ring this doorbell?”

Those same kids stomp through the perfectly manicured grass as they dejectedly try to figure out what kind of neighbor would dismiss Halloween. 

What candy will they be giving?


What must these neighbors be like?

These neighbors must be old and ornery – they pump their fists at kids short-cutting through their yard after school.  These neighborhood Scrooges either didn’t have children or have forgotten how it was walking from house to house in search of a sugar high.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m not judging as much as I’m passing the time as I instruct my kids to skip the Scrooges and to find more Full Monty’s.

Happy Halloween – even to the Scrooges among us.


One Comment

  1. Matt Peterson

    The 3rd one with the candy on the porch is me. It’s not because I am trying to get back to a peaceful weekend, but because I am out trick or treating with my six kids. Were gone for 2 hours so if I don’t leave the candy out on the porch with the light on, neighbors may think I am a Scrooge. 😀

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