The legal age for trick-or-treating

Where I was a kid, there was some expectation that (a) you would wear a costume when trick-or-treating, and (b) if you were old enough to drive, then you would not go trick-or-treating.

When did that change and why?


I just had parents hold out pillow cases for candy. Not candy for the kids, candy for them.


Good question. For me it was seventh grade. Trick-or-treating was acceptable as a sixth grader (and I was a big kid, so I stood out from the crowd), but once you hit junior more trick-or-treating. At that point, Halloween parties became de rigeur.

Johnny Huh

We had some adults without kids, not dressed up, "trick or treating" tonight. I don't get it, can't they just buy some candy?


We are becoming a decadant, infantile society.

I would tell them, sorry, but I only give candy to children in costume.

Problem solved.


(Because I live in Japan now I do not have recent first-hand experience).


I didn't hand out candy this year as I was on the other side of town tonight.

However, on the drive home, we have a poor neighborhood on one side of the freeway and a rich neighborhood on the other side. Out of curiosity, I decided to check out trick-or-treat activity.

On the poor side, the streets were a ghost town. Saw a few kids trick-or-treating and only a few houses handing out candy. No cars on the road.

On the rich side, there was lots of car traffic. Did not see a block party, but saw hundreds of kids going house-to-house hitting up for candy.

This really struck me as odd, because I get my hair cut at the local barbershop ($13) in the rich neighborhood, and the vast majority of people I meet there are retired empty-nesters.

Seems like some parents are "busing" their children into the rich neighborhood for the loot.


Yes. 40 years ago when I last trick or treated the expectation was not only that you'd be in costume, but that you'd be a resident of the same neighborhood of that house you were expecting candy from. Some would grill you at length before letting any chocolate grace your bag.


Last night I saw trick or treaters that were juniors in high school. I guess they just wanted candy.

scott cunningham

I saw the same thing last night. I saw one group of around 15, and the average age was 16, but there was one group I saw where the average age was easily 30. They weren't even trying to pretend they were doing anything than free-riding off Halloween - didn't even have a costume!


My wife and I were discussing last night the oddity of parents busing their kids around and scamming for candy. Afterall, the only reward is candy. Is it really worth it? As a parent, I'd prefer it if my son didn't get a lot candy, it's not good for him. I just don't understand.

On a similar note, we had college kids ring a doorbell after 10:00 p.m. to "trick or beer". Creative, but they are very lucky they didn't wake my son with their inconsiderate joke.


I was out with my daughter and friends last night, and noticed many high-schoolers out as well. I welcome it...if they put forth the effort.

My wife and I came to the conclusion that it should be acceptable for adults to trick-or-treat, if there is a demonstrated effort on their part. They're older and should be able to afford or create a costume at a higher caliber than their children. When I hand out candy, I would happily give candy to an adult if they put forth the effort with a good costume.

It's all fun...regardless of the age.

Sure, an adult can go and buy a bag of candy. But part of the fun of Halloween (at least how I remember it as well as seeing it through my daughter) is the vast assortment of things you'll get from people.


Most older kids I saw didn't say trick or treat, didn't dress up, complained about what they get tossed into their WALMART plastic grocery bags, and didn't say thanks or happy halloween. That's why I only let real kids come up to me doorstep. These others are future liberals practicing for their career as beggars or those who cater to them.


I lived in Sweden for 2 years. Sweden does not celebrate Halloween (instead they dress up as witches on Easter and sell easter eggs door-to-door, but I digress...)

One year, as I and my friend were walking we saw 3 kids in masks. We stopped them and asked what they were doing. They explained that they had lived in the U.S. and enjoyed Halloween and so they thought to bring it to Sweden.

"That's Great" we said, "We'd give you candy, but we don't have any"
"That's Ok," they said, "Most people give us a few Kronar (crowns) instead"

So we both forked over a few Kronar for each kid. The money went *CHINK* in their bags. The bags were filled with money (and a few pieces of candy).

They had each a few hundred kroner for a couple hours work, about $20 an hour each.

Shows what a little assymetric information combined with being a first adopter can do!

Oh, and they all 3 would have been over the "legal age" for trick-or-treating in the U.S. as well.



I remember dressing up in costume during college years (around 1970, St. Louis suburbs), singing "pumpkin carols" and collecting for some charity (UNICEF?) It was great fun.

At that time, this was rare enough that people were surprised to see us, and maybe a bit apprehensive. Candy was offered mainly because people didn't know what our expectations were; we didn't take more than we ate on the spot.

I think very small children always went with a parent. There are more parents now because people are more apprehensive.

Even as a kid, it was pretty common to go outside your neighborhood. This was generally because you'd go with a group of friends, and figure out which, of all your neighborhoods, there was likely to be the biggest haul. Or, you'd work two of your neighborhoods and the territory in between.


In response to Aelstro:

Halloween has since been introduced in Sweden, to the great dismay of traditionalists such as myself.

(And there is little hope that the Swedish Halloween will go the way of France, in which the "non a Halloween"-movement recently disbanded on account of having won their war. I guess swedes are more America-friendly than the french. :p)


I give teenagers bad things. Like this year I noticed I had a big box of knee high nylons sitting on my dresser. It's pretty much winter now, so I don't delve into that box in the mornings, so each annoying teenager received exactly one knee high nude colored nylon.
They won't be back next year. Or maybe it will give them ideas for actual costumes next year.

Lisa McLeod

Can you say sugar addiction?

As I watched high school kids - in "costumes" of T shirt and jeans, complete with jelly belly hanging out in between - gleefully dig into my stash of Almond Joys, I couldn't help but wonder what's in store for the next generation of couch potatoes.

The worst part? With all those teenagers grabbing away there was nothing left for me.


I'm not old enough to know for sure, but over my lifetime to date I've noticed a lot of complaining about the increasing age and apathy of trick-or-treaters and frankly have not noticed any decrease in costumes or any increase in average age. Maybe my sample size is just too small.

At any rate, I'm definitely aware of trying to trick or treat in different neighborhoods. It's just logical. It would be safer and since people volunteer this candy, I don't see anything immoral about it at all. In fact, I grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of older people, a good portion of which had no idea Halloween still happened. (I once got a half used roll of zinc supplements from a sweet old man who seemed to think they were lifesavers and sealed) So I once walked towards my elementary school where kids lived, and got a much better yield.


It seems awfully ageist to suggest that some people are too old to trick or treat. I recently read a book called Rejuvenile about adults re-claiming childhood activities. It was quite thought provoking and interesting. The bottom line seems to be that some adults know how to play/be creative and have a good time. And others think being grown up means being serious all the time.


Is it possible that people think there's fewer costumes now because there are fewer of those hard plastic masks with eye holes?

You could wear nothing but one of these cheap masks and look like you were in costume.

Of course, you couldn't see to cross the street -- which is why it's a good thing there are fewer of these masks now.