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Tips for having a good Halloween in the UK

I was on BBC Lincolnshire last week talking about Halloween with William Wright. He asked me to come on as an American to talk about Halloween, since it’s not celebrated all that much in the UK.

Here are a few guidelines for having an authentic Halloween:

-Wear a costume. If your child is going to go trick or treating, they need a costume. You don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money on this, either. One of my favourite costumes was made on Halloween out of things we had in the house. I became an Absent-minded professor with a button down shirt open over a t-shirt, an untied tie looped around my neck, a pair of boxers (I wore tights under for warmth), and one slipper and one shoe.

-Trick or Treating is for kids. The general cut off IMHO should be the lower teens, unless you have a younger sibling or babysitting charge to take around. Groups of 19-20-yr-olds begging for sweets just isn’t cool.

-If you are escorting a younger child, don’t expect candy for yourself. Some people will only give candy to the little ones, but it helps your case for candy if you put on a costume.

-If someone doesn’t have candy, that isn’t an excuse to throw eggs or do other vandalism. Some people just don’t like Halloween or forgot to plan for it. Be gracious and thank them for their time before leaving their property.

-If the light is out, don’t knock. A common undocumented rule in the US is to leave your front light on if you want trick or treaters and to turn it off if you don’t.

-Trick or Treat only on Halloween or your town’s designated night. Trick or Treating is one night. Some towns designate a different day for Trick or Treating other than Halloween, but it is always just one night. If your town is doing Trick or Treating on the 30th, don’t go out on the 31st, too!

-Be polite and say thank you. Loads of kids would come to my door in the US and some wouldn’t even say “Trick or Treat” let alone thank me for the candy. A little manners goes a long way!

-If you’re giving out candy, remember to only give out wrapped candy. Unwrapped candy isn’t safe, and neither are home baked goods. Save the home baked goods for the people you know directly and not the strangers. Small coins are also sometimes given out in the US by people who either don’t want to give candy, or have run out. When I was younger we also occasionally would receive a small bag of pretzels, crisps, or even a pencil.

-Likewise, parents please go through your children’s candy before they start eating it. Check to make sure things are still in date and that wrappers are secure. Throw away unwrapped candies or home baked goods, unless you know the person who gave it to your child.

-Halloween does not have to be scary, and in fact, can be fun and even silly! The producer at BBC Lincolnshire told me her child was terrified of the skulls and spiders decorating the nursery he goes to. You don’t need scary skulls and spiders to decorate for Halloween. Witches, black cats, mummies unravelling, even just plain pumpkins and coloured leaves can be a nice Halloween decoration.

-Please remember that just because you see something OTT on an American TV programme, that doesn’t mean it’s something done by middle-class America. This note applies to Proms as well! When in doubt, do some internet research or find an American friend to ask.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!!

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  1. Nikki-ann October 31st, 2011 21:12

    Great tips! We don’t get many trick or treaters as we live in a quiet village and this year we haven’t even had any. I think America does it far better than us.

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