Unpopular opinion - I refuse to let my children go Trick or Treating

Two smiling Halloween Pumpkins on a wooden table

Will you be going trick or treating this Halloween? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

'Can we come Trick or Treating with you?' - that was the message from my neighbour a few weeks ago, and I grimaced.

I was bracing myself, because whenever I tell people my stance on this so-called tradition it is always met with negative vibes and an insistence that I am depriving my children of a right of passage.

My husband and I are in total agreement, however, that trick or treating is wrong. Many parents reviewed their position on this last year as Covid levels again rose and fears of picking up the virus from a contaminated bowl of loot circulated as wildly as the virus itself.


girls dressed up for halloween

Violet Sadler and her friend admiring decorations in their village - Credit: Natalie Sadler

We have held this view since long before Covid came to our shores, since my teenage step-daughter was small in fact. We were anti trick or treating (or begging as we prefer to call it) before it was en vogue.

As a child I was never allowed to partake in the annual pastime of dressing in black, donning a paper hat from the corner shop and calling on my neighbours, threatening to egg their homes or spray them with water if they failed to come up with the goods.

My parents told us it was begging, and at the time I had huge FOMO (fear of missing out). Now I am grateful that my parents took that stance, because I can make a stand against the practice without feeling hypocritical.

Ironically, my parents, having moved from east London to a leafy garden village in rural Essex, now buy a huge bag of sweets every year then get disappointed when they only have a handful of young witches knocking at their door.

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They see it as harmless fun and a way of uniting the community.

I, on the other hand, maintain that it is wrong. We tell our children year round not to take things from strangers and I am not prepared to confuse my girls by casting that warning aside on October 31 and allow them to go knocking up and down the street in the hunt for candy.

For us, it is also about teaching children not to be greedy. We have, pre-Covid, bought bags of sweets, popped a pumpkin outside and let the children hand out sweets to school friends - and I swell with pride as they offer up their ever-decreasing supplies so generously to children who have bulging carrier bags packed full with enough sugar to fuel a series of meltdowns.

I always reward my girls with their own small stash at the end of the evening, they are not completely neglected, fear not. 

Last year, with lockdown looming we went out searching lit pumpkins around our village and for every one my youngest and her friend spotted we gave them a little treat - pots of bubbles, chocolate, sweeties and some healthy snacks too. It was magical seeing their excitement at a time when entertainment was in short supply.

I hear complaints that Halloween is an American custom that we have adopted and I disagree - we always celebrated Halloween but the trick or treating element is something that has travelled across the pond.

We have no issue with dressing up, pumpkin carving, decorating the house and getting into the autumnal spirit as the night's draw in, it is fun doing themed crafts with the girls.

I stand strong, however, on my views on trick or treating so my response to my neighbour was, yes, you can join us reverse trick or treating, we can go for an evening stroll around our little village where we will admire the efforts of our neighbours and hone the girls' observation skills.

But I won't be encouraging them to talk to strangers, or ransack the bowls offered up by our generous neighbours so that they come home with enough sweets to see them past Christmas 2024.

Thankfully she loved my idea.

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