The Trick to Treatin'

Last year was Maisie’s first time trick-or-treating. Of course, at the tender age of one, she really didn’t get it, but my little lady bug did delight in ringing the doorbell. She’d hold up her pail and get a look of total shock when a neighbor dropped something into the bucket. She’d never even had candy before so she really was clueless about the whole thing. Of course, I spent the whole night tearing up. We’d spent so many years trying to have kids and there we were, at long last, taking our little girl trick-or-treating. It was the absolute best.

This year? I expect Maisie to appreciate it on a whole other level and I’m not sure I’ll think it’s quite as sweet (especially if she throws a tantrum because she wants more candy). Still, I think my Lil’ Bo Peep will be pretty cute alongside her brother and dog who will both be dressed as sheep. Yes, they have coordinating costumes. Yes, I’m a dork.

I’ve been asking some of my friends with older kids for some wise words of advice to make the whole thing go smoother.

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Oh sure, we all know to make sure the costume is fire retardant and doesn’t fit too loose. We know to go with them and check the candy to make sure it’s safe. Yawn. But what are the other little tricks of the night?

The best advice I got was about food. The last thing you want to deal with at the end of the night is a sugared-up kid. The secret apparently is to pump ‘em so full of good, healthy food before they go out begging for candy that there’s no room for candy. Of course, kids can always find a spot for just one more sweet (so can I), but when they do eat it, the sugar won’t be so potent if they have other food in their stomach. How you get them to eat beforehand is still not quite clear.

When you get home, have a “party” afterwards where they divide the candy into two piles. One pile is for them and one pile is for less fortunate kids who couldn’t go trick-or-treating. Schools and dentist’s offices collect the extras. Brilliant! Teach charity and save teeth in one fell swoop! I bet my friend’s kids also say “thank you.” Far too many don’t.

The costume is a whole different matter. My mom used to cobble together some pretty weak excuses for a costume. I was an alien once, but the only person who knew I was an alien was my mother, but, God bless her, she tried. As an adult, I always liked being a news story. If my kids were going to be in a costume contest this year, they’d go as a bed bugs.

One mom suggests using those glow-in-the-dark bracelets just so you can keep track of them. Personally, I think a costume needs easy access for the bathroom. One year, my brother went as the Abominable Snowman by covering himself in shaving cream. Turns out, it wasn’t a pee-friendly outfit, even for a boy (nor could he sit!) Speaking of, make them do the safety pee before you leave. That’s what I call a “pee-now-even-if-you-don’t-have-to-go-because-you-don’t-know-when-you’ll-get-the-chance-again” pee.

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I used to trick-or-treat with my friend, Denise, when we were kids. Her boys are much older than my kids because she was a normal age when she got pregnant. Her tip? Don’t go with a dinky candy bucket or you’ll end up carrying the candy and don’t choose a costume with a handheld prop or you’ll end up carrying that, too. Maybe I should rethink Maisie’s Lil Bo Peep shepherd’s staff. Sigh.

She also suggests drinking a bit of wine yourself. Ha! Old friends always know how to make you laugh.


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