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People can trick-or-treat at any age, but in order to receive candy you do have to wear some kind of costume, even if it’s one of those “funny” no-effort ones where you just wear a fanny pack and call yourself a tourist or something.Most teenagers stop dressing up and trick-or-treating somewhere between the ages of 12 and 16 — but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad manners for them to go door-to-door, as long as they are polite while out on the streets.Halloween has no age limit, say experts — as long as your teen follows some rules. As Halloween approaches, parents may wonder if the spooky day associated with costumes and candy has an age-related shelf life.

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Trick or Treat?! Learn about all kinds of foods with this simple Halloween song from Super Simple Songs!
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******
Lyrics:
Trick or treat?
Trick or treat?
Give me something good to eat.
Apples, peaches, tangerines.
Happy Happy Halloween.
Trick or treat?
Trick or treat?
Give me something sweet to eat.
Cookies, chocolate, jelly beans.
Happy Happy Halloween.
Trick or treat?
Trick or treat?
Give me something sour to eat.
Lemons, grapefruits, limes so green.
Happy Happy Halloween.
Trick or treat?
Trick or treat?
Give me something good to eat.
Nuts and candy. Lollipops.
Now it’s time for us to stop.
*****
Song: Give Me Something Good To Eat
CD: Super Simple Songs – Halloween
Music: Super Simple Learning
Vocals: Leah Frederick
*****
Super Simple Songs® and Super Simple Learning® are registered trademarks of Super Simple Learning, Inc.
*****
Give Me Something Good To Eat by Super Simple Learning

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  • Author: Super Simple Songs – Kids Songs
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Can a 12 year old go trick or treating?

Most teenagers stop dressing up and trick-or-treating somewhere between the ages of 12 and 16 — but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad manners for them to go door-to-door, as long as they are polite while out on the streets.

Is there an age you can’t Trick or Treat?

Halloween has no age limit, say experts — as long as your teen follows some rules. As Halloween approaches, parents may wonder if the spooky day associated with costumes and candy has an age-related shelf life.

Is 13 too old for trick-or-treating?

People can trick-or-treat at any age, but in order to receive candy you do have to wear some kind of costume, even if it’s one of those “funny” no-effort ones where you just wear a fanny pack and call yourself a tourist or something.

How late is too late to trick-or-treat?

Older elementary kids, tweens, and teens (just how old is too old to trick-or-treat?) will likely keep knocking until 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., or the time stated by your local curfew laws. Keep your front porch light on as long as you’re willing to accept trick-or-treaters.

Can high schoolers go trick-or-treating?

Trick-or-treating for a teenager is good because teens are given the ability to relive what they always did as younger children. Teens could also grow stronger bonds with their friends if they go trick-or-treating with them. A teenager may be asked by his or her parents to take a younger sibling out to trick-or-treat.

Can a 16 year old go trick-or-treating?

Is 16 too old to go trick-or-treating? Per at least one etiquette expert, there is no cut-off age for trick-or-treating.

Is 21 too old to trick-or-treat?

There are no formal age limitations on trick-or-treating. Growing up, you probably participated in the yearly ritual until it felt weird to keep doing it. Or until it felt like you were the oldest kid on the block still out in a Halloween costume asking neighbors for free candy.

You’re never too old for trick-or-treating

Halloween is a flashpoint for many of our deeply held and most arbitrary social fears. For a while, we all worried about whether unscrupulous homeowners were handing out poisonous, razor blade-filled candy (a myth that’s been roundly debunked); more recently that morphed into terror over pot-laced edibles slipped into trick-or-treaters’ bags (relax, nobody likes your kid enough to waste that kind of money on them). Halloween combines costumes, candy, strangers, and darkness — it’s practically a powder keg of worry.

A perennial source of that fretting? The question of how old is too old to run around in said darkness asking for said candy. It’s a somewhat lopsided debate — there are currently far more “How Old Is Too Old to Trick-Or-Treat?” articles that land vaguely on the side of allowing people to just do what they feel is best, and far fewer fiery takes from folks who think teens should be banned from Halloween streets. (Safety concerns, specifically bullying and vandalism, are invoked, without much citation, as the counterpoint.)

But it does raise questions about why these sorts of arguments are so tempting and why we can’t just let this handful of perpetual topics die. Case in point: for two years in a row, a city in Virginia has received national attention for a purported rule on its books barring teenagers from trick-or-treating, listing fines or even jail time for failure to comply.

Sooooooooooooooooo lemme get this straight, a group of municipal law makers affirmatively banded together in agreement over the decision to jail 13 year olds up to 6 mos for over-age trick-or-treating? K pic.twitter.com/dQnxRxlKnG — julie warren (@JulesAWarren) October 21, 2019

This, too, has been thoroughly defanged: In its 49 years of existence, the ordinance has never actually been enforced. (And even if it were, the age limit was increased from 12 to 14 last year with the threat of jail time eliminated.) The city of Chesapeake posted a somewhat exasperated note on its Facebook page to this effect on October 1, but as of publication, people were still busily commenting to express their agreement or displeasure with the motion.

That’s because this topic is irresistible! As one commenter replied, “It was 10 when I was a kid. But those were the days of parental supervision and common sense, neither of which are in much abundance these days. We stopped handing out candy when those 12+ y/o ‘kids’, who were bigger than I, pushed past the little ones to get candy, and forgot their manners i.e. saying ‘Thank you!’”

Wrote another, “Why is there an age limit on Halloween anyways, I’d rather my kids not grow up so fast and enjoy this holiday without the bs of adults ruining all the fun for them. Give me a break.”

This debate, if we can call it that, is not really about the current youth of America; it’s so grown-ups can reminisce about being allowed to run barefoot down Rusty Can Lane at 11:30 on a school night, pillowcases strained to bursting with Werther’s Originals, while others recount how by age 7 ½ they were giving noogies to the losers who dared devote a couple of hours to the pursuit of sugar.

(Of course, it is still about the current youth of America, inasmuch as limiting who gets to come to your house after dark and politely request a treat reveals the racist and classist underpinnings of our nation.)

Still, when we talk about What The Kids Are Doing, we’re really talking about ourselves. For my part, I trick-or-treated well into my late teens; I must have been at least 16 before I stopped for good. I loved making my own costumes and amassing an unholy amount of candy and counting it all up at the end of the night. Even once I started working and could have used the money to buy my own candy whenever I wanted, that wasn’t the point; my Halloween stash felt differently earned, this more primal hunting-gathering impulse momentarily sated.

Halloween combines costumes, candy, strangers, and darkness — it’s practically a powder keg of worry

I miss Halloween now, the sharp focus of that one designated night, when the air smelled electric and mildewy-but-in-a-good-way and we’d all try to negotiate whether we could forgo jackets in favor of keeping our costumes visible. I miss trading miniature KitKats and Snickers with my little sister. I’m happy I was old enough when I stopped that I can still remember it now.

Maybe some of my neighbors judged me toward the end of my trick-or-treating tenure — maybe you are judging me now — and that’s fine. I was old enough to weigh the balance and to conclude that I’d trade a couple of disapproving stares for a pile of Reese’s Pumpkins.

That’s what these generational tut-tuttings are almost always about; when we try to legislate the behavior of the current class of youngs, we’re often working out our own feelings about what our earlier days were like — and the fact that we’re not living them anymore. We love to tell teens what to do, and also to talk about what we were and weren’t allowed to do when we were their age.

Let’s assume that today’s teens are equally cognizant of what they’re doing as we were, those glorious nerdy geniuses who might one day save us all (we’ve certainly done enough to them), and also count the blessing that any kid who’s spending their evening going door to door for treats isn’t off doing something worse. As Christine Burke wrote over at Scary Mommy, “Folks, we need to lay off teens and let them explore safe ways to have fun. And we can start by not judging the group of teens that shows up to your door, laughing and joking and having a good time.”

If you must make laws about Halloween, here are some suggestions:

People can trick-or-treat at any age, but in order to receive candy you do have to wear some kind of costume, even if it’s one of those “funny” no-effort ones where you just wear a fanny pack and call yourself a tourist or something. Ugh, fine.

Do not pass out multi-level marketing-related materials; they are worse than receiving apples or even toothbrushes, a real thing that once happened to me.

Racist costumes are felonies, full stop. Okay, that’s all!

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How Old Is Too Old to Trick-Or-Treat on Halloween?

As Halloween approaches, a long-debated question arises: How old is too old to go trick-or-treating?

The answers vary. One town in Canada has drawn a hard line with a bylaw announced in September that bans anyone older than 16 from trick-or-treating and hits any rule-breakers with a $200 fine. But to parenting and etiquette experts, the rules are not always so clear.

There is no widely accepted cutoff age for older children who want to wear costumes and demand candy on Oct. 31, experts say. Most teenagers stop dressing up and trick-or-treating somewhere between the ages of 12 and 16 — but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad manners for them to go door-to-door, as long as they are polite while out on the streets.

“The big concerns I have are that younger kids get priority,” said Lizzie Post, co-president at the Emily Post Institute, which offers advice on etiquette. “You want to make sure younger kids are getting the chance and the opportunity, but I don’t want to discourage teens from enjoying this as long they’re behaving well.”

Other recommendations for teenagers who want to trick-or-treat include wearing costumes that are not too scary, so younger children feel comfortable, saying please and thank you when taking candy, and embodying a friendly (not spooky) spirit of Halloween — hold off on the tricks and the treats will come without much complaint.

The responsibility to make sure trick-or-treating goes smoothly for children of all ages also lies with parents and the adults who are giving out candy, says education psychologist and parenting writer Michele Borba. If teenagers want to trick-or-treat, parents should figure out why and work with the local community to ensure Halloween night works for everyone. This could include setting specific timeframes for teenagers to trick-or-treat, making it clear to the neighborhood that kids of all ages will be out on Halloween, or having teenagers lend a hand with managing younger children.

“For kids who still want to trick-or-treat, how about going with younger siblings? Big kids helping little kids — that could be a very positive experience,” Borba says.

Write to Mahita Gajanan at [email protected]

When is a kid too old to trick-or-treat? Halloween has no age limit, say experts — as long as your teen follows some rules

As Halloween approaches, parents may wonder if the spooky day associated with costumes and candy has an age-related shelf life. Sure, trick-or-treating can be fun for all ages, but how old is too old? As costumes are planned and candy is purchased, it’s normal to ask: at what age is it time for kids to trade in their pillow cases for a night by the candy bowl?

For most moms and dads, the timeline doesn’t seem to stop at a set number. Nathaniel Schwartz, a father of two from Georgetown, Ky., explains Halloween events have been a wonderful way to bring his community together for years, regardless of age.

Whether you’re the parent of a toddler or a teen, with some simple rules in place, there can be room for kids of all ages to trick-or-treat this Halloween. (Photo: Getty Creative)

“Our community has trick-or-treating in our downtown area for small kids, but I’ve seen college-aged kids come to participate,” Schwartz tells Yahoo Life. “[The older kids] hand out candy and sometimes do a round of trick-or-treating as well. It’s nice to see the community come together with kids of all ages enjoying the holiday.”

Schwartz says it’s possible that becoming a parent is the true Halloween cutoff, as that’s when you switch gears, preparing to help your children with their own trick-or-treating adventures — while taking a small candy tax, of course.

Nathaniel Schwartz with his two daughters, Zoey, 7, and Renae, 9. (Photo: Nathaniel Schwartz)

But if an age limit for trick-or-treating does exist, most parents seem to agree that teens are in the clear.

“I know a lot of parents think high schoolers are too old to be trick or treating, but I don’t think so,” says Alexandrina Aguirre-Schilke, who lives in Holly Springs, Ga. with her 4-year-old son. “The oldest [trick-or-treaters] I have seen are 14 or 15 years old anyway.”

“These kids could be out doing god-knows-what, and if they still want to trick or treat, I think it’s totally fine. They shouldn’t be turned away because some people think they’re too old,” Aguirre-Schilke continues. “They’re still kids.”

Alexandrina Aguirre-Schilke and her 4-year-old son, Leo, dressed up to trick-or-treat. (Photo: Alexandrina Aguirre-Schilke)

In fact, some experts agree.

Brett Bernstein is a community resources unit supervisor at the Pima County Sheriff’s Department in Tucson, Ariz., where the department’s safety tips place less of an emphasis on age, and more on the importance of adults making smart choices to provide a safe Halloween for everyone in the community.

Story continues

What are Bernstein’s top tips for a safe Halloween for trick-or-treaters of all ages?

“We advise motorists to exercise extra caution while driving on Halloween night,” says Bernstein. “We also advise parents and trick-or-treaters to stick together in a group.”

“And, if it’s time for your teens to head out for their first Halloween alone, we suggest having a plan in place beforehand,” Bernstein adds. “Plan and review a route that is acceptable for your family and then agree on a specific time when teens should return home.”

Maria Jalkio, a first grade teacher from Virginia also has some Halloween tips to share.

Jalkio says she teaches students to always stick with an adult and to head home before dark. When it comes to moms and dads, Jalkio offers this extra advice.

“There really should be no age cut off for trick-or-treating,” she says. “That should be up to parents and their children or teens. We never know what obstacles a child may be facing or where they may be developmentally, despite their age.”

“We often can’t see these things from the outside looking in,” Jalkio cautions. “I always recommend people try to remember that and lead with kindness as we head into this time of the year.”

Today, Abby Beart’s sons are teenagers who prefer to attend costume parties with their friends. Still, the N.J. mom fondly remembers her days trick-or-treating with her little super heroes.

Abbie Beart, a mom from West Freehold, N.J., is preparing for Halloween with two teenage boys. While she notes Halloween has become more about costume parties with friends for her sons, who are 15 and 17, she believes there is no shame in teenagers joining in on some trick-or-treating, as long as there are guidelines in place.

Beart’s guidelines are all about minding those manners and being aware of younger trick-or-treaters.

“As long as kids are respectful and appropriate [I am OK with them trick-or-treating],” says Beart. “I would want to make sure they are setting a good example for younger kids who are out: No swearing, be kind and no more than one piece of candy per house. And, of course, still use please and thank you.”

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How Old Is Too Old to Trick-or-Treat?

With Halloween just around the corner, families throughout the country are prepping spooky decorations, stocking up on candy, and getting everyone’s costume situation finalized. And before you know it, millions of trick-or-treaters will be out knocking on doors in order to procure as much candy as is humanly possible—then trying to eat it all in one night.

Getty Images

But is your kid too old to partake in the fun this year?

When kids are young, the idea of a trick-or-treat age is a non-issue. Even the littlest pumpkins delight in dressing up on spookiest night of the year. And what school-age kid doesn’t like staying up after dark to explore neighborhoods full of witches and monsters? But those in-between tween and teen ages can cause some mixed feelings among holiday purists who think the great candy grab should be little-kids only.

Here’s what you need to know as parent before you decide to let your kids trick-or-treat this year.

Trick-or-Treat Age Limit Laws

In general, many believe the trick-or-treat age should be strictly 12-and-under. Some cities and towns even have an actual trick-or-treat law on the books that place an age limit on trick-or-treating. Yes, really.

According to Fortune magazine, Chesapeake, Virginia limits the trick-or-treat age to kids 12 and under, and older trick-or-treaters can actually be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $100. Other cities in Virginia have similar trick-or-treat age limit laws in place. Statutes in Virginia Beach, Portsmith, Suffolk, and Norfolk all make trick or treating beyond age 12 a crime. Kids in Newport News who are in 8th grade or above are allowed to accompany younger siblings but wearing a mask is against the law.

Upper Deerfield Township, New Jersey has had a trick-or-treat age law in place for over 30 years that restricts trick-or-treating for kids over 12. The law in Belleville, Illinois, where it’s actually called Halloween Solicitation, forbids children over age 12 from wearing a mask and those in 9th grade or above are forbidden by law to “appear on the streets, highways, public homes, private homes, or public places in the city to make trick-or-treat visitations.”

Similarly, Charleston, South Carolina, restricts trick-or-treating for teens over 16.

A nation-wide “official” trick-or-treat age limit is clearly a fraught issue with no clear answer. A survey by Today found that 73% of respondents said kids should stop trick-or-treating between the ages of 12 and 17. Municipalities with age-restricting laws say it’s in the interest of public safety but many parents of tweens and teens disagree. The sentiment that teens, if not trick-or-treating, might get up to more dangerous activities on Halloween night is common while parents of young children may worry that their little ones’ magical night might be ruined by rambunctious teenagers.

Is Your Teen ‘Too Old’?

In places where age-restricting laws are in place, families may not have much choice about when is the right time to opt-out of trick-or-treating. If you have a tween too old to head out on Halloween this year, maybe opt to throw party instead, then enlist their help when it comes to passing out candy.

But for those who can choose, it may be tough to determine when older kids should age out. Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, registered psychologist and author of Parenting Right From the Start, suggests parents think very carefully before bringing it up with their kids.

“Really sit with, as a parent, whether you are making this decision for your child or for the people handing out candy who might be giving you a dirty look because they think your kid is too old,” Lapointe says. The decision should always be made with your children and their needs and wants in mind.

For parents who are trying to determine if the Halloween magic is gone for their older kids, Lapointe reminds us to consider each child individually. “Children are so unique from one to the next that there could be a few years between when two children of the same age are done with trick-or-treating.” While one 13-year-old may prefer to spend the evening handing out candy with parents, another may want to dress-up and do some trick-or-treating. It’s important not to make blanket age-related judgments.

Lapointe also points out that every accommodation should be made for children with special needs.

“Many children with special needs are developmentally much younger than they appear. It is about developmental age and stage, rather than chronological age and stage,” she explains. To those who may answer the door on Halloween, she urges, “Have heart and welcome them to your doorstep. Remember too that not all developmental differences are visible so go with the flow and trust that parents have made the right call in having their child out and about for the evening.”

What Age Can Kids Trick-or-Treat Alone?

Another question parents face regularly this time of year is whether kids should go trick-or-treating without a parent present. Trick-or-treating with a group of peers can make for a fun and confidence-building night for kids, but for some parents, the accompanying worry may not be worth it.

“Consider the different decisions your child will need to make,” says Lapointe. “From crossing very busy streets in the dark, mingling with large crowds of happy trick or treaters, and coming into contact with older teens or adults out enjoying the Halloween festivities in a very different kind of way as you make your decision around this.” Again, laws in some places may limit the ability of kids to go out on their own on Halloween, but if it’s legal, special consideration should be taken before the decision is made.

Parents may consider a communication device like the Relay screen-free phone, for kids who don’t have their own cell phones. The ability to check in on your child and the knowledge that they can contact you if there’s a problem might provide parents with the peace of mind they need to feel comfortable letting kids strike out with friends.

All children, despite their age, should have to opportunity to celebrate the holiday but it’s up to us as parents to help them determine what that means. Every family and every child are different and we all need to remember that childhood doesn’t end when kids reach a certain height or age.

What Age Should You Stop Trick or Treating on Halloween? Parenting Experts Explain

Trick-or-treating will certainly look different this Halloween. While some parents may make the tough decision to keep their kids home, some may have no choice at all — places like Salem, Massachusetts have already canceled most of their Halloween events in wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Still, there’s hope that some states will keep up the tradition — even if it looks and feels different.

Even if trick-or-treating takes a more unconventional route this year, some things will likely remain the same, including the age-old question: How old is too old to trick-or-treat?

While there’s no definitive answer, Treetopia, a Christmas tree company, surveyed 700 respondents in 2019 and found that 1 in 4 Americans think you’re never too old to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. However, the general consensus was the teenage years are when kids should stop trick-or-treating — 18.7 years, to be exact.

Chesapeake, Virginia takes it even one step further, and made it illegal — you heard that right — for older kids to participate. The city’s ordinance, which was updated in 2019, states that: “any person over the age of 14 years shall engage in the activity commonly known as ‘trick or treat’ or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever, he or she shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.” After receiving some backlash, the city clarified that a teenager trick or treating with siblings or friends will be fine.

Carol Yepes Getty Images

And sure, while it might seem like bigger kids could be stealing the holiday (okay, candy) from the little kids, Keri Wilmot, an ambassador for The Genius of Play and a pediatric occupational therapist, argues that trick-or-treating is fair-game … unless you’re a parent. “[You’re] never too old to trick-or-treat, unless you’re the parent who carries around your own bag for candy and sneaks your hand into the candy bowl when accompanying your own children around the block!”

It’s also important to remember that there might be other reasons why older trick-or-treaters are joining the group: “For example, the older teenage group you find at the front door might include a child who just moved to a new neighborhood and is out with new friends for the first time,” Wilmot explains. Along the same lines, trick-or-treating is also the perfect opportunity for older and younger kids to bond. “Older kids can practice their leadership and nurturing skills as they guide younger siblings to the best houses on the block, and maybe snag a few mega chocolate bars of their own along the way,” says Anna Yudina, director of The Genius of Play Initiative at The Toy Association.

As kids get older, of course, they should practice proper manners while trick-or-treating. Along with saying “please” and “thank you,” any older trick-or-treaters (think: 13 and up) should dress the part. “You can continue to trick-or-treat into your teen years as long as your teenage Halloween costume gets proportionally better as your age increases,” says Nick Leighton, etiquette expert and host of the Were You Raised by Wolves? podcast. “If you’re 19 and just walking around with some bunny ears from CVS and a pillowcase trying to get free candy, that’s not okay.”

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So, if you or your kids are 13 and up, follow this trick-or-treating rule of thumb: Practice good manners, wear a great costume, stay safe, and have fun. Wilmot says it best: “As long as everyone is being kind and respectful, how can we put an age limit on fun?”

What You Need for the Best Halloween Yet DIY Halloween Costumes GET IDEAS Best Halloween Songs GET IDEAS Fun Halloween Crafts GET IDEAS Classic Halloween Movies GET IDEAS

Amanda Garrity Editor Amanda Garrity has over seven years of experience writing lifestyle content, including almost five years on staff at Good Housekeeping, where she covered all things home and holiday, including the latest interior design trends, inspiring DIY ideas and gift guides for any (and every) occasion.

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Is 15 Too Old to Trick-or-Treat? One City Said Yes

Are you too old to go trick-or-treating?

That’s a question some residents in Chesapeake, Va., will be asking this Halloween after the city passed an ordinance earlier this year capping the activity at age 14. That’s less restrictive than the previous ordinance, which warned people older than 12 could go to jail. But the city changed the rule after an outcry last year on social media turned Chesapeake into the butt of late-night television jokes.

Heath Covey, a spokesman for the city, which is about 13 miles from Norfolk, said the original ordinance was enacted in 1970, two years after a group of mischief makers threw exploding fireworks into Halloween bags. Mr. Covey was a little hazy on the details (“It was a long time ago,” he said) but there were minor injuries, he recalled.

The 1970 ordinance stated that no one older than 12 was allowed to trick-or-treat and that anyone caught could be fined as much as $100, arrested and sent to jail for six months.

How Old Is Too Old to Trick-Or-Treat on Halloween?

As Halloween approaches, a long-debated question arises: How old is too old to go trick-or-treating?

The answers vary. One town in Canada has drawn a hard line with a bylaw announced in September that bans anyone older than 16 from trick-or-treating and hits any rule-breakers with a $200 fine. But to parenting and etiquette experts, the rules are not always so clear.

There is no widely accepted cutoff age for older children who want to wear costumes and demand candy on Oct. 31, experts say. Most teenagers stop dressing up and trick-or-treating somewhere between the ages of 12 and 16 — but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad manners for them to go door-to-door, as long as they are polite while out on the streets.

“The big concerns I have are that younger kids get priority,” said Lizzie Post, co-president at the Emily Post Institute, which offers advice on etiquette. “You want to make sure younger kids are getting the chance and the opportunity, but I don’t want to discourage teens from enjoying this as long they’re behaving well.”

Other recommendations for teenagers who want to trick-or-treat include wearing costumes that are not too scary, so younger children feel comfortable, saying please and thank you when taking candy, and embodying a friendly (not spooky) spirit of Halloween — hold off on the tricks and the treats will come without much complaint.

The responsibility to make sure trick-or-treating goes smoothly for children of all ages also lies with parents and the adults who are giving out candy, says education psychologist and parenting writer Michele Borba. If teenagers want to trick-or-treat, parents should figure out why and work with the local community to ensure Halloween night works for everyone. This could include setting specific timeframes for teenagers to trick-or-treat, making it clear to the neighborhood that kids of all ages will be out on Halloween, or having teenagers lend a hand with managing younger children.

“For kids who still want to trick-or-treat, how about going with younger siblings? Big kids helping little kids — that could be a very positive experience,” Borba says.

Write to Mahita Gajanan at [email protected]

How Old Is Too Old to Trick or Treat?

If you’ve ever wonder what the Halloween age limit is (or if there even is one), here’s what you need to know.

If you’ve ever opened your door to almost-adult trick-or-treaters that you’re not even sure are wearing Halloween costumes, you may have wondered: Exactly when are adolescents expected to stop walking around the neighborhood ringing doorbells for candy? Every Halloween, parents and teens struggle to answer a seemingly simple question: How old is too old to trick-or-treat? Here are some facts to help decide.

What Is the Average Age to Stop Trick-or-Treating?

At what age should kids stop trick-or-treating? The answer is anything but clear. In a 2017 Today Parents survey of nearly 2,000 respondents, many people thought kids should stop going door-to-door right around when they hit their teen or even tween years: at age 12 or 13. Almost three quarters of respondents said that by age 17, trick-or-treaters should hang up their costumes and leave the holiday festivities to younger children.

Is It Illegal Trick-or-Treat Over Age 12?

Some towns across the country think limits are in order, too. While they’re difficult to enforce, there are actually ordinances on the books in some municipalities that limit trick-or-treating to younger kids.

A few years ago, citing concerns about older kids stealing loot from younger ones and general fears of mischief, the Canadian town of Bathhurst, New Brunswick, proposed a local law forbidding kids 16 or older from trick-or-treating (with a fine of $200), and ending the Halloween evening festivities, full-stop, at 8 p.m. (The new guidelines would actually be more flexible than previous ones, which limited going door-to-door to kids 14 and younger, and asked them to be done by 7 p.m.; some parents felt this earlier curfew didn’t give them enough time to get home from work and take their children out to celebrate.)

The town of Apex, North Carolina, has had an ordinance on its books since 1973, prohibiting anyone older than 12 from trick-or-treating, and only until 9 p.m. Belleville, Illinois, enacted a rule in 2008, similarly capping the trick-or-treating age at 12. Other towns, in states from Virginia to Mississippi, have set up similar restrictions in recent years.

Why the Worry About Trick-or-Treaters Being Too Old?

What’s the concern about older kids taking part in the time-honored candy tradition? Fear of bullying or vandalism may come into play. Local officials point to safety as a primary reason for the rules and acknowledge that they’re hard to enforce. But they say putting the word out before the holiday keeps most of the older crowd in check.

It’s up to local municipalities to decide whether they want to put age limits or curfews on Halloween festivities. The National League of Cities doesn’t keep track of which towns have ordinances, so it’s hard to know just how broad the trend of enforcing a trick-or-treating age cutoff.

And the issue of enforceability is a big one, acknowledges Sheena Collum, village president of South Orange, New Jersey. “With items such as alcohol or cigarettes, it’s relatively easy to enforce,” she says. “With respect to the idea [of trick-or-treating], I’d find it difficult to enforce, difficult to identify the penalty for the infraction that fits the ‘crime,’ onerous for law enforcement, and last, I don’t think it would sit well with our community.”

None of the parents RealSimple.com interviewed saw any reason for a legal limit on trick-or-treating age. “Curfews and age limits are really overreaching,” says Emily Hynes of Wayne, Pennsylvania. “Each community has its own personality and tends to self-regulate. And you can’t control rudeness or mischief with a curfew.”

Allison Foltz Millmoe of Oakland, California, says, “My gut instinct is to say stop at 13, but then again, I would much rather teens be trick-or-treating than getting into trouble on Halloween. And older sibs escorting younger kids is great.”

The Final Verdict

The best guideline might just be the general mood in your town. If community festivities are geared toward little kids, perhaps encourage older ones to watch a scary movie with friends, or host a casual party at your home for your kid’s squad (or a family or neighborhood party for all ages to enjoy).

Or, just embrace the idea that teens aren’t too old to enjoy the innocent fun of touring the neighborhood collecting candy. “I like it when they get dressed up with friends and go,” says Lisa Marinelli Smith of Gulf Breeze, Florida, the mother of two teenage boys. “It’s about being with friends and having fun. Teens enjoy being creative with their costumes, too. I don’t see the pillowcase-carrying teens dumping bowls of candy into them.”

What Age Should You Stop Trick or Treating

With summer in the rearview, our imaginations are naturally turning to our next big holiday: Halloween! While 2020 provided us some challenges when it came to celebrating this holiday, there are other questions that also arise. Do you have the time and desire to DIY your kids’ costumes? Or should you go the easier route (no shame!) and order a Halloween costume from Amazon. Either way, there’s one question that surfaces a lot, especially for parents of older kids: How old is too old to trick-or-treat? Is 13 too old? Fifteen?

Of course, there’s no official answer to the often-Googled question “What is the appropriate age to stop trick-or-treating?” Even if you define the annual Halloween activity as a “just-for-kids” event, the next question is sure to follow: What defines “kid,” anyway? Do tweens and teens make the cut? Can moms and dads trick-or-treat?

We wanted answers, so we turned to etiquette expert and writer Catherine Newman for some advice.

“I begrudge teenagers nothing,” says Catherine, author of . “I just think they get in so much trouble for the weirdest reasons. Isn’t trick-or-treating the most innocent, delightful thing for them to still want to do? Actually, when people complain about teenagers trick-or-treating, I’m like, ‘Wait, what do you wish they were doing? Would you rather they were on their phones?’ ”

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But Catherine has a limit when it comes to teens and Halloween. There should be no showing up and demanding all the best Halloween candy, she says. If you’re going to trick-or-treat, you should play by the rules.

“You have to wear a costume—and wear it like you mean it,” Catherine offers. “And you have to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ too, the same way you would if you were a little kid.”

It’s important to remind fright-tolerant teens to keep the Halloween holiday “magical” (read: not terrifying) for the little ones out there. If your teen’s intention is to dress up in a nightmare-inducing ensemble or to make trouble, they should consider staying home.

For the most part, though, Catherine suggests that parents “just roll with it”—and this time, she’s talking to those of you doling out the sweets. As long as all participants are well-intentioned, she sees no reason why the fun tradition needs an age limit at all.

“It’s so incredibly sweet to watch these kids, who are on the cusp of adulthood, wanting to do something so innocent,” Catherine says. “Watching my 17-year-old and his friends trade candy was one of the best evenings of my life.”

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