By Robin Farr

This year for the first time we’re going to have two trick-or-treaters in the family: Connor is five (and as excited about candy as you’d expect) and Ethan has just turned one. He was around last Halloween, of course, but at just under a month old he spent the evening snoozing in the swing wearing his lion costume. This year I expect we’ll be taking them both around the block.


The question of where to trick-or-treat came up amongst some friends last year and even among those mostly suburban-dwelling families there was a big range in approaches. Here are some of the options and things to consider:

1. Go door-to-door

Want to replicate your Halloweens as a kid? Going door-to-door is still an option, though in some neighborhoods it seems to be waning in popularity. If you’re taking your little one out for the first time, time it so that you’ll get some good visits with neighbours but still be home before the witching hour starts (pun totally intended).

2. Trick or treat at a mall

Halloween at the mall is becoming more popular every year, judging by the number of events and the candy hauls of those who go. And no wonder – it’s a bunch of places in one spot that’s warm, safe and festive. With younger kids, heading out to your local mall could be a really good way to go (and mom and dad can hit up Starbucks while you’re there).

3. Go to Grandma’s

For the first couple of years, many kids find Halloween to be more about the costume and less about the candy. And anyone who has tried to drag a toddler to more than about three doors knows their enthusiasm can fade pretty fast. What about limiting trick-or-treating to their grandparents’ house? The kids get a treat, Grandma gets a chance to ooh and aah over the costume, and everyone winds up happy. (You could also do this at a friend’s house if you don’t have family nearby.)

4. Have a candy strategy

Whether you knock on neighbours’ doors or walk the mall, your kids might end up with a lot of candy. A candy strategy (i.e. what to do with all that candy, not how to get as much as you can!) is a good idea before you end up dealing with a tantrum from a child who has been told he can’t eat all the candy at once. Some families make an agreement with their kids up front to trade the candy for a new toy while others use the candy as a reward system or simply spread it out over the next few months. In some places, dentists’ offices offer a candy trade-in – one dollar for every pound of candy traded in. (Or you could do what some parents do and just hide most of the candy and eat it yourself. Ahem.)

5. Fireworks are frightening

One last tip: If your kids haven’t been exposed to firecrackers yet, be prepared for them to be spooked. If you’re lucky, your kids will sleep right through them, but you should be prepared to cuddle up in a toddler’s bed just in case. If you use white noise in your child’s room, turn it up a little to block out the bangs, or consider putting them to bed in a quieter room to save yourselves from some screaming.

Whatever your choice and however you celebrate, Happy Halloween!