No Costume? No Candy!

No Costume? No Candy!Halloween is a big deal for U.S. children as well as many adults. According to Wikipedia, Halloween is an annual festival celebrated on October 31. It has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holy day of All Saints, but is today largely a secular celebration. Dressing up in costume and trick-or-treating are the two customs that signify Halloween more than anything else.

Having loved Halloween as a kid, I’m always eager to participate by giving out lots of candy to trick-or-treaters. It’s fun to see little kids (including my own) dress up and embrace the celebration. It’s also fun to see people, especially older kids and adults, show their youthful sides by putting tremendous effort into clever, original costumes.

But what’s not cool is when trick-or-treaters go without costume. That’s right, and I estimate such folks represented a good 20 percent of trick-or-treaters who knocked on our door this past Halloween. I’m not sure if this is a growing trend in my neighborhood, or if I simply noticed it more than before. These violators were preteen and teenage kids, and even a few accompanying adults (if you can believe that). Regardless, it’s not cool. Just as it’s socially expected that residents purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters, it’s expected that trick-or-treaters wear a costume.

How to deal with this uncool behavior? I didn’t deny any trick-or-treaters without costume, though I only gave them one piece of candy and told them I expected a costume next year. Conversely, I rewarded costume-wearing trick-or-treaters with several pieces of candy. I would like to see this reward system implemented widely, because we simply can’t have Halloween and trick-or-treating without costumes. (Perhaps offering violators nothing would be more effective, but I don’t want to make anyone feel bad or prompt vandalism to our house.)

(Scary image by

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Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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