How to Respond to Trick-or-Treaters

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Yes, it feels like Halloween was just yesterday, and while you got the hard part out of the way with costumes, don’t forget that kids will soon be ringing your doorbell!

So, in addition to stocking up on candy, it’s also time to brush up on your “trick or treat” responses, including everything from shy first timers, to “kids” who are a little too rude for your liking).

Give Compliments

We will get the easiest out of the way first. Besides the sweets, kids strive to have the best costume on the block. So, while they’ve probably heard it a thousand times before knocking on your door, every compliment is more memorable than the last.

candy in orange circle

Give props on creativity, cuteness, and more. Really, it probably doesn’t matter what you say as long as it’s positive (unless you make the mistake of telling the “super scary” ghost that he looks adorable).

And while difficult with large groups, if you compliment one child, you’ll probably want to do the same for everyone. If the group is in fact too large, and complimenting would lead to an awkwardly long stay, group or duo compliments can help.

Ask Questions

Just as much as kids like to hear how cool or spooky they look, they love to explain the ins and outs of their costumes. Especially with costumes with a number of different components, or something clearly outside of the norm, the kids love to shine in the “And what are you…” spotlight.

Obviously to avoid sadness, you’ll want to be sure you know what you’re asking about before you do so “Ohhh, you must be from Star Trek” when the child is clearly from Star Wars might lead to an emotional breakdown right there on your doorstep.


One obviously weird thing for any trick or treat newcomer is that they are walking up to a complete strangers door, knocking on it, and then asking for candy. Not only that, most of the time adults just tick their arms out holding a bowl of candy, leaving kids to feel even more shy about taking candy and completing the transaction. So, try to encourage kids by letting them know how many pieces they can take or if it’s ok for them to take a handful, etc.


There are typically two types of Halloween houses on the block—one that loves the night, loves the kids, the costumes, and all of that. The other is the one that turns off the light and pretends to not be home…and that’s OK. I’m definitely not here to say everyone must embrace Halloween to the greatest extent, or any extent for that matter.

But, if you are in fact going to participate, remember that for the kids, and as much as it seems, it’s not all about the candy, and the entire experience is one they’ve been looking forward to all year. So with that in mind, I encourage everyone to smile and give attention per the suggestions above. Sure, phone calls happen, dogs bark, and more goes on to make you want to just rush kids in and out, and again, things happen and that’s fine.

Not to mention that a lot of this is about teaching and physically defining respect for your kids. Children can easily pick up on parents who only treat their friends and family well while not offering that same treatment to strangers.

Focus on the Youngest

This isn’t to say that older kids should be treated differently than younger, but there is something to be said for those who have “been there before” and others who are just starting out building their childhood traditions.

So, when a group comes to the door and eager older kids are pushing smaller younger children out of the way, I’d recommend still finding a way to take care of the youngest first. Of course, another strategy is to just take care of the older kids to get them out of the way. Either way, you get the point.

Send Them Happily on Their Way

When all is said and done, your job isn’t complete until you let everyone know to have a great night! As small and insignificant a lot of this might sound, especially this last one, again, it’s all about the experience. So, when responding trick or treaters, do what you can to be a friendly neighbor, and the rest should take care of itself!

Some Things to Say to Trick or Treaters


  • Hello and happy Halloween!
  • I love your costume!
  • Wow, what a great costume idea!
  • Look how cute you are!
  • That’s the scariest costume I’ve seen all night!
  • Ok, let me have a look at all of you…
  • Looks like you all deserve some treats!
  • No tricks here, only treats tonight!

During Candy

  • Take as many pieces as you’d like!
  • Try and save some for the other boys and ghouls
  • Are you all having a great night?
  • Looks like you have a full bag already!


  • Have a great rest of the night!
  • Thanks for stopping by!
  • Good luck the rest of the night!