I'm giving up on trick-or-treating

I've been giving it a lot of thought, and I just don't think we're going trick-or-treating this year. Before you gasp in shock and shake your head at all the wonderful Halloween memories we'll be missing, let me explain. The last few years, trick-or-treating just hasn't lived up to our family's expectations. The kids get all dressed up, we head out around the neighborhood, and within a short time they are all grumbling that they want to go home. And I know why. The reward is just not worth the work.

Fewer neighbors are participating

We've trick-or-treated multiple neighborhoods in various towns since our twins were born ten years ago. In that time, we've seen a sharp decline in the percentage of neighbors who participate. Before we had kids, we provided big bowls of candy to the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood, enjoying the parade of costumes all evening long. And so did about 80 percent of our neighbors. But last year, I estimate only about 20 percent of the houses had porch lights lit and candy waiting for the kids. That's a lot of walking with not much reward.

The candy is getting worse

I'll admit, I can be a bit of a candy snob, but when nearly half your child's bag is full of chalky, waxy "chocolate-flavored" candies instead of the real thing, it's a big disappointment. Yes, candy is expensive and the good stuff is even higher, but you know the treats are gross when the bright orange and purple wrappers won't even entice the younger kids to eat it. After walking so far for so little, throwing away half your kids' loot can really make you frown.

Teenagers can be really rude

I know, teens want to have fun, too. But when large groups of them ramble down the sidewalk, refusing to move to the side to make room for others and shouting in obscenities as they go, it can really suck the fun out of the night for families with little kids. Since we live in a college town, some kids' shenanigans seem to carry on even beyond the teen years. One can't help but wonder if their bad behavior is why so many neighbors have turned out the lights.

There are plenty of good alternatives

Not so long ago, if a family skipped trick-or-treating, they might not have any Halloween fun. But with church carnivals, trunk-or-treats, hay rides and other attractions, kids need not miss out on the costumed fun. In fact, our homeschool group has made a tradition of holding a costume party close to Halloween, just so the kids have an opportunity to dress up, show their costumes to their friends and play together. They always come away with treats, too.

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