Whether you are in the throes of trekking toddlers in a wagon around the neighborhood or an empty nester with the disposable income to treat all of the little ghosts and ghouls with full-size candy bars, below are five reminders of ways to be a good neighbor at Halloween.
One of the easiest ways to be a good neighbor anytime, but particularly on Halloween is to simply remember others and try to show goodwill and kindness to everyone you encounter. Whether your neighborhood participates in the fun tradition of secretly “Boo-ing” each other with festive treats and baskets or you have someone who never participates by giving out candy at all, everyone has their preferences on how the season is celebrated or not. To each his own. Another way to remember others is to make sure you and your crew have a buddy system in place. No one should be out and about alone, no matter how old or young. Be aware of unusual traffic patterns coming and going as well as the extra safety needs of particularly small trick-or-treaters who may lack the stamina to make a full night of the events.
Halloween is one of the few holidays that takes place after dark and into the night. By remembering various forms of light, you can be a good neighbor. If you are handing out candy or entertaining guests in your home, be sure to have porch lights, flood lights, and other outdoor illumination up and running. For those going house to house, keep in mind that reflective clothing as well as flashlights can not only help you see better, but it can also help your neighbors spot you as well.
Remember your manners.
Halloween may be one of the few times a year that a large contingent of neighbors are outside and milling about in the streets and on the sidewalks. What a great way to ensure ongoing positive relationships than to make sure your manners are in check. Remind teenagers who are going out in groups to treat others’ property with respect: no traipsing through professionally landscaped beds, no hiding or scurrying off the beaten path, and definitely no emptying of candy buckets left out by neighbors who aren’t home but are hoping others respect the “take just one” rule. For younger children who may be shy or unfamiliar with speaking to adults they don’t know, model for them a short, but polite, “thank you” to those treating. And as for the adults, if you encounter a neighbor you don’t know well, use Halloween as an opportunity to introduce yourself and be friendly.
Remember the pets.
One often overlooked, but important contingent on Halloween night includes remembering your pets and the pets of others. For your own pets, you best know their temperaments and the potential for anxiety over a frequently ringing doorbell or having strangers approach the house. Particularly for pets like dogs or cats they may usually have the freedom to roam the house or yard, think about whether it might ease their nerves to have them kenneled or kept in a safe place during the festivities. As for neighbors’ pets, many choose to bring their dogs along (sometimes even in costume!) for the night. Remind small children that they should never touch or approach another person’s pet without extreme caution.
Remember the food.
Finally, one of the best ways to be a good neighbor at Halloween time is to remember the food! Whether it is making a reputation for yourself as the house that gives out the good candy or hosting an event for friends or family, food is often the mainstay of this particular holiday. Halloween is a fantastic time to gather around for indoor or outdoor fun. Grill burgers and hotdogs, smoke a brisket, fill a cooler, or roast s’mores over an open fire. Feeding others is a sure way to endear yourself to others and make many lasting memories. Invite someone on your street and make a new connection with a neighbor.