How to Be a Happy Halloweener: A Guide

Fall is in the air. The leaves are changing, pagans are celebrating the autumnal equinox and the blood type of the average cat lady is 'Pumpkin Spice Latte'. Halloween is upon us. Soon children, single people in their thirties still living with mom and dad, and fluffy fathers -- *raises hand* -- pimping their kids to gain confection perfection will soon come knocking on your door for free candy. While some people choose not to celebrate it for a variety of reasons and some celebrate it for very specific, nefarious reasons, most of us just want some candy pro bono.

People celebrate Halloween in many different ways. Although there are no rules per se, there is perhaps, an unwritten protocol surrounding the proliferation and collection of sugary sweets, and I have gathered a few of the most important tips in order to have a productive Halloween.

Tips for Halloweeners:

Be courteous. Remember-you're about to receive something for nothing. Anything that someone places in your bag is a gift, as long as it's not an explosive or a biohazard. Older folks' neighborhoods often prefer early trick-or-treaters and a less motley crew, while neighborhoods with children usually don't mind a later call and a less formal approach -- either way, you're on a mission and the goal is to maximize the free, sweet booty at all costs.

When it comes to your candy collection container, size matters. Make sure your container is large enough to haul your luscious loot, but not too large. Even though we are greedy, heaven forbid we come across as being so. If necessary, have a central drop-off location you can go back to and unload a full container. This is a great idea for those who are pulling an all-night candy collection campaign.

Make sure the homeowner knows why you're there: Be dressed semi-appropriately enough to receive the tasty treats. If you're dressed too sexy, they may offer you more than candy. If you're dressed too plain, they may ask you to come in and do some housework. If you're dressed too demonic, they may think you're there to reap the souls of their first born (especially if they've been partying too hard) If you're dressed too creepy, the cops may arrive with a restraining order before you can say "Trick-Or-Treat!".

Put some effort into your costume. Although you don't need to spend a lot of money going full-scale Hollywood on special-effects, more effort should be exercised than just rolling out of bed and walking around town with a trash bag if you don't want to give off a homeless vibe. Be safe -- carry a flashlight, stay out of the streets, look out for little ones; try to work some reflective gear into your evil ensemble.

Have a strategy. Sometimes hitting these sprawling estates may bring more profitable loot per door, but may not be very time efficient because the distance from front door to front door is too great. Draw a map, devise an attack plan, name it something like 'Operation Candy Crack Attack' then unleash shock and awe (i.e. when I was younger, we'd hit the wealthy neighborhoods that we knew gave out the best candy). According to Kenny Rogers, "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run." According to sacred Halloween protocol, don't even think about wasting your time on a house with the porch lights out. This is a haunted hunter-gatherer rookie mistake. Sometimes folks are slower at coming to the door. Be patient -- usually you can hear movement inside the house alerting you to wait. If there is no activity inside the house after ringing the doorbell two or three times, it may be time to move to the next house. You'll get a better feel for this as the evening progresses. Sometimes grouchy or mean people will open the door and instead of the coveted confection, they've got a cankering contention. This may be the time to run. Don't be dismayed as there are plenty more houses who are happy to oblige your glucose game.

Tips for the Treat Traffickers:

Pass on a legacy and lead by example. These are future generations of our country coming to your door and they're watching you. You can be nice and generous yet firm and fair at the same time. Many children are less fortunate and save this candy all year for little snacks for their lunches at school -- I know, I was one. Lots of children don't get anything from anyone, ever. It's a joyful, happy time for them. These kids are watching how you conduct yourselves and in many cases, this is the only interaction you'll have with them all year. Make it a good one.

The 'Honor System' rarely works -- especially not on Halloween. Leaving candy out in a bowl for kids to come by and take one is a just field day for sugar addicts and pranksters alike. It lets people know you probably aren't home, which invites its own problems, including but not limited to pilfering of your stash.

The Goods: Although many folks have different means and discretionary income, candy is relatively inexpensive and we can all agree no one wants your rotten fruit, black licorice, pennies or the leftovers in your fridge. It's not like Halloween snuck up on us... like Christmas, it's the same day every year so if you need to, save and plan for it. In today's society, most people want individually wrapped goods and certainly not anything that's been handled post-production with bare hands, i.e. loose candy corn. It's always good to be generous. If you buy the mini candy bars that are barely a bite, now might be a good time to make the step up to at least 'Fun Size'. Sometimes baked goods or other homemade items are ok, however most strangers will say thank you and promptly discard these items. Not many kids want sandwiches or a mini-kale quiche... they want sugar.

Too much is better than too little. Running out of candy early on is a rookie mistake, but can be prevented with planning. Do your best not to run out of the goods before your neighborhood's scheduled time to close up shop. If the flow of ghosts and goblins begins to dry up, you can always distribute larger quantities to the stragglers who are still working your scene. If you're left with a candy crush load of loot, you can always get creative with your generosity. Many orphanages would gladly accept your donation or the worst case scenario is that you can always eat it later.

If you won't be home or have views against Halloween, remember the protocol is to keep your porch lights off. Trust me, you don't want any ghouls and goblins ringing your doorbell impatiently waiting for candy on your porch when you're not even home. This is a recipe for disaster.

The Delivery: Whether your gift is great or small, a child will remember a cheerful giver. Now is really not the time to get on your soap box and preach your whole-food, crossfit, anti-candy or anti-Halloween message. Rudeness is unacceptable any time, but especially on Halloween. Throughout the annals of history, unkindness on Halloween is repaid a hundred times over. Halloween karma is a lot more expensive than a few bags of candy and comes in many forms such as an egged house, smashed pumpkins, spraypainted vehicles and worse. Remember, now these kids know where you live. This is a happy, fun time; let's just smile, show some love and share.

The candy conundrum is a difficult one on both sides of the aisle, but with a little planning and/or the help of Mom and Dad, not only is it scalable -- it's doable. Hopefully these tips will help you have a happy, safe and profitable Halloween.

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