Kids all over the country are locking down their costume ideas for trick-or-treating on Halloween this year, and at my house, we have a 5-year-old Ariel from "The Little Mermaid" and a 10-year-old dressing as a (hopefully appropriate) character from the video game "Overwatch" that I have never heard of before, but requires white hair spray.
But after years of happily handing out candy at home, my 15-year-old surprised me by agreeing to come out of trick-or-treating retirement this year — heavily influenced by a certain 15-year-old girl who asked him to go with her.
I asked him what he would dress up as for Halloween. "An angsty teen?" he replied. "That's not going to cut it if you expect candy," I told him. And thus, the perennial question arose again: How old is too old for trick-or-treating on Halloween, and are there unspoken rules for older kids who trick-or-treat?
I conducted my own (extremely non-scientific) survey on Facebook, and the replies were overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that no one is ever too old to go trick-or-treating, as long as there is a costume and some good manners involved.
"I think if the child is in full costume and behaving respectfully, then all through high school is fine with me,"said Jessica Rosenblatt, a Florida mother of three girls. Her oldest, Delaney, 13, dressed up last year as Supergirl when she was in seventh grade.
Ildi Giller, a Florida mom of two, agreed. "My own mom insisted 12 was the oldest allowable age," she said. "My 15-year-old daughter Lexie loves it so much, though. I think she will still go this year as a sophomore in high school.
"With all the bad things in the world and teens always on devices, this seems pretty harmless," said Giller. "I think it's up to the kid. As long as they are respectful and not dressing too maturely."
"I grew up in a house that was across the street from UCLA's campus, so we always got trick-or-treaters who were college kids," said Carolyn Hampton, who still lives in the Los Angeles area. "I think because of that experience, I am happy to give out candy to anyone of any age who is in costume and shows up at my door." Hampton's 17-year-old daughter, Natalie, dressed up with a friend as characters from the movie "Moonrise Kingdom" last year.
"I think that as long as you are playing by the rules — you are in costume, only going to houses with the light on, etc. — age doesn’t matter," said New Jersey mom of two Kim Bongiorno. "I’ve opened the door to find costumed guys taller than me on the other side, making me laugh at the sight, but they smiled, said, 'Trick-or-treat!' and held out their bags like the little kids. I happily obliged."
There are still naysayers to older trick-or treaters, though. "I feel like when a couple of new parents roll up with their baby in a stroller and three bags for candy, they hit the too old AND too young mark all at once," said Niki Penne-Tringas, a mother of three. "And yes, this has happened at our house!"
"In terms of providing candy, if a kid comes to my door and says 'trick-or-treat' and his voice has changed, I’m a hard no," said Virginia dad of two Justin Pope.
But for the most part, it seems like most people are willing to hand out the fun-size Twix bars to just about anyone who shows up on their doorsteps in the name of good old-fashioned fun. But they'd like those trick-or-treaters to make some effort to wear a costume, be careful of the little Harry Potters and crayons who are struggling just to stay upright, and when the porch light is off, keep on walking.
What do you think? Are 6'2" bananas and Cinderellas who need to wear bras welcome to free candy at your house? How old is too old for trick-or-treating on Halloween?