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How old is too old to trick or treat on Halloween?

An etiquette expert weighs in on the much-buzzed-about topic.
/ Source: TODAY

How old is too old to go trick-or-treating on Halloween? Officials in Chesapeake, Virginia, have decided that age 14 should be the cutoff, while the city of Bathurst in New Brunswick, Canada, passed a law to prohibit kids 16 and older from ringing doorbells.

It's a topic that tends to provoke strong opinions from parents and non-parents alike.

Teenagers trick-or-treating

It's also a topic that tends to make etiquette expert and author Catherine Newman roll her eyes a teeny bit.

“If a 17-year-old wants to dress up with their friends and trade candy at the end of the night, I think that’s great,” Newman told TODAY Parents. "Little kids die of happiness when they see big kids dressed up. It validates their excitement."

There are three details older children should keep in mind, according to Newman:

  • Choose a costume that isn’t too scary.
  • Don't come knocking at 11 p.m.
  • And be polite.

"Really, as long as you say 'please' and 'thank you,' you’re good to go,” said Newman, who writes the Modern Manners column for Real Simple magazine.

Newman said she hopes those on the other side of the door will be polite as well.

“Many kids with developmental disabilities go trick-or-treating,” Newman noted. “So you want to resist the urge to make a comment like, ‘Aren’t you a little old?’”

Newman’s own 16-year-old daughter will be grabbing her plastic pumpkin and heading out with pals on Oct. 31. The Massachusetts mom says she will probably get choked up when they leave. Trick-or-treating reminds her of simpler times, before everyone had smartphones in their hands.

“Everything is so complicated and virtual these days,” Newman said. “It’s nostalgic for them to go trick-or-treating. Let them be little again for just one night.”

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