Forgive my silence…

Some stuff is happening and I just can't seem to wrap my head around the normal questions right now. Nothing bad, and I'll tell you when I can.

In the meantime, how about an etiquette question that you can answer for me:

There are only four kids in my apartment building and two of them are mine. (There are around 45 units total, most of them one-bedrooms.) We've never had trick or treating in the building, even when we had a few more kids, so my kids have always just done one of the community kids' costume parades and trick-or-treated in friends' buildings.

In most buildings in Manhattan, the tenants' association or co-op board puts up a sign-up sheet a week ahead of time for people to sign up if they want to hand out candy, and then tells them to put a sign on their door, so kids know which doors to knock on and which ones to leave alone.

In the past few years we've had a big influx of new people into our building. Last year, after Halloween, one of them expressed sadness that she hadn't gotten to see my kids' costumes or give them candy.

Is it going to seem totally rude and/or avaricious to put up a note on the building bulletin board (we have no tenants' association) asking if anyone wants to hand out candy? It wouldn't have occurred to me except that this woman wanted to last year.

60 thoughts on “Forgive my silence…”

  1. Moxie, I think putting a signup would be fine – it might start a good tradition.I grew up in NYC before the days of signup sheets and signs on the dorr and in a very creepy neighborhood, and Halloween was scary in more than just the traditional sense! But we kids looked forward to it anyway.
    When I moved to the suburbs, it turns out there was a “code” (porch lights on or off), but of course, there was no mechanism in place to let newcomers KNOW there was a code and I apparently really p*ssed people off by bringing my little ones to houses where the porch lights were off. You have to understand here that I had NO concept of porch lights – I didn’t even notice they existed, although in some corner of my mind it must have occured to me that some houses looked dimmer than others!
    We get few kids these days, but I really enjoy handing out the candy and seeing the costumes when they do come by. And I have been unable to convince my 17 1/2 year old she is too old to go trick or treating – but they are very inventive – she and her little friends come up with a clever group costume and they parade around in it, but she doesn’t take candy, they just want to show off.
    But this is the last year of even that. Next year it’s just Mr. Enu and I, fighting over who gets to open the door this time and see the new crop of toddlers in lion costumes, frantically trying to remember to say “tricatree” while simultaneously putting out their plastic pumpkin basket.

  2. I think I would make it an opt-in thing, too. I didn’t know there were pumpkin Post-its, or I’d have suggested those (Charisse is so much more plugged in than I am, but then who is not?). I’d been thinking some sort of pumpkin to hang on the door, though.Is it possible to dodge the sign-up sheet and just let people put a bat/pumpkin/whatever on the door if they remember to buy candy? Or would that result in roving bands of kids (well, four)tromping down the halls and making noise that annoys the happily childfree people?
    Could you explain the situation to the person who wanted to see the boys in costume? Maybe she could be the one to put up the sign.

  3. We live in the one passing zone of a VERY busy “country” road. No sidewalks, and dangerous to cross, especially in the dark. There is no trick-or-treating here (something I didn’t think about when we moved here 2 years ago). I thought about taking my van to one of the popular trick-or-treat neighborhoods as eccentriclibertarian described, but instead we decided to trick-or-treat our old, more pedestrian friendly neighborhood, a mere 15 minute drive away.When I was growing up in New England, there was the “lights on if you want wee ghosties ringing your bell” code. Seems to mostly still be the case here.
    No advice regarding an apartment bldg though. I almost wish we lived in that situation: easier to walk around that “neighborhood” and probably warmer too! But we had a family of deer in our backyard today, so only “almost wish.”

  4. I would totally put up a sign-up sheet! Why not? The worst that can happen is no one signs up.I agree with Heather — handing out candy and seeing all the costumes was my favorite part of Halloween. I always give good candy (learned the hard way never to buy stuff that we won’t eat!), kids with good costumes get 2 pieces and kids with lame or no costumes get 1. And I don’t give candy unless I hear “trick or treat!”.

  5. Definitely put up a sign and give people the option. When I was single and living in an apartment I was SO disappointed not to get any trick-or-treaters. And the first year I lived in a house in a real neighborhood (before we had our own kids) my husband and I literally raced to the door every time the bell rang because we couldn’t wait to see the little ones all dressed up.I don’t think anyone will feel obligated to do it just because there is a sign up sheet and the people who genuinely want to do it will be happy for the opportunity.

  6. Another option would be to stage a small Halloween parade in your building before you left for trick or treating. Get together with the parents of the other kids and arrange to meet at 5:30 by the mailboxes, or whatever works for you, and put up signs inviting the tenants to come witness the cuteness. That way they aren’t obligated to give out candy (but can if they like), and they get to see the kids according to a plan without having their evening disrupted.This is what we did when I was little my parents were grad students. They lived in a dorm and were RAs. All of the students got a kick out of seeing us, but they didn’t want to bother with candy for just two kids, and this was convenient and unobtrusive.

  7. In my NYC building (about 100 units), we leave a stack of orange-colored paper with a xerox of a pumpkin on it near the entrance to the building. Those who want to give out candy hang it on their door. I think it works well. The only problem is that you’d have to roam the halls looking for the sign, rather than having one central sign up sheet. But it does allow for last minute candy-buyers to participate.

  8. I think Kristen offers a good sample note and I do think letting people opt in versus out is psychologically somehow a little nicer.DH is ALL ABOUT Halloween. I’m more eh about it, to be honest. My mom’s mom died right before Halloween when she was a small girl, so my mom always hated it, it brought back bad memories for her. Plus we lived in the sticks, while DH lived in a dense area with tons of houses to go to, etc. So he and I have totally different takes on it. I love letting him go out with the girls while I get to stay home and pass out candy. But I do hate the teenagers that come by *not even in costume*. Lame!
    Here’s another thing about Halloween–DH is very adamant that costumes have to be scary. He hates the idea of the girls dressing up as something not scary (God forbid, a princess, or, this year, cowgirls) Frankly, he can be a bit of a bully about it, or let’s maybe say dogmatic, to be kinder. I think we should just let the girls be what they want, regardless of our expectations of what we want them to be (I’m speaking in a general sense, here, too)–anyway–Halloween really brings that topic out for me and DH. And not always in a pleasant way.
    On another note, Moxie you mentioned maybe taking a vacation awhile back… It sounds like you have a lot going on… Everyone deserves a break! Take care of yourself, hear?

  9. Tricky. In my little bitty apartment in Philly, I think the four units worth of grad students just put some big bowls of candy by the front door. Little kids would ring each of our bells, and we’d all come scurrying downstairs, and whoever got there first would do the honors.Maybe in your building, you might pitch your note the opposite way from the standard you’ve seen elsewhere: “Some tenants have expressed interest in being visited on Hallowe’en by little kids in costumes. We do understand that this isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, so if you would prefer not to be visited, please let us know.”
    Or do you think people would be uncomfortable signing up to NOT give candy? Even if you put in a “no hard feelings, really, it’s OK” clause? Maybe go with the original “opt in” idea, but make it clear that you’re asking because some people WERE interested.

  10. I’m interested in what you get here because on my suburban block, on my side of the street, we have a vacant house, our house (with lovely welcoming, obvious front door), a house with no visible entry other than a garage (and I’ve looked!), and a nice house on the corner with a pretty obvious entryway. There is, bizarrely, no sidewalk. Last year, bedrest prevented me from making a jack o’ lantern, and we had ZERO kids come by. The year before, there were FOUR. We get stuck with loads of candy and no one to eat it. This year, a new mom-friend wants us to take the littles out…which means my own home will be unattended for some of the time. How to resolve? Seems related to Moxie’s (neighbors’) problem–be inviting or don’t bother?

  11. I’m not a NYCer, but it seems ok to me as long as it includes your apartment as one of the ones giving out candy (which is a bit tricky in terms of enough adults, but you could leave a bowl of candy in the hallway?)

  12. I’m not familiar with the social norms in NY, but I know that prior to having a kid, I really enjoyed handing out candy. One of the perks of NOT having a kid, for me, was getting to stay home and do that.

  13. We love Hallowe’en too. Our little one is 15 months, & we have a costume already. We’re not sure how to do going out/and handing out candy too – so we might just invite some friends over and see the kids that come to our place.How do you handle hte teens not in costume that come by? I’m afraid to give them nothing lest they return later, so I give them handfuls of “crap” candy – which for me means those chewy kisses. I give the “good” candy to the under-10 and costumed crew.

  14. I think the first poster answered the question well – post a sign asking for people to ‘opt in’.For several years, we lived on a street locally famous as a trick-or-treat destination – long, straight, flat, and homes all close to the street. It seemed like vans full of people came in from all directions – it was not unusual to get over 200 kids knocking on our door during the course of the evening. Now, in our new neighborhood, it has fluctuated from a high of about 60 kids to a low of around 20. It makes estimations for candy buying a challenge!
    I agree with others who find one of the benefits of having no kids on Oct. 31 is the fun of staying at home and seeing all the kids in their costumes & give out candy.

  15. I’ve never lived in NYC but I’ve lived in an apartment building about that size and I would have been fine with that. Maybe put up some pumpkin post-its that people can put on their doors or something?

  16. Is there no code for this kind of thing? In the suburban Boston neighborhood I grew up in, you left your light on if you wanted trick or treaters, and you left it off if you didn’t.I like the idea of opting in and using pumpkin-post-its as a code, but I’m rather surprised there isn’t a code in operation already.

  17. I would totally put up a sign up sheet. You never know, your building may really want to do this and no one has ever stepped up and took charge. If there isn’t good turn out, then so be it, you tried and can find another option for the kids.

  18. I vote for putting up the sheet with the, “some tenants have expressed…” disclaimer that @Kristin suggested.And I LOVE the idea of giving out the crap candy to the teenagers who clearly should not be trick-or-treating.

  19. If you’re not comfortable with putting up a sign in your building asking who would like to have trick or treaters, why not just stop by this woman’s apartment on your way out to wherever you had planned to go, so she could give them candy and see their costumes? If she’s the only one who has expressed interest, then you don’t need to have the entire building get involved if she just wants to ooh and aah over their costumes and give them a mini kit kat.

  20. Having lived in apartments for all but the last two years, I would have loved the opportunity to give out candy, but no one came by. I love doing it now that we have a house (and my little guy is too little to go).We’re in the country, but there are several houses nearby, so we have a few kids come by, including some friend’s kids. Our first year of handing out candy, one little boy walked right on in, and then we made another group of kids help chase our cat who ran out when I opened the door for them!
    For religious reasons, my parents never let us go trick or treating (until I was in high school and begged to help my best friend take her little sister). While I understand my parent’s reasoning, I think I’ll let my guy go because really, for me, it’s always been about the candy.

  21. We’re so looking forward to Halloween! Hoping that now we’re in a neighborhood instead of an apartment, there are lots of kids coming by. Since Little Girl is too small to go, I expect we’ll be home with her in the evening, although my local mom’s group is trying to organize a daytime meetup.FWIW, I love Halloween and playing dress-up, and trick-or-treated until my late teens, simply for the fun of wandering around in costume with everyone else. The candy was eh for me, at least by that time.
    My neighborhood growing up also did the porch light trick; we were in California, so I think it must be fairly universal. I love the idea of the pumpkin post-its!

  22. I love the idea of letting people “opt in” and then using some sort of indicator so the wee ones know where to go.Our neighborhood isn’t really a good one for the trick or treaters since we lack sidewalks and some of the houses have HUGE staircases to climb. Our previous daycare lady participates in handing out treats in a neighborhood here that is well known for everyone getting into the spirit so we drive over there and walk with the small person. It’s fun to see what people do to their houses (last year a guy made his house look like a castle and had a huge dragon head coming out of the upper level and a huge tail coming out the side door!) and the families there have made it a really safe place for the kids. It’s worth it to us to drive across town for him to participate since we know he’d be really disappointed with our own neighborhood.

  23. Ha Slim, I am really just guessing about the post-its–I’ve seen them with pretty much every goofy thing, so there have got to be pumpkin ones, right? 😉

  24. When I lived in a large building in DC, the tenants who wanted trick-or-treaters just took a paper pumpkin from a pile near the front door and posted it on their door. You could just pin those to the bulletin board with a note to take a pumpkin and put in on their door. That way no one feels bad when they don’t take a pumpkin (no need to sign your name/apartment number/etc. on a sign-up sheet).

  25. I say let the teenagers come out for trick or treat, make jokes with them, nice costume…ooh you’re scaring me! They want to do something for the night, they’re just going through the geeky stage, give them a treat, it’s ok!

  26. I live in a small town, so I don’t have any city apartment building advice, but I did want to comment on one thing. I have seen several comments regarding teenagers trick or treating and how that is not appropriate (which is what my husband says as well!) But I totally disagree – I see it as harmless fun, especially if they are dressing up. I can think of so many worse things that 15 year olds could be doing, that when a bunch of them come to my door in just masks, I am happy to give out a handful of Kit Kats. I think the early to mid teen years are difficult- too old to do kid things, and too young to do adult things. Let them be kids and have fun with their friends!

  27. 100% do it do it do will bring joy to those that opt in; and others will see how cute the kids are and maybe be inspired to do it next year.
    you trailblazer you!
    you could even supply the sticky notes for posting on the co-op board.
    glad everything is okay with you.

  28. Missy, I totally agree, but what we get is big kids *not in costume* who walk come to the door and silently hold out a pillowcase. It’s a big bummer. I say anyone of ANY age can trick or treat if they get a kick out of coming up with a costume. But sullen teenagers not saying a word and basically issuing a silent threat to egg my house if I don’t hand candy over to them for no reason at all–pisses me off.

  29. The opt-in sign! My old building in midtown east had one put up about a week beforehand, along with some instructions, like what time the kids would meet in the lobby to start going around the building. In our new neighborhood in Brooklyn, there’s a famous (to us?) parade all are welcome to. It is such a blast! I even went before I had a child. Join us all if you want! Let me know if anyone needs more details about it.

  30. I like eeps idea of the parade before you go out, that way you are not putting your neighbors on the spot to buy candy, and if a lot of people come to see the kids, then the trick or treat thing can grow from there.So many city parents are going to events and festivals now for safety reasons, so I don’t think a lot of your neighbors will be prepared for h’ween.

  31. I second the opt-in sign, sounds like a good way to get people interested without requiring a commitment. I generally didn’t like the teenage trick or treaters, until last year a couple of guys on the swim team came in uniform – they were definitely not trick or treating for the candy! I still laugh about it.

  32. I like the sign-up sheet idea. I would opt in if I had no kids for sure. You could coordinate with the other kids in the building and post the time that you’ll be coming around, so that people won’t be waiting around all evening for just the four kids.Can I just say that I love Halloween. After 10 years in SF with no more than a handful of trick-or-treaters, we now live on THE Halloween destination street. 1350 pieces of candy last year, handed out one at a time, and we were out by 8pm.

  33. I too would opt in, even if I didn’t have kids. I love seeing the kids in their costumes, and what is $5-$10 in candy when compared to the amount of joy you see on the kids faces or how amazing the little costumes are.

  34. In my old building we had a sign up sheet, and if Halloween were Sunday-Thursday I always signed up. It was fun. But it was nice to have the option to not interrupt our Shabbat dinner with the ringing doorbell.Then we had a baby and moved to another building. There are lots of kids here, but I think a lot of them go to parties or trick or treat in the local business district. So sometimes we have a bunch, sometimes almost nobody.
    Of course now I don’t like to keep a ton of candy in the house, so I buy the bags of Halloween shaped pretzels (aren’t I grinchy? but I have absolutely no problem with my kids eating through the leftovers).
    And sometimes I find it really hard to open the door in the middle of everything that’s going on from 5:30-7:30, you know? Of course, now my 4 year old would be thrilled to open the door, and thankfully doesn’t seem to have a problem with not celebrating Halloween (Purim is also about dressing up and candy!candy!candy!).
    Gosh, I am sounding so crotchety today. Anyway I vote for a sign up sheet.

  35. Re: the big kids… It kinda goes back to that “code” with the porch lights on.. If I have a “Big Kid” at my door before 8 PM that is not schlepping siblings around then I give them one piece of candy. However, I do tell them that I will be happy to give them more candy after 8. Our neighborhood is light on the ‘tweeners, and heavy on the under 7 crowd and the over 15. Last year I gave all my leftover candy to the kid next door and his buddies who came over sans costumes.Back in DH’s single days, he and his roommate had their across the breeze way neighbors come by trick or treating… (Both guys in their 20s).. their costumes? “Guy” and “Dude”. Hilarious. They got the candy.

  36. Parent in our building (Wash DC) put up a sign up sheet last year and there was quite a bit of response to it (not huge!) – a few other kids tagged along. Her son dressed up as a pirate and she made a treasure map out of all the numbered apartments to visit.People really welcomed them or left bowls of goodies outside the door. They got quite a lot of loot.

  37. Not rude at all. Before we had kids, my husband was always so disappointed when we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters. Just because someone isn’t a parent doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy interacting with children.

  38. Not rude at all. Before we had kids, my husband was always so disappointed when we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters. Just because someone isn’t a parent doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy interacting with children.

  39. @finnsmom, Belvedere or Fair Oaks? Asking because I and my little ragged/fancy Cinderella will be doing Belvedere (we live nearby) and would make a point of saying hello at a Moxite house. 🙂

  40. @rugyinparis, yes, we get some of those sullen teenagers too. The teenagers where we leave tend to be very respectful, so I give them the benefit of the doubt and try to remind myself that they are probably just going through a stage, much like the under 6 crowd at my house:) And I definitely try to engage them in conversation “so, what are you dressed as?” to a kid not in costume. Some of the responses are quite humorous!

  41. Not to hijack the thread, but can I ask how people handle the candy glut that’s involved in this otherwise lovely tradition? I would honestly hate to have a giant bag of candy sitting around the house. I might be tempted to pass along most of the loot to the office where lots of people pass through and no single person’s teeth will rot just on account of the trick-or-treat intake. But then again, it’s not really up to me to confiscate my kid’s loot if I let her go trick-or-treating in the first place. What are people’s policies here?

  42. I’m interested in Beate’s question of how to handle the influx of crap. I have maybe one more Halloween before my DD really understands what candy is and we can easily confiscate it (I take it to the office). But how do others make sure that their kids don’t get sick on all the junk? With DD in daycare, she comes home from every holiday with a huge goodie bag. It’s scary.

  43. @Missy, I like your approach. I am just being a cranky-pants old man today, for some reason. Those damn kids! {shakes cane}I think Beate raises a point that I bet we’ll revisit at least several more times before the big day. I personally sneak a bunch to work and also blatantly throw some in the trask after bedtime. But I feel bad about it, in a way–it’s not my candy, after all, to give or throw away (just as Beate points out). I would love to hear some good suggestions on how to deal with this.

  44. I can think of a few ways to deal with the candy influx, though I only have a 2-year-old so far, so the plausibility of my ideas is questionable!One thing to do might be to allow the child to “cash in” some of the candy for some extra pocket money. It’s sort of trading one vice for another (candy for toys) I suppose, but depending on the amount of candy, it seems feasible. I know many parents of allergic children take this route, allowing them to participate in the holiday.
    My MIL would take all the kids’ candy and put it in a big jar. They got to pick out a piece or two per day until it was gone or too gross to eat. Chocolate went in the fridge so it would keep longer.
    My parents just let us have the candy. We were pretty good about moderating the intake ourselves. This was 20 years ago, though, when you’d get candy at Halloween and then a basket at Easter, so it’s not like we were getting big bags of treats all the time. I don’t think it’s so bad to let a kid go overboard with the candy once or twice a year.
    I’m sure there are tons of other ways to go about this as well. I’m interested to hear about them. Good topic.

  45. @Beate – my mom used to challenge us to make it last until Easter (the next big candy pile.) We’d figure out how many pieces we could eat a week to make it last. Hey, we were doing math too!!!!! Tricky mom.

  46. totally agree on needing guidance on the candy glut thing. It’s against my general principles to take away The Boy’s “earned” candy, but I don’t want him eating it all!Can you donate candy to charity and make it a teaching moment?? 🙂 Is there a charity for candy deprived children? heh
    As far the original question, I’ve always loved to give out candy and was bummed when I didn’t get trick or treaters, so I say go for the sign up sheet & the pumpkins for the doors. I think a good number of childless people would sign up. (and those who didn’t would be happy about not haveing to get candy incase they got a trickertreater anyway)
    And if not, no harm done by asking!

  47. Oh, and about people not having/buying candy if they aren’t expecting Trick-or-Treaters… when I run out, I give quarters!As a total off-topic aside, my grandmother (born 1913) used to give out one stick of Juicy Fruit gum (from the pack, one stick) and 3 pennies.

  48. I don’t think it’s rude AT ALL…. most people would love to see a kid in costume on Halloween… and if they don’t… a note on the door is fine… I say GO FOR IT!

  49. As far as the influx of candy goes….I have kids who mostly forget about it. I let them put it all into a giant tupperware (one for each kid). They can usually have a few pieces on the big night itself, then a piece here or there as they think about it. We tend to have to cull the heard sometimes before the major candy giving holidays (H, Easter, Christmas, Valentine’s Day). We’ve still got candy canes in the tupperwares. So they each end up with their own personal candy stash all year long.I can see how if you had a kid who became obsessed with it, this would not be the way to go. But for forgetters, it works OK. I’ve gotten better about not filching the kids’ candy (the main drawback is that “somebody” has to eat it…), but when the monkey was little, he didn’t like chocolate…it was hard to see it just sit there, unloved. :^)

  50. @Charisse – neither 😉 We moved across the bay to Alameda for a slice of Mayberry. But we used to live on Dolores, near Fair Oaks, and would get a few kids who were on their way to Fair Oaks… Happy Haunting!

  51. Late to the game, but had to weigh in: single/childless people in New York (and other places too, I imagine) LOVE handing out halloween candy to other people’s kids! I remember feeling privileged to be a part of the village it took to raise the kids, however small my contribution. You can find a way to word your sign up sheet so no one feels pressured…

  52. On the candy thing, I personally don’t mind Mouse (4 1/2) having the occasional candy feast, so I pretty much let her go for it on Halloween night and then give her a piece or two for dessert each day until it’s gone.Folks I know who do mind, though, have their kids leave the candy out for the Candy Fairy, who leaves a nice toy for the kid to find in the morning. That seems like a cute way to handle it–I’ve seen it work with 7 or 8 year-olds, but of course the toy needed to be “worth” the candy.

  53. I also loved giving out candy when I was single – and since my daughter is only 1 1/2, it’s really not so different now!My parents limited our candy by limiting the number of houses we went to. No driving to the “big candy” subdivisions with a pillowcase – we trick-or-treated at a few of our neighbors’, and at some point they’d declare it enough and we’d go home and hand out candy to other kids and have a big sibling candy-swap and try to trick each other out of the “good” candy while donating all the Mr. Goodbars to Mom. 🙂

  54. I don’t see anything wrong with putting up a sign and allowing people to opt-in. If they don’t like the idea, they don’t opt-in. Those who do enjoy seeing children might appreciate the opportunity to participate in the holiday.

  55. I can just talk about myself here: If I am tired and grouchy, I may not do anything to hand out candy. But if I know that a little one is going to be there waiting because I have said I would be there, I would get past my tiredness fast. AND I would feel honored if I were asked. As long as I have the option it would not feel like pressure to me.

  56. I would definitely put up the sign up sheet.Someone early in the comments asked how you handle it if you are not at home. My grandmother and cousin both live in “town” and we take our kids there to trick or treat with their cousins (they walk down the block to five or six houses and then come back to hand out candy to the big kids and see their costumes). We live in a townhouse community where the number of kids has varied from a hand full to 25 or so, so I’ve started leaving a bowl out with a big note wishing everyone a Happy Halloween and inviting them to take candy.

  57. I really like the solution Amy mentioned near the beginning of the comments where a stack of door signs was left in the lobby with a sign explaining it.I live in a much smaller apartment myself, but this seems superior to the list in several ways. First, and most importantly, it would let people be “at home” to trick-or-treaters for a limited portion of the evening. It also lets people decide at the last minute if they want to participate or change their minds without having to publicly cross themselves off the list. It also, and this is a personal opinion, seems much less pushy than a sign up list since the signs will only be on the doors for that evening rather than having a list of participants up all month.

  58. Please put up a sign that asks if anyone would be interested in passing out candy! As a single, childless 25-year old living in NYC, I would love to pass out candy, but in my building, the only child is a polite 17 year old boy in ridiculously oversize pants who lives with his mother. Everyone else is a 20-something with no kids or a 70-something in a rent controlled apartment.

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