#960 Strategic trick-or-treating

Breaking many rules

[digg=http://digg.com/arts_culture/Awesome_Thing_960_Strategic_trick_or_treating] Trick-or-treating ain’t no game.

No, it’s a life lesson in goal-setting, planning, and tactical execution. Kids who master trick-or-treating go on to become successful world leaders. Kids who don’t could possibly also do the same, but with less chocolate to show for it. The point is that chocolate is delicious, and you should fill your pillowcase with as much of it as possible. You just have to master the 4 Rules Of Strategic Trick-Or-Treating first:

4. Mo’ money, mo’ problems. In terms of where to go trick-or-treating, there’s always a lot of chatter about getting a drive over to the rich neighborhood for the big score. People would have you believe that the rich enjoy lavishing children with unopened boxes of twinkies and full cases of root beer. But that’s a lie! Rich people got rich by being cheap and their massive front yards will just slow you down. That’s right, you’ll be navigating wrought-iron fences, duck-shaped hedges, and koi ponds instead of ringing doorbells. Instead, aim for the new neighborhood with little kids and the all-important densely packed homes.

3. Dress for success. Trick-or-treating is a race against the clock, so set yourself up for success by wearing running shoes and avoiding masks that affect your visibility. No ballet slippers, high heels, or sandals. No robes, capes, or togas. And none of those cheap plastic masks from the dollar store that attach with a thin elastic and a couple of staples. Basically, keep simplifying your costume and then timing yourself running up and down the basement stairs until you’ve found a winner. If in doubt, go as Carl Lewis.

If she can run, probably a good partner. Just upgrade the shoes.

2. Partner up. It will be tempting to form a trick-or-treating posse and move from door to door as one big, shifty amoeba of fluorescent tape and facepaint. Resist that temptation. The amoeba will cause two problems: first, the group will travel at the speed of the slowest member. That means one kid with flat feet and asthma ruins everyone’s night. Secondly, a big group triggers the rationing instinct in the person handing out candy. They become overwhelmed and default to the “One for you, one for you” candy-for-everyone technique. You don’t want that. So instead, you need to pick one partner. Qualifications for that lucky someone include a low resting heart rate, winning smile, and really cute costume. The last one is key. The costume must trigger the “Aren’t you adorable!” reflex, which inspires extra candy. The gold standard here is a fit toddler in a ladybug costume with new Reeboks.

1. Timing is everything. The last rule is all about the three key stages of Halloween candy collecting. Times may vary depending where you’re from, but they go something like this:

  • The 4 – 6pm Start Up: You must be very active and running around here, before the street gets too busy. This is your time to hit the houses at the peak of their inventory levels, when they may hand out more because of excess supply or poor foresight.
  • The 6 – 7pm Rest Up: This is when the streets are their busiest. Don’t get caught in other people’s amoebas. Now’s the time to go home and dump out the pillowcase and refresh the face paint. Also, it’s a good time to hit your local fast-food joints. McDonald’s is usually pretty generous.
  • Late night scrapsThe 7 – 9pm Clean Up: Now it’s all about picking up the scraps. Some houses will be left with too much candy and they’ll start giving handfuls instead of fingerfuls. Others will feel guilty about running out and start handing out creative treats from their kitchen like cups of pudding or boxes of Jello powder. The Clean Up stage is a real test of your cardio fitness levels, as many houses will have turned out their lights by now, forcing you to zig-zag the street in search of the remaining bounty.

Now that you’ve got a game plan, just remember to keep it clean out there. Under cover of night and camouflage facepaint some folks venture into the murky trick-or-treating ethical gray zone. Stay away from these folks, because while they’re telling people it’s their birthday too, collecting a second bag for a ‘sick sibling at home’, or body-checking toddlers into bushes on their way up the walk, you can rest knowing that you came out to play by the rules.

And you won.


Go for gold, just like Carl Lewis

Pictures from: here, here, and here

112 thoughts on “#960 Strategic trick-or-treating

  1. Awesome Article, Love the site. I notice that you mentioned about mo money…We picked up on something a long time ago. We use to do what everyone else did and go where the so-called “Rich Neighborhood” was for Trick-or-treating for the kids, but were really disappointed since everyone and their brother were there the houses were not giving out so much. It wasn’t uncommon to get one little tootsie roll because they tried to keep enough for as many people as possible.

    So It struck me, we headed to the other side of town and I was blown a way…There weren’t too many people, you weren’t getting pushed off of the sidewalk, and each house were virtually giving out hand fulls of candy, the kids loved it. So every Halloween since, we’ve hit the “Other side of town” and our kids have always hit the mother load and coming home with Full bags instead of a quarter bag as we did roaming were everyone else were.

  2. Just something I’ve found: go for oldies, because even if they don’t have lollies, they will generally feel guilty and give you some random fun they’ve found in their house or money. Which is always good. :)

  3. we used to carry pillowcases and stay out all night until they were full.
    also, did everyone have a person on their block who gave a toothbrush?
    or how about the single guy’s house who always forgot it was Halloween and gave out handfuls of pocket change…we’d alter our costumes and go back again right away.

  4. Double Trick or treat.
    Trick or treat once at the beginning. 4-6pm.
    Change Costumes
    Go back for the Clean Up.
    What kid wouldn’t want to have to costumes and go twice?

  5. When I was in college, each dorm room had the option to sign up to give out candy. Since my room was on the 4th floor, not surprisingly, a lot of kids didn’t make it that far. My suggestion, if you live in a college town, hit up the top floors of all the dorms. If they are anything like mine was, you’ll come away with lots and lots of candy.

  6. If you’re kind of too old to go trick or treating, – make yourself look younger. (And don’t go where people know you) When I was 13 my friend dressed as a kitten, and I dressed up as a fairy-princess. The pink tutu, and the pigtails did it for me…

    1. haahahahahhahaha…..my friend and I stopped our freshman year of college. We’re NOT that tall, like 5 feet even each. So I dressed as Winnie the Pooh and she as Tigger—–full body costumes. So our age wasn’t obvious! Heehehehehehehe

      1. LOL I loved this one house, they’re like “Oh look, big kid!” and they brought out this grocery bag that had HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE boxes of candy. We got more than younger kids, no matter how cute they think they are. ;)

        House, you are


  7. I’m too old for trick or treating now, sadly, though I’ve thought about doing it anyway in a costume where you can’t see my face. But the awesome part for adults is the sale on all that candy the day after. Sure, it’s not free, but it’s a good deal and it’s quick and easy

  8. You can never be too old to trick or treat. Halloween won’t be Halloween without people trick or treating. All you need is a good comfortable costume. If you are on a budget check out some of the online costumes store.

    Kit @ Pure Costumes

  9. OMG…..go as Carl Lewis!! SO funny! I love this site. It always makes me laugh. I’m all for the “dress up a toddler like a ladybug” gig. Hey, whatever works!!! :-)

  10. Our neighborhood was big, but there weren’t many kids. One house literally had a box several feet wide filled to the brim with candy. Good candy with brand names, not just those cheap pinata fillers with suckers and rock-hard bubblegum.
    We started with a handful, then visited two more times. There wasn’t any signs telling you how much to get, and it was remaining full no matter how much we got. At the end of the night, we just shoveled it all in.

  11. An old lady used to give us goody bags and fun size bags of chips. Once a house gave away king size candy bars.

    I dressed up like Melanie Davis from The Birds one Halloween. It was a genius costume. I found a light green skirt suit and sewed on some cheap plastic crows form the craft store. Those who saw the movie laughed and gave me extra candy, but those who didn’t stared and asked me what I was.

  12. At my university, we have something called Trick-Or-Eat, where we collect canned goods for the food bank.

    Secret side benefit: Most houses give you candy too! (“Oh this is such a good thing you’re doing for the neighbourhood”)

    You are supposed to politely refuse.. but who would refuse free candy!

    I’m trick or treating until I’m done uni!

  13. its true Trick or Treating is a art. When I was younger I practiced it every year. To the point where I was *in loud omnipresent voice* Ultra Epic Candy Boy(tm) Every year I’d fill my Xtra large pillow case to the point where it would no longer close.

    1. I just carried a big pillowcase around my apartment a bit when it was full of books. Next up is piggyback rides to my lil bro. I think that bigger is better when it comes to candy.

  14. Never go to the rich neighbourhoods, though you might think that is where you’ll get a lot of candy, I found when I was younger they were most cheap on the candy giving – plus everyone else has the same idea so they run out of candy supply quickly. If you go to houses that not a lot of people typically go to, you’ll usually luck out and they’ll give you a lot of candy as no one else is coming for the candy! Woooo…

  15. I too agree with the plastic pumpkin. My husband takes my daughter out and puts what he calls “bait candy” in the pumpkin. wveryone thinks she is just starting out and gives her extra. He stands on the sidewalk with the pillowcase and emptys her pumpkin every 7 or 8 houses.

  16. Awesome to reflect…
    nearly had an asthma attack laughing-
    yep, one of “those” kids…”feet and all!”
    Nevertheless, I managed to fill pillow cases.
    My mom sewed the best costumes.
    Halloween is definately one of the best…
    your strategies BRILLIANT!

    1. still one of the best memories of first few years and then with my children too…now onto grand babies…yeah!!!

  17. A friend and I once hit a neighborhood twice in the same night. We stored extra costumes in his parents van and when we finished the first round, we changed getups and went around again.

  18. Since I started in here at “Feeling it in your bones”, I’m going to be requiring the costume in the photo, in the event I should be in Vancouver for May 9th. book tour!!! Would be just Perfect!

  19. This is so true. Every year I go out with 3 friends and we have our pillow cases and all that. There’s this one guy that no one goes to, and he sits out on the porch and if you get him at the end of the night you get like 4 handfuls of crunch bars, tootsie rolls, and butterfingers.
    Also, while your out ToTing, see which houses no one goes to. Come back at the end of the night, and you’ll hit the jackpot.

  20. Wow. Just… wow. I am twelve, so don’t trick or treat anymore, but when I was ten it was a science. Five, go to annual halloween party at family friends. Six, do my street left then right. Make sure to get the koi pond house who always gave out king size bars and sodas. Six thirty. Head down to avila st. Two people lived here who worked fir candy companies, and always gave lots. Seven thirty. Do Princeton st. Also good haul. Eight thirty. Redo all open houses, but pull hood up so not recognized. Nine thirty. Return home. The last t&t year I literally weighed my haul and had twenty four pounds plus a cone of cotton candy.

    1. “I am twelve, so don’t trick or treat anymore”

      What is this?! I trick or treated last year and I was 17! Hell, I may or may not trick or treat tonight. It depends if I can successfully put the tips from “last minute costumes” to good use or not.

  21. bring a large bag and a back pack so if your bag gets full empty it into the back pack so it looks like you have non so people will give more to you and your group tell them to do the same.

  22. I’ve learner that manipulating your parents into going everywhere in town is a good idea. Next year, I’m going to convince my grandmum to take me trick or treating in her town after I hit up mine.

  23. Yeah great comments! If you act cute with your cheesy grin, you will haul in the candy. You could even say trick or treat PLEASE! It worked for me

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  25. Well written. Couldn’t have said it better myself. When I was younger, I had to go with my grandma once and I made out like a bandit going through the more settled-in type of neighborhood which was full of older wiser folk such as herself:) Other grandma’s and grampa’s and retired elderly that looked forward to their weekly game of cards for excitement. It seems as though they saved up quarters for Halloween time just to see the trick or treaters And invite them in for a song or joke. Back then, we used to be invited in. We had to work for our treat. I always had to come prepared to entertain with a song or a joke. It wasn’t unusual to come home with almost $20 in your bag or pumpkin. Rolls of pennies, stacks of nickels, a bag of dimes, lots of quarters, and even dollar bills especially if they know who you are. Oh, manners & cute costumes go a long way.

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