The other side of trick-or-treating

Finding joy in handing out candy

Alex Silber

By Ethan Wagner

When high school rolled around and I was designated “too old” to trick-or-treat, I was heartbroken. Where would I get free candy? When would I be able to stroll through my neighborhood dressed like a ninja carrying a light-up shark sword with sound effects? But most importantly, what would I do on the night of October 31? Luckily, I’ve discovered a new activity to keep me busy come Halloween.

To most people, trick-or-treating may seem like the superior Halloween activity: racing from house to house, trying to decide who rings the doorbell and relishing in the satisfaction of dumping a pillowcase brimming with candy on the carpet at home. But for me, the pleasure I felt while trick-treating is shallow compared to what I do now: handing out candy. 

Last year, when I opened the door for a neighborhood kid, he asked how many pieces of candy he could take from the bowl I had offered. When I told him to take a handful, his face lit up. It felt like my simple gesture had made his year. 

We candy “hander-outers” have an important and often overlooked role on Halloween. Our job is so much more than just plopping three pieces of candy inside a dirty pillowcase. We’re responsible for giving trick-or-treaters having an unforgettable Halloween — our friendly demeanors and spooky decorations are essential to forming memories. So, when you’re handing out candy and you feel like you’re just sitting in the darkness of your living room, remember who made your trick-or-treating experience special, and maybe reflect on how you may have been special to them, too.

Handing out candy can also give teenagers the platform to pass on their former Halloween traditions to a new generation of trick-or-treaters. When a group of trick-or-treaters comes to the door, we can clue them in on which houses give out king-sized Snickers bars, which houses have made the foolish mistake of leaving out a “take one” bowl and which houses hand out raisins or toothbrushes. We have a multitude of insider tips that we can now share, and that’s not something we should take for granted.

Retiring from trick-or treating may be upsetting, but handing out candy provides just as much fun and satisfaction, only in a different way. Hanging up our plastic pumpkins doesn’t have to be a bad thing. All it means is that we can make the trick-or-treating experience for others special.