In my youth, I spent each Halloween trick-or-treating the mean streets of Westborough, going from house to house with the soul goal of stuffing my goody pillowcase with as much loot as possible. I always got more than I could possibly eat, and remember throwing stuff out shortly before Christmas (yes, I should have been a better sharer).
I remember the joy of the rare times when a generous treat-giver would give out a full-sized bar. Equally ingrained in my memory are the doors where I'd leave with a couple hard butterscotch candies wrapped up in that crinkly plastic wrapped and tasting like crinkly plastic wrap.
If you're a last-minute candy shopper, here are some "dos" and "don'ts" of treats to give out to avoid being tricked later in the night. Along with my personal memories and preferences, I consulted my kids (ages 12, 10, and 9), noted current experts on the subject.
Among the best things you can give out:
- Peanut butter cups. This was unanimously the first thing the kids all said.
- Twix. Chocolate and cookie. How can you go wrong?
- Full sized candy bars are still a huge hit, and you will be loved.
- Skittles and/or Starburst are popular, and also give the non-chocolate lovers (not sure how such people go through life) and peanut allergy kids something.
Things to avoid:
- Cough drops. They get some of these every year. This may be worse than Charlie Brown getting rocks.
- Raisins, apples, or anything resembling something healthy.
- Potato chips. "We want candy, not potato chips." Plus, if you get them early in the night, they'll be crushed by the candy piled on top of them.
- Juice boxes. It's happened. I'm guessing it was someone who forgot to buy candy and just rummaged around the house to have something to give out.
Next, a word about UNICEF money. It's a nice idea. Everyone's heart is in the right place. But, in my personal experience, it never lives up to its noble intent.
As a kid, I always had a UNICEF box, and always had some loose change floating around at the bottom of my bag. I usually found it around mid-December, and, by then, my little cardboard box had been sitting under a crumpled sweatshirt in the corner of my room for six weeks. I probably ended up using the money for a few superballs in the vending machine at Julio's grocery store (where Tatnuck currently resides). My kids don't even know what to do with the change.
Finally, if you're an anti-Halloweenite, that's fine. I understand. Before I had kids, I had nothing to do with the holiday, and when they're old enough to not care, I won't, either. But don't leave hopeful kids exitedly looking up, waiting for your door to open.
If you're not giving stuff out, go out for a few hours or sit in the back of your house with the front lights out. There's nothing sadder than the disappointed face of a Snow White or a Buzz Lightyear sulking down the sidewalk, their bags light, their hearts heavy.