4 Rules for Giving Out Halloween Candy
4. Don’t Get “Cute” With the Candy
Obviously, nobody wants to get apples, toothbrushes, dental floss or whatever health-conscious “treats” you’re trying to give away so you can check “Piss off every kid on the block in one night” off your bucket list. Sure, eating all that candy in one sitting is horrible for the kid in question, but that kid probably has parents – let them do their jobs and determine whether or not they’re going to let little Danny pound back a pound of chocolate in one evening, or make him ration that out like he’s lost at sea.
Speaking of chocolate – put some damn chocolate in your bowl, or don’t bother. The big bag of Brach’s hard candy should not be the entirety of what you’re treating the neighborhood with on Halloween.
And no, Tootsie Rolls by themselves don’t freaking count as chocolate. Remember the lyrics to that old Tootsie Roll jingle? Aside from implying that they’re laced with some kind of hallucinogen that makes kids see Tootsie Rolls everywhere, they specifically describe Tootsie Rolls as a “chocolatey chew.” Chocolate-y, aka Chocolate-ish, aka “why wouldn’t you just give a kid a damn Hershey’s bar, for the love of everything.”
Last but not least, don’t try to introduce some cute new foreign candy to the market. Doing so should rightfully result in you ending up on some kind of watch list. Likewise, don’t try to debut some unpracticed homemade candy recipe you saw late night on PBS. Just throw a Three Musketeers in every bag and you’re guaranteed at least a B+ for the night.
Note: The only exception to this rule is if you want to keep two different bowls of candy with you inside your house: one for kids who actually tried, and the bowl of shitty candy for the kids who clearly didn’t give a damn. Some thirteen-year-old shows up at your house with a hockey mask, a plain t-shirt and jeans on, he deserves generic lollipops, candy corn and bubble-gum that’s about as chewable as a pencil eraser.
3. Don’t ask the Kid About Their Costume or Otherwise Hold the Kid Up
Even if you have kids of your own, I imagine it’s impossible to keep up with all the different characters that exist in the innumerable kids shows that are out there these days. I swear there are 9,000 different card-fighting / monster-fighting / monster-card-dreidel-fighting anime shows on cable right now. Hell, you can’t even keep up with all the options that adults have for dressing up these days. I stumbled into a costume convention this weekend at a mall here in San Antonio (just promoting my book and scouting for scantily clad women, honest) and I recognized maybe a fifth of the myriad costumes I saw. And here’s the thing, these costumes were way too elaborate and detailed to be an original concept – these all represented characters I’d never seen before in my life, and I like to think I’m the the kind of 21st century cool-geek who’s aware of all types of fiction. So if that’s what’s going on with the grown-ups, imagine how many obscure options kids have to dress up as.
What I’m getting at here: don’t bother asking the kid “What are you supposed to be?” if you don’t recognize the costume. Sure you’ll see lots of Avengers, Batmen and Spider-Men out there this year, but you’re also going to see some Lego Ninjas and spiky-haired card-fighters and other characters that are completely new to you. Asking for any sort of information from the kid is just going to slow the kid down and leave you extra-confused when the kid starts rattling off names of fictional people, places and events that sound like the product of a pre-pubescent pop-culture junkie’s fever dream.
The only way it’s acceptable to ask a kid what they’re supposed to be for Halloween is if you go Bill Burr with it (NSFW) and subsequently drop a full-sized Snickers on them in the most needlesly badass and borderline psychotic way possible.
2. Don’t Scare the Absolute Hell Out of the Kid
As a horror author and lifelong fear junkie, I obviously understand how much fun it is to scare people. I even appreciate that scaring people can actually take quite a bit of skill and effort. Me and my boy J.Pines were once involved in a prank war that consisted entirely of trying to make the other guy think that some horror movie scenario was happening in real life. In fact, some of those pranks were almost dangerous enough to be the opening scene in an actual horror movie where a prank turns deadly and the victim returns from the grave to get revenge. It was exactly as fun as it sounds.
All of that said, some of the crazy elaborate set-ups being used to scare kids these days seem a bit overboard. I was in one of those Spirit stores the other day and there were all kinds of bloody, crawling zombie babies, realistic-looking jumping spiders, and ominous talking urns and shit. It looked like a warehouse full of leftover props from the Masters of Horror series. A cursed, haunted, Transylvanian warehouse. Some poor little girl was walking around the place begging her dad not to push any of the “Try Me Now – Make Your Kids Wet Themselves” buttons. The dad won the daily “Don’t Be a Dick” award by doing as she asked, but I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands of a-hole parents out there who would have pushed every button and pressed on every pedal and then locked their kid in a closet full of life-sized wax dummies of famous murderers just for laughs.
I’m far, far from a prude, and I think there’s some fun to be had in scaring some kids on Halloween. Again, I’m a horror writer. I love the very idea of scaring people. I also think most kids actually want to get scared at least a little bit on Halloween. Scaring people is the third most important part of the holiday, besides the sexy female costumes and candy. But when you’ve got a neighborhood of six-year-olds coming to your door, there’s a pretty big difference between “playful scary” and “permanent psychological damage scary.” Remember, it’s Halloween, not a secret audition for you to land a set design gig on the next Guillermo Del Toro production. That “Screaming Disemboweled Werewolf Attack Victim (Now With Steaming Intestines!)” animatronic mannequin might not be suitable front yard decor.
1. Don’t Just Leave a Bowl of Candy Out With a Note Saying ”Only Take One Please”
There may have been a time in our nation’s history when kids could be trusted to just take one piece of candy from a bowl if asked by an adult. You know, the good ol’ days when kids were well-mannered, respected their teachers, didn’t have to share water fountains with any those “minorities,” and learned how to “duck and cover” as the threat of atomic holocaust loomed overhead like an eager guillotine blade every minute of their life.
These days, kids don’t have the threat of a Soviet nuclear strike scaring them into being nice so they can go to heaven in case they die a fiery death in the morning. I don’t mean to collectively impugn today’s children, but let’s be real here: you’re basically begging for some kid to steal your big jack-o-lantern bowl of candy if you leave it on your porch unsupervised.
Besides, it’s one night out of the year where you have to get up and go to your door a few times to hand out some candy. Unless you’re physically disabled, elderly, or in the midst of an impromptu once-in-a-lifetime threesome, there isn’t much excuse for only half-participating in givng out candy. Either do it or don’t; semi-participating should not be an option. Hell, kids don’t even go out at Halloween like they used to. Now half the parents are too afraid of every other parent on the block to let their kids hit up any houses that aren’t within a hundred feet of their own front door. You’re getting like 50% of the kids that your parents and grandparents had knocking on their doors for Halloween. It’s not that hard. If you can’t deal with walking from your living room to your front door several times during the course of one damn night out of the year, then you probably need all the extra walking in your life that you can get.