I admit it- I trick-or-treated until I was 20 years old, and the only reason I stopped was because I had to work one Halloween, and then had to work the next year, and then the next, and now at 26 I’ve finally grown up and lost the love of knocking on doors and yelling “Trick or treat!” with my bag wide open. Granted, when I was 20 I looked about 13 (I’m not even 4’11”, weigh 84 lbs and have a face full of freckles so it wasn’t a huge stretch to get away with it), but even then it seemed like the average trick-or-treater was about 10 or so, and the only grown-ups out there begging for candy were parents with kiddies too young to follow this holiday tradition on their own. Even so, trick-or-treating is not just for kids in my opinion, and so long as an older person is treating the tradition with respect (as in, NOT knocking down all the children in the rush for the good stuff) and is actually giving back to the giving (I would leave a bowl of candy on my doorstep with the pointless “take one” note taped to it), can you ever really be too old to be trick-or-treating?
The average age of an an “old” trick-or-treater is 13, and it goes downhill from there. Since it’s really a children’s holiday in America (many countries do not celebrate Halloween the way we do), it makes sense that once a kid hits High School they lose interest in the trick-or-treating aspect of the holiday. But I’d rather see teenagers and young adults out getting candy with the kids than toilet papering houses or partying and drinking all night. And so would a lot of people.
Most people will honor an “old” trick-or-treater- so long as they follow the rules. The rules are, according to my neighbors, the veteran trickster has to be in costume (not just makeup, but full-on garb, especially the college-aged kids) and have to have an official Halloween bag (not a grocery sack) to get candy. The point to trick-or-treating as an adult is to still take the holiday seriously and not just show up at people’s doors without a costume. Even I will turn away older trick-or-treaters who are obviously just looking for a free hand-out. Us old people have to really earn it.
The exception to this rule are the parents of tiny tyke trick-or-treaters who are just getting candy for their kids. Parents with youngsters simply just need to be present and hand out their bags, but painting ones face at least or wearing a mask is a nice touch that the homeowners enjoy.
The largest complaint my neighbors have about old trick-or-treaters? The rudeness. Not a thank you, just a grocery sack held out silently as these High School kids with nothing better to do demand candy from their neighbors (and strangers) without even a hint of a costume and hog the fun of the holiday away from the kids who actually dressed up and are waiting patiently in line for their turn at the door.
Would my neighbors honor my “trick-or-treat” request on Halloween? Yup- so long as I dress up and entertain them with one heckuva costume. They threatened they may make me do a trick, since I’m an old bird now and have to work for my candy. They also said I have to leave candy out for their kids, which I would have done anyhow.
Am I too old to trick-or-treat? I don’t think anyone is, so long as they treat the holiday with some respect and don’t take the fun away from anyone else. After all, it IS a holiday for the kids, so if you can’t act like a kid and get into the spirit of really dressing up, your best bet is to just stay home and hand out the candy like all the other “old” people do.