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Treating Little Ghouls in 2021

by Susannah Wollman

When ghosts, goblins, witches, and who knows what else show up at your door this Halloween, what will you serve them?

Halloween—aka Hallowe’en or All Hallows’ Eve—has dark origins spanning hundreds of years, but few Americans know (or care) about its pagan beginnings. In the twenty-first century, it’s all about commercial tradition, with costumes, pumpkin carving spooky decorations, and children haunting their neighbors in hopes of receiving lots of candy. It’s a dentist’s nightmare!

Traditionally, around 70% of Americans celebrated Halloween in the years preceding 2020. Largely due to Covid-19, the number dropped to 58% in 2020 but is expected to rise to 65% this year. The most popular traditions associated with the season are handing out candy, pumpkin carving, and decorating. But parties and harvest festivals are also crowd-pleasing as well, and trick or treating at malls and other retail locations have become trendy. But if you want to take your kids to some really fun neighborhoods in Houston to trick or treat, here are the best ones.

The Heights

Kids and parents alike love this neighborhood for its festive decoration, generosity, and friendliness.

Cinco Ranch

In nearby Katy, West Houston kids can trick or treat close to home. Cinco Ranch has a name for being safe, family-friendly, and festive.

Bellaire

Long-time favorite Bellaire enjoys a well-earned reputation for fun and safe celebrating. That means plan to arrive early and be prepared to carry home a lot of treats!

Coles Crossing

Northwest Houston has Coles Crossing, a favorite among kids and parents alike for haunting the gaily (or darkly) decorated doorsteps.

Briargrove

If you live in north-central Houston, you’re probably familiar with the beautiful houses walking distance from the Galleria. Visit both with your little ghouls!

Braes Heights

Near the Medical Center, the festively decorated homes welcome trick or treaters with lots of Halloween fun.

How old is “too old” to trick or treat?

Although most experts agree that teenagers are probably too old to trick or treat door to door, each kid is different and the age needs to be negotiated between parents and child. In fact, in some states, it is actually illegal for children older than 12 to dress up in costume and go trick or treating. Fortunately, here in Texas, that is not the case. Still, when a six-foot tall, fifteen year old boy with a scraggly moustache appears at your door, most people are uncomfortable. Going to parties with their friends is probably a much better idea, so long as the parents know what exactly that entails!

All that sugar!!!

It’s exhilarating for your little pumpkin to come home with a bag (or a pillowcase!) full of candy. If you allowed her one piece a day, she’d have enough to last until next Halloween. And of course, she isn’t going to settle for just one if it’s in the house. So what do you do with all that sugar?

And what do you do when all the trick-or-treaters you planned for go somewhere else and you’re left with a bowl full of candy you don’t want in your house (because, well, you have a sweet tooth)? Here are some suggestions.

Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude is one of the largest and most impactful nonprofits in the country for hands-on volunteerism in support of military, veterans, and first responders. They have a specific donation ministry for extra Halloween candy and you can give in any amount.

SoldiersAngels
Treats for Troops, a ministry of SoldiersAngels, says: Families with too much candy after Halloween can donate excess candy to support a good cause. Kids may even earn buyback prizes for their generosity and families will receive a tax-deductible receipt for their donation.

Halloween Candy Buy Back
Participants buy back kids’ Halloween candy at a scheduled event with cash, xylitol products, coupons, toothbrushes, creative exchanges – They can partner with local businesses to give away coupons for food, services, goods, etc. They can give away hygiene kits or coupons for their office as well!

Ronald McDonald House
Call your local chapter to find out rules on bringing your unopened Halloween candy for severely sick children and their families to enjoy. While your kids are out trick-or-treating, these families will appreciate the taste of the holiday being delivered to them while they are in need.

If none of these donation ideas appeal to you, how about calling your local food pantry, homeless shelter or nursing home to see if they accept donations of extra candy?

Spread the sweetness.

And if you’re looking for an awesome way to help our veterans, we are doing a candy drive for Operation Gratitude on November 2 at 9am–12pm & 4pm–6pm at both of our locations.