We've said it once and we'll say it again: New York is a great place to trick-or-treat. Vertical living means your Halloween candy route is rather compact and you don't need to brave the cold to do it. And if you want a more suburban-style experience, you can have that, too—some of the city's brownstone-lined streets are happy to welcome revelers on their block for door-to-door treat-hunting (check out some of the best in every borough here).
Still, it's all fun and games until the trick-or-treating turns just tricky. We caught up with a parenting expert and etiquette expert to learn how to celebrate Halloween, NYC-building style, with enthusiasm while not making enemies out of your neighbors.
1. Building management should remind people of the upcoming festivities
"Send out a memo reminding everyone it's Halloween (this will help avoid noise complaints) and suggest hours to hand out candy," says Myka Meier, founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette, a NYC-based firm that has recently started hosting modern etiquette classes at the Plaza. If your building manager or super hasn't yet, check in with them about doing so.
2. Only visit the people who have volunteered on the sign-up sheet or are actively taking part
Most buildings post sign-up sheets in the elevator or mail room a few days before Halloween so people can signal whether or not they want trick-or-treaters to stop by. It goes without saying that if someone didn't sign up for visitors, they probably don't want them, so ringing doorbells for those who didn't is a no-no. In some buildings, residents who aren't around leave candy in bowls outside their doors—remind little ones to take only a few pieces so others can enjoy the generosity. And if you're trick-or-treating among brownstones and "the lights are all out and no decor adorns the entrance or building, it's a likely sign that the building is a no-go for candy seekers," says Meier. In short: Steer clear.
3. Offer healthy alternatives
Don't worry, we're not arguing for handing out raisins and apples, but Lyss Stern, CEO of DivaMoms, says she likes to mix things up by offering kids Smart Puffs and Pirate Booty bags or gluten-free Whole Foods cookies among the candies.
4. Set guidelines before you head out
"Before you start on your adventure, just tell them the guidelines," says Stern. "Say, if you don't say please and thank you or your behavior gets out of control or you grab to much candy, we're going to stop." Beaumont adds: "If you knock or ring, only do so once. If there is no reply, then move on!"
5. Accompany little ones
"You want to be supervising the little ones," reminds Stern. Until you can trust that your kids won't grab handfuls of candy and won't bother people in the building, your presence is required.
Stern says she lets each of her kids keep about a handful of candy, while the rest go to their doormen. (How much candy you're comfortable letting your kids keep is up to you and how old your child is, of course.)
Some schools also take candy the day after Halloween to give to shelters and needy families. And while indulgence is part of the fun on Halloween, make sure your kids aren't too overloaded with sugar. "Monday is a school night, keep that in mind," says Stern.
Of course, you want to stay safe on Halloween, too, and NYPD offers some sage advice here. Among the main points: Send your kids with an ID in case they get lost while trick or treating and throw away any unwrapped candies.
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