Wondering what to bring trick-or-treating? Don’t forget anything with this trick-or-treat checklist!
Trick or treat checklist/kit for Parents! (For the super prepares/organized/type a mom)
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Have you ever wondered where the tradition of trick-or-treating came from? According to the book, HALLOWEEN: An American Holiday, an American History (by Lesley Bannatyne, a folklore author who has contributed to National Geographic and World Book Encyclopedia), Halloween began over 2,000 years ago in the British Isles. The Celtic people celebrated the spirits and the dead. Over time, the Catholic Church changed the “celebration” into All Saints/Souls Day. Around the 19th century, the Irish brought some old-world traditions of October 31st when they migrated to America. Around the turn of the century, it gained popularity and eventually became a national holiday. (This is a gross under-estimation of the details. If you are interested in Halloween and history, this book is very interesting!)
So why do we say “trick-or-treat”? This answer is a little harder to find but I did come across this interesting note from History.com:
“Although it is unknown precisely where and when the phrase “trick or treat” was coined, the custom had been firmly established in American popular culture by 1951, when trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip. In 1952, Disney produced a cartoon called “Trick or Treat” featuring Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.”
Pop culture to the rescue 😉
How to prepare kids for trick-or-treating
Before you go out into the night and show off those spooky or adorable costumes, spending a little time with these preparation tips can save your evening from disaster! Here are a few quick things to do/plan/check or go over before you set out into the night.
Things to do before you take the kids trick-or-treating:
~Prepare toddlers or very young children for Halloween scares! This can be tricky and may take some extra steps. Read more here about creating a not-so-scary Halloween for toddlers.
~Fill the kids up with a big dinner (maybe their favorite meal!) so they will be less likely to be starving “for candy”
~Try on costumes wth enough time to pin/tape/adjust for comfort and safety!
~Be sure to check costume length so your child is not tripping when he/she walks
~If they are wearing a mask, check your child’s field of vision before they leave. Stand at angles around them and ask if they can see you.
~Talk about manners. I always like to remind my kids to say “trick or treat!”, to only take one piece of candy at each house (unless told otherwise), to be courteous of other children/adults/pets, and to say “thank you”. I find that if we talk about it right before we go, they tend to remember and try to use manners!
~Have a game plan. Talk ahead of time about where you will go, how long you will stay out, areas to avoid, and meet-up times (for older children). Setting expectations now will help everyone understand how the night will go (and hopefully avoid any confusion aka tantrums later!)
What to bring trick-or-treating
There are a few things you could bring with you to ensure you have a safe, stress-free night for the kids AND for parents!
1. Glow necklaces/bracelets- …with a catch-
I’m sure you see the point of glow necklaces- seeing your child in the dark, of course. BUT- here is a tip that makes takes them from useful to genius: put everyone in the same color (even the parents). It makes it super easy to see everyone and keep them together! This has been such a huge help in chasing 3 little kids through trick-or-treating and Halloween events. Since I am wearing the same color, it also makes it easier for them to find me in the dark.
A small flashlight from the dollar store is a huge help in the dark. Find one with a strap to put around your wrist! You might also consider a small one for the kids to put around a belt loop or wrist. If they get stuck in the dark, they can turn it on! If they need to turn on that light, it makes it easier to find them (if you get separated). My husband laughed at the idea when I first handed it to him but after a few minutes, he realized just how useful they really are!
3. Stroller or wagon- trust me.
Even if they are old enough to walk, you’re likely going to need it. Someone’s little feet will hurt or their bag will be too heavy. Plus you can store all of the things I’m about to mention below:
4. Extra bag-
It’s inevitable that someone is going to complain about how heavy their candy bag is (champagne problems, right?!) so bringing an extra canvas bag or pillowcase to dump the overflow will save your ears from lots of whining!
I saw a lady at the library with a bag on wheels and I cannot believe I have never seen this before! What a useful idea! Perfect for trick-or-treating! This will come in so handy- not just for candy overflow, but also for loose costume parts that someone doesn’t want to wear/carry/hold.
5. Weather appropriate items–
If you are in cold weather- bring some things like hand warmers/hats/gloves, etc. if the weather might call for it. It usually starts out ok but as soon as the sun goes down, it gets really cold. An umbrella could also come in handy. Check the forecast and be prepared so everyone is comfy!
If you are lucky enough to trick-or-treat in the sunshine, these items would be more like sunglasses, sunscreen, and water bottles.
We’re in the north, so I put a small bag together with all the winter necessities. At first, everyone is “fine” but little fingers freeze quickly (and frankly, I prefer they wear gloves because all those germy hands grabbing in the same buckets… yuck.)
6. Hand sanitizer–
Speaking of germs, it’s just a good idea to have something to keep their little hands germ-free. All of the little hands grabbing in bowls means a lot of possible germs/bacteria/viruses and you don’t want your kids to pick up more than just their candy! Plus, you just know they will HAVE to touch something on the way! I use the paraben-free sanitizers that use essential oils like these or alcohol-free thyme-based like these.
7. Hands wipes–
Kids are going to eat candy while they are trick-or-treating. It’s a right of passage. Portable wipes or travel wipes are great to have in your extra bag to clean up the sticky Halloween mess.
Don’t forget this for after trick-or-treating!
Just as important as what to bring trick-or-treating is what to do after trick-or-treating!
- Wash their hands! First thing- as soon as they walk in the door I send them to the bathroom for a good washing!
- Check the candy- throw out anything you don’t want them to have or looks suspicious (I always throw out “homemade” items unless they are from a family member or friend. Popcorn included)
- Set some rules about candy if you are concerned about them overindulging
Since it is a holiday, we tend to allow our children to indulge a little more than we normally would.
Enter the post trick-or-treat belly ache.
Especially if they are not used to eating sugar/food dyes, kids can get a tummy ache pretty easily after eating Halloween candy.
We keep all-natural Gripe water on hand for upset stomachs. (nope, it’s not just for babies!). Beware of ginger-ale type soda since almost none of them actually contain ginger (but they have tons of sugar!). I love these ginger chews for nausea and upset stomachs! I used these when I was pregnant and super nauseous and the kids chew them now when they get a stomach ache. (always check the packaging for age recommendations and dose information).
If they aren’t already taking probiotics, October might be a good time to look into it. We have found that a good pre/probiotic can do wonders for little tummies!
Common sense caution- Always discuss medical concerns, medications, and supplements with your child’s medical practitioner.
Pin it for later!
Now that you know what to bring trick-or-treating, the only thing left to do is to have fun!