Reverse Trick-or-Treat

2013-10-31 16.29.10I love Halloween.

The decorations, the costumes, the neighborhood-ness of tromping around and talking to people we usually mostly just wave at all leave me with a great warm feeling. Which is really a feat, since most Halloweens where we live are so cold you throw a coat on over the costume, unless you are a 9-14 year old with an awesome outfit and a mile-wide stubborn streak.

As a parent I love Halloween even more than I did as a kid because it is a time we get to say yes with abandon. YES we can buy that candy at the store. YES we can make a mess with decorations all over the porch. YES you can wear that. YES you can ask strangers for candy! And then eat it!

But then… the parent-guilt.

What am I teaching you? How can I be annoyed on November 1st when you have a monstrous case of the gimmes and a stomach ache? Rather than turn my back on this holiday of gluttony, how can I possibly use it to teach some generosity and compassion? And so was born:

Reverse Trick-or-Treating.

It happened by accident, as so many discoveries do. We were walking home from my son’s preschool a few years ago in mid-October, when some of the folks sitting outside a senior center asked him about his costume for Halloween. He enthused over his plans to be a soccer star, and they asked if he would come back and show them. A plan was made.

On the afternoon of Halloween, a few hours before official T-or-T kickoff, he put on his costume (so excited!) and we dressed up his baby brother and headed out the door. On the way, he grabbed his candy bag and filled it up with candy from our bin. “For the people, cause I don’t think they can go out in their wheelchairs.” We wandered around the common areas of the senior center passing out candy, and bringing much laughter.

So now it is a holiday tradition that our boys (and their friends, this tradition is magnetic) look forward to almost as much as the candy grabbing. At one of the kid’s suggestion we added pretzel bags to our treats, since some of the seniors turned down candy. We go Reverse Trick-or-Treating the morning or afternoon of Halloween (or the day before, nobody is too picky) and show off costumes and meet new friends, and give out treats.

If you are looking for a way to add a good deed to your celebration this year, we hope you’ll steal this idea and bring joy to a group of folks near you.

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