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How Old is Too Old to Trick-or-Treat At Halloween?

How Old is Too Old for Trick or Treating?

By Chris Jordan

My twelve-year-old son plays on his middle school’s football team. They have games on Monday nights at 7:00pm. This is relevant only because when I realized that Halloween was on a Monday I said to one of my friends that my 12 year old wasn’t going to be able to go out trick-or-treating this year. She acted like I had two heads. “He is far too old to go out trick-or-treating anyway!”

Far too old? Really? I didn’t think that there was an age limit. When it comes to trick-or-treating, I think desire trumps age.

My oldest kids decided to stop trick-or-treating on their own when they were probably about 14, or late middle-school age. At some point they come to the realization on their own that trekking miles through the suburbs for fun-sized candy bars isn’t worth it. Especially if Mom is willing to buy a bag of candy for everyone to share. My oldest went out last year again for the first time in several years with a group of friends. They all dressed up in morph suits, which are like colorful body stockings that cover you from head to toe. (I feel like I must point out that they wore coordinating shorts over their suits.) He said they posed on people’s front door stoops after ringing the door bells. Everyone loved their costumes and no one gave them any sort of hard time about being too old to trick-or-treat.

There are far worse things for teenagers to be involved in than trick-or-treating. If they want to hold on to this childhood tradition, why not? Soon enough they will be full-fledged adults. Adulthood is forever.

We are living in a time where people are constantly lamenting the fact that children are growing up too quickly, acting like adults long before their years. Look at the costumes that are available in the big stores. Every year the choices become more and more gruesome for boys, while the girls costumes become more and more like street walkers. I can clearly remember being in 5th grade and dressing up like a bunny and my friend dressing up like a cat. My daughter finds both those choices “babyish.” She is eight. And if the costumes she has circled in the fliers that come to our house are any indication, she would like to dress up as a fairy-whore. Uh, yeah, not happening. In my house the rule about costumes is no serial killers or hookers. You would be surprised the amount of costumes this eliminates.

Some cities have gone so far as to ban children over the age of 12 from trick-or treating. This makes me sad. I’d love it if a city passed a ban on store-bought costumes, forcing everyone to make their own. Let’s bring back the cardboard box dice, the green-faced witches, the cheerleader, the sports figures… Okay, I don’t really want that sort of ban to actually happen, but a girl can dream of the day when all the costumes weren’t covered in blood or seen on every third child.

What do you think, is there an age which children should stop trick-or-treating? Does it bother you if teenagers in costume come to your door? Should cities pass age restrictions on trick or treating?

Photo credit: Depositphotos/creatista

Read more on Trick or Treating:

Chris Jordan
About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children. Yes, they...

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.
Yes, they are all hers.
No she’s not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.
Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That’s why her youngest is a teen now.
Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

 

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Trish
Guest
Trish

Here’s the thing — I’ve seen kids as old as HS “trick or treating” but with a lot of them, they are not dressing up. They are in jeans and a hoodie with a plastic grocery bag arguing that they should take two pieces of candy b/c its fine for little kids to take one, but they are bigger and deserve more. That’s when it stops being fun to hand out candy and see the inventive or colorful costumes, and starts feeling like a shakedown by a youth who might be up to no good. Is 12 the right age to cut… Read more »

IrishCream
Guest
IrishCream

I’d happily give candy to anyone who showed up at my door in costume. Unless they’re dressed like Yankees players; then they get denied.

I trick-or-treated (in homemade, non-hookerish costumes) until I was 18. I just love it, and if you’re willing to put in the time on a real costume, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be allowed to trick-or-treat.

Norma
Guest
Norma

Agreed!

Mandy
Guest
Mandy

I’m 17 years old, in my senior year of high school, and I am so glad to hear people saying that it is okay to go trick or treating! I am going for my last time this year, and I made my own costume (I am going to be a wolf) I think kids are growing up too quickly and I want to stay a kid for as long as I can.

Miranda
Guest
Miranda

I’m 18 and I went trick or treating this year. This was probably my last, but I’m never going to stop dressing up

Cassie
Guest
Cassie

If they take the time to dress up and actually look the part, I have no problem with a teenager showing up at my door and giving them candy. (Assuming it is at a reasonable time and not midnight.) ((Politeness towards the treat giver is a bonus too!))

The thing I dislike is the designated dates/times kids are allowed to go out trick-or-treating. Because Halloween is on a Monday this year, the kids are actually designated to go out on Sunday evening, but only between 5-7:30pm. What happened to the unorganized, fun free time between the school letting out and bedtime?

Annie
Guest
Annie

I actually sort of have a problem with that. Some kids don’t have great costumes because they can’t afford them. They might try their best by putting on clothes that look like a person they like but I don’t think they should have to wear a store bought costume to trick or treat. 

Dawn
Guest
Dawn

A few teenagers show up every year. If they have a costume they get candy. They are usually polite and some even have good costumes. I always make sure to compliment the ones that do. If they do not have a costume I say. “Ok no costume then I at least need to hear trick or treat.” The kids always laugh and say it and I hand out the candy gladly. I wouldn’t mind if adults showed up as long as they were wearing a costume. I think that should be the deciding factor, not age.

joe friday
Guest
joe friday

I’m 21 and I trick or treated this year wearing a business suit.  When people asked what I was dressed up as, I told them I was dressed like somebody who has a job.  With Obama in the White House, of course, I don’t.  But it’s fun to pretend.  

GM
Guest

I dream of the day when green faced witches are a thing of the past but apart from that I’m in complete agreement with you. I don’t mind teenagers. I haven’t had to deal with any bad ones yet though. I think age restrictions are ridiculous. This is definitely one thing we don’t need our government regulating. There are much more important things to worry about than banning kids from healthy activities.

Zoot
Guest
Zoot

I am so glad you wrote this. I have NEVER had a problem with older trick-or-treaters. And they’ve never been rude and banged on our door late after we turn out lights (I’ve heard that as a complaint.) My son is 16 and he may go out with his friends, and I warned him people may get ugly with him but if they do to tell him they could call me if they had a problem with it. 🙂 As long as he wants to do a fun/safe activity why would I discourage that? And I have to say I’d… Read more »

Marci
Guest
Marci

I agree with the above commenters in that if they are wearing a costume, why not?  The problem in my household this year is that my 9th grader has swim practice that day until 6:30pm.  I don’t think she will be able to go out.  But I also have a 15 year old who is going to be with friends in their neighborhood, and a nine year old boy who certainly should be able to go out.  My daughter, the swimmer, is quite miffed that she has practice.  When I mention that maybe she is too old to go trick-or-treating,… Read more »

Adriana
Guest
Adriana

A ban at 12yrs old? My son will be in 6th grade at age 12. He’d be devastated if I told him he couldn’t dress up anymore. He doesn’t even care about the candy… he doesn’t eat candy. He likes dressing up in costume and well at 11yrs old Halloween is really the only time he can. I think most kids stop on their own around 14, and if they want to keep going, as long as they take the time to dress up in costume and are polite and don’t scare or push around the little kids then I… Read more »

Sid
Guest

One of the only things that was good about having a baby-face was that I got to go trick or treating until I was well into high school (my poor husband was 6 feet tall at age 11 and he’s still bitter about getting cut-off by his neighbours as “too old”). Now as a parent (candy puchaser/distrubutor) I don’t mind giving candy to anyone who puts out the effort to wear a costume. I do however get ticked with the teens “dressed up” in their pajamas expecting a handout.

Excuse Me
Guest
Excuse Me

Your husband was NOT 6ft tall when he was 11! No way, no how. That’s INSANE. 

Suz
Guest

I agree with the majority.  The only time I have a problem with older trick-or-treaters is when they’re showing up at the door with an “I dare you to deny me” attitude.  If your son’s group showed up, I’d give them twice the candy for the effort & attitude. My kids are 13 and 15.  Neither of them has mentioned Halloween at all so far.  For a few years, starting in 5th grade, my now-15-yo and her friends spent months pulling together a (free) Haunted House in one of the other families’ yards, and spent their Halloween evening entertaining trick-or-treaters… Read more »

Michelle
Guest
Michelle

I don’t mind teenagers trick or treating as long as they show up in costume and are pleasant. I don’t like it when they come in regular clothes; it seems like they are just up to no good.

Julie
Guest
Julie

I agree with the other commenters. The limit isn’t age, it’s attitude. They’re too old to trick-or-treat when they’re too “cool” to actually dress up and say trick or treat and ham it up a little bit. As long as they’re willing to put out the effort to come up with a costume beyond their highschool sports uniform and come before I turn out the lights, I’m happy to give them candy. I remember taking my little sister out trick-or-treating through high school. I’d wear a costume, and usually only hit a few select houses – ones where friends lived… Read more »

good2Bqueen
Guest
good2Bqueen

At my house, all are welcome.  It’s usually pretty chilly by the time Halloween rolls around so we keep a table with hot coffee and pumpkin bread and finger sandwiches for the adults and hot chocolate and candy for the kids.  We used to get a few “entitled” teens, but usually, even if they aren’t dressed up, they enjoy our decorations and treats enough that they smile and say thank you.

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mostlyfitmom
Guest

The only problem I’ve had with older trick-or-treaters is that a few have come late, after we’ve turned off the lights, expecting treats, and then get mad when we answer the door and say we’re out of treats.  Has happened more than once.  And they weren’t really dressed up.  Of course, we’ve probably had lots of older trick-or-treaters who were dressed up and maybe seemed a little tall, but we just didn’t notice because they were dressed up and polite.  Have no problem if older kids want to come to my door, as long as they’re polite (I have a… Read more »

Tammy
Guest
Tammy

I would have no problem if an adult trick-or-treated at my house, so long as they 1) have on a costume, and 2) actually say, “trick-or-treat.” Nothing irritates me more than when a kid (of any age) just stands there staring at me with his bag open when I open the door.

rachel
Guest
rachel

how young is too young to trick-or-treat? we’ve had adults in plain clothes come to the door with their babies dressed up and hold out their bag for candy. babies, like can’t even walk or talk little cuties. must be the new neighborhood we are in as i have never experienced that anywhere else before.

Samantha
Guest
Samantha

I never said “trick-or-treat”, even as a kid. I always just said hello or something of the sorts and happy Halloween. I never liked it when people forced me to say “trick-or-treat” for my candy.

tasterspoon
Guest
tasterspoon

@Rachel, my baby will be 1 year old and we’re going to carry her around, and she actually has a little bag because it is so darn cute (it’s a 5″ felt candy corn!), but she doesn’t eat candy and my hips don’t need it so we’ll just peek in and admire the decorations as other kids ring the bell and get their treats. Fortunately our neighborhood Halloween is so lively it won’t be difficult for us to hover and admire. And my husband, the baby and I will all be in costume. If we were in a quieter neighborhood… Read more »

Rosana
Guest
Rosana

My birthday is on Halloween and I trick-or-treated until my 18th birthday 🙂 I still absolutely love to dress up. Having a masquerade party for my 25th next year 🙂 Anyway, I think it’s ridiculous to put an age limit on trick-or-treating. I always wore a costume and said “Trick-or-treat” so as long as everyone is doing that I think you shoud be allowed. I don’t go trick-or-treating anymore unless I’m with kids though 🙂 Just my personal decision 🙂

Valorie
Guest
Valorie

As we got older (late jr. high and high school), my friends and I started trick or treating for UNICEF.  Then, we started designing our own mini “haunted houses” for the young kids in the neighborhood.  I remember making tombstones out of cardboard boxes and spray paint, saving my babysitting money to run down to Salvation Army to buy wigs and white sheets, asking Mom to spring for a black-light bulb for the front porch.  THOSE were the days…

Kabe
Guest
Kabe

Maybe it’s just where I live, but my friends and I trick or treated until we were seniors in HS … and were far from the only ones who did so. We dressed up, politely said “trick or treat” and “thank you” at each door and never had anyone look at us like we were strange for trick or treating. Of course, I’m a huge fan of Halloween. 🙂 I’m 22 and a graduate student and seriously considering trick or treating this year just for the fun of it! I may take the kids up the street I sit for,… Read more »

Kelsi
Guest
Kelsi

When I was about 16, I went with my best friend. We did not dress up… But we DID dress up our two cats (hers as a pumpkin, in an orange suit like you get for babies, mine as a clown, with a spotted ruff and pointy hat)!! It was quite silly. Some people were snobbish about it and seemed reluctant to give us anything; others found it absolutely hilarious and offered us extra! We laugh about it to this day, and it’s one of the best Halloween-related memories of my life! We came from a really small town, and… Read more »

Ashley
Guest
Ashley

Agree with pretty much everyone else…a costume + positive attitude = candy, regardless of age. I only felt compelled to chime in because “fairy-whore” is going to have me snickering all afternoon, so thanks!

angie
Guest
angie

i helped with my 2nd graders halloween party at school last year. A little girl came up to me and said “Guess what I am!” i had to stop myself from saying “whore” out loud. I had to examine her fishnet stockings, weave laden hair, short short black lace edged skirt and finally got to her red with black polka dot lace up bodice before I guessed “lady bug?”. We make our costumes at home too.

Alan H
Guest
Alan H

Dear, Lord.. That’s really mean and judgemental of you. There’s nothing wrong with dressing skimpily, and you should be more mature and kind than that. I definitely think you should STOP participating in Halloween if you’re going to judge people trying to have fun.. horrible.

Holly
Guest

She said it was a 2nd grader, not a college student… did you miss that part?

Patty
Guest
Patty

Exactly why that comment was disturbing…she called a second grader a whore. She’s a child just trying to have fun and get candy like any other child on Halloween. To me, that’s an innocent child wearing a costume. Not a college student purposely showing off her body. Never ever call a child a whore, that’s just wrong!

Becca
Guest
Becca

some people cant afford a costume like when I was a kid there was a big family that lived next to me and they did not have the money to get costumes so they all were nice dress shirts (they all were boys) and when I asked them what they were they said they were lawyers and office workers and stuff like that so I think that unless they are like 16 years old give them candy

lazza
Guest
lazza

my dad was a firm believer in the creative quality of halloween, and if i wasn’t living in new zealand now half a world away (where halloween is still catching on), i would be continuing his trend in making the scariest house on the street that kids came from all over town to see.  at any rate, the teenagers in no costume used to bug him so when some of them arrived, i (as a kid) after my own trick or treating would hide on the porch to scare them in some way. usually posing as a dead body or… Read more »

a suburban kitchen
Guest
a suburban kitchen

Never too old for trick or treat! Let them do it as long as they like.

joanne
Guest
joanne

I agreyor never to old to trick or treat as long you are dressed in a costume and say the words (trick or treat

CarrieO
Guest
CarrieO

Amen to your post! I agree with all of it. 🙂

Julie and little Oliver
Guest

This is quite interesting reading for me, because I’m from Norway and we don’t really celebrate Halloween in Norway. Not until recently anyway. Now the tradition has rubbed off from television and the internet and it seems like everybody dresses up on american tv-shows. I think it was According to Jim where the whole family went trick or treating, including the aunt and uncle. Does anyone do that? As for the 12+ ban it seems kind of strange for me to have that kind of regulations. If they dress up and behave I really don’t see the problem. In Norway… Read more »

mom@42
Guest

i fully intend to let my daughter determine when she is too old – the same way my mom did (yikes!) almost 30 yrs ago. when i hit 12 or 13 , i was very tall for my age and though, we knew most if not all neighbors in our subdivision, by then .. my bff and i dressed up and hid in the bushes – scaring the pants out of the other kids =D

Victoria
Guest
Victoria

My friends and I were contemplating going trick or treating, and we are all in at least our junior year of college. It beats going to the filled parties with bunny whores running rampant. I personally see nothing wrong with going out with friends at any age to fulfill a tradition that has been popular for hundreds of years. The only limitations that exist are the ones that society imposes. If an 80 year old wants to go trick or treating, why would you stop grandpa from fulfilling his little old heart’s desire of having fun and reliving his childhood?… Read more »

Betsy
Guest
Betsy

My Best friend and I went when we where in college before we had kids.. But we dressed up and had fun with it, we did tag along with my niece and nephew.. so we where actually taking kids also. But we had a great time and we collected candy only at a few houses not all of them.. lol .. but great things about having kids is dressing them up and watching them have fun no matter how old. My mom even helped us with our costumes.. two old ladies.. down to walkers and canes it was one of… Read more »

Andrea C.
Guest
Andrea C.

I don’t mind older kids trick-or-treating in costume. What I mind are the really big kids–big enough to be pushing their own kids in a stroller–trick-or-treating for both themselves and the baby in the stroller. Sometimes the baby has a costume, sometimes not. I started buying baby-appropriate treats to hand out to these trick-or-treaters. If I’m giving a treat to a baby, I think it should be something the baby can eat: animal crackers, etc. 

Denise
Guest
Denise

Here’s my take on this…  I always LOOKED older than I was, so I was TOLD at 9 years old that I was TOO OLD to trick or treat, and that hurt my VERY YOUNG feelings.  So, now that I have kids of my own, I won’t EVER tell them they are too old to go out!  It’s safe, it’s fun, it’s not hurting anyone, and with all the other things kids COULD be doing at night, I would much rather they do this!  Anyone, any age, who comes to my door within reasonable hours, IN COSTUME, gets candy.  That’s… Read more »

aimee
Guest
aimee

My son is 13 and wants to go…he’s all about the candy! We moved to this neighborhood a little over a year ago and according to him “we hit the jackpot!” The neighbors give out great candy! My rule is that if you want to go trick or treating, I’m fine as long as you dress up. Seriously, make SOME effort!!! I don’t like the teenagers (and adults!!) that come without a costume and want candy. My husband interrogates kids who aren’t in costume and won’t give them candy until they can tell him something that they are dressed as!… Read more »

Julie
Guest
Julie

If a kid wants to trick or treat let them; who cares how old the kid is. If you don’t want to give out candy then don’t give it out. People just seem to love to have something to gripe about. Halloween and trick or treating is supposed to be fun. What are we going to do? Start requiring proof of age from trick or treater’s?

ellen
Guest
ellen

the person that looked at you funny must have gotten cut off too early…i love it and we live where we have no trick or treaters..it’s all about fun..i say 13 they start getting tired of it and would rather hand out candy…but have never heard of a cut off age..

Berneice
Guest
Berneice

I think around 11 or 12 is a good age to quit, but if they have a good attitude up to about 14. older than 14 should probably have a party with friends.

Iceywolf
Guest
Iceywolf

11 or 12 is still really young and having a party instead at 14, I doubt most parents would let there 14 year old go to a party unless it’s with friends but I think as long as they dress up and are polite they should be able to go trick or treating like no one is too old for free candy 

Joyce
Guest
Joyce

When I was growing up it was for grade school kids.  I still think that’s the way it should be. Any older than that and it just seems greedy to me.  Also, man of the older ones tend to just run over the little ones in order to get as much candy as possible.  Let’s keep it for the little ones.

katphish
Guest
katphish

As long as they are still dressing up and having fun I see nothing wrong with letting them do it until they are out of high school. Once they are in college that diff. But then again, once you have your own kids, you usually dress up and go out with them. So it seems that there is a very little window of where it would not be appropriate to trick or treat. go for it and have fun.

Justine
Guest
Justine

Yeah I agree. BUT, I think anyone can go at any age as long as 
1.They have on a costume (and not just their school uniform or something like that)
2. Say trick or treat 
3. Has a positive, polite attitude
4.Doesn’t ruin it for all the younger kids, or anyone else.

tep1031
Guest
tep1031

I think teenage trick or treaters should have a costume just like the younger kids. Other than that, they will quit on their own before they are out of high school.

@good2Bqueen – I would love to trick or treat your house!

walkssosoft
Guest
walkssosoft

i had trick or treaters that were ages 9 months to 50 plus years 2 years ago. I loved seeing each and everyone of them comming and having a great time trick or treating. I don’t care what age you are if you dress up and are doing it all in fun that is the name of the game. You are only as young as you feel and I love to see people have good clean fun. Put a sign on your door if you didn’t care enough to dress the part of a trick or treater don’t bother knocking… Read more »

Lana
Guest
Lana

 Look at all the adult parties each year.That shows you there are plenty of older people that enjoy Halloween and it’s not just for kids up to age 12. My daughter and niece looked young for their age and treat or treated unti they were 18. Halloween is suppose to be a fun time of year so if teenagers want to go in costume from door to door I say, Let them enjoy themselves!  

natalie
Guest
natalie

would you rather have me wearing slutty costumes to a party like typical teenagers do on halloween? im 18 and i cant wait to go trick or treating on monday with my friends!

Katherine
Guest
Katherine

I wanted to comment on this, seeing as I’m 14 and going trick or treating tomorrow. I’m part of the unpopular crowd, and I don’t get invited to Halloween parties. My friends and I have spent literally an entire month putting together our costumes. I personally am going as a sith (for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a jedi that has fallen to the dark side of the force). We’re going trick or treating like we have every year since we were little kids. All the unpopular kids in my town do this. My sister… Read more »

Catherine
Guest
Catherine

I Trick or Treated until my senior year in high school, but I always made an effort to have a creative and recognizable costume.  I think the age laws are silly and that cities should be spending their resources on more important things.  How on earth do they think they are going to enforce such a law?  Position a cop at every door?  Have kids show their IDs?  Give me a break,  

Amy
Guest
Amy

Halloween is a time for all ages to dress up silly. Anyone in a costume is welcome to my candy.

MommaFergie
Guest
MommaFergie

As long as you say Trick-or-Treat you’ll get candy from me. Heck I’m 32 and my own mom gives me presents from “Santa” for Christmas 🙂  It makes me smile and feel like a little kid again. Have some fun and enjoy the holidays.. they are a time for everyone to remember the magic.

Alison
Guest

Why do people have to be such scrooges sometimes? It’s just candy! I say as long as you have a costume and you’re polite, you can trick or treat as long as you like. You’re never too old to embrace your inner child. 🙂

Heather
Guest

I will let the boys trick or treat as long as they want, like you said adulthood is forever.

Nelson's Mama
Guest
Nelson's Mama

Any age is welcome at my door as long as they are in costume and polite.  Sometimes it’s more fun to see the creative things the older kids come up with!

I trick or treated until I was a senior in high-school.  My grandmother and all of her neighbors still EXPECTED me and my group of friends.  They had regular candy bars saved for us; they were a part of our childhood, and were probably as reluctant to see us grow-up as we were to become adults.