Monday, October 26, 2015

Tips For a Great Halloween

DSC_0305 - Version 2

Every year I like to publish a brief guide to trick-or-treating around here. I think it can be useful to those who are new to the area. If you've experienced a Halloween here before, feel free to add your tips.

1. Do kids trick or treat around here? Absolutely. It is a fact that many parents will take their kids over to Capitol Hill, but there are still plenty of kids north of H Street, & up in Trinidad. Some kids might start to come as early at 5:30, but peak time is definitely going to be 7-9pm.
2. I bought candy. Why aren't kids are coming to my house? It's dark out there. Turn on your porchlight/light your pumpkin. Otherwise kids don't know you are home. Not getting the turnout you expected? Maybe your neighbors have dark houses. Kids will skip a mostly dark block. Try attracting them with a lit jack-o-lantern or some big decorations & lights. You can now also add your house to the Halloween map on

3. Is someone going to smash my pumpkin? Probably not. I grew up mostly in the midwest. People always smashed our pumpkins (sometimes even before Halloween!). I've not had a single pumpkin (carved, or uncarved) smashed since I move here in 2001. I've heard a few stories of smashed pumpkins in DC, but I think it's rare. Some readers report that it has happened to them. Squirrel problems? After the squirrels ate one of my gourds this year I ground up a chili in some water, added a tiny bit of oil and rubbed it on my pumpkins and gourds. No further damage yet. I've heard that vinegar works well on the carved ones.

4. Why the hell aren't those kids wearing costumes? Yes, that seems weird (and lazy) to me too. There are lots of cheap or free ways to dress up for Halloween, but it's not uncommon for kids to trick or treat sans costume. Particularly true for the older kids. That said, I think almost every kid had a costume last year.

5. Why are there a bunch of teenagers on my porch with bags? See the above note about costumes. Some teens here trick or treat until they are pretty up there in age. Something else you'll likely encounter is the parent who has their own bag for their own candy. Yep, it happens.

6. Hmm, anything else I should know? I'm glad you asked. Let's talk transportation and Halloween party safety.
A. If you drive on Halloween please watch out for others. Kids in costumes, and for adults who may have had too much to drink (or can't see well in their masks) are going to be out tonight.
B. Cabs are hard to get on big Halloween party nights (probably less of an issue since we're talking a Thursday). Keep this in mind when making plans.
C. Metro runs, use it. Seriously. It's cheap, and probably faster than a cab. Alternately you could just stay close to home.
D. Keep your pets inside. Kids (and drunk people) aren't always nice to animals. Plus, your dog might escape when someone opens the gate hoping for candy, or he could bite a kid. We're also not so far removed from July 4th. Face it, someone still has leftover fireworks.


Anonymous said...

Your pumpkin will 100% be smashed if you leave it in an accessible place.

inked said...

It hasn't happened to me yet. I'm hoping it will stay that way.

Anonymous said...

Kids only trick or treat on our block at homes with people sitting in the doorway. I sit out on the stoop.

Anonymous said...


inked said...

We've got plenty!

Anonymous said...

I'm north of your main coverage area (*just* into the official borders of Brookland), but, wow, this was our biggest Halloween yet. I really do think that as the neighborhoods have gotten safer, people are sticking closer to home. We started out with each of the 5 residents of our building who came out to hand out candy giving out one piece per kid (this has worked well in the past), but as the crowds swelled, realized we had to conserve our resources and gave two pieces total per kid. We ended up going through almost 600 pieces of candy *BY 8:30 PM!* We could have easily given out a couple hundred more pieces, had we had more. We weren't officially counting, but we had at least 250 trick or treaters come by, both when we had candy and once we ran out. It was really nice to see so many people out, having a good time! *We* had such a good time that we're going to double-down next year, and joked that we should make jello shots for the adults accompanying (we have a nice set up where they could consume them on private property). :)

inked said...

Very cool. I've seen/heard some questions recently about how to handle trick-or-treaters in multi-resident buildings. Are you guys sitting out front handing out candy? Do you have decorations/a sign letting people know to look for candy there? Any suggestions for others in multi-unit buildings?

Anon 11:40 said...

We sit out in our yard because, yeah, people are just going to walk by a multi-unit building otherwise (we don't even have doorbells, just a slightly confusing call box that requires you to know the name or unit number of who you're trying to get...I have some friends who *still* can't operate it). Our building is on a kind of main street, so we don't have to do much to make ourselves visible other than be out in the yard. However, we did drop a little "Halloween" (black and orange) tinsel on our fence and yell out to some early comers who almost walked past on the other side of the street that we had candy. Once we had a few kids coming up, it was an onslaught. I suppose if it's REALLY cold and you don't want to spend the whole time outside, a sign is your best bet, but with easy instructions ("we have candy, just knock"). You'll at least have to be sitting right inside the main door to the building, but outside works FAR better.

Have fun with it. We turned it into a bit of a building party. We went out around 5, grilled up some dinner for us, warmed up some cider and spiked it, played a few drinking games, etc. Particularly for Halloween falling on a weekend, advertise it as a pre-game for whatever people are doing later. "Come have some dinner, spiked cider, and hand out some candy to warm up for your big night out!" Worked for us!

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure I experienced close to a 90% reduction in trick or treaters at 8th and G. I bought 12 bags, like in past years, and have about 11 bags left. Where did everybody go

inked said...

Yeah, my numbers were low too. Maybe it was just Halloween falling on a Saturday.