Last night I took two of my three kids out trick or treating. The third chose not to because he wanted to stay home and hand out candy and, I think, because he's an interestingly weird kid.

My wife and I have taken turns taking them out each year for various reasons. I couldn't guess how many I took them out for, how many she did, and how many we did together. But over the course of the last ten Halloweens, which does exclude 2008 because my oldest was two months old, I have learned a few things to maximize the experience.

1 - Start trick or treating late, it is more efficient

Last night we filled up each of the kids buckets about three-fourths of the way to the top on the first trip out which took about 90 minutes. After stopping back by the house and emptying the bucket my oldest and I set out again for another 45 minutes and she was full. The closer it got to 8:00 pm the more pieces they would throw into her bucket. One woman threw three handfuls in. Another handed my daughter two full size candy bars because it was getting late.

2 - Bring The Extra Layers

Last night was gorgeous and I didn't really get cold. Other years I started out okay but then the temperature would drop sharply and my hoodie and slow walking pace wasn't enough to keep me warm.

3 - If the kid doesn't want to go, don't make them

As strange as it sounds, my middle child didn't want to go last night. In the past we have tried forcing my youngest to go when he didn't want to. It was a disaster. Meltdown after meltdown occurred and he wasn't even wearing a costume after two blocks. I took him home and everyone had a better time. Obviously if you are taking them out solo for whatever reason, you might get stuck with the crabby kid.

4 - Zig Zag in patchy neighborhoods

The tendency when trick or treating is to walk one side of the street. Obviously it is safer if you aren't crossing the street. But if your neighborhood doesn't have a ton of traffic, like mine, and about half of the houses have lights on for trick or treaters, zig and zag to the lit up houses. We used to stick to one side but then inevitably ended up back where we started or we just circled the block.


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