Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How to Revive Trick-or-Treating in a Neighborhood

I've been trying to decide what to do for Halloween. I posted on our neighborhood list-serv to get a sense of what our neighborhood is like, and it sounds like it's a lot of dark houses and not a lot of trick-or-treaters. 

My first inclination was to schlep our family to the Mueller development. It's a high-density, primarily affluent neighborhood in East Austin. Apparently families from all over our side of town flock there for the bountiful candy. I thought the close proximity of houses would be easier on a toddler.

But then I thought about one of the comments on the list-serv a little more:

We had one caller [in 2000], a young girl who lived catty-cornered to us. That was it. We tried again the following year. No one came. We haven't left our porch light on during Halloween since then...This year might be the right time to turn on the lights again. I see many more young people (I'm 68) out walking, many with children...Maybe this is the year. Perhaps those of us subscribing to this string might declare our intentions and influence others? 

Maybe this is the year. Maybe this is the year we turn the lights back on.  

I'm trying to figure out how to do this. Does anyone have any ideas? I tried to do a quick Google search for inspiration about how to revive trick-or-treating in a neighborhood but didn't see anything. Maybe we pick one street to start with? We could pass out flyers in the weeks leading up to Halloween to let people know we're coming? 

The more I think about something like this, the more excited I get. This is the first time we have ever moved somewhere and thought, "We are going to be here for a long time." So when I think about what to do for Halloween, there's so much possibility for establishing yearly rituals.

What if we host a block party every year? It could be a potluck so it wouldn't require too much work on a school night. Or even just a pizza party. That might be even better. Then we could all walk from our house to go trick-or-treating. If we go that route, it makes sense to try and target the nearby streets. 

I think I'm going to start by talking with two friends with young children that I've met in the neighborhood and see what they think. I'm excited!

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Maggie said...

Our neighborhood is a mixed bag as trick or treating goes but it does seem to be improving w/each year. Including ourselves, there are a few other families w/young children on our immediate block. This will be the 3rd year that we host a front yard bonfire (in a fire pit) & invite everyone over for chili & cider. I'm not big on trick or treating or the idea of collecting a ton of candy so this is a nice option for being social & showing off our costumes. We invite our neighbors over & ask them to bring a snack (or candy) to share. It's been a lot of fun.

Mari said...

If you're looking for something simple and easy to try this year, I'd recommend passing out flyers ASAP to invite them and their children to YOUR house for trick-or-treating. I think that if I received a flyer telling me that you were coming (and therefore you expected candy), I'd be a little put-off, but if I saw a friendly notice that a neighbor was encouraging people to come trick-or-treating at her place, I'd be inspired to join her by getting candy and turning on my light!

Erin said...

I think this is SUCH a great idea and I really hope you gain some traction with it. I too live in a neighborhood that is light on trick or treaters. Partially because there just aren't a ton of children here, and partially because it's sort of on the lower-end of the socio-economic scale and those with children head off to "better" neighborhoods where there are more houses giving out better candy. Then there is the whole "trunk or treat" joy and independence sucking boondoggle, which itches my bitch bone more than I can even say.


k said...

No need to google! You revive it by doing it. The first couple of years I hosted an ice cream social on my front porch for National Night out, it was pretty much just me and my neighbor and whatever teenage boys we convinced to stop by for the free food. But the momentum started to build after a couple of years, and now we get a crowd. Your kids are little so you probably only want to go to like 5 houses anyway. You can probably round that up from your listserv and then use it as an opportunity to introduce yourselves face to face with those people.

Luisa said...

I saw something cute that a neighborhood did: they had 2 cute little ghosts that someone crafted, and then they would "boo" another house (just hang it on the doorknob w/a message, ring the bell, and walk away.) The idea was for the next person to "boo" another house, and so on until everyone had been "booed" or something like that. You would keep one ghost on your knob to let other neighbors know that you had been booed already so that one house wouldn't get hit multiple times, and everyone would get a chance.

On the flyer, you could explain what the "booing" was for, and mention that you're so excited to see everyone out trick-or-treating on Halloween. Or invite them to your house that night. I think I saw this tradition written up on a blog called The Sunny Side Up, but I don't remember.

Jennie said...

When I was a kid our neighborhood came to our driveway after trick or treating for hot chocolate, treats and fireworks. You could do something simple like that and send out an invite. This way, it both creates community through the event itself and also lets your neighbors know you'll be going trick-or-treating in the area!

Coussirat Clan of Houston said...

Someone did this in a section of the Heights--Sunset Heights.he started by having a party hosted at a local business to get families out. And I know they have signs people can buy to put in their yards all month long so neighbors know they're participating in Halloween. Look up Sunset Spooking on the Heights Kids Group.

Mazie Lynn said...

So many great suggestions...I'll add that involving the listserv commentor would also be good. She's clearly willing to participate and may have ideas and connections to other folks in the 'hood...reads like she's been there a while.

E. said...

I agree with Mari that implying that you will be trick or treating at their house and expecting candy is rude, but inviting them to your house or inviting them over to gather at your house and then go out trick or treating together might help encourage others to leave the porch light on.

Also, have you thought about talking to the other parents in the neighborhood? I mean, it sounds like there are lots of kids there and you are still working part time/from home, right? Sounds like a well-timed walk past the bus stop or something might yield a bunch of parents and you can see what you can do.

Rachel said...

I've seen people try to do this to get trick-or-treating off the ground in countries where it isn't traditional.

You make a kit for all the houses in your neighborhood that consists of a balloon, a piece of string, and a note that says, "If you'd welcome tick-or-treaters, blow up the balloon and tie it somewhere on your front porch".

Then you hope some people participate.

Caroline A said...

Crestview created the Trail of Frights with neighbors - people register their house with a specific theme and some kind of activity and they publish a map on the neighborhood list-serv of the houses participating. It's worth checking out this year - though some houses are too scary for little kids. If you like the idea, then perhaps you could do something like that in your neighborhood.

Maybe your could start in your neighborhood by talking to your neighbors and making your street a designated trick or treating street. Then invite other people on your list-serv to come to your street...

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