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Are You Too Old to Trick-or-Treat?

Halloween is a magical time for most kids. What could be better than dressing up, collecting free candy, and staying up way past your bedtime? As you get older, Halloween becomes less magical and trick-or-treating becomes more strategic; you go to the neighborhoods that give out the most candy, you memorize the houses that hand out king-size chocolate bars, and you thank a higher being when you see a bowl full of sweets with the sign “Take One.” We all know you took more than one.

This is cute and fun when you are five, six, seven years old. But when is the cut-off? Is there an age that bans you from trick-or-treating?  Let’s be honest, no one wants to see twenty-somethings walking around with a pillowcase, begging for candy. And yet, there’s no rule saying they can’t. College students will jump at the slightest opportunity for free things, especially free food.  And so, Halloween seems too good to be true! Nevertheless, here are a few signs that college students should leave trick-or-treating to the kiddos. 

For starters, they avoid the candy section in the grocery store because ‘It’s free on Halloween!’ You know, it could be argued that handing out candy on Halloween is much more fun than collecting candy. Kids get excessively happy when you give them free candy, happier than most college students when they get an A on their midterm. That’s something worth seeing.

Second, you find yourself shopping for costumes that will make you look younger than you actually are. This is a sign you probably don’t need to be trick-or-treating anymore. Your subconscious is telling you to take out your pigtails and go home. Similarly, if you’re shopping for adult Halloween costumes, it’s probably time to retire the candy sack. A sexy nurse trick-or-treating is a great way to give parents nightmares. #spookyszn

Lastly, if you are reading this article and genuinely wonder if you are too old to trick-or-treat, let me tell you: yes, you are. 

Listen, I’m not trying to ruin Halloween for you. I’m not trying to tell you that you’re old. All I’m saying is that sometimes it’s better to leave the trick-or-treating up to the kids, who truly appreciate it the most. For those of you who still want to enjoy the magic of the holiday, here are a few ways to get the most out of Halloween – in an age-appropriate and age-embracing way.

For those of you who want the authenticity of trick-or-treating, be a chaperone. Take your little cousins or siblings trick-or-treating. Volunteer to take your kid neighbors so that their parents don’t have to go. For the latter, you could even charge them for babysitting and make a few extra dollars. 

Buy your own candy! You’re an adult who does adult things like pay rent, grocery shop, and file taxes – you deserve it! Get the jumbo pack, you know that’s what your heart wants.

Host a Halloween party! Celebrating with friends is the best way to make yourself feel like a kid again, so go all-out by baking scary treats, hanging fake cobwebs, and wearing your best costume. Bonus points to those of you dressed as resurrected vines.

If you love Halloween, but don’t feel like putting in the effort to clean and decorate your living space, get your friends together for a chill scary movie night! Everyone can bring wine or shareable snacks and watch some old classics or new thrillers. Recommended scary movies include the Scream trilogy, The Conjuring series, Split, and Us. You may be too old to trick-or-treat, but you’re just old enough to enjoy watching creepy movies while wine-tipsy.

If you live in an apartment, make the most of it by promoting an apartment crawl. Instead of candy, hand out white claws or beer and celebrate Halloween with activities only legal for those over the age of twenty-one. This is one thing you have that the kids don’t, take advantage of it. 

The most challenging part about Halloween is deciding when you’ve grown out of it. There are other – much less creepy – ways to express your inner child, like baking spooky treats, dressing up in costume, and decorating your apartment or dorm room. Halloween itself is a time of scares and spooks, so don’t kid yourself and act like a child. Take it from me, the best way to enjoy Halloween as an adult is to sit back with a few good friends, a bowl of popcorn mixed with M&Ms, and a classic scary movie. 

            Happy Halloween, everyone! Have a ghoulish week.   

Image Credit: GIF 1GIF 2GIF 3

Emily is a senior at the University of Iowa, majoring in journalism & mass communication and pursuing a certificate in sustainability. After graduation, she hopes to work as a science journalist for a digital news outlet, working to engage and inform audiences on relevant scientific topics. She interned at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in the Office of Communications during the summers of 2020 and 2021. In the future, Emily strives to improve scientific awareness, and show audiences how science intersects with culture and human behavior.
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