How Old Is Too Old For Trick-Or-Treating?

The time to confess is now: At what age did you stop knocking on doors each Halloween?

The end of one's trick-or-treating era is much like puberty: it comes at a different time for everyone, and it's often accompanied by much emotional strife (and sweating). But for some adolescent candy hounds, the Halloween season presents an opportunity to throw caution to the wind and romp around like an eight-year-old—even if they're closer to 18. Thus, we here at The Takeout are asking the eternal question: When did you stop trick-or-treating? On a deeper level, is there a specific cutoff point at which one's plastic pumpkin becomes a symbol of overgrown greed?

My trick-or-treating career was cut far too short when at the age of 11 another holiday-themed activity took over my life: The Nutcracker. Once I decided to devote myself to the ballerina lifestyle, classes and rehearsals filled my weeknights from September through November, leaving little time for Halloween festivities. Sure, there were some similarities: both feature costumes and candy. But in The Nutcracker the costumes are often soaked in someone else's sweat from prior years of the production, and the candy is not for eating. As an adult I've compensated for all the missed years of dressing up and begging for sweets by going all in on Halloween every year, chasing the lost sugar high ever since. —Brianna Wellen, associate editor

When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they realized that they were naked and felt ashamed. Similarly, when a crotchety neighbor told my 16-year-old self that I was "a little old to be trick-or-treating," I grew deeply self-conscious and called it quits. I should say: candy-grabbing past a certain age was pretty normal in my hometown, with some of my peers going all in trick-or-treating through our senior year of high school. But my moment of reckoning came when I was a junior, gallivanting around the neighborhood with my high school boyfriend, who was more than six feet tall. Something about his looming presence made front-porch candy distributors very, very uncomfortable. That, combined with the realization that we were the only teens in a sea of elementary schoolers, was enough to prompt me to hang up my plastic pumpkin for good. Listen: I know it was weird. It was the Ozarks. Cut me some slack. —Lillian Stone, staff writer

I'm experiencing secondhand outrage as I read Lillian's tale of woe, thinking about the neighbor who dared to suggest that Lillian, or any teen, is too old to be trick-or-treating. Why is that any of the neighbor's business? Where's the joy in handing out free candy to the masses if you're going to be a weirdly militant gatekeeper about who gets to enjoy it? Don't you always end up with tons of leftover candy anyway? Never in the history of the Halloweeniverse has it been an issue that a horde of too-old trick-or-treaters left nothing behind for the innocent neighborhood toddlers. Stop overthinking this and just dispense candy to your community!

Maybe I'm a bit defensive because I trick-or-treated even later than Lillian, right on through my senior year of high school when I was 17. You might not believe me, but it wasn't even a question among my peer group; trick-or-treating was the default, the assumed October 31 activity. Many high schoolers in our area did this! We were annoyingly wholesome kids with annoyingly wholesome hobbies. Only now does it occur to me to be grateful that no neighborhood crone ever dared question that decision and make us feel ashamed of it. —Marnie Shure, editor in chief

I am going to admit that I don't remember when I stopped trick-or-treating. I'm assuming it was around high school. But that doesn't mean I don't still consider going every year. I'm pretty small. I could totally get away with it.—Dennis Lee, small staff writer