Dear Ellen, I live in a house di­vided into three apart­ments and we get a ton of trick-or­treaters ev­ery year. But in the past, my base­ment and up­stairs neigh­bours don’t pitch in for candy or help me hand it out from our shared porch. How can I scare them

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - BUSINESS -

Dear HH,

Your neigh­bours may be ex­hibit­ing all the warm hu­man­ity of a stone-cold corpse whilst you get into the spooky spirit of All Hal­low’s Eve. But they’re ab­so­lutely en­ti­tled to their Scrooge-like non-par­tic­i­pa­tion, as in­ap­pro­pri­ate as that stingy char­ac­ter may be for the cur­rent sea­son.

(Mind you, Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions will no doubt ap­pear along­side the dis­counted Hal­loween candy at your lo­cal Shop­pers by Wed­nes­day morn­ing. So maybe they’re just get­ting a jump on the next hol­i­day.)

In the mean­time, for­get the party poop­ers in your build­ing and con­cen­trate on the greedy gob­lins who come to your door. It sounds as if you have the first rule of Hal­loween eti­quette cov­ered, which is to have lots of treats on hand.

Other rules of eti­quette for the big night:

1. Com­pli­ment ev­ery kid’s cos­tume, no mat­ter how pa­thetic it is. It’s not the kid’s fault if their (pos­si­bly busy, over­worked, or just plain poor) par­ent can only man­age some eye­liner and a ban­danna. Tell ev­ery sin­gle child who comes to your door how hor­ri­fy­ing they look, and pre­tend to be scared!

Kids love hav­ing power over grownups so let them tor­ture you with all their lit­tle might as they “boo” you.

2. Keep your treats trans­par­ently pack­aged and peanut free.

There once was a time when peo­ple handed out home­made treats such as cook­ies or Rice Krispie squares. There was also a time when psy­chos handed out ap­ples with ra­zor blades in them.

3. Make an ef­fort with your own cos­tume. Ded­i­cated fem­i­nists ev­ery­where will want to in­vest in a good witch hat, which will also come in handy for women’s marches or demon­stra­tions against misog­y­nis­tic in­di­vid­u­als or in­sti­tu­tions down the road. For men, that same witch’s hat with a few stick-on stars will turn you into a wiz­ard. Any ef­fort will be ap­pre­ci­ated, as long as it’s not cul­tur­ally in­sen­si­tive. If in doubt, use Google. Need ad­vice? Email Ellen:

Nowa­days no par­ent in their right mind would let their child eat home­made, non-com­mer­cially sealed food pre­pared by strangers. As much as some of us hate waste­ful over­pack­ag­ing, there’s not much choice here, but you can aim for min­i­mally wrapped can­dies, Twiz­zlers or suck­ers, or bor­ing-butre­spon­si­ble boxes of raisins in re­cy­clable card­board.

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