Look, I know we’re all desperate to salvage something, anything, for our kids this year. They have been dealt one crushing disappointment after another for so many months now that I’ve stopped counting. And I know we’ve all had our moments of temporary (or prolonged) insanity during this pandemic. But friends, let’s slow down. Let’s take a deep breath, and let’s remind ourselves: It’s not a good idea to stake candy into the ground for trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
The first time I saw this suggestion on social media, I was like, “Hmm, seems unsafe, what a weird idea.” The second time I saw it, I was like, “No, seriously, this is no good.” By the third time, I’d had enough of this nonsense.
Let me tell you a little story. Last Halloween, I took my son trick-or-treating with his friends while my husband stayed home to hand out candy. When we met up later, we cracked a couple of beers and he nonchalantly said, “We’re going to have to get rid of that decorative fence next year.”
My spooky, plastic, cemetery-esque fence? Why would I ever ditch that? It so perfectly complements my zombies, tombstones, and giant talking pirate skeleton.
“Because,” he said, sipping his beer. “You wouldn’t believe how many kids tripped over it. Just like a massive amount of kids, one after another, going down in the lawn.”
This fence is a solid 11 inches tall (I measured it). But it turns out, little trick-or-treaters aren’t looking at the ground when they run across a lawn for candy. They’re look up at the door in anticipation of what treats it may bestow. You know what is smaller than my fence, which spans several feet of yard? Tiny packets of Skittles. Fun-sized Twix bars. Tootsie Pops.
Stop and picture this for a moment. It’s Halloween night. Kids are dressed in all kinds of drapey costumes, fixated on constantly adjusting that mask you (hopefully) made them wear. It’s freaking dark outside. Candy staked into the ground has never been a thing anyone has ever done for them. What do we think is going to happen here? Best case scenario is that it all gets trampled by minute four, right?
And yet, this is what people are suggesting in an article on PopSugar titled “‘Candy Sticking’ Is Even Safer (and Far Cuter) Than Leaving Out a Bowl on Halloween Night” (No, it isn’t):
“I still want to hang out on my porch and see everyone’s cute costumes, but, no, I don’t want a bunch of kids ringing my doorbell and fishing in my bowl for candy,” [a Colorado-based mom] wrote in a Facebook post debuting her discovery. “So I’ll be decorating my yard with candy, Willy Wonka style. Kids can come by and get candy from a safe distance and I’ll get to smile and wave from my front porch. Win-win.”
If you want to try this in your yard, she said “any kind of stick” works but noted that popsicle sticks are ideal if you are worried about impaling children (“yep, I got comments on that!” she said). She also suggested plastic spoons, glow sticks, or plastic straws. Her one warning: “Don’t put your candy out too early,” she noted. “Squirrels apparently love to trick or treat and will take advantage of any candy forest if left unattended for too long.”
Okay, hold up, Willy Wonka. Any idea that garners concerns over children being impaled is an idea worth re-evaluating. I agree that “impaled” may be too strong of a word for what would happen were a kid to fall upon a few popsicle sticks, but the resulting feeling wouldn’t exactly be pleasant either.
And what constitutes “too early” to avoid enticing the squirrels? (You know who else might like a taste of junk food strew about a lawn? Raccoons, that’s who.) Trick-or-treating lasts two full hours at every place I’ve ever lived. Even if you wait until 5:59 p.m. on Halloween night to create this neighborhood hazard, that’s plenty of time for all the cute little rodents (and ants—did you think about ants?) to find your ground-level candy stash.
Not to even mention the fact that if bad COVID germs are what we’re trying to avoid here, surely we can come up with a better alternative than a dirty, smashed Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (Also, do you really want to clean this mess up?)
The thing is, if you actually ask kids what they want from their Halloween experience, they are likely to say something like, “I want to get dressed up” and, “I want candy.” It’s really not much more complicated than that. If you want to pass out candy but you don’t want to share their airspace (or have them rummaging around the bowl themselves), here’s what you do:
Put a card table out at the end of your front walkway or driveway. A card table is tall; they will see a card table. Now, wearing gloves, dump some candy onto the card table. Spread it out. Step back at least six feet, sit down, hang out, watch all the cute kids come by in their costumes. Kids can grab a piece of candy without touching it all (be helpful and remind them of that) or risking bodily injury. When the supply runs low, approach the table with a mask and gloves on, and replenish.
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