Reaching Out to Our Neighbors on Halloween
On October 31st, a chorus of voices saying, “trick or treat” rise from every neighborhood as children and their parents set out in search of the best candy on their block. As Christians, we look forward to this fun and festive night. But beyond offering candy to the costumed creatures at our door, how best can we use this night of tricks and treats to reach out to our neighbors?
If you’re interested in building some bridges with your neighbors when they come by with their kids on Halloween night, consider some of the following suggestions:
The Teal Pumpkin Project: Chances are, there are kids in your neighborhood who have some sort of food allergy. Because of that, it’s easy for them to feel left out if the candy you’re passing out contains ingredients that they’re allergic to. To make sure each child has something to look forward to at your house, consider having some non-food treats available as well. The Teal Pumpkin Project coordinates food-allergy awareness on Halloween and you can find all sorts of free resources and ideas on their website.
Tell Your Neighbors to Stop By: For neighborhoods that are newer or a bit more spread out, neighbors may not know where to go in order to find houses passing out candy. To make sure that the kiddos don’t miss your house, get the word out to your neighbors in advance of Halloween night. Many neighborhoods have a group on Facebook where you can share that you’ll be passing out candy. Also, Next Door is a great way to connect with your neighbors and they even have an online map that’ll show who’s passing out candy and who’s not.
Give Out Treats to EVERYONE: I’ve seen just about everything you could see while trick or treating. I’ve seen parents collecting candy for their newborn infants who couldn’t have been more than a month or two old. I’ve seen groups of teenagers going door to door asking for candy. And I’ve even seen parents asking for candy for themselves! Should they be doing such a thing as this? Probably not. But Halloween isn’t the time or place to judge your neighbors. Instead, it’s the perfect time to shower each neighbor with grace, hospitality, and candy. So regardless of who comes knocking on your door asking for treats, give to everyone who asks of you.
Remember Faces and Names: As your neighbors bring their kids by for candy and treats, this is a great time to make connections with neighbors you haven’t had the chance to meet before. Don’t let this opportunity to make new friends slip away without doing something to remember who you’ve met. Instead, have a pen and notepad nearby (or better yet, open a document on your phone) on which to write the names of new neighbors you’ve met and descriptors of their family (ex: Jim and Pam – live two houses down, have 2 kids, work at a local paper company). You can’t imagine the impact it’ll make on people you meet when you see them again and are able to call them by name.
As Christ reminds us in scripture, we’re called to love and care for our neighbors. As your neighbors stop by looking for tricks and treats this Halloween, I hope you’ll be mindful of how you can better love and care for those that God has placed in your own backyard.