How to Be a Trick-or-treat Stop for Apartment-dwellers

This is an easy guide to being a trick-or-treat stop on Halloween for people who live in medium-sized apartment buildings.

Just because you live in an apartment building doesn't mean you can't be part of the Halloween fun. Being a trick-or-treat stop is a good excuse to sit around, eat candy and shoot the breeze with your neighbors, people and dogs walking by in outrageous costumes.

Though some big apartment and condo buildings organize inside trick-or-treating routes for kids, those of us in medium-sized apartment buildings are usually ignored. The trick to getting in on the fun is to set up a trick-or-treat stop in front of your building or on the corner of your street. If you start the trend on your street, don't be surprised to see more and more people imitating you the next year.

You will need:
-A bowl of candy
-A folding chair
-Warm clothing/blanket
-Halloween decorations
-Strong tape
-Dog treats
-Two bowls, one large, one small

Being a trick-or-treat stop is an item on Neighbors Project's Neighbors Checklist.

Step 1: Invite Your Friends

The trick to having as much fun as possible is to turn this into your own little party. Invite your significant other and friends to be part of the party. Give them a week's notice and ask them to bring their own folding chair. You can have a simultaneous indoor-outdoor party, or arrange an indoor post-party for a larger group of friends when you get tired of being outside.

Step 2: Shop for Candy and Decorations

I love Halloween pretty much because I love chocolate candy, and Halloween is essentially an excuse to eat obscene amounts of candy. So rather than relying on your neighbors to supply you with your favorite candy, shop on your own for at least two big bags of candy.

If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of dogs, you should also pick up a bag of dog treats. I live in the dog capital of San Francisco, where dog treats are a must have.

Most of the bodegas in your neighborhood probably sell candy and dog treats. But they generally don't sell Halloween decorations, so you'll need to visit your local party store, or, if need be, your local chain drugstore. I bought my candy and dog treats at the bodega down the block and, though I checked a bunch of other shops, ended up buying decorations at Walgreens.

Since you'll be setting up outside, be sure to buy decorations that don't require plugging in, and that you can affix to a wall with tape that won't damage the building.

You can shop the night or weekend before, or even on your way home from work on Halloween itself.

Step 3: Create a Set Up

I have great landlords so this wasn't a problem for me, but if your landlords are paranoid or mean, you should avoid putting any decorations on the building itself. Or ask for their permission ahead of time.

Try to leave work a tad bit early if Halloween is on a week day, and put up your decorations using strong tape that won't damage anything so that you're open for business while it's still light out. Make your set up visible to trick-or-treaters who might be looking down your block to see if it's worth walking. But obviously, don't obstruct the sidewalk. People should be able to get through with a stroller, a small child and a dog with no problem.

Ask your neighbors or people passing by for their advice if you're not sure about your artistic direction.

Step 4: Prep Your Treats

I highly recommend binging on your candy -- or the treats brought in by your sadistic co-worker -- well in advance of your trick-or-treating time. That way you won't be as tempted to eat it while you're supposed to be handing it out.

You don't need any fancy pumpkin bowls for your treats. Two basic baking bowls do just fine.

Step 5: Sit Down, Relax, Hang Out and Hand Out That Candy

This is the fun part. I highly recommend dressing very warmly and getting at least one other friend to sit out with you. The more the merrier. Bring a blanket, and bring something hot to drink.

Put up your folding chairs and offer the candy and dog treats to people walking by, including adults who aren't in costume. You'll be shocked by how many of your neighbors you'll meet. I met everyone in my building, and had long, fun conversations with a couple of them. One of my neighbors first approached us while he was returning home from work in a very large full-body bunny suit. He pawed through the candy and went inside. A few minutes later he came out with a fully-carved and -lit pumpkin to add to the set up, and stayed around to chat for a while.

Many of the small kids will come by before it gets dark, though you'll still get people until about 8:30 pm. My block has been out of the trick-or-treat circuit for so long that we got very few kids coming by; I could see tons of them down the street, but they kept turning and heading down other streets. It seemed creepy to yell, "Candy!" So we resigned ourselves to handing out candy to the many adults and dogs going by. It was still really fun. But I may move our setup to the corner with a lot of kid foot traffic next year. I couldn't get photos of the kids who did come by because the parents weren't comfortable with that, but trust me, they were cute.

This was a lot more fun than staying late at work or going to the gym, which I've done for the last few years.

Step 6: Clean Up

You should break down your set up at the end of the night, or the next day. There's nothing sadder than left over holiday decorations.

This will of course involve disposing of any remaining candy. My personal method is to make myself sick by eating it all. There's probably a better method, but I choose to stick to my ways.



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    17 Discussions


    10 years ago on Step 6

    Trick or treating is becoming all but outlawed where I live. Last year I had 7 trick or treaters. It's so sad. Maybe this year I'll organize something like this to encourage a return to our roots. Thanks.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 6

    you should put up posters send emails and party (convince people) so more children will go around next year.


    7 years ago on Step 6

    you are just like everyone else in North America who has left over eat it!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I don't recommend giving out chocolate. Sure people love it, but it's simply sugar and fat, solid at room temperature. Like lard. I prefer the fat-free jelly candies. Chewy, fruity, yum-ness.

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I disagree. Most people love chocolate. If you are worried about fat, don't go trick-or-treating. Halloween is all about the candy. And costumes. BTW, I like the dog treat idea.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    You sir go out of your way to hand out candy. You are a nice man. I am 19 but still grumpy as hell. I get angry when the teens come up to my door with no costumes but I grit my teeth and give em candy anyway.

    1 reply

    10 years ago on Introduction

    a great way to do this would be do do it autonomously like a skeleton that disposes sweets !


    11 years ago on Step 6

    What a great Instructable! I've long been an apartment-dweller, which deterred me from handing out candy ... until this year. Even though our landlord wasn't home -- and he controls the porch lights, so I couldn't put it on -- I hung a big sign on my front door to "Knock for Treats." (I live on the first floor of a two-flat, so I was able to hear knocking. Others might consider asking trick or treaters to ring the door bell.) By the end of the night, about 50 kids had stopped by! It was a lot of fun, and I got to tend to my chores in between handing out treats. Maybe not as fun as having a party, but efficient for busy gals!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I wondered. Doesn't "trick-or-treat" imply that if you don't give me a treat, I'll trick you? If it does, then shouldn't it be "treat-or-trick"?

    1 reply

    nicely done! also, yeah ppl buy chocolate, cause i used to freaking HATE getting like 1 dumb dumb pop from houses ;-( it pissed me off lol, cause cmon how cheap can a person get to give 1 dumb dumb pop per person, good man giving chocolate ;-)

    1 reply