Should you hand out whole candy bars this Halloween?

Should you hand out whole candy bars this Halloween?

It could cost you around 72¢ per kid


—This article was originally published in 2015—

Halloween lands on a Saturday this year, which means tenacious trick-or-treaters will be undeterred by an early school morning the next day.

While it’s hard to predict if there will actually be an uptick in the number of kids hitting the streets on October 31, it does appear that more Canadians will be handing out candy this year—64% compared to last year’s 50%, with the average family planning to spend more than $40, according to a new survey by RetailMeNot Inc.

If you are participating in the yearly ritual of greeting and treating costumed door-knockers, you’re probably already doing the mental math of figuring out how many kids might come your way and how much candy you’ll need. In order to do that, you need to decide what determines a proper kid serving: Is one piece of candy per Minion too cheap? How much is too much? And is giving away a whole candy bar a totally outrageous choice?

The amount of candy you hand out to trick-or-treaters is somewhat dependent on where you live in Canada. The appropriate average is between one and two handfuls, says etiquette expert, Julie Blais Comeau. That could be anywhere from four to eight fun-sized pieces.

“Usually in neighbourhoods where there’s more distance between the homes, that’s when the kids get more,” she says. In more rural areas, where kids are unable to cover the same ground as their urban and suburban counterparts, homeowners might compensate with a few extra Wunderbars. If you’d like more control over how much you hand out, creating prepackaged bags of sweets may be the route to go. Comeau also suggests conferring with neighbours to determine the norm.

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You wouldn’t necessarily be considered a cheapskate for giving out one piece of candy per child—certainly lot’s of people do this when they reach the end of their supply (while apologizing profusely).

A common bulk choice is a 50-pack of assorted Nestle Halloween chocolate bars, which costs around $7 at your local grocery store and offers a grumble-free mix of Kit Kats, Aeros, Smarties and Coffee Crisps. Keep in mind that if you decide to give away a handful per child, a single box would serve only 10–12 children (not accounting for your own snacking, of course). And at three to four candies per handful, each fun-sized bar costs around $0.14, costing you between $0.42 and $0.56 per kid. Two handfuls? That’s as much as $0.84 to $1.12 per tiny pirate.

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If you’re feeling particularly generous, you may consider giving away full-sized candy bars. Supposing you snag a 36-pack of full-size Hershey’s bars for around $26 on Amazon, that works out to $0.72 per kid—pricier than doling out a single handful of treats, but the cheaper choice if you consider yourself a two-handful household. Trading in fun-size bars for the full-Hershey could actually save you money.

You’d also become a legend among neighbourhood kids. And no gossip spreads faster among children than the candy-related variety. Don’t be surprised if trick-or-treaters have swapped details on who’s giving away whole Caramilks and the frequency of knocks on your door increases.

If you make that commitment, be prepared to follow through for as long as you can, and don’t say we didn’t warn you.