Organizing Trick-or-Treat in France

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The thing I really miss about Halloween is the trick-or-treating. As a kid in the US, you look forward all year to dressing up so you can collect, count, hoard and then hide or spit on your candy so older sibling doesn’t steal it from you. As an adult, you keep fond memories of going from door to door dressed as a black cat, Miss Piggy or even a human size Crayola crayon (my sister was once).

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There was a weak attempt by someone to introduce Halloween to France a while ago but it seems to have ebbed and waned. For a few years, I grappled with the idea of launching my own Halloween trick or treating, but was saved by a friend who organized a Halloween party instead. But last year, when there was no party organized, I decided to attempt organize trick-or-treating on my little cobble-stone street in Lille.

A few days before Halloween, I went out one night and stealthily put flyers in in my neighbors’ mailboxes. In a paragraph, I explained in French the meaning of Halloween and the basic mode d’emploi  like what time and what to give. In order to show that they were “Halloween friendly” I provided a picture of a small jack-o-lantern that I asked my neighbors to cut out and stick on their window. When seeing the jack-o-lantern on their door or window, the kids and parents would know that they were welcome to trick-or-treat, thereby avoiding annoying knockers and needless less ringing for both my neighbors and the kids. Here is my flyer if it helps:

Halloween ! Aux États-Unis, le 31 octobre c’est la fête des enfants dans les écoles, dans toutes les maisons et dans toutes les rues.
 
Faisons de la rue [your street] une grande fête pour tous les enfants !
 
Comment faire ? Les enfants se déguisent en princesse, fantôme, un animal, etc. A la nuit tombée (vers 18h), les enfants frappent à la porte. Ils disent « trick-or-treat » (ce qui veut dire « mauvais tour ou bonbon »). Les adultes leur donnent une petite sucrerie (par exemple une sucette, une petite barre chocolatée, une pomme, etc).
 
Si cela vous intéresse de fêter Halloween dans notre rue, merci de découper le potiron ci-dessous et de le coller sur votre porte d’entrée ou une fenêtre pour montrer que les enfants sont les bienvenus pour Halloween.
 
Vous pouvez adresser toutes vos questions à [your name, your email and/or postal address or your phone number]. Happy Halloween !

 

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I passed out about 40 flyers. The morning of Halloween, I was surprised to see that a dozen houses on the street had put the jack-o-lantern on their house. Even the grumpy old man down the street had a Halloween-friendly home. At 6 pm, my kids and I went out in the street to meet their friends. The dozen of us (4 families) went from door to door, saying “trick or treat”. My neighbors were friendly and kind. And they didn’t think we were strange at all! We felt so good about the trick or treating that we finished the night at the local pharmacy where they were more than happy to give us lollipops.

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The worst part of the experience was my own pride : what if it didn’t work and my neighbors thought I was crazy? In the end, it was a great evening that I plan on repeating this year!

6 comments

  1. MJ

    Hi! I’m from Panama and did the same idea in my neighborhood. 2 weeks before Halloween I went door to door on 4 streets, explaining to them what Halloween is, how trick-or-treating works, and when the flyer would come in with more information on which streets, my contact information, and time of the activity. I also had a sign-up sheet where the person would write down their house number, phone number, email and full name.

    I turned in the flyers to each house on the date I said, and called those on the sign-up sheet two days prior to trick or treating. All in all, people decorated their houses, taped the flyers outside, and brought their children and friends to come trick or treating. Real success, in my country Halloween is not very well celebrated so this might work for other people who are in a similar situation.

    Thanks for the idea and inspiration!

    Reply
  2. Marc LANNUZEL

    Hi Rebecca,

    My name is Marc and I’m French. I have lived in France for all my life. I have a wife and 2 children. We love the USA and we hope to live there in the future.
    I like your idea on how to explain to your neighbours exactly what HALLOWEEN is about.
    We live in Pau (South West France). Last year, my wife did almost the same thing as you :
    She put flyers in our neighbours’ mailboxes explaining to them that children go from door to door during Halloween asking for candies. And like you, we were surprised to see so many people “play the game,” it was a very successful HALLOWEEN evening.
    This year, we hope it will be better, and we hope that people will decorate their houses like ours.

    Best wishes,

    Marc

    Reply
    • Clark

      Hi Marc,

      We hope you had a great Halloween Trick-or-Treat with these great advises from Rebecca. Do not hesitate to send us pictures! 😉

      Reply
      • LANNUZEL Marc

        Hi,
        It’s Marc again this year… there are 3 days until HALLOWEEN and the decoration is not finished yet. This year, I will try to create a small corn field (very small 8′ x 6′ 1/2) with a scarecrow in the middle behind our fence. I will use haystacks and I will push in corn plant to create the corn field. I will add a smog machine with an ice box to make low fog. In front of the fence, ther will be the cemetery…
        I will send some pictures…
        Have Happy Halloween,
        Best wishes,
        Marc

        Reply

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