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Texas Trick-or-Treating Laws and Safety Tips for Celebrating Halloween

The do’s and don’ts of trick-or-treating, plus where to donate all that extra candy

Halloween is quickly approaching and your kids are likely super excited to go trick-or-treating. Of course, going out at night with your kids dressed in costume (and surrounded by dozens of other costumed kids) can make it an interesting night. But we’re here to help make Halloween (and candy-filled days after) as stress-free as possible for you.

Here’s everything you need to know about trick-or-treating in Dallas-Fort Worth, including rules, hours, and safety tips, as well as what you can do with the mountains of candy your kids collect. (Jump below to candy buybacks.)

Wherever you go to trick-or-treat, be sure to tag us in your Halloween photos on Instagram @dfwchildmag—we love to see your kiddos in costume. Happy haunting!

Trick-or-Treating in Dallas-Fort Worth

Here’s everything you need to know about the annual door-to-door tradition.

What are the typical hours for trick-or-treating?
The most popular time for trick-or-treating is 5:30–9:30pm, according to the Dallas Office of Emergency Management. Of course, specific timing may vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.

The biggest thing to remember when trick-or-treating?
Don’t approach houses that have their porch lights turned off. It means they are either not participating or have run out of candy.

Are there age restrictions for trick-or-treating in Dallas-Fort Worth?
We reached out to several local police departments and found no official age restrictions for trick-or-treating in the area. But if you have teens out and about on Halloween, note your local curfew restrictions. Juvenile curfews apply to children ages 17 and under.

Typically, this curfew is Sunday–Thursday 11pm to 6am and Saturday–Sunday 12:01 to 6am. This means that unaccompanied minors, including those who may be out with an older sibling who is younger than 17, must not be in public places during those times. There may be a few exceptions, including if a minor is with a parent or guardian, a minor is traveling to or from school or work, and in case of emergencies.

We do know that the following cities have curfew restrictions for minors under the age of 17: Carrollton, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Grand Prairie, Lewisville, McKinney, Plano and Richardson. Check with your local police department if you’re unsure whether your city has a juvenile curfew, and what the exact rules are.

Halloween and Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

The Dallas, Grand Prairie, Richardson, and Arlington police departments share the following tips to keep everyone safe when trick-or-treating this Halloween.

Costume Safety Tips

  • Wear something reflective or carry a glow stick with you so drivers can easily see you when it’s dark. (Just remind children to not chew on or break open glow sticks or any other glow-in-the-dark products.)
  • Wear bright colored materials that are easily seen at night.
  • Watch out for pets that might be startled by costumes and become aggressive.
  • Stick some reflective tape on your child’s trick-or-treat bags as well so they can be easily spotted by motorists.
  • Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.
  • If your child is carrying a prop weapon (like a sword, pitchfork, or scythe) be sure that the tips are smooth and flexible enough to not cause injury if fallen on.
  • Ensure your child is wearing well-fitting, sturdy shoes.

Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

  • Plan out your route in advance and be sure someone knows where you’re going and what time to expect you home.
  • Only visit homes that have their porch lights turned on. Pay attention to any “no trespassing” signs that may be posted.
  • Trick-or-treat is safer—not to mention more fun—in groups, and adult supervision is essential, especially with younger children. So get together with other adults and make an evening of it.
  • If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, tell them to stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
  • Bring cellphones for quick pictures and in case of emergency, but leave them in your pockets to avoid getting distracted.
  • Carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.
  • Always accompany children to the door to receive treats.
  • Before trick-or-treating, the Texas Department of Public Safety recommends checking the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry. You can type in an address and search the map for registered sex offenders.
  • Don’t let children enter a home unless you are with them.
  • Avoid crossing yards and lawns where unseen objects or uneven terrain can present tripping hazards.

Vehicle and Traffic Safety Tips

  • Be sure children do not approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless you are with them.
  • Keep children on the sidewalks. In areas without sidewalks, walk on the far edge of the road, facing traffic.
  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
  • Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
  • Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  • If you’re driving your children around to trick-or-treat, drive slowly and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  • When driving on Halloween, turn your headlights on earlier in the day to more easily spot children from greater distances. 

Candy Safety Tips

  • Parents should examine all treats before allowing their kids to eat anything.
  • Check candy for choking hazards like gum and hard candies.
  • Throw away any candy that is not sealed with a wrapper and avoid homemade treats received from strangers.
  • If your child has any food allergies, keep in mind that the mini-size, fun-size, or bite-size version of candy may contain different ingredients than their full-size counterparts, according to Food Allergy Research & Education. Make no assumptions and read all labels carefully.

Teal Pumpkin Project: Halloween with Kids Who Have Food Allergies

For children who have food allergies, Halloween can be a bit of a bummer. Trick-or-treating for all of that candy and not being allowed to eat it? Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project, an initiative of Food Allergy Research & Education, which aims to make trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive for the 1 in 13 children living with food allergies and sensitivities.

How can I get involved in the Teal Pumpkin Project?
It’s super easy to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. When you go out to buy candy for trick-or-treaters, make sure to pick up some small non-food items to offer as well. (See the below list for ideas.) Add your house to the Teal Pumpkin Project Map so families of children with food allergies can plan in advance. Then print a sign for your front door, paint one of your hand-picked pumpkins teal, or pick up a teal faux pumpkin from Michaels or this carvable one from Target that you can use year after year.

What should I offer to children with food allergies on Halloween?
Food Allergy Research & Education recommends having one or a few of the following items on hand for trick-or-treaters with allergies (many of which can be found in the local drug store, party supply store, or dollar store):

  • Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
  • Pencils, pens, crayons, or markers
  • Bubbles
  • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
  • Bouncy balls
  • Finger puppets or novelty toys
  • Coins
  • Spider rings
  • Vampire fangs
  • Mini notepads
  • Playing cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Stickers
  • Stencils

Candy Buybacks

Whether you have a lot of candy left over from trick-or-treaters or your kids have more candy than you know what to do with, there are ways to get rid of it—and without your kids throwing a tantrum. You can participate in a candy buyback program or donate the sweet treats to a worthy cause.

Halloween Candy Buyback
This organization partners with local businesses and dental offices to buy kids’ extra Halloween candy from them in exchange for cash, coupons, goodies, and more. Visit the site and search your zip code to find a participating location near you.

The Switch Witch
Similar to Elf on the Shelf, the Switch Witch comes to your home in early October, keeping watch over your kiddos. After trick-or-treating, your kids leave candy for the witch before going to bed. In return, she leaves a non-candy treat for them to discover in the morning (think: puzzles, books, games, or a small toy).

Your Local Dentist Office
Check with your child’s dental or orthodontic office to see if they’re hosting a candy buyback program this year. Many offices offer cash, healthy treats, or small toys in exchange for your child’s candy. Some offices even have raffles for participants to win a prize. Below are a few offices we know of that are hosting events this year:

Bridget McAnthony Pediatric Dentistry
Where: 8429 Park Vista Blvd, Fort Worth
When: October 31–November 3, Monday–Thursday, 7:30am–3pm
The details: Bring your unopened candy and get $1 per pound, up to 5 pounds. All candy will go to Operation Gratitude and local military organizations. Kids can also enter a raffle (and earn extra raffle tickets by donating non-perishable food to help the community).

Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry
Where: 5521 Bellaire Drive South, Suite 210, Fort Worth
When: Wednesday, November 2, 3–5pm
The details: Kids can trade their unopened Halloween candy for cash.

Melissa Rozas D.D.S. & Associates of Coppell
Where: 632 East Sandy Lake Road, Coppell
When: Drive-thru: Thursday, November 3, 2:30–6pm
Walk-in or Drop-off: November 7–10 and 14–17, Monday and Wednesday, 8am–5pm; Tuesday, 8am–3pm; and Thursday 8am–1pm
The details: At the office’s annual Cash for Candy & Food for Families event, kids can donate Halloween candy, as well as canned goods for the North Texas Food Bank. Your child will receive a small amount of money in exchange for their donation.

Park Place Pediatric Dentistry
Where: 1621 Precinct Line Road, Hurst and 3602 Matlock Road, Suite 208, Arlington
When: November 1–7, Tuesday–Monday, 8am–5pm
The details: Kids accompanied by an adult can bring their unopened Halloween candy, and the dental office will buy it back for $1 per pound, up to 5 pounds. The candy will be donated to troops and local first responders.

Viva Dental
Where: 722 West Spring Valley Road, Richardson and 1050 North Westmoreland Road, Suite 432B, Dallas
When: Richardson: Wednesday, November 9, noon-7pm; Dallas: Thursday, November 10, noon-7pm
The details: Each year, Viva Dental hosts a Halloween Buyback at both offices, where parents and kids can offload their excess candy. For each pound of unopened and wrapped candy your child brings in, they’ll receive $1. The office then sends the candy to troops overseas via Operation Gratitude. Plus, kids will be entered in a raffle for a chance to win a Philips Kids Sonicare toothbrush.

Where to Donate Extra Candy in Dallas-Fort Worth

Local Food Pantries, Shelters, and Nursing Homes
Check with organizations in your hometown, including food pantries, homeless and women’s shelters, nursing homes, and more to see if they accept unopened candy to give to the individuals they help.

Operation Shoebox
Founded in 2003 by military mom Mary Harper, Operation Shoebox sends 350-400 care packages each week to service members deployed around the world. You can send candy any time of year, as each care package the organization sends includes a bag of candy. In addition to candy, Operation Shoebox needs individually wrapped cookies, crackers, granola bars, beef jerky, protein bars, and peanuts. Mail donations to: Operation Shoebox, 8360 East Highway 25, Belleview, FL, 34420.

Ronald McDonald House Charities
This organization provides food and lodging to families who have severely ill children who are receiving treatment at a hospital. While there is no official candy donation program, call your local chapter to see what the rules are for donating unopened treats for families to enjoy.

Soldiers’ Angels
With this organization’s Treats for Troops program, you can donate your extra Halloween candy at participating local businesses in exchange for goodies. The businesses will then send the candy to deployed service members and veterans. You can find a participating location via the Candy Map. If there isn’t a location near you, you can mail your candy directly to: Soldiers’ Angels Treats for Troops, 2895 NE Loop 410, Suite 107, San Antonio, Texas, 78218.

Image: iStock