What It Means When People Turn Their Porch Lights Off On Halloween Night

Getting free candy is fun, so thank goodness there's an entire night dedicated to it each year! Though dressing up and going door-to-door on Halloween night seems like a thing of the past, parents are still taking their kids trick-or-treating, though it may not be in your neighborhood. Safer alternatives have become popular recently, like trunk-or-treating hosted in church parking lots or kid-friendly events hosted by organizations and businesses. If you're curious about whether or not your suburbian neighbors are partaking in traditional festivities this year, you can know by their porch light –- or the lack thereof.

Though it's not a written rule, everyone who's been around the block on Halloween knows a dark porch should be a skipped porch. It's a sign you can add to the various different meanings of porch light colors. Yes, there may still be an occasional daredevil demanding a fun-sized candy bar, but turning the lights off is generally a clear tell that this house is off-limits to candy goblins of all ages.

Skip the darkened houses on Halloween

Darkness on Halloween may seem like an invitation to be tricked, but don't try it. Many people who turn their lights off hope it'll be perceived as a "do not disturb" sign, and that's what most people understand it to be. You'll probably be considered rude if you bring your kids to a dark porch and ring the doorbell. Some cities have set up official rules about dark porches, meaning no trick-or-treating, so going up to one of those houses could mean you're breaking the rules.

But look at that: the windows illuminate the street while a family sits at the table. They're obviously home! Every light could be on inside, but stay away from the house if that porch light is off. There are many reasons someone might not want trick-or-treaters at their door; dark porches don't mean they're the Scrooge of Halloween.

The residents could be sick and don't want to share it with the kiddos, a non-stop crying baby may have finally settled down, or they ran out of candy. Or, maybe they are the Scrooge of Halloween. At least they're not trying to ruin your evening by leaving their light on and greeting you with a "boo-humbug."

How to signal your Halloween intentions

If you're the one turning the lights off to keep kids off your lawn, you can do a few other things to ensure your message to trick-or-treaters is clear. Turn off every outdoor light, from motion sensors to solar-powered decorative lights. Some people can't take a hint, so you need to be obvious. Remove all decorations, too. If that doesn't work, put a sign on the door clearly stating not to ring the doorbell, knock, or make noise — whatever you need it to say.

If you still want to give out candy but don't want to hear knocking, leave a candy bowl out on a table with a small light. You'll risk a greedy candy hound taking the entire bowl and people knocking on your door anyway, but it's an easy way to keep the kiddos happy while you're inside.

And, if you would like to meet trick-or-treaters at the door, make that obvious, too. Light your porch up with several lights and transform your yard with outdoor Halloween décor. Lit-up jack-o'-lanterns are a simple way to show your neighbors you've got candy to share. Also, whether you want people on your porch or not, post in neighborhood social media groups to let your neighbors know ahead of Halloween night.