Gobblin' Goodies

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Seven out of ten Americans will hand out treats this Halloween and - listen up, Tooth Fairy - 94 percent of that group say packaged sweets will be their top giveaway. Money, most likely of the nickel-and-dime variety, ranked second, according to a nationwide survey conducted for American Demographics by market research firm Market Facts' TeleNation.

Who turns out the lights and pretends not to be at home on October 31? Women are slightly more likely than men to ignore trick-or-treaters (30 percent vs. 26 percent), and one-third of people 65 and over prefer to stay inside with the doors locked. In fact, 45 percent of those polled who won't do Halloween say there just aren't enough kids in the neighborhood to warrant their participation. Overall, the Northeast boasts the highest interest in Halloween - 75 percent - and they are more than twice as likely to give out money than the national average (10.7 percent vs. 3.9 percent). But don't ring the wrong Yankee doorbell: Of Northeasterners who don't dispense treats, 7.5 percent say it's because they hate kids pressing the buzzer, more than three times the norm.

Religious objections were cited by 19 percent of those who won't greet goblins at the door, and 18-to-24-year-olds were even more likely to give this reason (29 percent). Roughly 11 percent say they don't plan to be home that night, even though Halloween lands on Sunday this year. Busy social calendars may account for the one out of four 25-to-34-year-olds who will be away from home on Halloween.

A majority of people who celebrate Halloween stuff sweets into the kiddies' sacks at their front door (58 percent); 35 percent dispense treats out on the front porch, on the stoop, or in the front yard. Only 6 percent invite kids into their homes and give 'em the goodies inside.

Among households with children, one out of four say that no one accompanies their kids when they go trick-or-treating. Half of respondents say they tag along; 31 percent claim their spouses do (multiple answers were allowed). The older the respondent, the more likely they are to let their kids go out alone: 70 percent of respondents aged 55 to 64 say no one trails behind their children as they mooch for candy. Maybe that's because their kids are teenagers. When asked at what age kids are old enough to go out by themselves on Halloween - 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12 years old - fully one-third of respondents with children answered "none of the above." Forty-five percent said 12 years old. Just 4 percent answered 8 or 9 years.

Don't look for many Frankensteins at the office: 79 percent of respondents say costumes are just for kids. People with children are more likely to give in to the urge, though. Roughly 15 percent of this group dresses up to dispense treats and 11 percent wear those silly masks to work. Maybe they'll even find some candy on their desks.

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