It won't be long before Halloween is here! Here's my guide to get your superhero, princess, animal, monster, sorcerer... prepared for a holiday that's all about knocking on people's doors and demanding candy. After all, were you to arrive unannounced, costumed and trying to extort other people's belongings any other day of the year it would be called masked robbery. All that keeps trick-or-treating from being a criminal activity is a calendar date and a little consideration. So keep these five rules in mind: 1. Take What You Get Try to avoid handing a goody back to the neighbor with the explanation that your child can't eat it. If someone on this earth is kind enough to offer your child a peanut butter cup, then, by golly, take it and slyly stick it in a designated "not for my kid" bag you bring along for moments like this. If the child has a peanut allergy, simply hand the contraband over to one of his or her costumed compatriots once you leave the stoop. (For really horrific allergies, don't listen to me.) If your kid turns his or her nose up at something, consider giving them a lesson on gratitude. If she or he does it while in front of the person who just gave it to them, it's probably time to go home. That tantrum could cost you heaps more candy, kid. 2. Always Say Thank You Even if it is a Tootsie Roll, which is about the worst piece of candy I can imagine next to circus peanuts, encourage your child to not let that disappointment show on his or her face. Even if they are toddlers, teach them to smile or even say, "Thank you!" 3. Make Way for Small Ones I almost took out a seven-year-old Storm Trooper last year who knocked down a sweet, little Elmo in a mad rush to ring a doorbell. Big kids need to be mindful of younger ones and not run them over on the sidewalks and stairs. Also, when packs of teenagers stampede across the street, kindly don't talk trash about those of us carefully crossing with tiny trick-or-treaters in tow-we can hear you. 4. Don't Double Dip We all know word travels fast if some place is giving out especially good treats, but don't think that they won't notice if your kid goes back again-the Spiderman/Peter Parker switch is savvy but it's also greedy. That's the kind of cleverness that brought Wall Street down. 5. If You're Super Spooky, Stay in Till Dark The unspoken rule is that little kids trick-or-treat before dark, and older ones go later, that way the bloodsucking zombies and Abe Lincoln vampires don't permanently scar the psyches of three-year-olds. As someone who had to talk my toddler down for weeks after last Halloween, I beg you Leatherfaces to please let my Chicken Little finish her rounds before you bring the bloody chainsaws around. And please don't make me tell you it's imperative your child wear a costume to trick-or-treat. That's the whole point, people. Should your trick-or-treaters get too spooked or too excited this Halloween, soothe those souls with one of our tender lullabies. There's no better way to close any night! . .