It was my first time trick-or-treating.

We were meeting a group next door at 5pm for a walk around the block with our pre-schoolers.

I don't embrace this stuff.

In fact, you might say I am a bit of a Grinch.

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I have happily dodged Halloween in the past but this year our girl, just turned five, had done her research with other kids.

She asked if we could go trick-or-treating, and I said maybe, but didn't plan anything until my neighbour suggested we join her.

I had snacks prepared to prevent toddler-hanger and dinner for afterwards sorted so we were pretty much good to go. Oh, how silly plans are when you have kids.

I found my son, 2-and-a-half, in the pantry I recently spent five hours cleaning, tearing into a packet of crackers, breaking them on the shelves and floor in front of him.

As he had a meltdown over me removing them, he threw himself on the floor, where he smeared his Halloween cat whiskers make-up on the hallway carpet.

In the time I was meant to be feeding him, I spent 20 minutes trying to clean stains off the carpet.

These bloody products! How can it wipe off their faces but not the carpet?

As I rushed to get changed and out the door, I noticed a stain that could be chocolate (but might not be) on our bedroom floor.

By this point, I was contemplating taking a bottle of wine for the journey but I didn't want to be the alcoholic mum.

We finally got next door - to find the adults all dressed up too. UGH!

I shot back home to change into my Elsa (from Frozen) dress which I just happen to have lying around in adult size.

I needn't have worried about the alcohol situation. Mums were wandering around dressed as witches, glasses of wine in hand, out and proud.

Soulmates I haven't met yet, in my neighbourhood!

Others, whose homes we stopped at, sat at spookily-decorated tables, dressed in costumes, no kids in sight, enjoying a couple too.

Bushes and trees were covered in fake cobwebs, tarantulas dangled from verandas - spooky signposts showing where to stop - as adults dished out lollies and frights, or enjoyed relaxing on their couches as their kids did it for them.

Dozens of us roamed around amid a buzz that only comes with a giant dress up party.

Dads were perched at front-fences with giant bowls of lollies, older kids looked after little ones, teenagers cruised about - everyone enjoying themselves.

It may not be a Kiwi tradition, but do kids today have many opportunities to hang out like this and just have fun? Everyone watching out for each other's children and sharing some excitement?

Yes, there's the sugar. But the novelty in that - for the ones I was with anyway - is that they don't get it often.

It was a rare occasion for everyone to let their hair down, dress up, have a little fun and not take life too seriously for a few hours.

If you're a Grinch like I was, it might be you who needs that the most.