It gets harder and harder each year, but you can still remember what it was like to be a kid, right? And Halloween? Man, only Christmas was more exciting.

The best trick-or-treat houses were the ones that made you feel scared, then welcome. A little creeped out, then re-assured — and overloaded with candy.

Here is how to be that house.

Don’t Be Stingy

You can get by tossing a handful of those red-and-black saltwater taffies in a back and saying “Happy Halloween,” but you want to be the cool house, so don’t skimp on the candy. What is this costing you, $10, $20? Splurge a little. Make sure there is a variety, with a good mix of chocoloate and non-chocolate candies. And let the kids grab it themselves. Getting it rationed out like Oliver Twist is depressing.

Scare Them

Put on a costume. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it does need to be something scary, like a vampire or a zombie or whatever. The time for your humor and irony was at the office Halloween party. Your job, now, is to play a character the kids will recognize as something they’re supposed to be afraid of. Even better if you can leap out from behind a bush or something. You’re not trying to make anybody cry, but you also don’t want them walking away feeling like they just interrupted you from something else.

Have Decorations

It’s amazing how much you can accomplish on Halloween without spending much money.  A “ghost” is a balloon with a sheet over it. A zombie is a human-shaped figure wrapped in toilet paper. A little dry ice and some creative lighting can turn your porch from any other porch into something spooky to a kid. Take an hour and do something cool.

Play Along

If Elsa shows up at your door, ask her to sing “Let it Go.” If it’s Freddy Kruger, be afraid. If it’s one of those minion things … uh … make something up. The point is to have the kids walking away feeling like you were just as into it as they were.

What makes anything fun, whether you’re 5 or 50, is the enthusiasm of others, feeling connected, feeling like you’re all having a good time. Create that vibe for your neighborhood trick-or-treaters, and become the most popular house on the block.

And, with any luck, you won’t get tricked.