Halloween Candy Alternatives


Mamas of little ones are often at a loss on Halloween – we want them to have fun and celebrate, but we don’t want them to ingest a bunch of HFCS and artificial flavors/colors that will affect their sleep and moods for days, nor do we want to support corporations who violate human rights, destroy the environment, and use harmful marketing tactics to discourage mothers from breastfeeding. Instead of encouraging excess and sugar highs, I’ve been looking for something different to do with my almost-three-year-old son. Here are a few alternatives I’ve found.

Trick-or-Treating Alternatives

If you would rather not tempt your little ones with candy, try one of these alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating.1 Check out a few more ideas from the Holistic Moms Network.

  1. Trick-or-Treat Known Houses: Ask several relatives, friends, and/or neighbors to have non-candy items available (or give your destinations the “treats” out ahead of time if you don’t want to ask).
  2. Host a Costume Party: Have a few friends over to play games, eat healthy snacks, and stage a costume parade. There’s no need to spend a lot of money – everyone can bring a healthy treat, you can make decorations as one of your activities, and people can take the decorations home at the end. Here are some easy Halloween decoration craft ideas.
  3. Start a Family Fall Tradition: Instead of focusing outward, use Halloween as a time to have fun at home. Start a tradition of baking, decorating, and playing games with family (and friends) on Halloween night. Find a hayrack ride and go dressed up. If you do movies, make it a special night that you go out for a movie with the family, then come home to apple cider and pumpkin cookies. Whatever fits your family, make it a night to look forward to!
  4. Scavenger Hunt: Grab a group of friends and do a scavenger hunt for canned food instead of trick-or-treating. As the kids/groups return with their items, trade the items for healthy and/or non-food prizes, then let the kids help you bring your scavenger hunt items to a food bank to donate.

Candy Alternatives

Here are several alternatives to candy that you can use as treats for your own children and for the little ones who stop by your house on Halloween. Also check out the ideas presented by Boo Nestle.

  1. Coins
  2. Fruit leather
  3. Stickers
  4. Temporary tattoos
  5. Small packs of cards or other games
  6. Crayons, pencils, erasers, etc.
  7. Individual packages of healthier snacks (crackers, pretzels, dried fruit)
  8. Glow in the dark bracelets
  9. Glow in the dark anything! Stickers, sticks, stars, etc.
  10. Small toys: bouncy balls, eggs with silly putty or playdough, toy rings, etc.
  11. Seed packets (for flowers, vegetables, etc.)
  12. Fruit (maybe not for trick-or-treaters, but for your own little ones)
  13. Whistles or other small musical toys
  14. Cookie cutters
  15. Notepads

Candy Trade-ins

If you do decide to do more traditional trick-or-treating, but you don’t want to have 10 lbs of candy sitting around the house, try one of these “trade-in” ideas.

  1. Money for Candy: Buy back the candy for cash: make each piece of candy worth some set amount (a nickle, dime, quarter, etc.). Ask you kids to choose some candy to keep for themselves, and you will buy the rest back from them. They may decide to sell more back once they realize that they can use the money for better things!
  2. Toys for Candy: Instead of buying back candy with money, have a selection of books and other fun things for your little ones to trade in for. And make sure that the little ones get a say in how much to trade – you want to make it fun for them! You may also want to just take kids to the store and give them a dollar limit so they can pick out their own toys.
  3. Candy Experiments: Use your candy for cool science experiments. Avoid the sugar and learn something at the same time!2

What will your family do for Halloween this year?

Photo credit: sean dreilinger

  1. By traditional, I mean going door to door in a neighborhood, where you are at the mercy of whatever Nestle candy they happened to buy.
  2. Here’s another article about candy experiments from Mothering.

About The Author: Dionna

Code Name: Mama CodeNameMama My NPN Posts

Dionna is co-founder of Natural Parents Network. She blogs about natural parenting and life with a toddler-almost-preschooler at Code Name: Mama. She also co-founded NursingFreedom.org, a site dedicated to normalizing breastfeeding anytime, anywhere.

9 Responses to Halloween Candy Alternatives

  1. shawna

    Great ideas! I think I will be starting our own family tradition this year, not sure what yet but I like that idea best. May I add one more about buying back candy… A local dentist is paying $1 per pound to anyone who brings in their candy and then sending it overseas to our troops. I think that’s a wonderful idea! I’m considering buying the stuff that goes on sale the day after just to donate to him.

  2. Kat @ Loving {Almost} Every Moment

    Great ideas Dionna!

    We are doing our trick or treating at select houses and we have already talked to our daughter about the candy situation. She knows she will only get to keep a few that are OK and the rest we will not keep. I think I like the trade in idea!

  3. Megan

    I’ve brought over toys to my parents’ house to ADD to their candy bowl (because I can’t get my mom to not buy candy, despite the fact that both my parents are diabetic) and most of the children under 5 will choose a toy or a glow bracelet even when candy is in the same bowl.
    Oh, I’ve also heard of having a “candy fairy” come on Halloween night, after the kids indulge with a few pieces, and take the candy but leave a toy. It’s a twist on the trade idea – it makes it a little less optional and a little more magical, kind of like the tooth fairy.
    Great post, BTW! May I copy it for my school? I teach the toddler class so for my students it’s pretty much the first Halloween experience they’ll remember.

    • Dionna  

      Your parents sound like mine Megan ;)
      I’ve heard of the candy fairy too. We won’t be doing it for a number of reasons, but I understand the allure!
      You are absolutely welcome to use the article for your school. I’d appreciate it if you included a note that credits/links to NPN – perhaps one of your parents would find the site beneficial :) Thank you!

  4. Sarah

    All of these are great ideas. Thank you for sharing them. I have a almost 2 and a half year old son & we are VERY conscious about him having no foods with sugar / chocolate. However, it’s hard because you get tremendous pressure from other parents like we are doing something wrong and that we are depriving him of a “normal” childhood because we don’t give him candy and sweets all the time. Halloween, and well childhood in general, doesn’t have to be filled with sugar. We are just trying to establish a healthy lifestyle for him and help him to make good choices for him. Thank you for showing it is possible :)

    • Dionna  

      There is a lot of pressure! It’s sad that we have entire holidays that revolve around HFCS. What a boon for Nestle.

      • Sarah

        That is very true. It has become too comercialized and too much about candy and the buying of things. It is sad really because the holidays are about SO much more than that. They should be about good, quality, and healthy time with your children but the huge candy focus tends to win over. Sad :(

  5. Melissa  

    These are excellent ideas! Thank you so much!

  6. Melllic

    A year ago I designed a Halloween themed papercraft which I sell at a local events. We had some left over and handed them out last Halloween, the little kiddies were so excited for something different, so I decided to start selling papercaft handouts for others who are looking to hand out something new.

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