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