Why I Don’t Hand Out Candy On Halloween

The other day on my Facebook page I said, “What is everyone handing out for Halloween this year? We’re doing our usual – glow sticks. I’d love to feature some of your new and creative (non-candy) ideas on the Charlotte Today show later this week!” And I got a barrage of comments, many of which simply answered the question, but also included some of the following…

  • “I’m sorry, but it’s Halloween and they’re children. We give out candy.”
  • “This crosses the line. Too much. It’s once a year!”
  • “If you don’t want to hand out candy, replace it with a healthy alternative treat. But substituting junk food with junky plastic crap isn’t much better in my opinion.”

First of all, I NEVER said my kids don’t get to eat candy on Halloween night. The problem is this: When some people hear that I hand out glow sticks instead of candy they make assumptions and then say (in the comments), “Oh give me a break Halloween is just once a year so let kids be kids!” But when you eat gobs of candy on Halloween night and then continue to eat the rest of the candy for weeks (or months) to come how is it still counted as “just one night?” I have no problem with my children OD’ing on whatever candy they want on Halloween night – and that’s actually what they do – with no limits or constraints from me. But then we actually live up to Halloween being “just one night” and get rid of what’s left (with the exception of maybe 5 or so pieces for “later”).

So my thought process is that children will still get PLENTY of candy on Halloween even if a few of us decide to hand out something different. Not to mention there are lots of FUN alternatives to candy (see below) that I doubt will deprive any child from just being a “kid.” Now, that’s just my two cents on the topic. I occasionally have a hard time when commenters criticize me for something I don’t even do (i.e. not let my kids trick or treat for candy) – so just had to vent about that for a moment. :)

Secondly, how many kids actually EAT every single piece of Halloween candy? Don’t the uneaten pieces (along with the wrappers from the others) end up in the land fill anyway? I promise I’m not personally a huge fan of little plastic “made in China” gadgets either, but I didn’t invent Halloween and like it or not it’s all about handing SOMETHING out. I personally have a hard time seeing how a little skeleton paratrooper is a whole lot different than gobs of candy wrappers in the land fill. Your thoughts on this?

Anyway, now that I got that off my chest let’s get into the fun alternatives that I had a chance to share on the Charlotte Today show yesterday!

Candy-Free Ideas for Trick or Treaters

Candy-Free Ideas for Trick or Treaters on 100 Days of #RealFood

  1. Festive Toys: Witch Fingers  (8 cents/each) and Skeleton Paratroopers (28 cents/each) – found at Party City or Target or online.
  2. Online Finds: Finger Lights (12 cents/each) and Syringe Pens (22 cents/each).

  3. Themed Jokes and Trivia: Lunchbox Love Cards – something different (20 cents/each)!
    And since they are a partner of ours you can get 20% off with coupon code “100DAYS”

  4. Coins: Mostly pennies – mix in some dimes and nickels and tell them to close their eyes before picking!

  5. Glow sticks: My personal favorite and what I am handing out again this year (7 cents/each) – found in the dollar section at Target.

  6. Drinks: Small bottled waters (81 cents/each) and/or organic juice pouches (75 cents/each) because we all know those trick or treaters get thirsty running around the whole neighborhood.

  7. If you still really want candy: How about organic lollipops (9 cents/each) or fruit leathers/twists (83 cents/each) without artificial dyes or other questionable additives?

  8. What do to with all that candy at the end of the night? Invite the Switch Witch over! A big thanks to blog reader Catherine for sharing this poem with us.

The Switch Witch Halloween poem

What are your plans for Halloween night?

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415 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Hand Out Candy On Halloween”

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  1. I think this is great! Especially with all the kids with food allergies, you are doing something that all kids can enjoy and you know what, everyone gives out candy…by giving out glow sticks or whatever you become the awesome house who is different. Best of luck and keep it up!

  2. Please paint a pumpkin TEAL. That’ll let those with allergies or diabetes or a preference for non-food treats know that you will be passing out alternative treats like glow sticks.

  3. I love that you hand out glowsticks- I decided to do the same this year. They get PLENTY of candy- my kids would be thrilled to get some “toys” like glowsticks instead!

  4. We fill our bowl with 95% small toys (slinkies, playdoh, pencils, etc.) and 5% is candy that my kids have received from Halloween parties/school. At the end of the night, there’s always some candy left. Kids are thrilled to get something different than candy at our house. This year, we will separate the stash into 2 bowls to keep the allergens away from the toys. We also painted a teal pumpkin. I love the glow stick idea and pennies/change idea. Thanks for a such a useful post and website.

    1. When you paint the teal pumpkin, it’s to let everyone know that there will be NO allergens at your home. Please, skip the candy and just give out the toys, glow sticks, or money.

  5. Hello! I think these are great ideas. We have younger children, 5,2, and 1. So, when we trick-or-treat we meet up with a group of friends and go to just 5 or 6 houses. Then we all head back to one of our friends houses for a fire, s’mores and play time! That way they still get to trick or treat but we don’t end up with bucket fulls of candy. We also don’t hand anything out because we are gone the entire trick or treat time. But if I was home I would probably do something other than conventional candy.

  6. We also prefer to not hand out candy, so, last year we bought a large bag of mini play-doh tubs from Costco (I think there were 50 in the bag) and the neighbourhood kids LOVED them. I have no idea what we’re doing this year but I’m in agreement on not handing out cheap plastic things… Hmm.

  7. Thank you for this post. I have a child with TYPE 1 diabetes. While he is allowed to have candy, we try not to have so much. It is great for him to be able to enjoy a holiday and not be reminded that he has to count carbs and give insulin. The clinic that he goes to has a clue game that sends the kids to different parts of the clinic and they get non-food prizes. He, his brother, and sister love it. Thank you!

  8. I like that my mom gives the grandkids a new pair of pajamas, some applesauce, and healthier alternatives for fruit snacks. It is going to be harder this year with my daughter having food sensitivities. But nice thing is we go to family and friends that now that.

  9. Here in the UK Halloween isn’t as big a deal as in the US. Now it’s gaining a little more popularity more people are handing out candy but traditionally people hand out bags filled with oranges or apples and monkey nuts and a packet of potato chips.

  10. I’m giving glow sticks! Teal pumpkin on your porch indicates non food items so kids with allergies know there is a treat they can have.

  11. We always go to a festival at our church. The kids get to run around and be crazy and still get an assortment of candy. On November 1st we take the majority of the candy to Noodles and Company where the kids trade it in for a bowl of yum. :) My daughter is already talking about the day after because she is excited for our Noodles date.

  12. There is a dentist that lives in our neighborhood. He hands out tooth brushes. Everyone loves it, because it’s different.

    1. We had one doing that 30 yrs ago, i dont get many trick or treaters now that the kids are older. Now days i make a big pot of chilli or a taco bar and all the trick or treats from the past come by to say hi. Great way to see how all the young adults are doing these days. The best years are when the weather is great for a fire

  13. We are handing out a mix of candy and glowsticks this year, starting slow on switching to non-junk handouts :)

    Do you crack/light up the glowsticks prior to handing them out, or let the kids do it? I can’t decide what to do.

  14. I agree with Lisa… There will be plenty of ppl who hand out candy what’s wrong with a few ppl changing it up a bit. The problem with it’s just one night is that it isn’t. My kids are having Halloween parties at school with candy, cookies, and cupcakes. There is junk given at every oppurtunity. It’s always something. When I was a kid we didn’t get junk all the time, so Halloween was a treat. I think we need to teach our kids that there is life outside of food.

  15. I feel a little better if I hand out plain chocolate rather than candy with food dyes or candies that are just plain sugar. It’s still junk food, but doesn’t have as much bad stuff as some of the alternatives. By the way, thank you so much for sharing about the Switch Witch. We did this last year and it was a hit in our house. It really did make Halloween “just one night”, which made one happy mamma!

  16. My children are older now and I live where NO trick or treaters come. That being said, when my children were younger they had a great time trick or treating, counted their candy, divided them into piles to see who got the most of what – tootsie rolls always won. Then they put it back in the pillowcase and under the bed. Over the next year when I got a sweet tooth I always knew where to go. I was the one on a year long sugar buzz. So finally I learned to close my eyes and throw it out around Valentines Day.

  17. I don’t see what’s wrong with handing out nothing. Halloween isn’t about kids being kids, it’s about capitalism. You shouldn’t feel bad about not spending money to hand something out!

  18. Interesting…reminds me the commercial that comes out during Halloween where everybody trick or treating and come to a house where a dentist lives and he hands out tootbrushes and the people tell their friends to avoid his house because he don’t give out candy. I thought the commercial was cute and funny. When I gave out candy I would tell each child a scripture like you are the apple of God’s eye. Jesus died on the cross for you, even said Jesus loves you..they would look at me like I was crazy when I said it but you never know who actually receives it or you can hand out candy with a bible scripture wrapped around it..take what the enemy meant for bad and turn it into something good.

  19. Great post and I could not agree more! “the boo ghost” started visiting our house when the kids were young, stealing candy after bed on Halloween yet leaving a worthy item in exchange. I now have a blended family with Teens. With them I had to explain the health(and dental) implications with eating Halloween candy for days and months after. They too were willing to sacrifice their loot in exchange for something(iTunes gift card). Now our kids are not indulged, nor do we buy the material things for no reason. We have no problem rewarding their tough decision to not indulge in unhealthy choices with a Boo Gift. Plastic made in China items does not appeal to me either but safety concerns make any homemade item not an option. I’ll hit the dollar section today!

  20. I love Halloween, but dread the left over candy, and it is not one night, they are eating candy for weeks. My kids are too old to buy into the whole Switch Witch thing (12 and 14), but it’s a great idea for the younger ones! Instead, I make my children hide the candy from me. If they don’t hide it, I will snitch it throughout the day. Sugar is my weakness and I don’t keep it in the house.

  21. I think That is an awesome Idea, especially from a mom with kids who have food allergies! MY kids LOVE glow sticks, and even if I let them eat candy they mostly really because of their allergies, I wish more people would do candy alternatives.

  22. I struggle with the whole Halloween thing. We spend most of the year telling our kids not to talk to, or take anything from strangers, to be polite and not demand things. Then one night a year we encourage them to do the exact opposite!

    Thank said, I love Halloween, I love getting the kids dressed up, their excitement, the darkness, the candlelight/torch light and the magical feeling of the night.

    To have all the excitement without having to do the whole ‘trick or treat’ thing, a group of us all get dressed up and go down to the local park at dusk and have BYO party, we each take our own pumpkin lamp and a picnic full of treats (then you can give your kids whatever you want them to have). We play loads of games – apple bobbing, broomstick races, fancy dress parade/competition – whatever you want. The kids love it. And at the end of the evening most of the food has gone. This year I want one of those boo bubblers that Victoria mentions!

  23. Good read, and your points are completely valid. I think I will mark this year as the first year we five out an alternative to candy. Thanks for the inspiration! (and have a great weekend!)

  24. years ago I did Halloween but not since I learned from an x satanist what happens every Halloween at midnight. I now choose to have nothing to do with Halloween. if anyone wants to know ask me.
    Glenda Kremer

  25. When my daughter was little I used to tell her the Great Pumpkin comes the Halloween night to take the candy you leave him. The more candy you leave the bigger the gift he leaves you will be. She was more than happy to go through the candy and pick out her favorites and give the rest to the Great Pumpkin. I used to buy her the videos and costume jewelry she wanted. My coworkers loved the candy and she loved the gifts so it was a win win.

  26. Love love love the switch witch!!!!!

    So glad it’s a free country!!! So we can hand out what we want.

    P.S. “The haters gonna hate, hate, hate……”

  27. For several years we lived in a neighborhood that was extremely popular at Halloween. Police blocked off the entrance at around 4pm and no cars were allowed in or out for the rest of the night so everyone from around the area would park in the business park and families could walk with wagons etc to go trick or treating. Our first year we had over 500 trick or treaters and it went up every year after that hitting just at 750 the last year we were there. The neighborhood association and everyone in the area totally supported this and houses were prepared.
    I switched to glow bracelets after our first year because they were unique and way easier to plan. I didn’t like giving out candy because of all the sugar but we also just wanted to do something different. They are 12/$1 at Michael’s and with coupons they are waaaay cheaper than candy (a concern when you are expecting 500-750) plus they were a great hit. People around the neighborhood always wanted to find the glow bracelet house! Also I can buy them in July if I feel like and they are still good in October.
    We were also the people who set up a boo bubbler that kids loved too (a dry ice contraption with a hose that you dipped in bubble mix to make smoke filled bubbles that the kids could pop, very cool) so we were into making it a really unique experience for families. My experience was that people just though it was something cool and neat that we were doing, not a crazy health thing.
    Also, let me tell you, I remember both the best and the worst houses growing up and neither handed out candy! The worst was apples and boxes of cereal. The best was Icee Coupons! Something different can make the best memories!
    Victoria

  28. We hand out small bottles of water and glow sticks years ago and only had about 8 kids come to our house that year. The next year, we still handed out the bottle water and glow sticks, we got more kids. Every year we hand out bottle water and glow sticks, we ran out We had 7 cases of water at 32 bottles per case and I don’t remember how many glow sticks. Every one comes to our house for water and glow sticks. We don’t give out to the same kids or to anyone not in a costume. :) Everyone seems to love that we do this. Happy kids, happy parents! Win ~ Win!

  29. Love the glow stick idea. I will be ordering some for school! I probably will give out candy from our house because it’s cheap and easy, but I refuse to give out candy at our daycare’s “trunk or treat” (from cars after their parade). I have a real problem handing out candy to kids 1-5 years old! 2 year-olds should never be eating candy!

  30. Where on earth do so many of you posters live, because I have been missing out! :) I never had Halloween candy as a child other than the piddly amount we got at the school party that fit on a napkin; we lived out in the woods. :( But I’ve taken my son trick-or-treating every year for 16 years and he’s never brought home enough candy to last longer than maybe one week.

    I think for some of us, although it sounds like we are few and far between, the holidays really are magical times for treats. We get a few day’s of candy at Halloween, a little baggie of Hershey’s kisses in the stocking, some cupcakes for Valentine’s Day and nothing on Easter, because we don’t celebrate it. The rest of the year we might have some cake, french toast, blueberry pie, and coffee cake, but other than that candy is really just a special treat. My son has never received candy at the doctor’s, the dentist, the bank, or anywhere else.

    I think the Big Picture issue is to get back to simpler times when treats where really just that – treats. And treats for Halloween can be any kind of treat – whatever it takes to ward off the potential trick!

    Happy Haunting!

  31. I bet kids get the glow sticks and think, “wow, this is cool”. Great idea ! I enjoy reading your blog and I think you have a great handle on creating a healthy life for your family. Thanks for all the time and energy that you put into this blog. I really enjoy it ! I loved your cookbook too. Just tried the pulled pork recipe and it was delicious !

  32. people need to chillax. lol. i think you and your book are great. i’m a fan. shake it off, shake it off, ooh ooh ooh!

  33. I do not know if anyone mentioned the Teal Pumpkin Project yet but it was created for kids with allergies. You can paint a pumpkin teal and place a note on your door saying non-food items will be handed out instead. My son has a peanut allergy so projects like this and people with Lisa’s philosophy are greatly appreciated!:)