Real Food Tips: 20 Ways to do Halloween without candy!

Whoever said you “had” to hand out candy on Halloween anyway? Trust me kids will be getting PLENTY of candy this month regardless so it wouldn’t hurt, and it actually might help, if you break up the monotony by doing something a little different. I personally kind of like to be different (let’s just call it “unique”) anyway. And let’s face it…bags of candy aren’t exactly cheap either so some of these alternatives might cost the same or even less for your Halloween night handout. Most of them will last a lot longer, too!

Also, a quick thanks to all the wonderful facebook fans who helped me come up with these great ideas!

Creative alternatives for trick-or-treaters…

  1. Packs of mini play dough containers
  2. A mix of inexpensive Halloween-themed toys from a place like Michael’s, Oriental Trading, Target or Wal-Mart (pictured)
  3. Miniature bottles of water or all natural juice boxes (love this idea because we are always thirsty when we’re out and about trick-or-treating)
  4. Spooky collection of Halloween “frights” like plastic eyeballs, rubbery rats, and fake fingers
  5. Light-up glow sticks, which can usually be found in a pack of 15 at Michael’s or Target for only $1 (that’s what we’re going to give out this year!)
  6. Halloween pencils and mini activity books or pads of paper
  7. Toothbrushes (big kids might turn their noses up to this, but my children happen to think new toothbrushes are fun)
  8. Mini Lara Bars and/or packs of raisins
  9. Inexpensive little books from thrift stores, garage sales, or the dollar store
  10. “Birthday landfill” as one facebook fan called it, which is basically a collection of all the little gizmos and gadgets from party favor bags throughout the year
  11. Temporary tattoos and/or stickers
  12. Small bags of microwavable popcorn
  13. Fruit leathers (made with 100% fruit)
  14. Homemade crayons made in muffin tins in the oven (google it)
  15. Local apples…they are currently in season so why not!

What do to with all the candy that your kid does get…

  1. Allow them to keep a few pieces and then trade in the rest to you for a quarter each…then off to the toy store or dollar store! (This method can be used all month-long or even all year-long)
  2. Keep it simple – just offer your kids the choice to trade in all their candy for a trip to the toy store or for something else they’ve been really wanting like a trip to Monkey Joe’s
  3. Leave the bulk of the candy out on the front porch for the mysterious “Halloween Witch” who will miraculously leave a non-candy surprise (like a game or a toy) in its place…tell them the “better” the candy the “better” the surprise!
  4. Ship your candy off to the troops
  5. Or combine the best of both worlds – find a local dentist who participates in a Halloween Candy Buy Back Program because they will give you something in exchange for the candy and also ship it off to the troops for you!

If you have any other ideas or suggestions please leave them in the comments below.

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139 thoughts on “Real Food Tips: 20 Ways to do Halloween without candy!”

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  1. Love this list. Last year, my preschooler got two toothbrushes in his bag from one of the other kids at school (whose mom is a dental hygienist). He was so excited about those! He said it was his favorite treat in the whole bag!

  2. I love this whole blog and your new cookbook….and this post. However I highly disagree with handing out bags of microwave popcorn. I like the fact that it’s not candy but there are so many horrible chemicals lined in that bag, I would feel horrible giving that to anyone, let alone a child.

  3. After being hit with several articles of “don’t ruin Halloween” I started feeling guilty and went looking for a safe place to defend my non candy tradition. First off I’m type 2 diabetic. The last thing I need is a bucket of candy around my house. Secondly, I have real world experience because I’ve been doing this for years. Sorry CJ Mini microwave popcorn is the big winner here. Even on the years when I offered real sugar alternatives I have no trouble giving away popcorn. I heard a group of tweens planing their Halloween once. I went something like this: We will go to this house for popcorn and this house for sodas then my house for movies. Perfect, I loved it that I could be part of their non pranking plan. About some of the other ideas. I’ve done the toys. Mostly it was hard to pick what would be popular that year. Pencils actually worked, but it is a special case here. The grade school gestapo had a strict rule about mechanical pencils. she would actually walk into class rooms and take them straight from the kids hands. (serious control issues) So as part of my rebellion issues I offered these to kids http://zebrapen.com/products/pen/cadoozles . They are quiet (clickless) and look a lot like a wooden pencil My kids had successfully used them in the prison state, so I knew the kids could get away with them. I’d buy a 24 pack every year and always ran out. (I use a choice bowl, pick what you like). Most of the pillowcase grade trick or treaters in my town hit the big neighborhood parties, so most of my treaters are local and know me. Having said that I do have regulars who return every year for the popcorn.

    In defense of the popcorn Younger kids love it because it is a big sized treat for them. it is also unusual for them to get their own bag at home so this is cool. Older kids often mention it is a great save it for later treat. Parents don’t seem to object. The one worry I have left is the toddlers and pretoddlers. I’m pretty sure this snack is not age appropriate so I always have something for the tinys.

    As for those years when I have done candy (and this is not going to be one) I got a hint years ago that I have followed much to my own children’s chagrin. At a predetermined time the last kid to knock on the door gets whatever is left in the bowl. Open your bag I’m dumping this bowl. I figure it’s a good hint to them that it might be time to head home.

    M

  4. I too do not like the idea of passing out candy but looking for alternatives. Years ago I did the cheap toy thing but now that I have been a mom for a decade I realized awhile back we all don’t want to deal with the cheap toys cluttering our home. Don’t support company’s that sell cheap junk just so it can eventually go to the landfill. Plus these toys are made of pour quality of plastic is probably bad for our health and definitely bad for the environment. Another site suggested handing out twenty cents (the cost of a halloween small candy bar). I like that idea because I think the kids will be happy with it and it is something that doesn’t end up in the landfill.

  5. You could also donate the candy to recovery centers for recovering alcohol/drug addicts. The sugar helps curb the addiction.

  6. I watched your tv blurb and love the idea of a “halloween candy fairy” coming and taking away halloween candy and leaving a little gift in return. I think my kids would be excited with this, but I’m having trouble finding the link to the poem. Could you direct me in the right place? Thanks!

  7. My husband gives out glow sticks to the kiddos along with candy he actually cracks them so they are lite when they are walking around. Most parents love the idea and kids love them. We will do this every year now.

  8. When my son was young, one year I did boxes of crayons. My husband thought not handing out candy was no fun! :) I bought them at back-to-school time (RoseArt were $0.10 and Crayola $0.20/box) Not sure how the prices now compare to candy.

  9. For those of you having a conniption about sending the candy to the troops… I doubt it is any worse than the MREs they eat. I doubt the majority are concerned about the health of the candy… And I am pretty sure it is a treat that they look forward to, as it likely reminds them of home… Where they probably used to eat the stuff on a regular basis. Not really a good reason to crucify Lisa Leake… Grow up!

  10. Thanks for your post. I like most of the ideas. I’m sorry to say that I have to agree with CJ though on the popcorn. Also, hard to promote buying stuff from some of the places you mention as the plastic toys are made in China and often break immediately. But again, thanks for the post and you really suggested a lot of alternatives. Best, Monica

  11. Ship GMO candies off to the troops? How unbelievably insane is that suggestion? Like kids, troopers are people too!

    Man, you had me at the Halloween tangerines, but totally lost me here!

  12. I used to be a fan of yours until I read this blog. Why would you suggest #12. Microwave popcorn is GMO corn and not to mention the other toxic ingredients. But #19 and #20 pushed me off the edge. Do you think that something that is unhealthy should be given to our troops? And readers have said donate the candy to charities. I am appalled. If the candy is not good for our children it is not good for human consumption period. Shame on you.

  13. Our local YMCA partners with two local businesses to sponsor trick or treating for healthy snacks along a short family hike on the Saturday morning before Halloween. There is face painting and pumpkin decorating etc. at the end. I haven’t gone before due to the age of my kids and my physical fitness, but it sounds like a great tradition and I’m sure it could be replicated in other cities, too–our gymnastics center/indoor playground throws Halloween parties too–one for a younger age group and one for older kids. I think going to something like that and minimizing regular trick or treating is a good idea to make Halloween special without getting a year’s supply of sugar. Also, one man near us shows the Charlie Brown Halloween movie on a projector outside(shining on his garage door) and gives out popcorn from his movie-theater style machine. Watch that with popcorn, get a few pieces of candy, and my little ones are pretty darn content.

  14. Love the glow stick idea. I let the kids eat some, then I “buy” the candy either for money or a “free day” from chores. Those are rare and so are exciting to get. Then I save the candy for our annual Gingerbread House party with friends.

  15. Love the glow stick idea. We need something cheap. We can go through 300-400 pieces of candy on Halloween. The Blue Star Mothers ship candy and other items to the troops. Usually a portion of our candy gets dropped at their location.

  16. some great tips here!

    We are going to do the glowsticks and party-bag favours this year… and I will allow the girls to gorge on candy on halloween night itself and then I will take it down to our dentist as they do a “buyback” scheme.

  17. My children save all their candy and hand it out to the 3-Day walkers on their last day, at a cheer station. For 3 years we have done this. The boys feel proud that they are supporting a good cause and the walkers really appreciate the sugar to help them through the last few hours of walking.

  18. Hi, just thought you may want to rethink the Lara bars. I will not support a company who opposes GMO labeling. I’m pretty sure you are on the same page with that as well. The information was sent out by the Cornucopia Institute.

    Otherwise looks like great suggestions, thanks! :-)

  19. If there is an orphanage in your area, or a children’s hospital, candy could also be donated there. In our area, the local Ronald McDonald house accepts it. There’s no way my kids could get through all that candy!

  20. I let them keep 10 pieces and then I dump the rest into the handout bowl for late trick-or-treaters. Reduce, reuse, recycle! The 10 pieces are eaten over the next few days. We’ve done this for a few years and they are used to it by now.

  21. I am allergic to wheat and know a lot of kids that have major food allergies can’t eat a lot of what is handed out, so I decided to hand out pencils last year. I only had one kid refuse it. I heard many positive comments the night of.

  22. My elementary and high school collected Halloween candy and put together candy bags for Agape Street Ministry, an organization that then handed them out to homeless women struggling with addiction. The sugar helps fight cravings.

  23. For candy leftovers, check with your local senior center or assisted living facility. The one near me loves to get the mini candy bars and they use them as prizes for games like bingo and pokeno. The residents almost never get a sweet treat and they love the little mini bars!

  24. Halloween is maybe my favorite holiday – but the candy drives me crazy! I live in a wonderful little festive neighborhood in small town Idaho and it’s the trick or treat mecca for our valley with 200 little goblins, ghouls and princesses coming to our door each year.

    Trying to find an affordable alternative to 200 pieces of candy that the kids here find fun too is my 2013 Halloween pledge!

  25. I’ve been giving out tattoos or other non-candy items for years partly because I don’t feel right giving out candy but also because I never know if I’ll have two trick or treaters or 20… so any “leftovers” can be thrown back into the Halloween decorations box to be used next year!

  26. I saw a really cute thing on pintrest that I’m doing this year… clementine oranges with different jack-o-lantern faces drawn with a black marker. they are super cute

  27. I am surprised to see Larabar on your list of items! Not only are they GMO but they also financially support against labeling our food….

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Andrea. Lara bars I believe are actually labeled non-GMO, but, I do agree their parent company is not supporting Prop-37 which is concerning. We have been eating the Kit’s Organic which are similar but from Clif. Jill

  28. Lisa, thank you so much for this post. Your blog has literally changed my family’s life and inspired me to start blogging as well. Halloween is my absolute favorite time of year. This will be my baby’s first Halloween and much of the anxiety I had about how to deal with the candy overload is now gone thanks to your ideas. I will blog about our experiences when the time comes and link back to you. I honestly can’t convey how grateful I am for everything you have taught me.

  29. For the younger crowd- i am going to try to make playdough and cut out small pieces w/ a cookie cutter and hoping to find some cute snack bags to put them in.

  30. My MIL gets few trick or treaters, but she gave out mini hand sanitizers with the key holders from Bath and Body works, and they were a huge hit!

  31. Last year, I had both candy and little toys for the trick-or-treaters. Everyone could pick 2 things. One boy was walking away when he said to his friend, “They don’t even have CANDY”. Which was funny because we did. And the older kids do notice the candy. I had the prizes because my girls were too young for candy and I knew plenty of other toddlers would be too.

  32. Has anyone read the article about the farmer who found it too expensive to feed his cows corn this year so he has been buying “old” unsellable candy and feeding that to his cows instead? Apparently it has the same fat ratio as the corn feed. Yuk! I don’t like the corn feed to begin with and rarely eat meat but, really, now they will start feeding cows old candy? I like the idea of no candy to hand out this year. The tough part will be convincing my husband. I think I’ll hand out school supplies and books.

  33. what we usually do is collect all the candy in one bag and hide it on the top shelf in the pantry(I have two kids) they each have one piece of candy after we get home from trick or treating. after that they are allowed one piece a day. usually within a few days the’re over the candy and forget about it. Every holiday we do the same. Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, even birthday party favors… so when october comes around again i put the bag out for trick or treaters. So I apologize if your child receives a valentine lolipop. :) we save money and teeth! :)

    1. I really dont like the idea of saving candy well after the holidays to give back out at the next Halloween…wouldnt the candy be old and spoiled by then? Why not just buy a small bag of candy to give to your kids,or only take them to a few houses..but saving candy up to give back out to kids the next year is not only foolish,it can be harmful as well…you wouldnt want your own kids eating old, possibly spoiled candy, and neither do I

  34. My children eat candy very rarely unless it comes from whole foods. They still want to go trick or treating on holloween to dress up and see all the decorated houses. Good idea to donate to the troops!

  35. I always took the bulk of my kids candy to work and left it in the lounge. Adults devoured it every afternoon until it was gone.

  36. We trick or treat and the kids get to pick out 5-10 pieces and then we leave it in a basket for the great pumpkin who then leaves fun books and takes the candy away. I use to donate the candy to the school but now that I have negative feeling about children eating “processed crack” as I call it I just toss it. My kids are older now and still insist on making their book list and having the Great Pumpkin visit.

  37. Great ideas here. I’m a bit confused though by these “buy back” options. Why would someone who is only going to let their children eat a few pieces of their candy even allow them to go out and collect a whole big bag? It almost seems cruel to me. Maybe I’m missing something here.

    1. it’s not cruel at all. the fun of halloween is dressing up and going around your neighborhood going door to door. i’ve taken my kids trick or treating for the past 8 yrs, and let them pick out a few peices of candy for the next couple of days, then i put it up on the fridge, and it’s forgotten about. and until this year, i wasn’t even all that strict about their candy intake. it’s not cruel at all.

  38. Trying to think of something “green” and not poison… How about making up a bunch of origami cranes? They are super easy to make and you could have them hanging off of a spooky tree or something… Just brainstorming here…

  39. Great website! Just want to share some thought starters: Try considering the removal of all sugars from your plan. With you still including whole raw foods such as low glycemic veggies (shoot for a lot of green ones) and old world fruits (berries), omitting modern fruits (watermelon, other melons and high sugar fruits like bananas)and limiting starchy carbs (rice, pasta and any breads/ cereal), you will see amazing results and feel even better!!!!!! If interested to find out why this is so healthy, research eating plans called “paleo”, “estrogen”, “endometriosis”, “the zone”, “candida”, “low glycemic index/ load”…… you will find that all of these healthy ways have the same core principals! Enjoy your journey to true health!!!

  40. Sending the candy to the dentist for a “buyback” is a great idea. I am going to call the local dentists and see if they participate in something like this, and if they dont I am going to suggest that they do!

    My son loves giving things away to people who need them, I am sure he wouldn’t mind his candy going to the soldiers.

  41. Agreed. No plastics needed. I know it’s cheap and keeps the sugar down, but the more we look at the big picture and see that, not only do we need to put good things into our body but also into the environment and the places we live, the better we will all be in the long-term.

  42. We gave out pencils that we found 10 to a pack in Target’s Dollar Section. I was worried the kids wouldn’t like them, but more than one kid hopped off our front porch yelling “Hey Mom, they’re giving out PENCILS at this house!” You would have thought they were $100 bills. Thanks for the idea.

  43. Had to come back after Halloween to say that we had a big bowl with plastic tops on one side and candy on the other and kids chose the tops way more often. They were so excited! And I thought they were hokey! Usually I would rather give candy than hand out environmentally damaging plastic items but I scored a big bag of mixed party favors at a garage sale. My favorite thing to give out is stickers & temporary tattoos. As a bonus, you can sometimes buy them at up to 90% the week after Halloween, and save those/any leftovers easily until the next year.

  44. I love the alternatives you have presented. I just wanted to share my experience from last year. We had just moved into a new neighborhood. My husband and I were looking forward to meeting lots of the neighbors and their children on Halloween. We are older retired couple with grandchildren spread out across the country. We have a pomegranate tree in the yard along with two apple trees. Last year the pomegranate harvest was overwhelming. I decided in the interest of introducing ourselves to the neighbors we should give pomegranates as treats. We are into organic healthy whole foods and have been for a long time. My husband thought that the kids would not like it and we would not get any trick or treaters in future years if we did this. I agreed to offer a small bowl of candy pieces as an option or a pomegranate from a huge platter heaped high with the festive fruit. To my husbands surprise I had to refill the pomegranate platter three times over and we still had 80% of the candy left at the end of the night. If we had had apples ready for eating last year we would have offered those also. I think the pomegranates were such a big hit in part because they are a slightly exotic fruit and are a bit pricey to buy so everyone thought they were getting a real prize.

  45. I like all of your ideas here except for the microwavable popcorn one. I don’t trust the ingredients in microwave popcorn, and think it is so much easier to make your own (literally kernels in the bottom of a paper bag… cook the same way as “traditional” microwave popcorn).

  46. Halloween is a great holiday…lots of fun for adults and kids alike. However, like summer parades the candy aspect is one of the least appealing. Our 4H club helps sponsor a community Halloween party which is full of games, crafts and book reading. There is a little bit of candy but mostly focuses on the fun of the holiday. We also go trick-or-treating for our local food shelter with the church youth group. Instead of candy we ask for non-parishable goods that goes straight to the food shelf. Our local paper runs a story on it and it’s what I would call a WIN WIN WIN. Win…for local food shelf, Win…for no candy at my house and Win…for the good times and good feelings for my kids. We live in the country now so there are no trick-or-treaters at our house but in the past (when we lived in the city) I would hand out granola and pretzels and pencils and other small trinkets!! I really feel like we shouldn’t pay our kids for giving us candy back when we allow them to go trick-or-treating for it…we are breeding a generation who expects to get a reward for everything. I have explained to my children that we are what we eat and I am ever so proud of them when the lady at the grocery store offers them a sucker at check out and they turn it down (with a very polite “No, thank you!”). I do not feel the need to “reward” them for turning it down…their health is their own reward.

  47. I love seeing the kids in their costume. A friend allowed his kids to select so many then they cashed the rest for a new book at the bookstore. Some of them are quite creative!

    I’ve given out toothbrushes as listed above in the past. Not sure what to pass out this year. Thanks for the list – will use it when I check out Target.

  48. We keep Mardi Gras beads from New Orleans and pass them out to trick-or-treaters. Since we no longer live in New Orleans, the kids who come to our house love it!

  49. Love the ideas here …. the birthday landfill, the pencils, water/juice boxes. Really like the hot chocolate or cider idea! Thanks, All!

  50. I love the idea of the “Birthday landfill”! We have tons of goody bag leftovers, and many small toys that I leave in the bags because I don’t want to throw them away, but I don’t want my 1 year old to stick them in her mouth (little round balls mainly). I’m going to dump all the bags out and start going through them!

  51. My grandma usually does the fruit/raisin thing.

    My kids are still babies but I plan to start a Christmas tradition with the candy they get (or whats left after daddy has his pick). Take plastic wrap and wrap one piece of candy then twist. Continue until you have 1 piece for everyday until Christmas. When finished youll have a nice candy garland/Christmas countdown. The kids can eat 1 piece each day until Christmas.

  52. It’s so funny, because I wrote a post like this last year for Crafting a Green World, about eco-friendly non-candy trick-or-treating options, and I got absolutely BOMBARDED with negative comments, many of which said I was a bad mother and that they felt sorry for my kids, etc. I kept wondering last year if there were any people at all who supported giving out anything besides candy for Halloween. Here they are!

  53. We are giving away vouchers for free Jr Frosties at Wendy’s and packs of goldfish crackers. One book of 10 Jr Frosty’s is $1.00.

  54. I truly love all these non-candy ideas for trick-or-treaters! I have to admit, although I am frustrated by all the candy and other junk food my kids bring home from not just Halloween, but school, birthday parties, parades, festivals, etc….I am nostalgic about my Halloweens as a kid. Getting candy is just part of Halloween! It’s too bad that people over-do it these days. In our neighborhood, most houses don’t just give out one piece of candy, but rather a small bag filled with 1/2 dozen different wrapped candies. Crazy, right? Maybe I will do a mix of candy and non-candy options, as well as some waters for any thirsty kids (love that idea, too!).

  55. I love your ideas. We are going to give out glowsticks too! My daughter has food allergies so we started out giving trick or treaters non-food items a few years ago.

    We like to give out stencils too (packs at walmart for a dollar), stickers (oriental trading) and erasers! We gave out some metallic beaded necklaces last year and the big kids were thrilled.

  56. How do you send cand to troops. love the idea but not sure how to do it. Are there restrictions of what you can send? .

    1. Operation Gratitude, an organization that actually requests Halloween Candy to send to troops. They accept donations from October 1 to December 5, and their address is:
      Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
      17330 Victory Boulevard
      Van Nuys, California 91406
      ATTN: Rich Hernandez
      Phone: 262-OPGRAT-1 (262-674-7281)

  57. “Birthday landfill” as one facebook fan called it, which is basically a collection of all the little gizmos and gadgets from party favor bags throughout the year – AWESOME idea! I will start collecting ASAP:)

  58. Thank you, thank you, thank you for these ideas.

    I have to eat gluten-free. My son has 13 (yes 13!) really common food allergies. We are constantly looking for ways to deemphasize the food aspects of holidays. We live in a food-centered culture and it is hard. I don’t want my son to look back on his childhood as a time of deprivation and being left out.

    I am totaly heading to Target or the Dollar Store in search of pencils, stickers, mini bubbles etc to give out this year.

  59. Last year, I gave out pencils and the kids went CRAZY for them. Most of them had either lost or used up their stash of yellow pencils from the beginning of the school so they welcomed a new pencil!

  60. I am giving out mini comic books which our local comic shop sells in packages of 20 for $5. They are labelled, “Rot their minds, not their teeth.” Mwah ha ha!

  61. I love your alternative ideas! Last year I tried something new — I gave each kid a bag of pretzels(the individually wrapped single serving bags – they were even halloween themed bags)and a piece of candy — I actually had kids giving me back the pretzels — I was shocked! Oh well, I’ll keep trying!
    For my own kids I live by the motto “out of sight, out of mind” I let them eat a few pieces on Halloween (my 6 yr old thought 2 candies was a good amount) and then the rest went into a closet. I think it was only mentioned once or twice after that.

  62. For the last few years we have had a penny jar for the trick-or-treaters. We go to the bank and get about $40 in pennies and fill a big jar with them. Kids each get a hand full. Can’t tell you how many kids turn to their parents with exclamations of “I’m Rich!”. Best thing is that any leftovers can be taken to a coinstar booth and traded in for bills, so you don’t have to worry about re-rolling coins.

  63. Honestly I am bothered to see this bucket of mostly plastic objects, likely made in China and perhaps some containing lead, that will ultimately end up lost under furniture collecting dust and in the trash. I feel better about providing consumables like food or pencils than seasonal trinkets that are forgotten after the holiday has passed. Although I too am bothered by all of the candy on Halloween, I usually offer a treat bowl containing pencils and candy that has some kind of nutritional value – fortunately Whole Foods carries some options – from fruit chews to fair trade, organic dark chocolates. This also means that I am happy to contend with leftovers!

    1. I have to agree. I avoid plastic much the same as I avoid junk food. I can maybe see recycling some you already have at home, but the idea of purchasing more plastic junk toys or water bottles makes me sad. We vote for real food with our money, why not use that power when making ANY purchase.

    2. 100 Days of Real Food

      I agree…in an ideal world we would avoid all highly processed food AND all cheap plastic toys with a “Made in China” label. I am not sure I could ever get there though.

    3. I have to agree with this one… I love your site but a lot of these ideas bothered me too, the plastic water bottles, the trinkets that are going to be lost or discarded in a few days… pencils, erasers that they will at least use at school, fruit leather, play doh they’ll play with for a while, I would go with all of those first…

    4. I am glad you commented on this as well. I think a bucketful of plastic is a lot worse than candy. Seriously, the majority of that stuff will be on this planet for thousands of years. I wish they would put a ban on items like that even being made.

    5. This is a major concern for me, too. I saw that bowl of plastic dollar store junk and cringed. I am forever trying to avoid that stuff when it comes to party favors, etc. etc. We also avoid water bottlres and a few other things. The good thing is that there are several ideas within this post that may be do-able (avoiding both processed foods and plastic junk) and even more in the comments!

  64. Awesome ideas! I was thinking of doing the play doh but know I’m not sure. I really like the glow stick idea. What kid doesn’t love glow sticks? My kids never even eat their candy any ways. It sits in the cupboard for months till I eventually throw it out. Thanks for the ideas!

  65. My daughter was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome shortly after birth. Since then we are always looking for ways to make food less of an event in holidays and other important functions. We have always handed out things like tatoos, playdo, pencils and whatever small inexpensive items we can find. The kids in our neighborhood love it and word spreads.

    We also dont allow our kids to keep all of their candy either. They may choose one piece for every year of age and then the rest goes outside. The great pumpkin comes adn takes it and leaves a small toy in its place. The candy they do keep it forgotten about the next day!

  66. These are great ideas! I like the idea of contributing to the amount of processed foods the kids will be getting. I won’t be giving out anything this year, but I will have to remember this for next year!

  67. When I was a kid, I liked nothing so much while trick or treating than the neighbor who gave us money. She had a plastic pumpkin filled with coins (mostly pennies and nickels) and we could stick one little hand in to grab what we wanted (60-75 cents, probably). A good way to get rid of that jar or spare change, and probably not much more expensive than treats.

  68. To reduce the amount of sugary candy (and tears and frustration) we are limiting either the number of houses that we are going to and/or the amount of time we trick-or-treat for. Either 15 houses or 30 minutes – the decision will be up to my 8 year old.

  69. I posted this before on last years Halloween post, but it’s worth reposting especially if you have little kids that are just starting to trick or treat.

    My friend had her 2 boys completely bought into The Great Pumpkin story from Charlie Brown. Every year (until they finally figured it out) they would leave their full bags of candy (she let them choose some to keep) on the table for The Great Pumpkin who would come and bring them a toy in the middle of the night.

    I always thought this was brilliant!

    1. that is amazing! my babies are still too young, but im going to have to remember that one. :) thank you for the great list lisa.

  70. Love the “birthday landfill” idea! We found Halloween erasers at Target, packs of 20 or so in the dollar bin and matched them with some parachute guys (like you get in gumball machines, there were packs of them at the Dollar Tree) to send to school with my 4yo (they are supposed to bring something to share with the class).

  71. Also, Halloween or fall-themed pencils (can usually be found cheaply in packs of 10 at a place like Michael’s, Target, or the Dollar store),
    and packets of hot cider or hot chocolate :-).

  72. Jewelry! Like the spider rings, anything spooky & fun. Silly Bands, bubbles. Also getting clementines and putting a pumpkin face on it would be cute.