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 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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! :-)

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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…

  25. 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!!!

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.