Halloween is almost here, and for many kids, that brings up one thought: Candy!!! But we all know that all that sugar isn’t ideal, neither for their dental nor their overall health.
We also know that Halloween candy is only the beginning of the deluge. Soon, the rest of the holidays will follow with their own candy and sugary treats.
And there’s often an overload – so much that some kids even lose interest in it after a spell, letting much of their haul sit around for weeks after. (According to one survey, only about 20% of kids say they eat all the candy they collect trick-or-treating. )
So maybe it’s not so surprising that families who offer non-candy treats often find their homes become the most popular ones with the neighborhood kids. After receiving the usual fare from a dozen or so houses, suddenly receiving something entirely different is an exciting change. Kids love surprises!
Offering non-food Halloween treats has the added benefit of being kind to kids with allergies. The standard commercial candies often include many common allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, gluten, milk, eggs, and soy, not to forget to mention things like the artificial colors and preservatives to which many kids are sensitive.
In recent years, the Teal Pumpkin Project has been raising awareness of allergies and promoting the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season. Homes giving out inclusive treats are encouraged to put teal colored pumpkins out front as a sign to kids with allergies and their parents that the treats offered there are safe for them.
But what kind of treats to give? We all know how kids love toys, games, and trinkets. These can be easily bought in bulk inexpensively from your local party store or ordered from companies such as Rhode Island Novelty or the Oriental Trading Company. You could offer the same novelty to all children or assemble a treasure box containing a variety of items to choose from or grab randomly.
Some items, such as vampire teeth or pirate eye patches, are practically made for Halloween. Little plastic bugs, bats, and various creepy crawlers are also great choices. Glow sticks, wands and necklaces are guaranteed to be popular and are likely to be put into immediate use on a dark Halloween night. Here are even more ideas:
- Stickers or mini sticker books
- Silly glasses
- Novelty pencils
- Cool erasers
- Bouncy balls
- Mini slinkies
- Tiny containers of Play-Doh
- Little plastic people (e.g., fairies, army men, spacemen, aliens, skeletons!)
- Toy jewelry, rings, bracelets, etc.
- Tiny stuffed animals
- Little cars (Hot Wheels, Matchbox, etc.)
- Temporary tattoos
- Little notepads with interesting covers or paper
- Scratch pads
- Whistles, buzzers, horns, and other noisy, annoying things
- Mini coloring or puzzle books
- Hair bows, hair clips or tiaras
- Chalk, especially in fun colors
- Little gliders and mini kites
- Little puzzles
- Slap bracelets
The possibilities are endless. For those inclined to create things, you can even make your own prizes – such as buying those little decorative pumpkins that kids think are so cute and using markers to draw your own jack-o-lantern or silly faces on them.
Even if you want to offer edible treats, you’ve got plenty of options besides the usual candy. One more idea that might seem boring at first glance: Give out small bottles of water. Kids get thirsty after consuming so many sugary snacks. Other edible treats include
- Small bags of popcorn.
- Little boxes of raisins or other dried fruits.
- Fortune cookies, especially Halloween-themed ones.
- Snack sized bags of pretzels or crackers.
- Trail mix.
- Hot chocolate packets.
- Sugar-free gummies.
- Fruit leather.
- Snack bars.
- Honey sticks.
Obviously, many of these are not allergen-free and many have more sugar than ideal, but they’re an improvement over much of the traditional fare.
No, we’re not trying to ruin Halloween. Halloween and other holidays have been around for hundreds to thousands of years and have already undergone profound changes over time. You’ll likely find that doing something a little different will only enhance the spooky day for many kids.
Image by Colleen McMahon