When children go trick-or-treating on Halloween, they often come home with more candy than they should probably eat. Since parents generally want to raise healthy children with good habits, giving out handfuls of candy every Halloween may not be a helpful way to support that goal.
Eating processed sugar in excessive amounts can increase the risk of tooth decay, obesity, weight gain and chronic disease, says Lisa Kandell Kotler, an Arizona registered dietitian and nutritionist specializing in pediatric nutrition. Because of this, many parents want to keep an eye on just how much candy their kids consume on Halloween.
Portion control, Kandell Kotler says, is key. “If [parents] are buying candy for Halloween, getting the bite-sized pieces is recommended,” she adds. “Then, after Halloween, give only one piece per day as long as it is not interfering with eating a well-balanced diet.“
Rationing is a best practice for the parents of children who get tons of candy, but people who are handing out the treats and share this concern can help prevent the issue, too. There are other healthy and nonedible options you can give that will still keep trick-or-treaters happy. Here are four non-candy ideas for Halloween treats.
If you want to stay in the edible realm, there are plenty of non-candy, prepackaged snacks that could be just as tasty, but may not be loaded with as much sugar. For busy moms and dads looking for easy alternatives, says Michelle LaRowe, international Nanny of the Year and author of “Nanny to the Rescue!,” prepackaged pretzels, crackers, dried fruit, trail mix or fruit cups are all great options.
Additionally, GreenHalloween.org suggests the following healthy, yet yummy, snacks:
For those looking to hand out nonfood Halloween treats, little trinkets or knickknacks can be an easy and inexpensive option. For example, Parents Magazine suggests little toys and games that can be bought in bulk online. This may include:
Parents Magazine says other little trinkets, such as themed key chains, eye patches or Halloween clapper toys, can also be purchased inexpensively online. LaRowe adds that giving out glow sticks is also an option, as it is both fun for a child to play with and adds an extra layer of safety to trick-or-treating by making the group visible. Other ideas from GreenHalloween.org include:
Similar to toys, accessories can be a great alternative to Halloween candy. Little items like necklaces, rings or bracelets are things kids can use any time after Halloween when playing dress-up, says LaRowe. This time of year, inexpensive plastic jewelry in Halloween themes is available online and at party stores, says Parents Magazine.
Other fun accessories kids may be excited to receive are temporary tattoos or mini lip gloss. Parents Magazine says tattoos can be purchased in Halloween themes or common children’s characters in bulk online. Barrettes or hair accessories can also be an inexpensive, yet exciting, option for the little princesses coming to your door, says GreenHalloween.org.
Passing out arts and crafts supplies works well because it can be very inexpensive and gives kids fun activities to do after Halloween, says LaRowe. If you can plan ahead, LaRowe suggests hitting up back-to-school sales to get packages of erasers, glue sticks and pencils for little cost. If you have to purchase these things for your children anyway, she adds, buy a few extra to have on hand in case you run out of treats to pass out early in the night. She also offers the idea of checking party catalogs, dollar stores and party supply store sale racks to get better deals on things like crayons, stickers and coloring books.
According to Parents Magazine, additional craft supplies you may want to hand out include:
Remember these non-candy Halloween treats as you prepare for trick-or-treaters this year — they can make children happy, without adding sugar. To make sure you also stay within your Halloween budget, LaRowe offers a few additional tips to help save you money when looking for treats.
“You don’t have to spend more if you’re looking at nonfood options,” she says. “Shop the sales, buy in bulk and remember, items don’t have to be holiday-specific. When you’re looking for Halloween-inspired items, you’ll likely be paying more than if you settled for the same things in a solid color, like green or orange.”
What non-candy Halloween treats will you hand out this year?