Tricks for Healthier Halloween Treats


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  65 comments   :  20,543 Views

There are not too many tricks at Halloween these days except for an occasional "ding-dong-ditch" or two. However, there are plenty of treats to tempt and entice adults and children alike. There are tricks to help you avoid the Halloween treats as well as tactics to outsmart temptations but sometimes they don't do the trick.

When I was young and trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, I looked forward to the homemade cookies, hot cider and popcorn balls. Back then, neighbors knew your name as well as your parents and children focused less on the amount of candy they would collect and more on the festive experience of the evening. We might only visit ten houses but we would spend time at half of them as we talked on the porch, shared some hot cider, and catching up with one another. Unfortunately, times have changed and the focus is on getting as much candy as possible in the designated time. Although the commercial side of the season focuses on candy and sugary sweets, you don't have to. Here are some alternative tricks to make this Halloween your healthiest treat yet.

  • If you are going to have candy for parties or to hand out on October 31, try to make them healthier choices. Organic Lollipops, Organic Gummy Bears or Ginger Chews helps keep the focus on health but they still provide concentrated sources of sugar so good portion control will be important.
  • If you like to host Halloween parties with lots of candy corn and goodies, try changing the focus this year. Harvest parties have become more and more popular and focus on the nature of the season and provide healthful elements for party inspiration. Plan a bobbing for apples game using brightly colored and nutritious choices such as Granny Smith, Fuji, and Golden Delicious. Roast pumpkin seeds and place them in candy dishes instead of the traditional candy corn. Instead of carving pumpkins with scary faces that will cause the pumpkin to rot quickly, paint them with a variety of fall themes and use them to decorate for the rest of the season. Don't have room for all of them after your festivities or you used mini pumpkins as an art activity? Take the extras to a nearby retirement center for residents to decorate and brighten up their space.
  • Consider fun candy alternatives for passing out on the big day. Big this year are Halloween themed temporary tattoos. Trick-or-treaters will love glow-in-the-dark bugs especially if you have them in a plastic caldron when you hand them out. Give them a way to play after they get home with Mini Jack-O'-Lantern Yo-Yo's or Mini Halloween Molded Poppers to chase. Of course, there are always themed stickers, pencils, bubbles, and bouncy balls as well. By avoiding candy all together and focusing on other items you not only provide a healthier choice for the children, you also take away your temptation to snack as you hand out and enjoy the evening.
  • While handing out a mini box of raisins may not be a big hit or seem very festive, handing out Halloween Pretzel Packets might. Check in your local supermarket for Halloween themed alternatives to candy such as pretzels or gold fish that keep the seasonal spirit but with a healthier snack option.
We all need to focus less on candy and sweets during festivities and holidays and more on spending time together in celebration. One of the best ways to stay on track this Halloween is by planning and focusing on fun candy alternatives. The less you have them around, the less the temptation to pull you away from your good intentions which allows you to focus more on what really matters.

What are your candy alternative suggestions? How do you think we can focus less on the food and more on other activities this year?

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    I was thinking I'd give little boxes of raisins. - 10/21/2010   2:31:13 AM
    I always loved Halloween and I still give out candy & spider rings/pencils & also have pretzel packs/cookie packs too. Although we get lots of kids, our housing area is sadly quite dark on Halloween night because so many people don't participate anymore. I fondly remember the anticipation and going through the candy. Never ate all of it (somehow it disappeared and I never questioned where it went) nor got sick. Of course in the "old days" you didn't get candy that often so it really was a treat. And we could have homemade treats (popcorn balls were always my favorite). I decorate, too, and always love that the kids like my decor and the aroma (I use scented candles in the pumpkins so it smells like I'm baking pumpkin pie as you walk up to the door). Treat or Treat for tricks! - 10/20/2010   7:56:44 PM
  • 63
    We are the neighborhood "pop house." The kids are always so excited. Yes, I know soda isn't any healthier than candy....but it's called trick or TREAT for a reason. The kids deserve a treat on Halloween. Hopefully by the time they are old enough to trick or treat they have already been taught the difference between having a treat and making candy and pop their lifestyle. If not, then shame on their parents! - 10/20/2010   12:36:33 AM
  • 62
    What great ideas, for alternatives to candy and junk. I still enjoy hallowe'en. we have a nice little neighbourhood, and I love seeing the little ones, all dressed up. - 10/19/2010   7:06:44 PM
    For the past couple of years we haven't given out candy. When the stores put their BIG push for school supplies befor e the begining of schhol we pick up boxes of crayons ( 24 crayons for 10 cents) packs of pencils or markers, packs of character erasers ect and give them out instead. There was a time I would give out homemade popcorn balls or caramel apples but with the police telling parents to throw away homemade treats now we don't do that anymore. The same as 30-35 years ago we thought nothing of inviting the kids to come into the house to get their treats--you wouldn't dare do that now. It seems the age of innocence has gone. - 10/19/2010   5:22:34 PM
    For a few years now I have included more 'alternative' snacks in our goodie bowl--bags of pretzels, microwave popcorn, fruit roll-ups, raisins, granola bars, etc. My kids told me 'no one will want that stuff,' BUT those are the things I run out of sooner than candy! Mom was right, this time! - 10/19/2010   4:05:23 PM
  • 59
    Halloween! My favorite holdiay when I was a kid :) We were the ones who grew up in the late 60's, getting all the candy we could handle, lol! When we got home, my Mom would get her jelly roll pans and we would sort it all out. We were allowed to only have so much, then Mom took some for herself (Heath bars ususally), some for Dad and the rest went into the old Maxwell House coffee cans and down to the freezer in the basement. We always forgot about them in a week or two and was always very pleasantly surprised to find the stash in the middle of winter. My son did the same thing, but didn't get as much as we did. We give out the small candy bars, sometimes over 200 kids if the weather is nice! If there are any extras, they go to work or the freezer. I agree that it's only one day a year and that the parents should be a little more vigilant about how much the kids are eating. HAPPY HALLOWEEN :) :) :) - 10/19/2010   3:47:35 PM
  • 58
    I'm surprised by the number of parents who remove candy from their children when they're done trick-or-treating. I don't have children of my own, so maybe it's necessary, but when I was growing up my parents let me and my sisters keep everything we collected. And it was up to us to portion it out, trade with friends or just toss it out. - 10/19/2010   3:41:19 PM
    I also think cheap gifts end up in a landfill. However younger kids really like temporary tattoos. Sillybandz bracelets would also be a popular choice.
    But I agree with the people posting about giving out candy and teaching moderation.
    When we took my boyfriends kids trick or treating they always remembered which house gave them a can of pop. The difference is that when I was younger that was the equivalent of getting candy, and we only had pop on rare occasions. I think it is more important to teach kids that candy all the time and pop at every meal is not a healthy choice. (And even I would be unhappy with baby carrots) - 10/19/2010   3:29:00 PM
  • 56
    We still give out candy because it's only one night a year and we hope that the parents have enough common sense,like we did, to ration the candy so it will be a treat. You're only young once. - 10/19/2010   3:28:22 PM
  • 55
    For over five years now, we have stopped giving out candy and give out little toys instead. We found little tubs of Playdoh at Costco, as well as mini decks of cards with Disney characters on them. We also buy vampire lip whistles which the kids really love. You can always tell who's been to our house by the sound of the "whizzzz whizzz" going down the street. In all those five years, we only had one little girl who expressed disappointment (and disdain) that all we had in our bowl were toys. Even the older kids love pawing through the items in our bowl to select their "take two" items. It's so much fun to watch them make their selections. - 10/19/2010   1:48:44 PM
    Kids binge on candy for a few days then most parents end up bringing it to work for co-workers to enjoy. I just buy mini candy so at least I can have a treat but not induldge in a giant bar! - 10/19/2010   1:09:37 PM
  • 53
    I agree with RACINGSLUG - Comment # 47. It's Halloween - let the kids have candy. One day a year is not going to an obese child make. - 10/19/2010   12:54:56 PM
  • 52
    I am giving out mini bags of popcorn. picked up a lg box at sams. - 10/19/2010   9:40:21 AM
  • 51
    We give out mardi gras beads. - 10/19/2010   9:25:47 AM
  • 50
    i've been giving out gel pens for a couple years now

    kids love them

    and, then, usually, some type of granola bar or something

    i also live in a neigborhood that there are very few people who put their porch lights on, so i try to be a good "neighbor"

    funny- even the older boys love the gel pens! - 10/19/2010   8:58:42 AM
  • 49
    We decided to give out bags of pretzels this years. The packages are decorated for Halloween so they look fun. We made that decision for portion control - for us. We didn't want to have any left over chocolate in the house. We both suffer from the "choco-a-holic" disease, and for myself I know I will not be tempted by left over pretzels. - 10/19/2010   8:45:47 AM
    My husband and I don't have kids but have 25 to 75 kids come we Never know so Like to buy the no perishable treats (some candy for the older kids) This way I can store them and use them from year to year. (I am so excited for the crowd under 3 I found some little stuffed black cats) - 10/19/2010   7:15:26 AM
  • 47
    I think kids should get to eat candy on Halloween. It's just once a year. - 10/19/2010   6:56:41 AM
  • 46
    Times have changed drastically. In my neighborhood nobody gives candy out any longer most people the lights aren't on. Other neighborhoods do have it but there is so many religions out there that do not believe that Halloween should celebrated so they have Harvest Parties. In the past few years , when we did light up the kids that did come didnt' dress up. Last year a home invasion happened so now more and more people are not participating. When my daughter was little we dressed up and went to friends and family or we participated at the mall or at our church with harvest parties. However; are mall closest to us no longer is a mall and doesn't provide anything. There are area attractions such as pumpkin patches and mazes and our amusement parks and zoos hold trick or treating that people now attend.
    - 10/19/2010   2:05:25 AM
    I've been thinking about healthy treat options since the beginning of the month. On Dr. Oz they had a computer simulation of the grandchild of the present generation is trends toward obesity continue to grow at he present rate. 191 pounds! I don't want to contribute to the problem. I'm toying with the idea of raisins, individual baby carrot packs.
    Pretzels or crackers are a possibility. Single servings of popcorn if they turn out to be reasonable in their nutritional content.

    Between my junior and senior year one of a set of identical twins a year younger who suffered from obesity died from related problems (the surviving twin ended up on a diet and exercise plan). It was quite and eye opener to have a 16/17 year old die from a preventable problem.

    Perhaps I might tape little messages saying "wishing you a happy and healthy Halloween for years to come. It might make and impact on the parents and older children.

    I remember eat all the candy bars right away before Mom could raid my stash! - 10/19/2010   2:01:41 AM
  • 44
    we live in an apartment and don't get trick or treaters. :-( But I do have a trick or treat bowl at my cubicle filled with mini pretzel packs, raisins and teddy grahams as an alternative to the candy filled bowls at other places in the office. Some people have ribbed me about my healthy bowl, but I've also had some people say how happy they are to have a healthier option.

    - 10/18/2010   10:16:12 PM
  • 43
    My husband just came home with a big pack of small Play-Dough containers, for us to give out on Halloween. I am happy, as I was looking for something other than candy, and I certainly won't gain weight eating Play-Dough! - 10/18/2010   9:08:17 PM
  • 42
    We bought little bags of pretzels, 50 cal. each, this year. Any left, my dh's treat. No candy at all, and pretzel's don't turn me on at all.

    - 10/18/2010   8:52:12 PM
  • 41
    For the past few years we've given out glow bracelets. They're 10 or 15 for a dollar and come in a tube at the dollar spot at Target around this time of year. The kids are super excited to get them and I don't end up eating candy for weeks ahead of Halloween. In the past, I always tried to get the best sale on candy using coupons, but always ended up eating too much of it myself if I bought it ahead of time. - 10/18/2010   8:07:37 PM
  • 40
    To me it is only ONE night a year, so I let my kids do the full two hours of getting as much candy as they could. About 4 blocks from our house is a large apartment complex with very few kids, & my children would "hit" that & come out with a bag full, since people were happy they had shown up. I let them go through their bag when they got home, then I put it AWAY, and they got some each day. I don't believe in letting the kid gorge on it. - 10/18/2010   7:13:59 PM
    I love the idea of silly putty and play-doh. And stickers! I still love stickers. I don't get any trick-or-treaters b/c I'm in a locked apt. building. So no worries about candy lying about the house. I don't even bother anymore. But I do carve pumpkins and bake pumpkin seed every year. Fun! - 10/18/2010   7:00:53 PM
  • 38
    I give out snack size microwave popcorn packages. It is more healthy than candies. I know that anything that isn't packaged is thrown away, very wasteful but quite necessary these days. The kids are always very happy to get something different and I find eaach year one or two more coming around. - 10/18/2010   5:59:42 PM
  • 37
    One year, when I was young and doing the trick-or-treat thing, we rang a door bell and a woman, dressed in a costume took a snap shot of us and then dropped the picture into our loot totes. We were surprised, disappointed that we received no candy, but when we looked at the pictures, later that night, we were happy as she had caught us in our costumes and we looked forward to going there the next several years. Mom loved it because she never remembered to take our pictures in costume. She would mount them on black paper, date them with orange painted numbers and keep them in a frame for the year, then change them out the next year for the new ones. We had a great scrap book for several years.

    Now, I don't get trick-or-treaters so it's easy to not have the candy. But it is difficult to go to the store because of the huge piles of various candies at the front door. Glad I don't work there. - 10/18/2010   4:34:24 PM
  • 36
    I agree with the many posters that have pointed out that the healthy edible options will be ignored/tossed by the kids. I also agree that you have be choosy in your non-edibles. It's got to be pretty cool to beat out a piece of candy. I love the glow bracelets idea. They'll go well with the bouncy balls that are clear with little spiders inside that await my trick or treaters. Also really popular? Go to Oriental Trading Company's site and order the little glow-in-the-dark bouncy balls. Make sure to "charge them up" with light before you hand them out so the kids know they glow from the start! - 10/18/2010   3:56:32 PM
  • 35
    Speaking for myself I have no interest in being "that house" that gives out toothbrushes or pencils. That being said I do hand out fun toys with the chocolate: erasers, glow in the dark bugs, rings, bouncy eye balls, etc. For the really little trick or treaters they get a small stuffed animal instead of candy, though I usually sneak a fun sized bar to the parent. We build a haunted house in our back yard each Halloween and most people don't come for the candy. - 10/18/2010   2:56:13 PM
  • 34
    Another tip (for non-edible treats, like little toys): You don't have to give out halloween themed items (which might cost more). You can get cute pencils, erasers, and little plastic animals at the dollar store for very cheap.

    If you want halloween themed items, plan ahead and snap them up at after halloween sales. And think out of the box with where you shop. Places like fabric stores carry those little trinkets and will offer deep discounts after the season. - 10/18/2010   2:16:39 PM
  • 33
    The best way for me to avoid surgary treats is to buy non food items tol pass out to the trick or treaters. Pencils are a good choice. I will also buy treats that I absolutely would not eat, such as hard candy. - 10/18/2010   2:06:49 PM
  • 32
    I like the idea of the pretzels and temporary tattoos. I grew up during the times when people gave out the full-sized candy bars, although the Arsenic and Old Lace scenario with people giving out jack-o-lanterns and home made goodies does sound fun. - 10/18/2010   1:58:23 PM
  • 31
    Our town has events at schools, churches, and businesses and house to house trick or treating is discouraged. It solves a lot of problems and we no longer buy stuff to distribute from the house. - 10/18/2010   12:51:55 PM
    Happy Holloween Everyone! My husband and I are now retired. We now in a little house where lots of kids show up on that special night. In all the years we were married, we hardly every had more than a handfull of trick-or-treaters. So, we had fun. We decorated until (as my Mom use to say) the cows came home. Grave yards, spiders, laughing and dancing witches. Some of the tiny littleones were afraid to come up on our porch until we took off our masks to assure them we were just "grandma and grandpa". We have spooky music playing outside. We are having so much fun! So, my point is, it doesn't matter what we give, the children just enjoy coming to see what tom-foolery Grandpa and I are up to. Join in the fun and give them a small, good tasting treat. - 10/18/2010   12:50:14 PM
    If I give non-candy treats and they don't like it, then they can bypass my house next year. That's a win-win situation. - 10/18/2010   11:44:48 AM
  • 28
    I agree with JES150 -- there would be a lot of waste. After we come back from trick or treating the kids sit on the floor and sort their candy. They are allowed to choose 2 pieces and the chocolate goes into a bag and into the freezer to be eaten later. The left over hard candy is put away and usually goes to work with their dad or put out when we have guests. I know from personal experience the non-candy items (tattoos, pencils, toothbrushes (yes we've gotten those) etc.) usually end up laying around our house or thrown out. Raisins are never eaten by my kids -- so unless dad eats them they will go to waste and with pretzels it's 50/50 chance they will be eaten. I will say however that one family always gave out the short half cans of pop and the kids like that. I do believe that it's up to the family to set limits -- my kids do NOT get their bags of candy to do with as they please and really I've found that by not making a big deal out of candy they don't seem to want it as much as you would think. Their friends that are not allowed to have candy or sweets in their home at all are the ones that come to my house and eat them as if they will never see another sweet item again. Everything in moderation! Growing up candy was off limits OR "hidden" when we did have it and I refuse to have my kids think that it's bad and shameful to eat a piece of candy now and then. My days of hiding food to eat are over -- that's one thing I will not pass down to my children. For us the fun of Halloween is the costumes they choose and getting them ready AND the sorting of the candy into piles (teachers actually have used that as a math homework assignment too). So whatever you choose to hand out (we will do small candy bars) I hope you all have a Happy & Safe Halloween! - 10/18/2010   11:27:27 AM
  • 27
    When our kids were growing up, we lived in a neighborhood where the local police were needed for "crowd control" - turning away carloads of trick or treaters from out-of-town. Still, we would see anywhere from 150 to 200 children; toddlers to teens; each year. Back then, I would stock up on candy (Tootsie roll pops was a favorite) that I could leave alone, but the kids liked. Now, that we've downsized, both the house, and the crowd (about a dozen) we use Halloween pencils with spooky erasers shaped like pumpkins, ghosts, or bats. Still buy in bulk at Costo, and what doesn't get used one year, keeps 'til next! Calorie free for me - no cavities for the kids. - 10/18/2010   11:16:36 AM
  • 26
    For years we gave out non-candy treats like small toys from the party supply store, or halloween themed pencils. Now that the # of kids visiting our house has dwindled, we give out Clif Z-bars. We eat the Z-bars ourselves, so buying by the box at Costco makes them more reasonable, and we aren't "stuck" when there's left overs. - 10/18/2010   11:12:39 AM
  • 25
    I bought a box of microwave popcorn packets from Costco and put a few halloween stickers on each one. - 10/18/2010   11:11:26 AM
  • 24
    I bought a box of microwave popcorn packets from Costco and put a few halloween stickers on each one. - 10/18/2010   11:11:25 AM
  • 23
    i rarely get trick or treaters but if someone shows up, i'll give them a bag of baked chips and a diet soda. - 10/18/2010   11:03:43 AM
    Somehow Halloween got 'messed up' by the razors and drugs. No longer fun for kids no matter whether they get a healthy treat or not. - 10/18/2010   11:02:37 AM
  • 21
    Ugh, I absolutely hate Halloween. We end up throwing away most of the candy my kids get, simply because they don't need it... it's such a waste. Last year I gave out glow stick bracelets and Halloween stickers. I found 15-20 packs (I can't remember which) of the bracelets at the dollar store so it wasn't too expensive. They seemed to be a big hit with the kids. The ones who weren't too thrilled with them seemed to be too old to be trick or treating anyways. - 10/18/2010   11:01:05 AM
    I purchased prepackaged popcorn balls....but I like the idea of raisins and the 100 cal. packages of goodies....and how about the coupon books.....all great ideas, thanks ladies and gentlemen.. - 10/18/2010   10:59:16 AM
  • 19
    Scarrots are a cool idea and appear to have temp tattoos too! Hope they show up in lots of places around the country.
    - 10/18/2010   10:42:15 AM
  • 18
    I buy 2 boxes of Hot Chocolate individual packages (100 total) and that is what I give out. The kids are always happy to get them... I also buy a box of Baby Mum-Mums for the little ones on our street as there are lots of babies and a bag of small boxes of smaties for the in betweens... As for the older kids, they get what my kids are not allowed to eat from their bags! - 10/18/2010   10:40:26 AM
  • 17
    i very rarely have trick or treaters, but when i do, i give out boxes of raisins, and now you can buy the yogurt covered raisins, but this year, if i get any, i will be giving out 100 calorie snack pack pretzels, and i will give out the mini almond joys, i mean, come on, the kids like a treat, its up to the parents to make sure they dont over do it..... - 10/18/2010   10:25:02 AM
  • 16
    Back in the Dark Ages, when I went trick or treating, people gave apples. Of course, back then we worried about crazy people putting razor blades in them. As a result, our moms threw out the apples !! We were only allowed to eat packaged candy.

    Now, if a person is wary of their children getting apples (since there are still crazy people out there), how about popcorn balls ? I used to enjoy getting popcorn balls when I was young. Snyder's also makes little bags of pretzels. Those would be a pretty decent choice too.

    Personally, I think if we want to decrease the amount of candy they get, one thing we should do is decrease the size of the trick or treat "bag". I've seen kids lugging around trash bags full of candy !! Back in the Dark Ages, we were only allowed what would fit in our plastic pumpkins.

    And I swear... the plastic pumpkins have expanded, just like the American waistline !!

    So, my advice, give your child a smaller pumpkin for gathering treats. No need to bring back a pirate's haul worth of booty. that's what I used to call my neice's haul aka the booty. - 10/18/2010   10:22:09 AM

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