I know what you might be thinking. “Oh please, Halloween is just one night a year - let kids be kids!” But when you eat gobs of candy on Halloween and then continue to eat what's left for weeks (or months) to come, how is it still counted as “just one night?”
I have no problem with my children eating as much candy as they want on Halloween, and, trust me, that's exactly what they do. But then we try to live up to Halloween being “just one night” so we get rid of what’s left (with the exception of maybe 5 or so extra special pieces for “later”). This is how we've personally been able to strike the right balance between our mission to cut out highly processed food and not missing out on any of the fun. Which is exactly why we choose to hand out something other than candy on Halloween night.
Let's face it - children will still get PLENTY of candy while trick-or-treating even if a few of us hand out something different. I know some fear plastic trinkets and the like will just end up in a landfill, but isn't that where all the uneaten candy eventually goes anyway? I'm honestly not big on all the plastic “made in China” gadgets myself, but I didn’t invent Halloween and (like it or not) it’s all about handing out SOMETHING. So these are some of the ideas we've found work for us...
Candy-Free Ideas for Trick or Treaters
- Festive Toys: Witch Fingers (8 cents/each) and Skeleton Paratroopers (28 cents/each) – found at Party City or Target or online.
- Online Finds: Finger Lights (12 cents/each) and Syringe Pens (22 cents/each).
- Coins: Mostly pennies – mix in some dimes and nickels and tell them to close their eyes before picking!
- Glow sticks: My personal favorite and what I am handing out again this year (7 cents/each) – found in the dollar section at Target.
- Drinks: Small bottled waters (81 cents/each) and/or organic juice pouches (75 cents/each) because we all know those trick or treaters get thirsty running around the whole neighborhood.
- If you still really want candy: How about organic lollipops (9 cents/each) or fruit leathers/twists (83 cents/each) without artificial dyes or other questionable additives?
5 Ways to Get Rid of your Halloween Candy
Chances are you'll end up with loads of excess candy no matter what you hand out on Halloween night so here are some creative ways to get it out of your house!
- Cash for Candy through the Buyback Program
This is a national program with thousands of participating dentists and orthodontists. Use their handy zip code locator to find a practice who will buy back candy (typically $1 per pound up to 5 pounds) near you! Most dentists send their loot on to the troops. Some health food stores also offer a trade in program.
- Operation Gratitude: Mail your candy to the troops
Another great way to reduce your overload of sweet stuff is to send your candy directly to the troops (they love care packages!). Be sure to check out their guidelines before packing it up. If you’re concerned about shipping costs you could also look into donating it locally to a homeless shelter or food bank.
- The Sugar Goblin
Do you have one yet? My girls were so excited when this little guy arrived in the mail. The Sugar Goblin will leave a little something for your kids in exchange for their candy (that they don’t eat) on Halloween night! This is a great way to keep candy consumption in check without spoiling any of the fun. To purchase yours (before they sell out) go to their website, amazon or target.com.
- The Switch Witch
This is a similar concept to The Sugar Goblin. It’s pretty self explanatory if you read through the poem below - we’re definitely fans of the Switch Witch and her naughty cat! :)
- Use it for Science Experiments!
How fun is this? My kids both love doing experiments, and I know using candy as their subjects would definitely up the fun factor. Check out the Candy Experiments website and books for loads of ideas!
Another idea from one of my commenters is to save all the excess candy for gingerbread house making this winter. Love that idea! No matter what you decide to do though, you have to do what's right for you and your family - and I hope these suggestions help!
For more info on how to avoid highly processed food as well as recipes your family will love be sure to check out my brand new cookbook 100 Days of Real Food: Fast & Fabulous.