Have a Healthy Halloween: Trick-or-Treating and Candy Alternatives and Candy Trade-In Ideas

October 2nd, 2012 by Dionna | 7 Comments
Posted in Compassionate Advocacy, Environmentalism, Healthy Living, natural parenting

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Mamas of little ones are often at a loss on Halloween – we want them to have fun and celebrate, but we don’t want them to ingest a bunch of HFCS and artificial flavors/colors that will affect their sleep and moods for days, nor do we want to support corporations who violate human rights, destroy the environment, and use harmful marketing tactics to discourage mothers from breastfeeding.

Instead of encouraging excess and sugar highs, here are a few alternatives I’ve found to celebrate Halloween.

Be sure to check out more ideas on my Healthy Halloween Fun Pinterest board!

7 Trick-or-Treating Alternatives

If you would rather not tempt your little ones with candy, try one of these alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating.1

  1. Trick-or-Treat Known Houses: Ask several relatives, friends, and/or neighbors to have non-candy items available (or give your destinations the “treats” ahead of time if you don’t want to ask).
  2. Start a Family Fall Tradition: Instead of focusing outward, use Halloween as a time to have fun at home. Start a tradition of baking, decorating, and playing games with family (and friends) on Halloween night. Find a hayrack ride and go dressed up. If you do movies, make it a special night that you go out for a movie with the family, then come home to apple cider and pumpkin cookies. Whatever fits your family, make it a night to look forward to!
  3. Scavenger Hunt: Grab a group of friends and do a scavenger hunt for canned food instead of trick-or-treating. As the kids/groups return with their items, trade the items for healthy and/or non-food prizes, then let the kids help you bring your scavenger hunt items to a food bank to donate.
  4. Attend a Community Event: Many communities have Halloween events that run from the very tame (fall themed) to the slightly scary (a kids’ haunted house). See if your local museums, zoo, or other family-friendly venue is hosting something fun.
  5. Host a Costume Party: Have a few friends over to play games, eat healthy snacks, and stage a costume parade. There’s no need to spend a lot of money – everyone can bring a healthy treat, you can make decorations as one of your activities, and people can take the decorations home at the end. There are several easy Halloween craft and healthy snack ideas on my Healthy Halloween Fun Pinterest board.
  6. Visit an Orchard, Pumpkin Patch, or Corn Maze: Here is a great excuse to support a local farmer. Plan a visit and enjoy the beauty and bounty of fall harvests.
  7. Build a Campfire: What’s spookier than scary stories over a campfire?! Tell stories, sing songs, and roast hot dogs and marshmallows beside a campfire. What a great way to celebrate Halloween! If you need scary story inspiration, check out some of these Halloween titles from Amazon.

halloween pumpkin patch children

15 Candy Alternatives

Here are several alternatives to candy that you can use as treats for your own children and for the little ones who stop by your house on Halloween. Also check out the ideas presented by Boo Nestle.

  1. Coins
  2. Fruit leather
  3. Stickers
  4. Temporary tattoos
  5. Small packs of cards or other games
  6. Crayons, pencils, erasers, etc.
  7. Individual packages of healthier snacks (crackers, pretzels, dried fruit)
  8. Glow in the dark bracelets
  9. Glow in the dark anything! Stickers, sticks, stars, etc.
  10. Small toys: bouncy balls, eggs with silly putty or playdough, toy rings, etc.
  11. Seed packets (for flowers, vegetables, etc.)
  12. Fruit (maybe not for trick-or-treaters, but for your own little ones)
  13. Whistles or other small musical toys
  14. Cookie cutters
  15. Notepads

halloween candy

4 Candy Trade-In Ideas

If you do decide to do more traditional trick-or-treating, but you don’t want to have 10 lbs of candy sitting around the house, try one of these “trade-in” ideas.

  1. Money for Candy: Buy back the candy for cash: make each piece of candy worth some set amount (a nickle, dime, quarter, etc.). Ask you kids to choose some candy to keep for themselves, and you will buy the rest back from them. They may decide to sell more back once they realize that they can use the money for better things!
  2. Toys for Candy: Instead of buying back candy with money, have a selection of books and other fun things for your little ones to trade in for. And make sure that the little ones get a say in how much to trade – you want to make it fun for them! You may also want to just take kids to the store and give them a dollar limit so they can pick out their own toys.
  3. Candy Experiments: Use your candy for cool science experiments. Avoid the sugar and learn something at the same time! Here’s another article about candy experiments from Mothering.
  4. Candy for Coupons: Create coupons your kids can get in trade for their candy. Include things like baking healthy snacks together, or letting your child choose a family movie to watch or game to play.

What will your family do for Halloween this year?


This has been edited from a post previously published at Natural Parents Network.

  1. By traditional, I mean going door to door in a neighborhood, where you are at the mercy of whatever Nestle candy they happened to buy.

7 Responses to:
"Have a Healthy Halloween: Trick-or-Treating and Candy Alternatives and Candy Trade-In Ideas"

  1. Kate

    There’s also this program where dentists buy back/collect candy from kids and send it to the troops overseas. http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/

    So far we’ve been able to avoid the whole issue because Liam hasn’t understood about trick or treating. We might still be able to get away with that this year (he’ll be 3.5 but he has some developmental and language delays) but I think by next year it’s definitely going to be an issue. He has slightly older cousins who do trick-or-treat and since we’re all at a family/block party together before the kids head out I think he’s going to want to go with them next year. Unfortunately since he’s GFCF and can’t have artificial dyes either 99% of the stuff he gets will be off limits. I figure I’ll get some treats he can eat to trade for the other stuff and then give the “junk” to the program I linked to above.

  2. Holly N.

    I love the whole idea of “buying back” the candy but was curious what you would do with the candy you bought back. I know I sure don’t need it either. We don’t do tradition trick or treating as our church ALWAYS has the fall festival on Halloween. They do give each kid though a HUGE bag of candy. I think last year we even got two bags cause they just love my daughter. Any suggestions?

  3. Kelly   BecomingCrunchy

    I’ve been so thrilled about the candy science experiment idea ever since I first heard of it – can’t wait for Bean to get old enough for it!

    Lots of other great ideas here – thank you!

  4. teresa   momgrooves

    Fantastic!!! Have to share and save for next year too!
    Especially now that I know there are GMO’s in pretty much all regular candy.

  5. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama   ithoughtiknewma

    Great ideas! We are giving out organic lollipops and Unreal candy. We’re having my son trade his candy with us for treats he loves. It hasn’t been difficult b/c he doesn’t know what candy is yet at 28 months ;-)Pinned and sharing!

  6. Melissa   vibreantwanderer

    I love the ideas for fun, non candy related family traditions. We bought a bag of organic lollipops for anyone who may visit us and will go to a few homes for the experience. We’ll treat any candy Annabelle collects the same way we treat all candy we encounter – as non edible, heh. We’ll probably toss it in with the lollipops for giving away since Annabelle’s early bedtime will make her among the first trick or treaters.

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