Holiday Crafts Halloween Treats (1 of 1)

Published on October 25th, 2010 | by Julie Finn

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Replace Candy with Sugar-Free, Eco-Friendly Halloween Treats

Halloween treats don't have to be full of sugar and unsustainably packaged.I began giving out sugar-free Halloween treats the year that my oldest child first went out trick-or-treating.

I had no problem with my little kiddo dressed in her clown costume and yarn wig, collecting candy from other people’s houses- one of the life lessons that I try to teach is that everyone does things differently, and that it’s okay to join in. But as for ourselves, we’re a candy-free house, and I also wanted to model that you can be festive without giving in.

A lot of what I tried to give out at first, however, really wasn’t any more healthy overall than the usual sugary treats. Fun-sized PlayDoh was a huge hit, but each little container contained as much plastic packaging as it did play dough. NOT the way to the clean and green planet that my kids need to inherit. The foam stickers that I gave out another year were just as bad, and the trick-or-treaters didn’t even like them that much.

Another kid and a few more Halloweens later, I’ve collected a variety of Halloween treats that are just as cheap and bring just as much joy to trick-or-treaters as candy does, and they’re much more eco-friendly, as well. Here are the treats that I’ll be handing out to the neighborhood kids this Halloween night:

  1. Pennies. Preschoolers are old enough to know that money is great, but too young to understand the value of money. For them especially, a few pennies tossed into their trick-or-treat bags are a true treasure.
  2. Pencils. I’m not talking about your standard #2 here, but if the pencil has something really, really cool on it, older kids will love it.
  3. Apples. Teeny-tiny kiddos want to go trick-or-treating just like their older siblings, but their parents would probably rather that they didn’t max out on candy, and they’re too little to know the difference, anyway. An apple to cut up and enjoy is tummy-pleasing, and this time of year it’s easy to find plenty that are local and affordable.
  4. Books. Raid your kids’ shelves for outgrown books, or raid the local thrift store. You would be surprised by how many trick-or-treaters are flat-out thrilled to pick their own book out of my Halloween book basket, filled with everything from thrift store picture books to garage sale Sweet Valley High novels.

One thing that’s saved me from being the sucky mom who doesn’t give out candy is variety. I don’t just have pennies or pencils or apples or books. I have them all, and I either pick what I think a particular kiddo would like the most, or I give a kiddo a choice. I swear, they always end up with something that they like even better than yet another fun-sized Snickers bar.



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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



  • Joe Mamma

    Don’t be so sure of that…it’s nice to be candy free but a little bit from time to time will keep the kids from gorging on it when they get the opportunity to go out in the world and can spend their own money…seen it happen to numerous kids who rebeled against the parents. Your house would be one I would tell other kids about – you give shit, not even new shit, used shit you picked up from a thrift store – other peoples thrown away shit. NICE Stop being all high and mighty and realize what halloween is about to kids – one of the two times per year (once for Jewish kids) that they get an abundance of candy for being kids. You are worse than the dentist that gives away floss or toothbrushes…

    • http://www.natural-parenting-for-life.com Dawn M Maurice

      Nice. Possibly a little candy here and there is okay for some kids however I particularly thought this post was a great alternative to handing out garbage in the form of “goodies” to children. Especially in the large quantities that this one holiday brings.

      Telling your kids and other kids that this particular house gives out “shit”. That says a ton about your parenting right there.

    • occupy

      What an idiot.  Do you know where this candy comes from?  Slave labor…. no, you don’t give out used crap… give organic treats, or crystals, something creative…

  • Laughing

    I feel sorry for your children.

  • Hata’s be Hatin’

    Your tips are pretty poor, to be honest. I know for a fact that many parents will immediately throw out any fruit or unsealed food items that trick-or-treaters may receive.

    Giving out pencils and pennies may make you feel like you are being a great role model, but my guess is that the kids are not quite as happy about receiving those gifts as you are at giving them out.

  • Amy

    Apples – bad idea, too many handed out over the year with razors or needles imbedded.

  • Cowlquape

    Stop being like the dentist who gives away toothbrushes. Halloween is about dressing up and consuming mass quantities of sugar, not being good to your body or the environment.

  • Anonymous

    I remember folks like you. So do other kids, and so will your own. “Hey, what was wrong with Johnny? His mom gave pennies! Lame!” and no one gives fruit or unwrapped candy, even though the razor blades and poison urban legends are false.

    Hallowe’en is all about the costumes, having fun with your friends, spending time with your parents, admiring the decorated houses, and getting candy. Pennies? Unwanted books? This isn’t a garage sale.

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  • Gazelle

    That book idea is SO good! If I had more time before Halloween, I’d start gathering up a collection, too!

    Every year I think about giving out something nicer than junky candy, but all the treats that I could think of always seemed like so much work. These are all easy, and I’m definitely going to keep them in mind. Thanks!

  • Clatterboot

    LOVE this. I’m hitting Like and sharing this with all my mom friends on Facebook.

  • Anonymous

    Wow… worst idea, EVER. Pennies?! Most trick-or-treaters are elementary school age and know a penny is worthless… Apples?! Their parents will throw them away. Pencils? You have GOT to be kidding me.
    Why not give out something kids actually like? Silly Bandz? Pokemon Cards? Temporary tatoos?
    Make your own friendship bracelet kits? Make mini craft project kits?

    • guest

      Pokemon cards eh?

  • Sarah

    The houses I always liked best were the ones who gave out popcorn because my mom wouldn’t ration that and popcorn bags could be brought to school as a snack since it was considered healthy. I really don’t know why you think giving apples is ok anymore, I’m 22 and was NEVER aloud to eat fruit we got, in fact if we ever did, we had to tell my mom right away then she made us go back and return it. The tattoos were a good idea, and while I like the thought of silly bands, many parents have put the kabash on those since they are such a distraction in schools (and yes parents as a teacher they are TERRIBLE!) while books are a good idea, no one really likes to be given a used book, plus we have over 500 kids visit last year, there is no way I would buy 500 used books to have sitting around my house.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aliviah1 Alivia Smith

    I got started on giving non candy items as Halloween treats a few years ago when I decided to get rid of the majority of my books – I gave then out as Halloween treats. I was teased by friends who said I would get egged but not only wasn’t I egged I had kids ask for two. There are a ton of ideas for giving healthy & fun Halloween treats and these are just a few. For more ideas check out GreenHalloween.org

  • Pumpkinbear

    You cut up the apples, sillies! Don’t you remember that the biggest case of Halloween treat tampering was when someone put needles into wrapped mini Snickers bars? And the person was caught and prosecuted, because everyone remembered where they’d gotten their candy. I guess if your greatest desire is to go to jail, then tampering with Halloween treats is a super idea, because it would probably take an hour until you got arrested.

    Popcorn is a REALLY cool idea! I’ve got a ton of kernels, so I might add that to my hand-outs. I’ll have to let you know how many kids choose that over the other selections.

    • Be nice

      I would also like to add that if you trick or treat with your kids, you know who gave them the apples. In my neighborhood, I actually know, like, and trust my neighbors, so please, give my kids apples.

  • Beta Man

    What a bunch of GREAT ideas……. Give away crap you don’t want because you’re going to save the world from childhood obesity and diabetes…….

    How about this…. Create a “Quid Pro Quo” based on the age/situation.

    1) Infants/babies being carried from house to house by their parents get silly bandz (or whatever they’re called) because the only reason those people are taking their baby from house-to-house is so they can show people how cute they THINK their kid is….. so why not give them something useless.

    2) Smaller kids in costume….. Awe shucks…. I’ve got little kids…. I’ll give them full sized candy bars so they get all hopped up on sugar and then drive their parents nuts for the next two days.

    3) Kids around the age of 10 or so get little candy bars….. they should realize the end of this little “Candy acquiring game” is coming soon……

    4) Kids who are 14 or so….. O.K. If they aren’t in costumes they get nothing but a few snide comments from me….. if they’re in a good costume, I’m feeling generous, but expect that the silly-bandz are beneath them, and they can buy their own candy at this point….. so what did I want when I was 14???? Ahh yes…. This is a chance to get rid of my old crap…… it was suggested to give away books (which kids would come back and egg my house) so why not give away something they actually want….. DRUG PARAPHERNALIA! Perfect! Will it be a dug-out, glass-one’y, inside-out bubbler, what??? Well kids…. better dress to impress when coming to my house.

    5) Kids older than 16 or so…… Oh my…. what to do here…. I guess I could scrape some pennies from the couch cushions for those little hellions.

    See…. EASY…. just have to make a plan…

  • Apples get eggs!

    First of all, just becuase your family is a “candy free house” doesnt mean the rest of the country is. I think its a little naive of you to think any of those items are a better alternative to candy. If you dont want your children eating sweets, thats your own prerogative, but dont ruin a fun holiday for the rest of us.

    As for handing out Apples? Pennies even! My god, have you been living under a rock? This has nothing to do with razor blades or needles. Im talking about GERMS! There is a reason you dont see those mint bowls at the hostest stand in restaurants anymore. I dont know where your hands have been. handing out apples is a terrible idea. Any fruit, baked goods or unsealed items are thrown out by responsible parents. Same thing applies for pennies. Do you know how dirty currency is? Your handing this stuff out to small children?

    Get off your high horse, drive down to your local walmart and buy a box of chocolate bars like the rest of the country.

    • Be nice

      She specifically says that she doesn’t enforce this on other people. Did you even read the article before you started your tirade?
      I, for one, would be happy to see a neighbor give away anything but candy. It’s not like she goes and pulls the candy out of other kids bags and throws it away.
      Why are you guys so vehemently opposed to someone doing something a little different?

      • Rofl

        Doesnt enforce? Children will go to her house expecting candy and get apples, pencils or pennies. Shes enforcing her terrible ideas on them.

        Im not against doing things diferently. There was a man who gave out spiderman comic books in my neighbourhood. We went to him house first! If you actually read my reply you would see what I was againt the unhygenic sugestions she gave. You dont hand out apple on halloween, They just get thrown out, or worse…. thrown back at your house.

    • Be nice

      She specifically says that she doesn’t enforce this on other people. Did you even read the article before you started your tirade?
      I, for one, would be happy to see a neighbor give away anything but candy. It’s not like she goes and pulls the candy out of other kids bags and throws it away.
      Why are you guys so vehemently opposed to someone doing something a little different?

  • Coccinelle

    I know it’s not sugar-free but I like to give raisins, I even found oraganic raisins!

    When I was younger I gave nuts in the shell, don’t know if it’s a good idea though with all the allergies…

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  • Pumpkinbear

    The day after Halloween, and here’s the update:

    My little girlies got lots of candy, sure, but they also got:
    fruit leathers–individually packaged, but organic and free of artificial sugars
    granola bars–same deal
    apples and oranges–My older daughter was especially excited by the oranges; I tend not to buy them often since they’re not local.
    stickers–My younger daughter has already used ALL of hers
    mini notebooks–She put the stickers in her mini notebook

    It was really a perfect assortment. The kiddos got enough candy to make them happy but not make them sick, and lots of other fun things to add variety and novelty. I love our neighborhood!

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