Avoid unhealthy preservatives, artificial colors + flavors, MSG, HFCS + crazy amounts of sugar with these healthier Halloween candy options, new traditions and 30 fun, non-food treats!
- What’s the big deal about Halloween candy?
- Healthier Halloween Traditions + Hacks
- Healthier Halloween Candy Swaps
- 30+ Non-Food Halloween Treats
It was so easy when the kids were babies and you could literally control their life experience as well as every little thing they ate—wasn’t it!?
Well, gone are the days when we got dressed up, went to the next-door neighbors, got a dollar, and then came home. Now that my kids are older, they are all about dressing up, staying up late and GETTING CANDY.
It wasn’t that long ago that they discovered candy didn’t just mean Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks, that it actually meant colorful confectionaries like Skittles, Snickers and Air Heads.
And last week, one of my sons said, “Mama, Halloween is more fun for other kids, I mean, we get all the candy but then we can’t even eat it all!”
The boys are totally on to me.
What’s the big deal about Halloween candy?
I was talking to my friend about this and she blew my mind when she said, “You know flu season pretty much starts the day after Halloween right—that’s not a coincidence!”
So I looked into it more and gosh, she could be on to something. This study from 1973, shows the number of immune cells responsible for phagocytosis (the process of attacking and consuming waste material in the body) were reduced after sugar was consumed.
In addition, processed candy is filled with unhealthy preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, partially hydrogenated oils, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, crazy amounts of sugar and more.
But no one is arguing that candy is healthy for you, so let’s move on to some workarounds.
Balancing connection and values
I can talk to my kids and lead by example all I want, but the fact that my kid got a parent-provided snack after a baseball and the words, “YES OREOS!” came out his mouth just cripples me. Or how about the bus driver that gives the kids a bag of chips or a Little Debbie EVERY DAY when they get off the bus?! (Insert ALL the eye-rolls here!)
The thing is, it’s impossible to fully escape society’s deep-seated traditions, cultural norms, advertising and peer influence when it comes birthday parties, reward systems and holidays like Halloween.
Let’s face it: my kid is going to eat a double stuffed at some point in his life—and it’s not a matter of if but when.
So this is how I look at it. I’m running a marathon here, not a sprint ,and the goal is to have my boys remain healthy and make educated decisions when they are grown and fully independent.
And it all starts with education now, while they are young. Not deprivation but education. So we spend time naming foods and talking about why we eat them. Like, we eat carrots because they help us see well. We eat nut butters or a hard-boiled egg in the morning to keep our bellies fuller for longer. It’s not good to eat food and candy that has fake colors in it because it’s not good for your brain and too much sugar is not good for your body.
But it’s not always black and white. And it’s not always easy.
Overall, I think it’s important to remember this is one night out of the year but to keep in mind, the real learning and the real value setting happens year-round.
Healthier Halloween Hacks and Traditions
Okay so that being said, what are some practical ways to do Halloween a little healthier?
First I’m going to share some fun, inspirational and healthier ways to celebrate and then we will get into some “healthier candy” and non-food treats.
1. Give Them All The Activated Charcoal
I don’t know how big of an impact this has on candy, but dosing the boys with a huge glass of charcoal lemonade to absorb any potential poisons does speak to the Organic Girl in me.
2. The Switch Witch
We generally have the boys pick out a few pieces of candy and then we toss the rest. I know a lot of people like doing The Switch Witch which sounds like a fun idea too.
3. Donation programs
There are also several programs out there like donating candy to the troops or some dentists will do candy trades… but I have a hard time buying into these.
It’s the same way I felt when I finally dumped my Burberry Brit fragrance—I kinda wanted to give it to someone because I spent so much money on it but in the end, what good would that do? “Here, take this bag full of neurotoxic food dyes and chemical preservatives. Enjoy!” I just can’t.
4. Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project
The Teal Pumpkin Project is an easy and fun way to make Halloween more inclusive and accessible to children with allergies (not to mention more healthy!). We totally do this. I got a reusable teal pumpkin from Michael’s that I put out every year. It’s super easy and I love seeing the smiles on kid’s faces who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate.
5. Fuel up first
I love having the neighbors over (or flying family-solo) for a big meal before going out Trick-Or-Treating. Nothing like a big bowl of Bone Broth Bolognese to fill up those bellies and essentially make less room for candy.
6. Set up a book fair
Before we moved to Atlanta, we would head over to my SIL and BIL’s house and all the cousins would Trick-Or-Treat together.
Let me be the first to say, I looked forward to this so much for so many reasons. One of the coolest reasons is they have this one neighbor who turns her whole porch into a book fair! A former teacher, all year long she stocks up on kids books from garage sales, donations, hand-me-downs and the like with the sole intention of building up her Halloween stockpile.
But the best part!?
The kids LOVE GOING TO HER HOUSE! It is something they looked forward to—dare I say more than the candy houses?
Okay maybe that is a stretch but they definitely spend more time at her house browsing, picking up, putting down, changing their minds, asking for TWO. This lady has it going on.
So knowing that every house won’t be a free-for-all-book-extravaganza, let’s talk about some better candy options with real food ingredients. Also, scroll down for some non-food goodies the kids will totally get excited about.
Healthier Halloween Candy Swaps
All-natural, sugar-free lollipops—Real food pops (raspberry, grape, and cherry flavors) sweetened with tooth-friendly xylitol.
Enjoy Life Halloween Chocolate Minis
nuts, egg, sesame! They are also non-GMO + certified gluten-free. HELLO! I tried their Nestle Crunch copy cat and it was a dead ringer!
Sweetened with stevia—no sugar. Non-GMO with no artificial colors, or artificial flavors gummy bears and fish. Vegan.
A cleaner marshmallow with a ton of fun flavors.
Heavenly Organics Honey Mint Patties
Made from only three ingredients! Dark chocolate, raw white honey and peppermint oil!
Allergy friendly, whole foods, certified organic and gluten-free!
I don’t know what the deal is. I know several people who don’t like these, but I could easily eat a whole bag in one sitting. Certified organic and made with real food. Individually wrapped minis.
Or you could try these real food peanut butter cups…also individually wrapped.
20/case, made with real food and kids love them, plus they are certified organic too.
Wholesome’s Organic DelishFish
Individually wrapped little bags. Certified organic.
Yum Earth Organic Fruit Snacks
USDA Organic, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO Project Verified. Free from top allergens. No egg, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree-nuts or gluten. No artificial flavors or colors—and they have sour options too.
These are a softer and cleaner alternative to Starburst. USDA Organic Certified; Kosher certified. Chewie Fruities contain 200% the daily requirement of Vitamin C. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, no corn syrup, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, casein-free, vegan. Also, I called and asked about the “natural flavors,” which they said are a proprietary blend of fruits and veggie extracts and oils.
Non-Candy Halloween Treats
So I totally get that kids want candy, but I love the idea of non-candy treats and honestly kids love them too. Plus the fun lasts longer!
- Fake Mustaches
- Bouncy Balls – 250 for $29!
- Mini flashlights – perfect for walking at night – .50 each!
- Mini foam gliders – individually wrapped – 72 for $13!
- Halloween Themed Punch Balloons – .50 each!
- Halloween stickers 500 for $10!
- Build your own pumpkin face sticker sheets
- Slap bracelets or you can spend more for cute Halloween themed ones
- Glow sticks – 100 for $14.99!
- Wikki Sticks – individually wrapped packs less than $1 each
- Matchbox cars
- Color your own bookmarks
- Googley eye rings
- Halloween themed pencils
- Halloween themed stamps
- Firecracker poppers, whippersnappers, bang pops, etc. My kids love these. Buy at your own risk.
- Classic Poppers
- Sticky lizards on a string
- Glitter Sticky Hands – 75 for $9!
- Coloring Books – 72 for $15!
- LED Foam Finger Rockets
- Slide whistles
- Books that you’ve grown out of
- Disc Shooters
- Bendable Zombies
- Halloween Windup Toys
- Mini Play-Doh
What would you add?
PERRINEOctober 11, 2018
Great article! I hate this crazy candy thing around Halloween… We are lucky enough that our almost 8 years old daughter doesn’t really like candies (even though she loves trick-or-treating). After Halloween we have tone of candies that we won’t eat and it is such a waste. It’s unhealthy and it generates so much waste for the planet. Make me sick. And yes, too much sugar weaken the immune system 🙁 I was considering baking treats (who doesn’t like freshly baked cookies or french crepes?) but it’s a lot of work and not all kids like home made treats so… I will definitely try some of the brands you recommend. And I know we’ll probably have to work harder with our little one (17 months) that already has a sweet tooth. Educating work on the long run and baking, baking with the kids is every thing. We do our home made granola 4 times less sweet than the one you buy at the store. So many ways to cut on sugar and after that they can’t eat the crazy sugary things out there. Well, sorry for this very long comment and thanks again. Have a wonderful day Lisa! It’s always a pleasure to read you 🙂
LisaOctober 15, 2018
Thanks Perrine! I love making my own granola too. And homemade crepes sounds AMAZING! I’m coming over!!!
BeckieOctober 11, 2018
Bitsy’s brand is an excellent choice also! They incorporate veggies into crackers, cookies, etc with a great taste!
LisaOctober 12, 2018
Oh awesome, thanks Beckie!!!
AnnetteOctober 23, 2018
I ordered some surf sweet spooky shape gummies. They should arrive today so we’ll see what they taste like. I was also thinking of giving some match cars and rings that the kids can choose from. We get quite a few little kids. It’s so hard to know what to give as I remember how much I loved Halloween when I was little and making a store with all of my candy afterwards. I also was wondering about your thoughts on bringing snacks after little kids sports. I honestly don’t understand it. It’s not like it’s social time afterwards, everyone just leaves. There is also the presumption that all the parents can afford to bring a snack for everyone. When my nephew was little, my sister’s finances were tight and she honestly couldn’t afford to bring snacks for the kids to eat in the car on their way home. When it was her turn, it was really stressful. Oops sorry, did that come across as a rant? Just curious about your thoughts on the subject.
LisaOctober 25, 2018
Hi Annette! That is so cute about making a candy store – I can totally see it! Maybe they will make a car store instead? It’s my turn to bring snacks this weekend to baseball. Thankfully it was a volunteer situation but last year in preschool we all rotated bringing snacks in and that was stressful and costly. It’s especially hard today with all the allergies. What I find the most hard is my kids didn’t know Fig Newtons or Gatorade until these past 4 weeks. I find that homemade popcorn in brown bags is one of the cheapest snacks to make that kids still love. xo
JennOctober 24, 2019
YES!!! Thank you so much for the great ideas! Is it bad I feel like giving sugar to a child is like give them cocaine? (Just starting the addiction)
I used your links to get some fun things for my neighborhood kiddos! Especially love the foam planes since I work in aviation 🙂
LisaOctober 24, 2019
The planes are such a fun idea! It’s impossible to not give kids sugar IMO but we just try our best to limit it when we can : ) It’s so hard though!
Jason ROctober 24, 2019
Amazing and alot of great options and alot of my favorites on here
Kimberly Fe'LixOctober 26, 2019
Girl, I clenched my pearls when I read the Oreos after soccer practice thing. I have seen this too and I am SOOOO confused. Like this is a sporting activity, what happened to the oranges? So, I starting making sure to be the very first parent to sign up for snack day. Figuring, I would set the example of what *should* be in those snack bags. I can can hope!
LisaOctober 29, 2019
“Clenched my pearls” – hahahaha! I should hear that more in the south! Oranges wedges are fantastic. I agree, where did they go!?
AmyLovesOrganicOctober 27, 2019
We trade candy for an experience. We go to the trampoline park or movie and let our son just pick 3 candies. Our son mostly loves the trick or treat experience and counting and sorting the candy. ☺️
LisaOctober 29, 2019
I love this idea – thanks Amy!
JessicaOctober 4, 2020
Love these ideas! Wondering how you make your charcoal lemonade? Do you have a favorite brand of charcoal? Thanks for the great ideas.
LisaOctober 5, 2020
Hi Jessica! I like this one: https://amzn.to/33wYNIE You can add 1/2 tsp or more to lemonade or make your own with lemon juice, maple syrup and water ; )