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A more healthful Halloween

Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby They are the creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats, available at many fine specialty stores a...

Halloween trick or treat

Halloween is truly a kid's holiday -- good friends, creative costumes, event-filled parties -- all with a cool spooky theme. Who could ask for more?

Little girl with Halloween candy

With all the fun of this holiday come a parent's worry -- too many sugary treats in your kid's possession, and the arguments that ensue over this treasured trove. If you don't feel like to contributing to the neighborhood children's tooth decay, consider giving treats that are healthier.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Cheese and cracker packages
  • Small bags of pretzels or Goldfish crackers
  • Small packages of nuts or raisins*
  • Peanuts in the shell*
  • Fruit leather/Fruit-Roll Ups
  • Granola bars
  • Hershey's or Reese's 100-calorie pack treats
  • Naturally flavored and sweetened gum or sugar-free gum
  • Juice boxes

* Be aware that some people are allergic to nuts

If you are not opposed to sugar but would prefer your treats to be natural or vegan, we suggest you visit your local natural food store. Many natural candy companies offer a large variety of candies. The one drawback: Expect to pay more for these items -- natural and organic products come at a higher price tag. (See our articles "Is organic food healthier or just more expensive?" and "Vegan Halloween Candy.")

You could make a homemade treat -- but unless you are in a neighborhood with close friends, we don't suggest this approach. Most parents are trained to go through the Halloween candy and throw out any opened, unwrapped or homemade treats. If you decide to make your own treats, wrap your homemade item up well, and add your name and phone number to the bag with the treat. If the parent recognizes your name, it will make them feel more comfortable that the treat is safe.

Halloween treats do not have to be edible!

An alternative to avoiding the junk food challenges is to hand out a non-food treat. Today, many families are opting for this choice. With a little bit of thought and some clever shopping, you can find some really nice items for a few cents per item.

Here are few ideas:

  • Cool stickers or temporary tattoos
  • Crayons, pencils, colored chalk or fun-shaped erasers
  • Whistles or noisemakers
  • Rubber spiders, worms or other equally creepy figurines
  • Halloween balloons (you can even rent a helium tanks and fill them on the spot)
  • Spider, skull or pumpkin plastic rings or necklaces
  • Matchbox cars & similar
  • Dollar coins or foreign coins

Check your local dollar store for fun items. If you start early, there will also be plenty of time to shop online so you can have items shipped to you. DollarDays.com and OrientalTradingCompany.com are just two sites that offer a pretty good selection. (A quick search on Google will give you plenty more online shopping choices.)

After the tricks and treats

When your children arrive back at home after Halloween trick or treating, don't let them take control over their bag or bucket of candy! Working with them, check the treats and keep only treats which are unopened. Be sure to inspect fruits and homemade goods for anything suspicious. While you are going through their candy, let them pick two or three treats that they can eat on this special night. Store the rest of the candy out of reach and out of sight.

Over the next few days or weeks, rationing the treats is the best approach. Allow your children to make their own selections, but tell them they can pick only one large piece or two small pieces. If your children have trouble with this, do it for them (in advance). Just place small amounts of candy in bags, and let them select one of the bags. If there is just too much candy, consider donating some of it to a shelter. It will bring smiles to others.

Up next: Two recipes for Halloween day! >>

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