No one wants to be “that” house that gives out the lame box of raisins or fresh orange — you’re risking an egging or getting covered with toilet paper before the night is over.
But there are plenty of cool, non-edible Halloween goodies worth giving that won’t rot kids’ teeth, break your wallet or make your home the target of any major Halloween mischief.
While Halloween candy satisfies everyone from toddlers to teenagers, non-edible Halloween treats are not one-age-fits-all. Stock up on the best goodies for each age group that rings your doorbell.
Halloween treats for little kids
The littlest trick-or-treaters typically love any piece of Halloween action — whether it’s edible or not. So you really can’t go wrong with non-candy treats for this easy-to-please group.
Halloween-themed mini boxes of crayons with a small coloring book will get you points with any toddler. And stickers (preferably witch, pumpkin and vampire-themed) of just about any shape or size will be a hit. Lisa Cocuzza, whose home has been featured in the Wall Street Journal for her tricked-out Halloween display, abides by multi-packs of toothbrushes, Halloween socks and hair ties for her littlest trick-or-treaters.
“I hold on to all of the extras my kids get in birthday party gift bags throughout the year that they never used and re-gift them at Halloween,” says Carly Fauth, head of marketing and outreach at Money Crashers. “Then it’s off to the dollar store for glow sticks, rubber snakes, bats and ghosts, tattoo books and other cheap toys. I pick up some mini Play-Doh and bubbles in bulk and give those out one at a time. I get a few large bags of super balls too, which the kids really love. Those are given out individually as well.”
Halloween goodies for the grade school set
When you get to the grade school age group, expectations are higher. If you’re not handing out some serious chocolate and sugar, make sure your non-edible offerings deliver.
Online sites like Oriental Trading truly are a one-stop shop where you can buy Halloween treats in bulk, whether you’re going for erasers, creepy rings, finger puppets, glow sticks, bone necklaces, spider rings, jelly bracelets, wind-up toys or stampers. You can also purchase Halloween toys in assortment boxes and, since it’s all about independence with the young crew, your best option may be to let the trick-or-treaters at your door pick out one or two things that interest them most.
If you and your family are seriously into Halloween and spend months prepping for that spooky night, you may want to try your hand at some cool Halloween crafts that — once perfected — work well as items for trick-or-treat bags. All Free Kids Crafts suggests slinky spider treats (which can hold a pen, pencil or appropriately creepy gift), spooky spider soap (with arachnid trapped inside) or minute mummy quenchers (which can be filled with small toys).
Image credit and tutorial: Sew Woodsy
Treat, don’t trick those wily teens
Rather than dealing with inscrutable teens, some people turn off the light before that crowd reaches their doorstep. But even if teens show up wearing half a costume — or merely a hoodie pulled down low — the fact remains that they’ve still got Halloween spirit left in them or they wouldn’t be out trolling the neighborhood on Oct. 31.
Nevertheless, you’re walking a fine line with teen trick-or-treaters. They want candy and not much else, so consider appealing to one of their biggest vices: technology. If you know your neighborhood well and are willing to spend a few extra bucks, consider phone skins (Society6, $15), iTunes gift cards in small amounts, eclectic ear buds, ear phone cord wraps (Momiji, $4) or an inexpensive collection of phone cases.
You can even appeal to their mischievous, creative side with Duck brand Ducklings (Amazon, $2) — mini, fun-sized rolls of that famous Duck Tape in funky designs and colors like chrome, zigzag, zebra, paint splatter and leopard. This trick-or-treat bag item will appeal to all ages — and is most likely to be the thing parents steal from their kids’ haul.