Halloween doesn't have to be about the candy, sugar highs, acting out, delinquency and a paralyzed immune system. It can be the same great holiday, made healthy. Not sure if you can pull it off? Read the first part of this post and give me a chance to change your mind.
Last year was my daughters first year out trick or treating and I'm not gonna lie to you, I felt anxious about the whole holiday. I racked my brain trying to figure out how she could participate and NOT eat candy. Because to me Halloween is actually really fun, but what was I going to do with all the candy she gets? How could I create a rewarding and positive experience for her that doesn't get reinforced by the high of sugar? Thinking about it hurt my brain.
Then it came to me.
I decided that I was going to encourage Story to get as much candy as she could and then she would use them as tokens to purchase pre-bought items in a homemade store (aka, off our kitchen table). So before Halloween rolled around, I bought some items I knew she would want, pretty much all craft and art supplies. I knew it would have to be immediate gratification because she was only four. I also made it so that she wouldn't be able to 'purchase' everything. I put token amounts on each item with a post-it so that she would have to count out what she wanted and make some choices based on how much candy she had. Everything else I returned.
So when Halloween finally came, I told her "Fill your bucket baby, as many times as you can." And she did. In fact Chad had to make trips home to drop off candy because there as so much of it. When she got home, we counted out her loot and the shopping experience began. The candy was put away in the freezer for my dear father-in-law (because you can't convert everyone, not even close and he likes to snack on treats when the kids go to bed. You simply can't win them all). Story didn't give us any arguments and insisted on keeping 5 pieces of carefully selected candy, two of which she actually ate, the others were forgotten.
This may seem elaborate and possibly expensive, but it actually wasn't. I kept the art supplies under $20 and it took me about 10 minutes to assemble the 'store' and then end result was a huge success, so it was well worth it. In total I bought about 10 items to chose from, 2 big items and several small ones. The key was making sure that she wanted these items and wanted to trade them for candy.
This year we will do the same with Story. And with Lake, we'll give him a medjool date and he'll be over the moon and act like he's won the lottery (this literally happens every single time).
And make sure to talk to your kids about what sugar does to their body and why it isn't ideal to eat it. Explain it often, especially when it looks like there's some confusion. But the best thing you can do is be a role model. If they see you eating sugar filled foods, even though you've told them they shouldn't be eating it, the transition will be a lot harder.
Alternatives to trick or treating?
Maybe Halloween is fading for you but you're not too sure what to do. Well here are some ideas to do with your kids other than trick or treating:
- Have your own healthy Halloween party sans candy. You can bob for apples, carve pumpkins, fill a pinata with spider rings... you get the idea! Do this with just your family or with other like minded families... or even your entire block!
- Plan a movie-a-thon with classics like It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Hocus Pocus, Beetle Juice and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- Create a haunted house with your kids and be a hub of entertainment for the neighbourhood
- Do a scavenger hunt with friends, all non-sugar related
- Check your local rec centres for public dances
The List of Sweet Alternatives!
15 non-candy alternatives to hand out on Halloween night and school approved gifts for classmates:
- mini cans of playdough
- Halloween pencils or erasers
- Halloween themed colouring print-outs >> Find some here!
- bouncy balls
- mini yo-yos
- Halloween themed stickers
- beads with string
- little notebooks
- mandarin jack-o-lanterns >> so fun for kids of all ages to draw pumpkin faces
Sweet (and sugar free) options when throwing a party at school or at home!
Ghost bananas and mandarin pumpkins (use raisins for eyes instead of chocolate chips)
Vegetable skeleton (use hummus or guacamole instead of sugar filled ranch dip)
Kabob Pumpkin Head
Orange Pumpkin Salad
I would love to hear from you! What are your healthy Halloween activities and treats that have been a huge success. Please feel free to share in the comments below.
Wishing you all a safe, healthy and wildly fun Halloween!