October 23, 2008

Coping with Halloween: Tricks for Treats

Photo: Daveynin

It's a conspiracy, I tell you

Among the vast conspiracies & cabals that dominate our world (Who decides whether hemlines should be up or down? Who decided capri pants were fashionable? Who on earth thought up the idea of going to work on a Monday, anyway?), there's a small group concerned with deciding how many small scary costumed rugrats will show up at my door demanding candy.

I mean, some years I'm swamped, run out of chocolate early, and have to spend the rest of the night with the lights turned off, pretending that I'm not at home. Other years, I'll end up with 3 or 4 unopened packages of candy -- calling to me, tempting me, luring me to fall into evil ways. And somehow, I can never simply Throw Chocolate Away -- it's wasteful! Yes, I know eating the stuff is waist-ful, but I can't just throw it out.

The ideal would be to run out of candy with the very last child who shows up at my door. Probably there are people who pre-determine who the last child will be, even if that means they give 345 pieces of chocolate to a child and then spend the rest of the night hiding. (Hiding for Halloween! The latest adult coping strategy!)

Another problem with Halloween is that it encourages kids (and, um, adults) to eat 'bad' food. Used to be you could give a child an apple or something like that. Now it has to be something in a package. It makes me irked, irked I tell you!

I sometimes wish we could outlaw Halloween, but I'd miss all the cute outfits.

Healthy Halloween?

Does anyone have any 'healthy' treats that they give?

- iVillage put up a short list of healthy halloween candy, but that's all stuff that you make and put into baggies.

Not to sound paranoid, but if people are afraid of razor blades in apples, wouldn't they also be leery of any homemade treats? I hate to go to all the trouble of making something and then have it thrown out by an understandably cautious parent. (Actually, I'd hate to go to the trouble of making something, period. Queen of Laziness, moi.)

- WebMD tries to avoid the problem of adult-snacking by suggesting you go out and make healthy stuff for you to eat, so that you're not tempted by the chocolate lying around.

It's well-meant advice, but I gotta tell you -- if chocolate is calling, it tends to have a louder voice than cheese-and-olives-on-crackers (which is actually quite soft-spoken). And it would be nice to give children something that's not going to contribute to the rise in childhood obesity.

- Thriftyfun suggests little boxes of raisins or peanuts.

That might actually be the best bet. Some children (and adults) are allergic to peanuts, but if so I'm sure that they (or their parents) are into reading labels of the treats that they get. And dogs should not eat raisins, but really dogs shouldn't eat chocolate either, so if you're worried about Phydeaux you might want to encourage the children to eat the treats quickly. (Yeah, like they need the urging.)

- Reader's Digest adds pumpkin seeds to the list of healthy treats.

I kinda like this one, since pumpkins are associated with Halloween anyway. But I'm not sure how I'd feel about receiving pumpkin seeds if I were a child. Any children out there who can respond? Would you feel gypped?

- The American Dietetic Association suggests giving stickers.

Again, this sounds like something that might or might not be appealing to a child. (Sounds like fun, but is it a treat?)

The race is starting up again...

Halloween is the first hurdle in the race (or waddle) toward the holidays. I plan to get off to a good start this year, however I finish up. Raisins and peanuts and stuff like that. That way, if there are any leftovers, at least they're vaguely sorta kinda healthy leftovers.

Anyone else have any good ideas for healthy treats to give?

Whoops... how did that picture of Saddle Mountain get in here? Well, it is scary in a way. The scary part of this picture is ... that peak you see there? That's not the high point of the hike.


  1. Yikes, the Halloween ghosts were out early, because first the pictures wouldn't load, and then I couldn't comment!

    Turns out the Blogger folks changed something which disabled our comment form for a while. Apologies to anyone who stopped by early!

    So I hear you on the candy dilemma. We sort of alternate between candy we don't like much--the leftovers get donated to relatives--or candy we do like, which we try to dole out in a sensible manner. Freezing helps, if it's a freezable kind of candy.

    Goota say, as I kid, I would have hated getting stickers instead of snickers.

  2. My daughter would love getting stickers instead of snickers... especially as she's got a peanut allergy! Also, she really loves stickers and temp tattoos and that sort of thing.

    I don't worry about the candy too much... honestly, we've still got about half a bucketful of candy left over from LAST year. She only gets a piece when she remembers to ask for it, so...

  3. I thought the commenting problem was just me...

    Anyway, we tend to buy Halloween candy that we would enjoy if it were leftover. Mmmmmm...almond joys... This is not a good idea. If we buy it too early, sometimes it doesn't make it to Halloween.

    I like the raisins idea. That sounds like a plan. And not much chance of me scarfing them all down before the 31st. :)

  4. Halloween is my enemy...for me it's the start of the "pigging out" season. I've been known to eat most of my kids halloween candy as they forget about it after a week or two. Over the years I've finally learned to:

    1) Buy candy to give out that I don't like (not healthy stuff, they hate that), but decent candy that I'm just not tempted by, like Gummy Worms or something sour.

    2) Never buy early...i just end up eating it and having to buy more.

    3) After Halloween, during strong moments, if you kid is the type to not notice, take out all the good, tempting stuff after a day or two (reeses cups, 3 musketeers, chocolate) and throw it out. If your kid is the type to notice, just do it a small handful per day or so.

    4) Don't deprive yourself toooo much, have a piece or two, just don't go crazy..it is a holiday after all

    Fortunately this year, my youngest is a teen now and doesn't trick-r-treat, nor come home with bags of candy.....whew!

  5. going to work on Monday! You crack me up!

    My kids love the things they get that aren't candy since they get so much. Some favorites have been the snack sized microwave popcorn( you can get the healthy ones), pencils, rubber balls, money (yes, someone gave each kid a dollar last year!).

  6. Thankfully/Unfortunately Hallowe'en isn't a huge deal here in Ireland. I miss the fun, but boy, the lack of bags of candy lying around is a big help.

    (Some kids do go out Trick or Treating and I'll have something on hand for them, but anything they don't eat, John-the-bin-husband will!)

  7. Yeah, truth be told, I've already begun to worry about the excessive treats that come in during the holidays. Yikes.

    I don't live somewhere where too many kids come, so truthfully I'm not even handing anything out. I really don't want or need the extras laying around.

  8. I buy candy to hand out that hubby will eat in his lunches. Mostly because we usually only get 2 kids.... which begs the question why I buy the box of 95 mini-chocolate bars? Hmmmmmm

    When I was a kid, my dad was a dentist, so we gave out toothbrushes or sugar-free gum. Some of the kids loved it, some, not so much.....

  9. To be honest, I always threw out or didn't eat the healthy stuff. Or ate it very very last. I don't know about stickers (as crabby said)....I may have liked that, as long as I had enough candy to suppliment it :( :)

    And, yes, my mom would have thrown out anything not in a package (and my sister's even worse - she doens't let them eat it if there is even a hint of a bad packaging).

  10. you don't need to give candy. you could give halloween pencils or erasers or bouncy balls or play doh. just hit the dollar store or the party supply store for small toys

  11. I like the idea above for temporary tattoos. My kids love those things! Last year, giving away various coupons (like for a cheeseburger at McD's or a frosty at Wendy's) were really popular in our neighboorhood. Still not healthy but at least the parents weren't sitting at home eating the paper;)

  12. Is there a youth center or food pantry that would take the extra candy? I know in high school, someone set up boxes where people could put their excess candy, then took the boxes to homeless shelters.

    Not healthy candy suggestions, but alternatives to having to eat the candy yourself.

  13. We have an elderly neighbor who has always given out the same thing -- two bright, shiny new nickels to each child. The little kids love that they are getting cash, the older ones just go to be polite and accompany their little siblings.

    I've often wondered if I should just save up change in a jar all year and give a small handful to each kid. That way I wouldn't be stuck with leftover candy, but leftover money instead.


  14. Last year I gave out little bags of pretzels shaped like bats...I had one ungrateful brat who was probably too old to be trick or treating anyway say sarcastically, "Woooowww, thanks....PRETZELS..." and my husband was convinced our house was going to get egged any minute. But! I didn't feel bad about eating the leftovers!

  15. My nieces and nephews are always THRILLED to get stickers and temporary tattoos on Halloween-they get tons of candy, so it's something different.

    I can also remember being little and being really happy when I got something that wasn't candy (little packs of crackers, raisins, nuts, granola bars) because by the end of trick-or-treating, I was usually really hungry and wanted something to eat. There was one lady who always gave out juice boxes, too.

  16. I don't buy candy until the very last minute because the husband will get into it. Me, I've never been into candy. Chocolate, now we looove chocolate, and for that reason it is always in the house, but it's super dark chocolate so you only need a little nibble.

    I think the temporary tatoo idea is awesome (I know I would have loved getting that instead of candy). I think I'll get some this year...and maybe try them out myself *grin*.

  17. These ideas are /way/ better than the ones I found!
    I love the idea of using up all the spare change (um... would they mind lots and lots of pennies?) and that tattoo would be fun too :)

    [Blogger, please be nice to us!]

  18. Nope, no healthy ideas here. But I like chocolate. Can that count?

  19. I loved getting toys and stickers on Halloween. It was something you could keep forever! Then again, I've never been a huge candy fan.

  20. My kids love getting temporary tattoos or stickers or pencils or toothbrushes. Maybe you could do a small goodie bag filled with small cheap toys - kids love goodie bags and dont' really care what's inside.

    One year I found a big bag of halloween pretzels in their own tiny packages. I took them to my daughter's school and the kids loved them. I think I found them at WalMart.

  21. My parents were totally the ones giving out fruit leather instead of real candy. I think I was 12 before I convinced them that a few mars bars weren't going to hurt the neighbourhood...the temporary tattoos are a great idea!!

  22. I always loved getting stickers! Other fun non-candy treats were things like halloween-shaped erasers and pencils and cheap little [neon-colored, natch!] toys (like those little magnetic paper/seran-wrap dealies that you draw on with a little plastic wand/stylus, and you'd just lift the top sheet to clear your drawing. Anyone else remember those things?)

    I'd definitely steer away from the homemade goody route - I don't have kids, but even when I was little I remember being taught to be wary of anything not recognizably labeled, and definitely didn't eat anything that wasn't factory packaged.

  23. Not sure that we have a healthy alternative to the junk candy! Brush often and secretly throw away as much of the kids candy as possible. :)

  24. I suppose it depends also on how many children you have stopping by your place.
    When I lived in California, the same kids would come by several times -- I think they just went round and round the block. If you had really cool treats, you'd probably get all the kids in the neighborhood making repeat visits :)

  25. I'm a big believer in candy on Halloween. I'll leave the childhood obesity worry to the parents who feed these kids every day and monitor their activity level. Yeah, I know it takes a village and all that, but I'll contribute in other ways, Halloween is just too much damn fun! I mean, c'mon! Ring the bell and get free candy? It's freakin' childhood HEAVEN!!

    As for controlling myself around all that candy, I buy stuff I don't like and it makes it so much easier. I hate coconut so I always get the Mounds and Almond Joys to give away. Any leftovers I have go to the office where they usually get snapped up pretty quickly.

  26. I've seen that Biggest Loser is pimping the play dough pretty hard this year. I think I'll compromise this Halloween. I plan on giving out stickers (great idea, btw!) and a piece of candy. So instead of two pieces of candy, which is what I normally would give out, they get one plus a sticker. Everything in moderation, right?!

  27. I miss homemade stuff - I grew up in a town of 300, so half our Halloween haul was homemade squares or snack by people...they just left a note with their name and phone number in so we knew who made it and could call and ask about allergy stuff. We all knew everyone pretty much, so it was all good. I think it's a shame that if I made a batch of my grandma's killer butterscotch popcorn balls and wrapped them up for people their parent's would likely throw them away. Sad.

    Cuz seriously...I know of noone EVER who actually for real even knew someone who knew someone who got any evil apples at halloween. People are too damn paranoid.

    There's a dentist in our neighborhood who gives out packages of sugar free gum at Halloween...I thought that was a cool idea. I just buy Halloween Candy I don't really like so I'm not tempted.

  28. I love Halloween and I love the thought of guilt-free chocolate..which it never is...but it is kind of cool to have a license to eat candy on that day..isn't it?

  29. Growing up we were only allowed homemade treats form people we knew. But it was the razor blade era. Of course in my day you were also much more likely to get egged if you handed out something like a toothbrush. : )

    I always used to give out treats my hubby likes. (Smartees, suckers, non-chocolate related.) But I'd also buy a small bag of chocolate treats just for me. *smirk* Now we go to a friends house who has a kid the same age as ours. I don't have to buy candy - I usually offer to make dinner instead. 'Cuz I like making a "gross" Halloween feast.

    One other thing - why is it kids will still bang on your door/ring the doorbell if your porch light is OFF? I mean come on - do I have to sit in the dark and pretend I'm not home? And trick-or-treating has specific hours. Once it's over, don't expect me to answer the door. 10pm on a weeknight is not an acceptable time to be banging on my door demanding candy. Sheesh.

  30. I just the other day read an article about the top 10 Halloween give-outs that kids really don't like. And raisins was at the top of that list. Though it also listed Smarties, which I happen to love, so I wouldn't follow it whole hog.

    There was only one family in my neighborhood growing up (20 years ago) who gave out homemade popcorn balls. I did eat them and they were good (it was my best friend's family so I knew they were safe), but I admit, the regular candy came first.

    My thinking is this - there's only one day a year of Halloween, why not give out real candy, in those little fun packs. Sure, we've got a big problem of obesity in this country, but it's not because of Halloween, it's because parents aren't teaching their kids how to eat properly. I think that part of the Halloween fun is getting lots of really fun candy you wouldn't otherwise normally eat (well, that and getting dressed up).

  31. I went back and read Ms. McSlacker's Halloween post of yesteryear
    and it basically said the same thing -- once a year, it's not bad to give children sweets. The trouble is when you give them sweets every day of the year.
    Looking at it from that perspective does lessen the guilt :)

  32. I'm feeling bahumbug about Halloween this year. I have a feeling we are going to get a lot of teens and tricksters since it is on friday this year. My advice is to buy the candy at the last possible moment, you may even get it on sale. :)

    This is making me feel old.

  33. Yeah, I fall into the "give-'em-candy-it's-only-one-day-a-year" camp. And if you have leftovers, put them in a big (disposable) bowl and take them down to the fire station or the police station. My mom used to do that every year, and she actually got PHONE CALLS the day after Halloween on occasion, asking if she had leftovers this year, and would she bring them by? LOL

  34. The best idea I've ever seen was these people who rented a cotton candy maker, and made bright orange cotton candy. They kept it up for the whole trick or treat time, handing out little clouds on Halloween-themed cones to all the kids. YES cotton candy is v. unhealthy, and full of sugar and nasty additives... but a) it's only one little thing per kid (they didn't make full size fair-style ones), and b) you don't have it in the house for days before and after.

    Plus getting orange cotton candy is pretty cool :)

  35. People have already mentioned this, but my favorite tip is to just not buy candy until the day of Halloween. If you really can't resist eating it, at least you limit the time window where you'll have that opportunity! And as Scrumpy's Baker said, that way it's usually on sale!

  36. Hi Crabby,

    If it is in my house, I will eat it, so most Halloweens I give money. Sometimes I will buy a big bag of lollipops if they are on sale and then I give money and a lollipop. I figure most parents are going to toss most of the candy anyway, but everyone will keep the money.

    I don't give dollars as someone mentioned here, I give a few coins of assorted change. No two kids get the same.


  37. I don't have to buy candy, living in an apartment, kids don't come by. So many places do organized things these days, that even my friends house gets very few kids anymore. Having said that, why is there a bag of rockets in my cupboard?

  38. It's strange, Reb, but the three apartments I've lived in since I moved to Oregon had three different trick-or-treat situations. The first apartment, no one came by. (Possibly because I was on the 3rd floor and there was no elevator?) The second apartment was, appropriately enough, on the second floor, and I had a few visitors. The third apartment had an entryway on the ground level (alas my living area was on the second floor) and I had lots of visitors.
    I'm nervous because this year I'm living in a house, new neighborhood, new rules.
    And it's not so much the eating the chocolate /before/ Halloween that's a problem -- it's eating the leftovers!

  39. Mary Thomas - Free Quick Weight Loss TipsOctober 23, 2008 at 3:15 PM

    Discipline, it's one of my quick weight loss tips.

  40. The kids around here LOVE stickers and tattoos - but I don't think one day of eating candy is too bad, we all survived. I don't get many kids trick or treating in my condo complex, but when I was in a house and had leftover sweets I just brought them into work and the guys gobbled them down for me. Bless their hearts!

  41. Leftover money? There's a nice thought. : )

    My trick or treating days were before the razor blade scares. My mother didn't like to give candy bars, partly because they were all full of things I was allergic to, but also because it was expensive. For some years we made cookies, but then my parents came up with the popcorn idea. They got a lot of lunch sized brown bags and popped the corn as soon as it got dark. It was still warm when given out, and lots of the kids started eating it right away. The first year they did that there were a lot of comments about how different it was, and if anyone was disappointed that it wasn't candy, they concealed their grief.
    Once the "packaged only" thing got started, my parents gave out pencils, which were received without enthusiasm, but trick or treating pretty much died out in that neighborhood soon after.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  42. i remember one year, so lady gave us all apples, so we threw them at house as soon as she shut the door.

    dont give kids apples.

    Kelly Turner

  43. Thank goodness halloween has never properly made it to Australia. Some people always make an effort to get it up, but it's always kind pathetic. Kids will go door to door looking for candy and most people just blink at them and say, "what are you dressed like that for?" We do have the occational dress up party though. Those are fun.

    Just an idea, but has anyone tried giving out eggs? Nothing could possably go wrong with that.

  44. Is it that time again! I could swear it was only a couple of months ago that I was making little parcels of sweets and then scoffing all the left-overs a few hours later.

    Halloween has made it to New Zealand although my young neighbours from next door have moved so I'm not sure how it will go this year. They were very into Halloween.

    I buy some bags of prewrapped sweets and then make my own little bags with an assortment in them.

    But what to do with the left-overs! It's always a problem!

  45. ha! the first thing I thought of was play doh and didn't know why. I figured someone had posted it so I did control + F and saw where Jenn said Biggest Loser was pimping play doh and I was like yup - that's where I got it! haha They really ARE pimping it - totally got me!

  46. I also noticed that most stores carry little animal cracker pouches to give away as treats. Just an idea :)

  47. What about pencils and erasers? OO,OO, or those little plastic rings that light up, or better yet, glow sticks!? I would have loved getting something like that on halloween.

    Take the extra candy to your office and leave it in the kitchen, I promise it will get eaten.

  48. im a trick or treater and i think the best thing is to give the kids entertainment like scaring them or making them laugh.we'll forget about the candy


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