When you write about kids and food, the topic of Halloween is inevitably generates a lot of discussion. And since this blog has grown dramatically since my first Halloween post back in 2010 (yay!), I thought it might be nice to recap some of our past candy discussions and to also share some new ideas with you.
Today we’ll talk about what to give away and on Halloween I’ll share some ideas on what to do with your kid’s haul.
Just Going With The Flow
In 2010, I gave my rationale for giving out traditional candy on Halloween. Here’s an excerpt:
First, my kids absolutely love going to the store every year to pick out the candy they want to give away. They spend what seems like hours searching for just the right bag with just the right mix of stuff, and then we come home and sample one or two before putting it all away for Halloween. The whole ritual gives them such pleasure that I don’t want to deprive them of it. . . . Second, . . . the candy I throw into a trick-or-treat sack goes home, where a child’s parents can intervene if they so choose. Third, there’s just a certain sense of hopelessness: on a holiday like Halloween, the candy deluge is so overwhelming that I feel like my one little bag of pretzels is never going to make a difference to anyone. And finally, I can’t help but think – oh, please, it’s Halloween, people! Let the kids have their candy.
That year I also polled Lunch Tray readers most of them agreed with my approach. A whopping 72% of respondents agreed with this statement: “[I'm giving away] the usual candy. It’s HALLOWEEN, for goodness sake!” Around 16% were giving away something other than candy, like pretzels or trinkets, and the rest responded in a comment.
But in 2011, I wanted to try something new. I managed to convince my kids to let me give away trinkets — you can read the rather hilarious exchange between me and my tween daughter about that here. We filled our giveaway bowl with everything from tiny cans of Play-Doh (which turned out to be weirdly popular with teenaged trick-or-treaters) to spooky tattoos and fake fingers. It was a big hit with the kids who stopped by, as I recounted the next day in a post called “Ten Things I Learned this Halloween”
All Natural Candy
Candy is candy, of course, but some parents prefer to hand out treats without the troubling ingredients they like their own kids to avoid. If that’s your approach, you might want to check out a new brand, Unreal Candy, which has no hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. There are lots of other types of natural candies out there (here’s a great source for year ’round treats) but Unreal has a particularly “cool” vibe that seems to appeal to kids.
Stop Zombie Mouth
There are even alternatives to candy and trinkets. One new idea this year comes from The American Dental Association. The ADA’s Stop Zombie Mouth campaign allows parents to download and print out free coupons that can be redeemed for a chance to play the popular Plants vs. Zombies video game between October 30th and November 10th.
The folks at Center for Science in the Public Interest also recently contacted me to share some other ideas for what to hand out. Their helpful PDF is here.
Susan Tang of Little Ladies Who Lunch shares a great idea on her blog: setting up a water “hydration station” for thirsty trick-or-treaters. I think I remember Susan mentioning on Facebook last year that she also shares glasses of prosecco with parents who stop by . . . now that’s a Halloween idea we can all get behind!
What Not to Give Away
While the motivation to make homemade, healthy treats is admirable, most parents won’t let their kids eat anything from their treat bags that’s not store-bought and tightly sealed. So unless you know all of your trick-or-treaters personally, baking up a batch of whole wheat pumpkin cookies is probably time and money wasted.
I also saw some pretty “out there” food ideas on the Internet, including the suggestion that we give out packages of beef jerky or small boxes of cereal. (Really?) Other frequently recommended giveaway items are toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes or samples of dental floss. If those ideas work for you (and you’re OK with getting your house egged ), great, but my feeling is that Halloween is a little bit of societally-sanctioned kid debauchery. You certainly don’t have to give away sweets but maybe it’s not the best time to give lesson in oral hygiene either.
So, What’s Your Plan?
Here in the TLT house, the kids don’t seem enthused about repeating the trinket experiment, and I did have some reservations about the quality and manufacture of those cheap items, as I expressed last year. So this year we’re deciding between the Zombie Mouth coupons and the Unreal candy, or perhaps we’ll give away a combination of those.
I’d love to know your plan, too, so take a second to respond to this poll and I’ll share the results on Halloween when we talk about the other side of the Halloween equation: what to do with the candy haul.
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