Lifestyle

Your Halloween Survival Guide: Healthy Alternatives for Traditional Halloween Staples

October 27, 2021

I’m Dr. Lindsay
I'm a naturopathic pediatrician based in Colorado Springs offering primary care, chronic care & telemedicine appointments. I'm so glad you're here!
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Kids love Halloween, and who can blame them? They get to dress up as anything they can dream of, and receive pounds of free candy!

As a naturopathic doctor and an overall health-conscious parent, I’ll admit that Halloween isn’t my *favorite* holiday. It’s centered around disturbing themes and indulging in sugar, which are the last things kids need to stay healthy. Now before you think I’m the grinch who stole Halloween… we do celebrate! Over the years I’ve learned about different tricks and healthy treats that can make this holiday fun for kids without having you worried sick that your kids will get, well, sick!

In today’s blog, I’m going to share with you alternative ways to celebrate Halloween, including holiday-themed activities your kids can do instead of trick-or-treating, healthy-ish goodies to hand out to kids, and what to do with leftover candy. 

Healthy-ish Halloween Treats to Hand Out to Kids

Do you feel like you’re “depriving” your kids if you don’t let them collect pillowcases of candy on Halloween? You’re not alone. We as parents try our best to keep our kids healthy, but it’s tough to skip out on a recognized holiday made for children. I struggle with getting excited about Halloween myself. But if you do choose to participate, you don’t have to be handing out Snickers bars if you don’t want to.

Here are 5 healthy-ish candy alternatives to give out to your neighborhood instead:

  1. Natural fruit leather. Look for organic brands with no added sugars.
  2. Dark chocolate almond butter cups. You can make these on your own at home with healthy, sugar-free ingredients, or buy them at the store. If you purchase a brand, check for a small ingredient list with words you can pronounce.
  3. Organic protein bars. Choose a sweet flavor like chocolate or coconut and these are decadent treats! Purchase a brand with no added sugars or flavors for the healthiest option.
  4. Organic, dye-free candy. Food coloring is frightening. If you want to give out candy, choose brands without all the artificial stuff. YumEarth is a great choice. They have a large selection of Halloween candy that is free from artificial dyes, GMOs, and common allergens.
  5. Homemade pumpkin bread. Nothing shouts “fall” to your tastebuds like homemade pumpkin bread. Make a few loaves, slice them up, and put them in individual ziplock bags to give to kids.

Bonus non-candy option: Fidget toys! Kids are crazy about fidget toys of all kinds. They’re surprisingly affordable to buy in bulk, too. WAY more exciting than pencils or toothbrushes, am I right? You’re able to control the candy you hand out in your home, but it’s hard to control what your kids are getting handed. Next, let’s talk about how to navigate trick-or-treating.

Fun Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating

Whether you’re worried about your kids collecting pillowcases of candy, staying up late, or running around neighborhoods at night, there may be a reason you don’t want your kids trick-or-treating. Every parent has a different approach to this and that is okay. If you’d rather your kids skip out, there’s still plenty of holiday fun to be had. Here are 5 activities your family can do on Halloween night instead:

1. Costume party

Halloween isn’t all about candy – kids get so excited brainstorming creative costume ideas and getting together with their friends. Invite the neighbors over for a costume party. It’s your home, so you get to be in charge of the menu! Check out this list of 25 Healthy Halloween Recipes to snag some ideas. You can get super creative with these.

2. Pumpkin-carving contest

This is a fun way to get the whole gang in the holiday spirit. Even if you’ve already carved pumpkins in early October, you can set up a contest on Halloween night. Kids love a good contest. Set a timer and have each family member vote on which pumpkin they love best.

The winner can choose where they’d like to display their work of art. Instead of using “food as a reward” for winning, you can reinforce the wonderful feeling of pride and joy your kids should feel when they succeed.

3. Halloween movie marathon

What better way to celebrate the spooky season than a spooky movie marathon? Your family might watch Halloween movies throughout all of October, but save your favorite for Halloween night!

The movies you choose will depend on your kiddo’s age.

Here’s a list of some Halloween movie classics you might choose from:

  • Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Mostly Ghostly movies
  • Halloweentown movies
  • Casper
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas

4. Game Night: Halloween Edition 

Halloween-themed games make game night special. Here are a few ideas to get your kids excited about playing games on Halloween night:

  • Arts and crafts: Decorate bags, cookies, beaded bracelets, or whatever your kids want.

  • Halloween Bingo: You can buy these at the store or print adorable bingo cards for free online.

  • Pumpkin Patch Stomp: Grab a box of orange balloons and fill them with coins or small trinkets. Blow up the balloons and lay them across the floor for your kids to stomp on.

5. Backyard Haunted House.

It’s not about how intricate you make your haunted house, it’s about how scary it is! Set up a basic structure in your backyard and recruit some friends to scare the kiddos. This can be a fun way to get everyone involved in the holiday.

What To Do With Leftover Halloween Candy

Some parents may choose to allow their kids to go trick-or-treating. But maybe – like me – you dread having pounds of candy around for weeks after Halloween night. You with me, mama?

So how can you get rid of your child’s candy once it’s in your home?

I once heard a mom say she tells her kids to leave their collected candy on the front porch for a Halloween witch to come and exchange it for a toy. I love this idea.

For the last few years we’ve taken our candy to our local dentist who gave the kids $1 per pound, then sent it to the troops overseas. Many dental providers participate in this candy buyback program that teaches kids how to practice moderation and generosity while contributing to a good cause.

If you live in Colorado Springs, here’s a list of local dentists who are participating in the program in 2021.

Keep Your Kids Happy and Healthy This Halloween

There is no one way to celebrate Halloween. There are only well-known traditions. I encourage you to create your own traditions based on whatever sits well with you!

No matter what your Halloween looks like, it’s always a good idea to prepare for a holiday by supporting your child’s immune system in the days leading up to it. You can shop all the immune-boosting supplements I recommend at my online store here.

Have a safe and healthy Halloween! 

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