Inside: If you need some ideas for candy alternatives for Halloween, this list of non-food Halloween treats gives you 61 things to get you started. To boot, these are 61 non-candy Halloween treats that kids will actually like!
By Erin Odom, The Humbled Homemaker creator & certified Trim Healthy Mama coach
Before our daughter was diagnosed with food allergies, I never gave a second thought to what treats people gave out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
Even then, we still didn’t really put much thought into what candy or treats we gave out to neighborhood kids. We checked through our daughter’s candy, but that was as far as we got.
As our kids have grown older–and we’ve become a little wiser–ha!–we’ve also become increasingly concerned about the amount of sugar and other additives in most Halloween treats and in candy in general. With that in mind, I determined four reasons why sticking to giving out candy alternatives for Halloween can be beneficial for your entire neighborhood:
Reasons to Avoid Candy and Food Treats on Halloween
1. Focusing on non-food items at Halloween helps families avoid food allergies.
Around the time when our own kids’ food allergies triggered our family to start paying more attention to Halloween treats, we heard about the Teal Pumpkin Project, an initiative to offer candy alternatives for Halloween.
The entire purpose of the Teal Pumpkin Project is to offer non-food goodies. My children are only sensitive to foods containing gluten, but I know of others who have multiple food allergies and have to avoid candy all together.
Focusing on non-food treats at Halloween makes families of children with food allergies feel accepted and considered, and it allows those parents to breathe a sign of relief when they see a teal pumpkin on a front porch because they know their children can enjoy the festivities without risking a mild or even severe allergic reaction to what’s inside the candy.
2. Choosing candy alternatives at Halloween allows families to cut down on sugar consumption.
We typically follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to stuff like this: eat healthy 80% (or more) of the time and allow unhealthy treats on occasion.
Halloween falls into that category. We allow our children to accept candy from neighbors this night. But, as we discovered candy alternatives to hand out, it became even easier to avoid too much sugar at Halloween.
It’s no secret that overconsumption of sugar can lead to insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and type 2 diabetes. Studies point to a high consumption of added sugars as being a predictor of childhood obesity as well.
Choosing to bless your neighborhood children with non-candy treats at Halloween does a little bit to help cut down on their sugar consumption. I can assure you that most of their parents will thank you for sticking to non-food items that don’t add to the sugar rush.
3. Giving out non-food items at Halloween helps families avoid unhealthy food dyes.
There are increasing studies with alarming evidence that food dyes can affect children’s behavior.
It makes me wonder: Sugar has taken the blame for post-Halloween hyperactivity all of these years. But could it really be that food additives, such as food dyes, are the real culprit? Surely so–when even natural food colorings can cause not-so-natural reactions among those sensitive to them.
Sticking to non-food items at Halloween will help families avoid the unhealthy food dyes that may be wreaking havoc on their kids’ post-Halloween moods.
4. Handing out candy alternatives at Halloween helps parents with the post-candy crash.
If you’re a parent, you may relate to the feeling of “what am I going to do with all this candy” after Halloween is over. Yes, there is often a crash in children’s behavior (see information on food dyes above!), but the post-candy crash can also come in the form of candy clutter strewn all over your house.
We live in a neighborhood with 111 homes (which is a small subdivision for our area), and my kids often come home after trick or treating with candy to last them months! Except–it doesn’t last them months! They beg and plead (and, yes, sometimes sneak) the candy on the daily, extending any behavioral meltdowns and sugar consumption far beyond the actual evening of October 31.
There are programs like dentist and orthodontist buy-backs, military and first responder donations, and some parents have even been known to stash away excess Halloween candy to use for their kids’ Valentine’s cards, but if your kids are anything like mine, it can be a battle.
By sticking to candy alternatives at Halloween, you’re helping fellow parents the need to eliminate the excess candy from their homes all together (although the military and first responder donation drive does seem like a really fun service project to do with your kids!).
The purpose of the Teal Pumpkin Project is to offer non-food items.
So for the last few years, we have handed out candy alternatives in our neighborhood, and it has been met with nothing but acceptance. We do still offer some candy options as well, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised that many kids choose the non-food items.
If you just can’t give up handing out a sweet treat as well (which is totally fine), then I would suggest trying to find things that have as few allergens and artificial food dyes as possible (compared to traditional candy). Be sure to read all labels carefully, but a couple of options our kids enjoy include:
- YumEarth Organic Lollipops (citric acid could be from corn, so beware for those with corn allergies)
- Black Forest Organic Fruit Snacks (citric acid could be from corn)
- Honey Sticks (prefer local but these would be good in a pinch)
- Apples (or other fruit–but apples seem to be a traditional fruit at Halloween if you think of apple dunking!)
- Popcorn (again, beware of corn allergies!)
61 Candy Alternatives for Halloween
- Bouncy balls – Seriously, what kid doesn’t love a good bouncy ball? I’m pretty sure that my kids like to collect them. I like to get the jumbo ones to avoid choking hazards.
- Glow Sticks– Just be careful because glow sticks can break, and the liquid inside can spill out.
- Fun erasers – You can’t go wrong with a fun eraser.
- Spider rings – For some reason, these little things still seem to be so popular. Kids love them.
- Stacking Pencils – You know the ones where you pull out the little white cartridge and put it back in the top to push down a new lead? These were so popular when I was a kid in the 80s and 90s, and they’ve made a comeback! Or just try regular pencils. This is usually one of our go-to treats because they’re so practical. Kids always need pencils, and you can find some fun ones.
- Stacking crayon pens – Remember these? You can change the color of the crayon. So much fun.
- Bubbles – The party-size bubbles like you find at weddings or other events would work great.
- Mini Slinkies – What kid doesn’t like slinkies? They make for a really fun, old-school fidget.
- Kazoos – Parents will love you for this one! Ha!
- Toy Medals – Best Costume of the Evening goes to…!
- Finger puppets – Support imaginative play with some finger puppets.
- Rings – Add some bling to their evening with a gemstone or flashing ring.
- Coins – Argh! What kid doesn’t love some pirate booty? These are a hit with my son!
- Mini Notebooks – My girls love using little notepads for writing or drawing.
- Stickers – These are the kind that kids usually get at the doctor’s office with all the fun characters. They come in packs of 100!
- Stencils – I remember having one of these stencil rulers as a kid and used it frequently when drawing.
- Rainbow Scratch Paper – You can get a bundle of these papers where the kids scratch their designs. I loved these when I was a kid!
- Mini Figurines – There are a ton of options for mini figures, ranging from dinosaurs to generic building brick figures to farm animals.
- Slap Bracelets– Remember these? My girls absolutely love these! Long live the 80s!
- Sticky Mustaches – Get a pack of them and cut them into individual mustaches. Sure to be a hit!
- Spinning Tops – Sometimes the most basic things can be so much fun.
- Glider Planes – These are so much fun to toss and make them do tricks.
- Punch Balloons – Blow them up and punch until their hearts are content. All you hear is Boom. Boom. Boom.
- Sticky Hands – Kids love to see how far they can stretch these and what they can grab.
- Felt Superhero Masks – Felt masks would be a super hit for all the kids. My son loves these. We handed them out at Halloween last year, and he still plays with his frequently. They have, surprisingly, held up very well!
- Temporary Tattoos – One thing I really love about these is that they don’t produce junk! Once they wear off (or you help your kiddo wash them off), they’re gone for good and don’t clutter up your home!
- Bracelets – I personally like the popping ones because they can second as a fidget!
- Swords – The foam ones are my fave. No risk of anyone getting hurt!
- Mini Coloring Books – These are great for tossing into your purse or diaper bag to take into restaurants, which parents will appreciate!
- Mini Packs of Crayons – A great thing to pair with the mini coloring books!
- Packs of Mini Slime – My kids, even my teen daughters, absolutely love slime. You will be the most popular neighbor in the neighborhood if you give these out! Now, whether or not the parents will still love you will depend on if the kids keep the slime off the carpet! Ha!
- Mini Puzzles – I love the blank ones because kids can draw on them to make their own puzzles!
- Lip Balm – These are a hit with teen girls. I don’t know about you, but I am all for teenagers still having fun on Halloween!
- Silly Straws – I also love that these are practical too!
- Silly Putty – It’s like the “slime” of the 80s!
- Silk Scarves – Whether used for interpretive dance or playing dress-up, these scarves can foster so much creativity!
- Mini Block Sets – No, they’re not as good as the LEGO brand, but if kids love building, these little sets have huge appeal!
- Packs of Mini Silly String – This is something kids could play with outdoors while trick-or-treating!
- Stringy Balls – Stringy or spikey balls are calming for kiddos with sensory issues.
- Stretchy Men – Also called “wall hangers,” I remember getting these as cereal box prizes when I was a kid!
- Bookmarks – For the bookworms in the neighborhood!
- Sticky Hands – Similar to stretchy men, kids love tossing these onto walls!
- Mini Markers – An alternative to mini crayons!
- Mini Packs of Kinetic Sand – These are great for kids who are building fine motor skills, but older kids love kinetic sand as well!
- Rubrics Cubes – I’m always surprised at how much my kids love these. I was never able to solve them when I was a kid!
- Fidget Spinners – These are great to burn off any extra energy!
- Computer/Water Bottle Stickers – These are a hit among older kids!
- Patches – I recommend the iron-on or, better yet, the stick-on patches. Kids love to decorate their backpacks with these.
- Mini Cars – Vroom Vroom!
- Mini Books – Perfect for dollhouses!
- Mini Chalk Sets – Who doesn’t love sidewalk chalk?
- Mini Squishy Toys – My kids are obsessed with squishy toys!
- Fidget Snake Cubes – These are like a fun puzzle!
- Keychains – Great for older kids who love using these as backpack zipper pulls!
- Scrunchies – Perfect for the girls in the hood!
- Mini Activity Books – Another great one for parents to toss into their purses and diaper bags to take into restaurants, church, etc.!
- Mini Game Boards – Love the Tic Tac Toe one I linked to!
- Mini Magnetic Drawing Boards – Perfect for road trips!
- Sensory Tubes – Another type of fidget!
- Invisible Ink Pens – My kids are obsessed with writing “secret” messages with these!
- Glowing Helicopters – A hit with boys and girls alike and such a thing to do on Halloween night once it gets dark!
If you can’t decide, you can always go with the 100 piece Terrific Toy Assortment!
This list is comprised of just a few ideas that you could use to provide candy alternatives for Halloween trick-or-treating. The possibilities are endless, and the prices are often comparable to what you would spend on candy.
Note: Our family likes to focus on the fun of dressing up and being neighborly on Halloween. We don’t like focus on anything scary, as that is a personal conviction of ours. Thus, I’ve avoided non-food treats like vampire teeth, skeletons, Halloween-themed sticker or Halloween-themed pencils (which normally come with scary icons on them), ghosts, witches, skulls, frankenstein, zombies, etc.
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What are some of your ideas for candy alternatives at Halloween?
You can also check out how Christians can redeem Halloween here: