Give This, Not That (Halloween Candy Edition)

If you walk into any grocery store around this time of year, you are bound to be assaulted by the ginormous, colorful bags of Halloween candy. But instead of dolling out bag after bag of artificial colors and flavors to the trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood, how about trying out a few of these healthier alternatives? I’m not suggesting handing out bunches of kale and flaxseeds—after all I don’t want your house to get TPed—but there are ways to healthify even this most junky of holiday traditions while still maintaining the festive spirit.

If you want to skip the edibles completely…

Chances are those neighborhood kids will still get a pretty robust candy haul from other houses, so don’t be afraid to be the house than stands out by handing out non-edibles. Hit up your local party store and head to the party favor section to buy low-cost toys, rings, stickers, pencils, and other goodies. Some party and discount stores even sell Halloween-themed favors. Remember, candy may be the star of Halloween night, but an awesome toy or gift can be just as fun. If you are really ambitious, you can wrap each toy or gift in a small box—the anticipation of finding out what’s inside a wrapped box is just as satisfying as any candy bar.

If you want to hand out something to munch on…

Many neighborhoods have banned homemade goodies, but if you’re handing out to kids that you know personally, try baking up a homemade treat like popcorn balls, brownies, crisped rice squares, or cookies. They still give the desired sugar rush, but the ingredients are natural, real and chemical-free. Heck, you might even be able to sneak in a vegetable or two hidden behind all that sugar.

If you want to go for a crunchy treat, try handing out the individual serving bags of organic cheese crackers or graham cookies. Some organic snack companies (like Annie’s) have even begun to make Halloween specialty packs with individual servings of 100% fruit juice gummies and other fun, but all natural, snacks.

If you can’t totally quit the candy…

Instead of dropping a giant handful of candy into your neighborhood kids’ pillowcases, try making a variety pack for each child that includes just a small amount of the sugary-stuff. Pick out one or two small-sized candy favorites, and combine them with small toys, stickers and other goodies in a Halloween-themed favor bag. You get the best of both worlds—you giving out a moderate serving of candy and you’re still handing out a hefty haul of goodies.

If candy is all you want to give….

Then I say, give out your favorite candy! I’m a big believer in everything in moderation, including moderation! And Halloween is a perfect time to throw moderation out the window. If you want to go the all-candy route, you can up the health ante by choosing dark chocolate, looking for candies without high fructose corn syrup and trying to find candies sourced from natural ingredients like fruit juice.

Whatever you decide to hand out, the most important part is to just have fun! Happy Halloween!

What’s your favorite thing—candy or not—to give out for Halloween?

Image sources: Sheryl Yvette | The Honey Bunny | Kurafire | cdevers

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Cassie Johnston is an award-winning food writer and recipe developer living and working in Southern Indiana. Her work has been feature in national publications such as Gourmet Magazine and The Huffington Post. Cassie’s a big fan of strenuous hikes, cheese, watching sports, Brussels sprouts, and craft beer, and she’ll talk your ear off about her love of local food and seasonal eating. She’s obsessed with social media and loves connecting with new friends!