Flashback Friday! 10 Non-Candy Halloween Alternatives by Rosemary Fotheringham

Rosemary Fotheringham

10 Non-Candy Halloween Alternatives

We all know about the harmful effects of sugar on the body. Halloween can be a hard time for parents who know the harm sugar does but still want to allow their kids to enjoy the holiday. Whether you are taking kids out trick or treating or you are looking for some non-candy treats to hand out, here are 10 non-candy Halloween alternatives!  

Use the “Switch Witch” tactic.

Allow the kids to choose a couple candies, and then switch out the rest for a pre-determined toy of their choosing. Ask your kids ahead of time what sort of treats they might like instead of candy. Maybe it’s a new book, or a new game, or a toy? You can help the child pick out a couple candies that are healthier options than the others (without high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors), and then allow them to switch the remainder of the candy for whatever they wanted. You could also opt to switch all the candies for a toy. You could also create a Halloween “store” where the kids can choose an item in exchange for their candies, including healthier candy options. Some kids might be happy getting money in exchange for their candy.


Opt out of trick or treating and do a fun themed dinner and Halloween movie instead.

It’s fun for the kids to have a special night to celebrate, even if it isn’t going trick or treating. You can stay in or go out, depending on what works best for your family.


Host a pumpkin carving and costume party.

By emphasizing the pumpkin carving and costume aspects of it, the kids still get to celebrate the spirit of Halloween without having the sugar hangover afterwards.  

Plan a family night baking healthier treats at home together with your kids.

Pinterest is rich in ideas for healthier, grain-free and low-sugar Halloween treats. Get the kids involved with picking out which one they want to make, and then make it together as a family!

Have a Halloween-themed crafts night.

Again, Pinterest is the place to go for ideas! You can carve pumpkins with creative designs, make Halloween masks, paint mini-pumpkins, make candles, or play pin the face on the Jack-o-Lantern.  

Hand out toys instead of candy.

If you are staying home and handing out treats for kids, small toys are good options. Things like glow in the dark bracelets, plastic jewelry, rubber spiders or plastic witches’ fingers, bubbles, or stickers are all good options. Note that homemade treats are probably NOT a good option as parents are probably going to throw out anything without factory-sealed wrappers.
Bonus points: put a teal-colored pumpkin outside to let parents of kids with food allergies to know that you have non-candy treats available: check out The Teal Pumpkin Project for more information and for a free printable poster to put in your window to let parents of kids with food allergies know you have non-candy treats.  

Put the kids in charge of handing out the toys to trick-or-treaters.

At the end, give them a special toy or treat of their choosing as their “payment”. This might work better if the child doesn’t mind so much about not trick-or-treating, and especially if he or she is older (if not, they will just require supervision).

Visit a nursing home and spend some time celebrating Halloween with the residents.

Bring along some healthy treats that you have baked together as a family, or some healthier options that the kids have picked out. Call ahead to see if they are planning some sort of Halloween event.

Do Halloween-themed activities throughout the month.

Attend a pumpkin patch or other harvest festival so the kids still feel like they get to celebrate Halloween even if they aren’t going trick or treating.

Go to a haunted house or theme park.

This might only be appropriate for children who are old enough and would find this fun, but it can be a good spooky alternative evening to trick or treating! If you live near a theme park, many do Halloween themed events.
Other alternatives are community centers, police or fire stations, and churches, which often do themed parties as alternatives to trick or treating.  

Rosemary A. Fotheringham, NTP

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