How to Give Healthy Treats for Halloween

Many health-conscious parents dread the arrival of Halloween with its tooth-rotting, corn syrup-heavy, delightful but unhealthy fare. Treat your young revelers to tasty goodies that are healthy and fun—things that they won't automatically trade their Reese's Cups for! If you challenge kids to expect something a little different this Halloween, they will learn to enjoy the better things in life—and they won't be wired into a sugar high all night long!


  1. Image titled Give Healthy Treats for Halloween Step 1
    Seek out healthier alternatives to candy. There are many ideas to consider:
    • Different flavors of popcorn—tie in small cellophane bags with ribbon.
    • Individual packages of fruit or applesauce—even pudding is a better alternative than candy. These are usually sold in packs of six or four. Just break them up and give an individual pack to each child.
    • Little packets of organic raisins (sultanas)—but see dentist's concerns below.
    • Granola (muesli) bars (but watch their sugar content also).
    • Low-sugar, trans fat-free cookies from health food stores. If these are not wrapped individually, wrap large cookies in cellophane and tape together; make little cellophane bundles of smaller cookies.
    • Bundle little pretzels in cellophane.
    • Cheese sticks and wrapped cheese (like Babybel); try cheese cubes for parties.
    • Small apples and mandarin oranges are possible, but be aware that many parents are wary of fruit due to scares about pins etc. being inserted into them. You could investigate packaged sliced apples in clear wrapping as a compromise. Or make a fruit bowl at home just for your own kids and play games like apple bobbing.
    • Nuts ‘n bolts—vary seasoning to suit little palates.
    • Instant spiced apple mix or hot chocolate mix.
    • Fruit bars—there are many pure fruit bars available now. The thin ones are especially good value and will slip into many treat bags as a filler.
    • Individual homemade fruit sweetened cookies.
    • If it's a warm night, fruit juice ice treats might be a good choice, especially for a party.
    • Plain dark chocolate is better than candy. Make sure it has no cream filling or high sugar content. Some claim chocolate even helps to prevent tooth decay. It has certainly been proven that the antioxidants in dark chocolate are healthy. Purchase small pieces in little packets or package small pieces in cellophane.
  2. Image titled Give Healthy Treats for Halloween Step 2
    Buy small games, kits or novelty items. Instead of candy, look in dollar stores, party stores, toy stores, etc., for cheap, fun playthings. Buy in bulk if possible and repackage into little treat bags. Look for small games that are given out as party treats, but beware giving out tiny toys to tiny tots. Here are some possibilities to look for:
    • Halloween pencils, pens, erasers
    • Stickers with Halloween themes
    • Magic tricks
    • Joke, puzzle or maze books
    • Plastic or rubber animals or figurines
    • Balloons, party whistles
    • Miniature cars and dolls
    • Comic books from the quarter-bin at your local comic shop
    • Cards (playing, baseball etc)
    • Miniature jigsaw puzzles
  3. Image titled Give Healthy Treats for Halloween Step 3
    Purchase entry coupons for local zoos, water parks, movies etc. If you have a set amount of children at a Halloween party, you might like to consider giving each child an entry coupon instead of candy. Unless you're bankrolling your neighborhood's Halloween though, you won't be able to use this idea for kids who come to the door!
  4. Image titled Give Healthy Treats for Halloween Step 4
    Avoid trick or treating by having a party. Kids can still have all the fun and haunting, but serve healthier food like pizza, dips and pita pieces, and fresh fruit. Focus on the games more than the food and give good non-food prizes. As an added bonus, you know where the kids are. If it's for older kids, expect a lot of loud and scary sounds, very corny jokes and unexpected ghostly antics. Put breakables away in a safe place.
  5. Image titled Give Healthy Treats for Halloween Step 5
    Give mini-toothbrush sets. Maybe this sounds corny, but it is a healthy reminder to kids getting so much candy that brushing their teeth is really important. If you're lucky, you might find Halloween themed toothbrushes. You will probably have more luck with this idea if you give out a treat or toy in addition to the toothbrush. If not, be prepared for being "tricked."
  6. Image titled Give Healthy Treats for Halloween Step 6
    Spend your time, energy and money on the decorations as the treat. Turn your front yard or porch into a wonderland that kids will marvel at. Use light and sound to greatest effect. Tell visiting kids that the display is their treat. It had better be good though, or you’ll be in for a trick!
    • This idea can also backfire, as kids usually expect houses decorated for Halloween to give out treats and your big attractive display may have them anticipating a big candy reward. Best bet: decorate like crazy, and give out light treats.
  7. Image titled Give Healthy Treats for Halloween Step 7
    Work out compromises. Instead of banning sugary snacks altogether, try allowing a limited amount or making rules beforehand about how many treats your kids can have each day.
    • If you're hosting a party, kids may feel deprived if they don't get to go trick-or-treating and you won't give them any candy at all. In addition to healthy treats, fun party games, and spooky decorations, make a small amount of traditional candy available. (It will probably still be less than they'd get if they actually went out.)
    • Give each child a goody bag with some small toys, a mix of healthy and sugary treats, and a fun toothbrush. For very young children, see if you can find a small book about brushing your teeth to make the toothbrush seem like a better gift.
  8. Image titled Give Healthy Treats for Halloween Step 8
    Teach your kids to practice moderation. Try not to make too big a deal out of the candy. A little candy is better than a long, sad memory of being totally denied treats at Halloween. Talk sensibly with them about diet, health and good eating habits at all times, not just at Halloween, so that they grow to understand the relationship between eating and body health.
    • Help them to learn that some indulgence on special occasions is okay, as long as they don't consume too much and they accept that treats belong only to very special occasions. Kids are perfect at understanding and your continued support and good example are what they need the most.


  • Dentists don't like raisins much, even though they're healthy for the body — the sweetness and stickiness of raisins causes them to stay on the teeth and cause decay. The same probably applies for fruit bars. Ensure your children brush their teeth well.
  • Dentists recommend that candy is best eaten after a meal when the saliva flow is already stimulated to assist with diluting the sugar and washing the candy away from the teeth. Dentists also recommend cheese for its buffering effect against acids. See the External Links below.
  • Never in history has there been a case of a random person putting any poisons in candy for Halloween. It's an urban myth. Every reported instance of it has been done by someone that knew the kid, like a family member. There was only one case of needles in candy in Minneapolis in 2000 in Snickers Bars. Read for details.
  • Make a big deal out of decorating the treat bags. The kids will have fun doing this and it'll help boost the festive spirit. Paper lunch bags or grocery bags are a great choice as they can be drawn on, painted on, glued on, stapled and have holes or punchie shapes taken out of them.
  • Set up a special trick or treating route with other parents and friends who have similar ideas about healthy food and who you know personally so that you feel comfortable accepting unsealed treats.
  • If you have your normal healthy or organic treats on hand you can do a trade in when they are done collecting loot. This works especially well if they are unfamiliar with the candy they received and are familiar with the treats you have for them. This way they still get a little of the traditional overindulgence but less of the unnecessary sugars.
  • Ask your kids to come up with some ideas. They’ll have better ideas than adults and it’s more likely to be eaten and enjoyed by them.
  • If you do need to choose which candy to let your child keep and which candy to discard, favor candy that is considered to be less harmful than other candy, such as gummy bears, liquorice or jelly beans. A little bit of candy is better than sadness and those "mean old mommy" tantrums.


  • Be warned that some — if not, most — children will not appreciate most of these attempts. Their parents may love you, but the children may skip going to the house that gave them toothbrushes. Keep in mind that healthy snacks don't have much effect if kids just throw them away. If you insist on handing out toothbrushes, be prepared to find several of them discarded on your lawn the next morning.
  • Watch out also for baked goods made with trans fats—these are harmful to the human body and should not be in a child’s diet. Many companies are now phasing them out in North America and Europe but you still need to check the ingredients label. Look for the words "partially hydrogenated"; that's ingredient-speak for "trans fat."
  • Always throw away treats that look as if they may have been tampered with — no ifs, no buts.
  • On a similar note, if you give out healthy snacks or toothbrushes instead of candy, bear in mind that there is a good possibility of your house being the victim of a prank such as toilet-papering.
  • Depending on the level of trust in your community, some parents might not appreciate the attempt at healthy treat giving if it results in giving children things that aren't pre-wrapped (like if you make cookies yourself). Consider if you want to save these goodies for parties only.
  • Avoid giving out treats with ingredients some children may be allergic to, such as nuts or coconut. This is another common reason why parents throw away unwrapped treats.
  • If you live in a North American city, some parents will be wary of anything you've wrapped yourself or any kind of homemade treats. To know that it'll pass the "parent test," buy pre-packaged goods (organic raisins, cereal bars) that are factory sealed and avoid anything with nuts or coconut.
  • Sugar-free is not necessarily healthy. Questions remain as to the safety of sugar substitutes used in many sugar-free products, so until we know more, they are best not given to children. Prefer smaller amounts of sugar instead of substitutes.

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Halloween Food & Treats