Getting Through Halloween Without Candy

by Ann Marie Michaels on October 30, 2009

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If you’re like me, you’re not so crazy about Halloween. I love the costumes and the dressing up, but I hate the idea of my 2-year-old filling up on high fructose corn syrup, cottonseed oil and soy lecithin. Honestly, it wouldn’t bother me quite as much if candy were made of refined sugar and real chocolate, but these days it’s all cheap industrial waste products.

The New Fake Chocolate

Even the chocolate isn’t real anymore. I just recently learned that many chocolate makers have started using cheap vegetable oils in place of cocoa butter. It’s a crime! (If it doesn’t say “milk chocolate” and/or cocoa butter, it may be made of the vegetable oils. Be wary of anything labeled “chocolate candy” and anything containing PGPR.)

Our Halloween Plans

I was thinking that it would be a good idea to start some new Halloween traditions before my daughter is old enough to know better.

They’re having a Halloween trick-or-treating party at my daughter’s daycare today. Parents are invited and we’re encouraged to bring treats. I found this great recipe for old-fashioned Popcorn Balls this morning. Perfect! I’ll whip those up, with a few minor modifications. I’ll use coconut oil instead of canola oil, and I’ll cut the sweeteners in half — and substitute palm sugar or rapadura for refined sugar.

Tomorrow morning I’ll get my daughter dressed up in her Curious George costume and we’re going to meet friends at the farmer’s market. After that, we’re going to pick up our raw milk in the valley.

Tomorrow night we’re going to a party in our neighborhood instead of going trick-or-treating. I’ll make some hot apple cider and maybe some homemade cookies or brownies. Or perhaps some candy made with coconut oil, coconut flakes, chocolate and natural sweeteners.

An Ingenious Way to Get Rid of Halloween Candy

Elaine Fawcett, Aurora, Oregon Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader, shared this fabulous idea on our chapter leaders email list the other day:

We’ve been doing the Halloween fairy thing, where the kids trade their bag of candy for a gift. That’s worked OK, but they still eat quite a bit of candy while trick or treating.

This year I am laying out a variety of inexpensive gifts on the dining room table, stuff I know they like (they almost never get new stuff, so that helps). Each gift will have a price tag with how many pieces of candy it costs. I am careful to save my receipt because it will be returned if there is not enough candy to buy it.

I struggle every holiday season with letting my children be a normal part of American life but not wanting to lose them to the drug-addiction that is a normal part of American life, especially at the holidays. Especially with the flu this year.

The Halloween Fairy thing has always left them feeling a little left out and deprived, so I’m hoping this will be fun and the candy won’t be nearly as valuable as the gifts and the quest to collect enough candy to buy them.

Don’t you just love it? This is the best idea for dealing with Halloween candy that I’ve ever come across. Of course it won’t work with a 2-year-old. They don’t get the concept of money yet. But when my daughter gets older, we are totally going to do this!

Not related to Halloween, but here’s another great idea for teaching kids about money: Why I Pay My Kids in Monopoly Money on the La Vida Dulce blog.

More Halloween Ideas

Here are some more ideas for avoiding candy this Halloween:

The Candy Fairy at The Nourished Kitchen

Healthier Halloween: 25 Alternatives to Handing Out Candy

Finer Things of Halloween: Sweet-less Trick-or Treats on Kitchen Stewardship

Leave a Comment

What about you? What are you doing this Halloween? Please share below in the comments.

Photo credit: riptheskull at Flickr
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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Raine Saunders October 30, 2009 at 7:34 AM

I have also thought long and hard about the trick-or-treating debacle, and for us, it’s not too much of a big deal. Our son eats so well most of the time and we spend our Halloween evenings with special friends who don’t share our belief about industrial food being unhealthy to consume. In fact, most of the people we know and are related to don’t believe there is anything wrong with our food system (sad but true). We have to make compromises to include people in our lives who are dear to us. I certainly agree that there are way too many unhealthy choices available on the market and we avoid those much of the time.

I am planning some fun healthy treats too, of course. I’m going to make pumpkin bread with sprouted grain organic flour and real eggs and butter. We will probably have a special dinner this weekend with some other healthy treats and food as well. I believe that one night of eating some unhealthy candy will probably not hurt my son too much, and if I tried to tell him he couldn’t do it, he’d be very disappointed. I just limit how much he eats, and then after Halloween the rest of the candy gets put away and eventually “disappears”. My son will be 9 this year, and in the next couple of years I imagine trick-or-treating will start to become less and less appealing as when children get older, they are less inclined and it is less accepted for them to be out at people’s doors in costumes collecting candy.

Good luck to everyone in your quest to avoid all the chemicals in this holiday season’s offerings. I know you will all come up with some great alternatives and creations! :) And I greatly appreciate sites like this for support and ideas. Thanks Ann Marie!


Michaela October 30, 2009 at 7:36 AM

I’ve been stocking up on goodies to trade the kids. I’ve got organic chocolates (with safe ing’s), clif bars, YE lollies, Clif drinks & 5 bucks for each of them. Not a bad trade considering I’ll probably only let them hit a dozen houses or so, if that. While my trades aren’t ideal, they beat reese’s, dum dums & those peanut butter chews (GAG!).

Bring on the ghosts & goblins….


amanda October 30, 2009 at 8:02 AM

my husband has for the last two years has bought loads of glow sticks when they are on sale to save for halloween. the kids in our neighborhoods get so excited when we hand them a glow stick! it makes me feel so good knowing i can give out something like that and not have to feel guilty about giving out “drugs” that will only contribute to their health decay.

my son is 4 1/2 this year and it’s the first year he *might* be interested in trick-or-treating. up until now he has had more fun handing out the treats. we are going to do the trade for a fun toy if he decides to trick-or-treat. the anxiety i get at this time of the year is crazy.


Tami October 30, 2009 at 8:14 AM

I love the idea of trading the candy in for gifts. I am going to use that this year. We pay our kids for doing things outside of their normal chores. I then occasionally open the “Mommy Store”, which is full of things that they love, mostly trinkets. I’ll take candy as currency this time!
I also really struggled with what to do about the candy that we give out at the door. I used to get a couple bags of the nasty stuff and just not give it my own kids, but I have just really felt like I can’t contribute to the nutritional downward spiral of other kids at this time of year…SO, I went to the 99 cent store and got a bunch of party favors to hand out instead. I like this especially because the teenagers who are obviously WAY too old to be trick or treating will not want any of the stuff we have, leaving more for the kids who can find still find joy in stickers and playdoh.


Julie October 30, 2009 at 8:14 AM

With 2 -6 year olds, there is no getting out of trick or treating around here. But my kids are not even crazy about the crappy candy they get trick or treating. Not to be a snob… but they are used to much better quality stuff. They eat a few pieces of the Halloween candy and then leave the rest for the candy fairy and it is no big deal. I think the whole process of dressing up and trick or treating is much more important to them then the actual candy. Also, they eat so well almost all of the time, I try not to sweat a few pieces of poison. :)
My quandary has been about what to give out. Whole Foods did not have the big bags of organic candy this year. I bought big bags of organic lollipops and then had to settle for a big bag of snickers bars from Target that I don’t feel good about distributing.


Sharada Hall October 30, 2009 at 8:16 AM

My son is really sensitive to sugar, food coloring and other chemicals, and I just don’t like him to have so much candy. So we started a few years ago a system where he trades in his candy for money to get a new toy. He’d actually much rather have a new Bionicle than a whole lot of candy so it works out great!


Kath October 30, 2009 at 8:26 AM

Maybe a contest at the end of “trick or treat”…the heaviest bag of candy wins! That might curb the appeal to eat the candy…esp if the prize is something terribly wonderful. I have a 14mo old…I have to start these ideas early!

Happy Howling!


cheeseslave October 30, 2009 at 8:44 AM

@Raine – I know what you mean about having to make compromises. I guess I see every relationship I have as an opportunity to educate. I’m SO grateful that I found out about traditional foods when my daughter was a baby. So I tell everyone about it. They don’t have to follow it but I am absolutely committed to sharing this with people. Since I’ve been doing that, I’ve found that most of my friends totally respect/support this way of eating and want to know more.

@Amanda – I love the glow sticks idea! GREAT!

@Julie – So funny! I love how so many kids in the Bay Area are food snobs. My friend lives in Oakland. She raised her twin boys on Food Network (her rationale – no sex or violence). When the boys were about 4, she said, “Hey kids, you want to go to McDonalds?” They said, “No, Mommy, we want Japanese!”


Jen October 30, 2009 at 10:08 AM

My guys are a little bit older but do still trick or treat. A few years ago we started a tradition around Christmas of making gingerbread houses. Initially I was actually buying cheap nasty but colorful candy to use in decorating. Then a light bulb went off! Why are we tossing all this Halloween candy and then buying candy a month or so later? The gingerbread house event has become such a fun tradition that my guys will eagerly give up candy to save for decorating :) We do allow some candy on Halloween night and usually the day after but this year we are on a color/preservative free diet so we’ll just allow a choice of a few pieces to have ON Halloween, then save the rest.
Oh, and we do not eat the gingerbread houses… but the dog has tasted them for us.


Jennifer LeBaron October 30, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Although I love the ideas given here about trading the candy for something else of value, and I have seen others just as clever (a dentist in our town pays kids a dollar a pound for their candy and then sends the candy to servicemen in Iraq, and a Family Fun Magazine article details how to perform science experiments on it,) I still have a hard time with the idea of sending my kids door to door asking for something that we will never use. I think it’s disrespectful to those who are doing the giving to allow my kids to take their hard-earned money and use it on experiments or turn around and sell/trade it. At our house we skip the trick or treating in favor of a big pizza and movie party with like-minded families. We are sure to include lots of healthy treats like apples and dip, yogurt pretzels, homemade cinnamon rolls, etc. And I am clear with my children about why we do not go door to door. Sometimes we just have to tell our kids that we cannot in good conscience, do what everyone else is doing. My kids range from 3 years to 12 years old, and they have so far been great about this family decision. I wish good luck to anyone trying to do things different from the mainstream. We all know how difficult it can be!!


Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up October 30, 2009 at 1:33 PM

I don’t think we’re going out this year as the weather is going to be crummy anyway, but we have 2 dentists in town who are buying it from the kids by the pound the day after Halloween!


tarena October 30, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Thank you for this! Our family doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but our kids get candy from other places throughout the year and I was trying to figure out the best way to keep my kids from downing them before I know about them. The best thing we have come up with so far is that they get to trade each piece for a quarter, but I love all these other ideas listed here too!


Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship October 30, 2009 at 10:13 PM

Thanks for the link-love! The candy-trade idea is wonderfully tempting, when my son is old enough to understand it too! Now for the MILs…

:) Katie


carla October 30, 2009 at 11:33 PM

One year I had a case of mini Lara bars to give out and I think it worked out well. I really don’t know what else I give out so I haven’t really been at it over the past couple of years (not having kids is also a factor). I wont give out what I do eat myself and any type of sugar is included in what I don’t eat.


Unplanned Cooking October 31, 2009 at 4:11 AM

Hi! Great post (thanks for the link!). And I love your substitutions. Can’t wait to check your site out in the future for some more great ideas on how to make healthier food!


kellie@LaVidaDulce October 31, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Thank you so much for link!

As for those who don’t want the their kiddos to eat all that crazy candy, here is also an alternative: Pick out a few pieces (for instance, we let our kids eat all (real) chocolate things but not so much the sugar-y rot-your-teeth, HFCS stuff…) and then use the rest for science fun., Also, we are also hoping to get lots of candy to decorate our gingerbread houses with this year, which get pitched after the holiday season.

Thanks again, for the link!


Anna October 31, 2009 at 3:05 PM


Did you increase your daughter’s dose of clo while you were sick? Or during flu season? How much do you give her on a regular basis and during flu season?

My son is 19 months old and I just don’t want to give him too much or too little =) We use the same brand as you.



Peggy November 1, 2009 at 6:14 AM

My family has never done Halloween. Not once. I did it as a kid and it was exciting, but that was in the 19?0’s when it was safe and the food was real. I got way more popcorn balls and caramel apples than I did chocolate.

But when I became a parent, I wanted something else for my kids. When my kids were small, the costumes at our door were scary. So, we started going miniature golfing on Halloween night! We usually had the place to ourselves and we could take our time and let the two-year-olds play, too. Eventually, our plan got out and we were joined by other families from our homeschool group. For a couple years, the owner of the golf course closed down the facility just for us. We brought caterer’s coffee pots full of hot apple cider and some fruit and muffins for the kids to snack on. It was wonderful!

Now we just hang a “No candy, sorry” sign on the door and have a family film night. Last night we saw Ice Age 3. We play dress up whenever we want to, so there’s no big deal about “missing” costumes. We don’t really shop at Walmart or drug stores or big grocery stores, so the kids aren’t really reminded of mega-candy-day. It’s just something we opt out of. It can be done.


Tamara November 1, 2009 at 12:12 PM

I like that idea Peggy!


Mindy November 1, 2009 at 7:12 PM

We don’t do dress up or candy. Our tradition is having a campfire with friends. If someone offers my kids candy, they say no thank you. They know it’s bad for their bodies and teeth. We throw junk in the trash.


LeahS July 20, 2011 at 10:06 AM

I wonder about this. I certainly wouldn’t do candy with such a little kid. But I don’t know. Once a year I might just let them go for it. I don’t want it to become forbidden fruit!


Night Crone October 28, 2011 at 7:16 PM

“… not wanting to lose them to the drug-addiction that is a normal part of American life,”

I am sorry, but drug addiction is not a normal part of American life. If you make negative comments about using drugs, your children will be more apt to try them, to see what is so forbidden about them. Studies have shown that kids who have been through DARE (Drug Alcohol Resistance Education) programs are more likely to use drugs.

What the heck is so wrong with kids having candy?


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