Trick or Treat…or Something Else Entirely?

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I don’t think Halloween is any scarier than when I was a kid, but I know I certainly stress more now that I’m a mom!  But now, moreso than when I grew up, there are community alternatives to traditional trick or treat.  And even if your neighborhood doesn’t participate in one of the cool alternatives, borrow one of these and make it your own!

Trunk or Treat

These are popping up all over the place in this area!  I see quite a few Church groups and community organizations opening up their parking lots to parishioners to come and hand out trick or treats from the trunks of their cars!  The theory here is that you are usually with people you know from your church or neighborhood community group, so you know who your kids get candy from.  Some folks go all out with car decorations, but others just stand there with a bucket of candy to hand out.  It’s great fun – and especially for little ones, who don’t want to walk up and down steps, it’s an easier method of trick or treating.

Halloween Party

This seems like a no-brainer, but t

ry convincing kids who have visions of sacks full of Hershey bars and Skittles that they should stay inside for Halloween.  The best way to do this is to ask each family that brings a kid to bring a bag of candy.  You can set up trick or treat stations around your house and in your yard with a game of some kind at each station.  For each game completed, the kids get a piece of candy.  Alternatively, set up a night of watching scary movies and games, and while the kids are watching movies, make up treat bags to hand out as they leave using the candy the everyone brought! 

Treat the Elderly

Check nursing homes or assisted living facilities in your area – or even senior citizen apartment complexes.  For many of these grandmas and grandpas, it’s a huge treat to see the little ones dressed in costumes!  Many nursing homes permit trick or treating in common areas, and the residents are happy to hand out candy and comment on how cute the kids are!

Theme Parks – Not Just for Summer Anymore

You don’t have to live in Orlando or be traveling to Walt Disney World for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party to check out theme park Halloween festivities.  Many theme parks – even those that close when the weather gets cold – have some Halloween festivities.  Many have trick or treat stations set up for the kids to gather goodies, plus you may find Halloween themed shows or characters.  In my area, there are Halloween events at Six Flags Great Adventure; Hershey Park; Dorney Park; and even down the shore!

You could even organize a street fair for your neighborhood; a party at your kids’ school (complete with Halloween parade); or pitch in with a bunch of family and rent out a community center for a big family Halloween bash. Just remember to have lots of treats, lots of games, and lots of fun!

Halloween Treats That Won’t Make the Kids Play Tricks On You

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It’s an excuse for our children to eat all the stuff we warn them not to eat 11 months out of the year.  In my house, I’m usually tossing out the Halloween loot at Christmas, when all the Christmas loot comes into the house.  No one needs this much candy!

When I was a kid, we had a couple of houses that used to toss pennies in our trick or treat bags.  We hated those houses.  I mean, as kids, you don’t realize that if every house you went to tossed a few pennies in your bag, you could buy yourself a record (round, black vinyl, made musical sounds, predated CDs and MP3s) or a pair of sneakers (without a basketball player’s name etched into them).  We just knew that it wasn’t candy, and because it was usually only a couple of house that threw us the change, we couldn’t even get a decent comic book.

But now, the options are virtually endless if you want to give kids something a little less cavity inducing.  And the things you’ll find won’t break the bank – even if you are the most popular house on the block!

1 – Fast Food gift certificates – I hear you already – a groan just went up, and half of you said something nasty about me under your breath.  Is she crazy?  Let’s worry about our kids’ weight and teeth and not give them candy.  Let’s give them fat and calories instead!  I’m not crazy.  Alright, I am crazy, but hear me out on this one.  The gift certificates (which you can get 10 for $1 from places like Wendy’s) are good for a kid sized Frosty or a small pack of french fries, depending where you go.  There’s nothing wrong with a small treat now and again, and the fact that your kids will have their own “money” to pay for it with their gift certificates will make them feel important.  It’s much better to splurge on a small bag of fries as an afternoon snack than to gorge on choclates and sugar for a month after Halloween.

2 – Mini PlayDoh – My kids love PlayDoh, and the youngest at age 6 can easily get an hour out of a single color in one sitting.  You’ll find mini PlayDoh packs at party stores, warehouse club stores, and even at places like Target.  No fat, no calories, tons of fun.

3 – Snack size bags of, well, Snacks – Practically every store you go into that has a Halloween display will have some sort of non-candy snack alternative.  You’ll find small packages of gold fish crackers, pretzels, fruit rolls, popcorn, and granola bars.  I love to get these treats as much as the kids do, because I throw them into lunch boxes in the days after Halloween – like an extension of the day itself!  I also don’t mind having this kind of treat left over at the end of Halloween night.  These are healthier options that kids love and eat every day anyway – just in fun shapes or cool Halloween packages!

4 – Halloween goodie bags – Who doesn’t love a goodie bag?  Yeah, I know, the moms who have to clean up the little toys and wrappers from the goodie bag – but we’re talking kids here!  You’ll find loads of tiny treats at the dollar stores or at Target that you can put into a treat bag for just a few cents.  There are pencils, Halloween shaped erasers, spider rings, temporary tattoos, stickers, vampire teeth and eye ball super balls.  You might even find small Halloween themed note pads, post-its, and the popular vampire teeth.  Toss them all into cellophane bags, and you’ll have an awesome treat!

5 – Bubbles!  Gotta love bubbles.  Have you been to weddings, where in an effort to save the planet the bride and groom give little bottles of bubbles to blow instead of throwing rice?  Well, you can find those little bottles of bubbles in Halloween colors!  Sure to be the hit of the treat bag, these are usually sold in cartons of about 24 pieces.

6 – Sugar Free Gum – This is about as close to actual candy as you can get without treating with actual candy.  There are plenty of options for sugar free bubble gum, which is a sweet treat without the sugar and calories.

Think twice before you give treats that might cause allergies – like those with peanuts in them; and if you are going to do the tiny treats, have something on hand that you can give to your younger trick or treaters.  Some of the small things can be a choking hazard.

All of this is stuff that your own kids will use if you have left overs, and you won’t really mind if they do.  I’m confident that if your kids bring home a bag of this kind of Halloween treat, you won’t have anything left to throw away at Christmas!