Halloween is just around the corner, and with that comes parades, costumes – and lots of treats! Some children may overindulge for a few days following the long-awaited candy-fest, but for children with food allergies, candy is not an option – and some parents simply prefer to keep sugar intake low. Here are a few ways to add some balance to the sweets situation:
Kick off the day with spooky, non-candy fun: If you start the day with a fun celebration that doesn’t revolve around sweets, you’ll help children realize that Halloween is not all about candy. Decorate the breakfast table with fake cobwebs and spiders, make a special Halloween-themed breakfast (check Pinterest for clever ideas), read a spooky book, and/or have a Monster Mash dance party in pajamas.
Plan a fun activity to shorten the trick-or-treating time: Set up a “Paint your own Pumpkin” station. Clean and dry pumpkins thoroughly, removing any dirt. The backyard is perfect for this activity, but if weather isn’t cooperating, protect your kitchen floor with a drop cloth or spare bedsheet. Use old ice cube trays to hold different colors of acrylic paint, stickers, glitter and other decorations. Give each child a pumpkin, a few paint brushes, and their own ice cube tray of paint and decorations. For a less-messy event, use markers.
Send the kids outdoors for a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Give each child a checklist of Halloween related items to find (pair older children with younger in teams if you have enough participants) and send them on their way. The team who finds the most objects in 20 minutes gets Halloween stickers (or anything else you have in your stash), and all who complete the hunt get a glow stick to carry while trick or treating.
Use trick or treating to give back to the community: Many local charities, elementary schools, and dentists collect unopened Halloween candy to give to families in need, or to send overseas to the troops. It is a good opportunity to teach little ones about giving back when you have excess. Before heading out to trick-or-treat, consider bringing an extra bag for collection (pro tip: alternate houses – one for your child, one for charity.) For a list of local businesses that are accepting candy, visit halloweencandybuyback.com and search your area code.
Have a warm meal waiting: Start a family tradition of having a warm, inviting meal after trick-or-treating is complete. A hearty soup or homemade spaghetti sauce is the perfect crockpot meal to fill hungry bellies while you recap the fun day.
Be sure to be safe. Always go out in groups, carry flashlights – and don’t let any “vampires” bite you… even if they ask nicely.