What non-candy Halloween stuff would you want your kids to get?

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Halloween Bat Crayons by CrayonsByKelly2016
Halloween is almost here, so it’s time to start stocking up on Halloween candy! (At least in my head, it is.) I’ve bought a few bags of mini candies already, and those will satisfy the vast majority of the kids who come by my house. But can I get anything for the rest of them — what do kids who don’t like (or can’t eat) candy want to find in a Halloween candy bowl?

A few of my ideas were mini bags of chips, crackers, and cookies, pouches of fruit snacks that are slightly healthier than the average “fruit” snacks, and Glow Sticks.

As parents, what non-candy would you like to see available to your kid on Halloween? — Cassie

Comments on What non-candy Halloween stuff would you want your kids to get?

  1. My first reaction? ALMOST ANYTHING.

    More thoughtful: coloring pages, art supplies, small toys that preferably aren’t the kind from the dollar store that last 30 seconds.

    Last year I saved small toys instead of donating them when the kids lost interest (things like Little People, animal figurines, Hot Wheels, etc.) and put them in my son’s birthday pinata for other kids to take. Would probably work great for Halloween, too. You’d have to be okay with being the weirdo who gives little second-hand toys away when kids are expecting candy. For me, reducing the amount of new junk purchased while giving old junk a new life fits our values so much that I was okay with being that weirdo.

    • Aw man, not to rain on your parade, but raisins always really bummed me out as a kid (I disliked them for the same reason I disliked Milk Duds and Gummies: they stick in your teeth/braces).

      • Raisins are evil and borderline cruelty to children. They’re just grapes that should have been thrown away.

    • Don’t do raisins unless you want your house to be known as the crappy raisin house. Very few kids are going to thank you for raisins. Sorry…

    • I hate to say it, but literally the only house my friends and I ever played any sort of prank on was the house that always gave out raisins. The only fun part about those were how the boxes used to make cool noises if you blew through them and that isn’t even the case anymore. Don’t be that guy. Also don’t be the guy who gives out any type of propaganda (I once was given a booklet of Christian “activities”) or “educational” stuff.

      Yes, there are a few kids out there who aren’t allowed to eat but are still taken trick-or-treating (which I swear is some kind of emotional torture) but the vast majority want candy, lots and lots of candy.

  2. Also please please consider nut free candy for those kids with allergies. (there’s so many allergies I know) It’s so sad when a kid walks up to a house and can’t have their candy. I don’t want to be rude and turn it away but my kid can’t have it. Non food prizes are great too!

  3. Glow sticks is such an awesome idea! I’m definitely going to have to stock up on non-candy items. I don’t really let my daughter have a lot of candy so it’s important that I practice what I preach and set an example for her that it’s not all about the candy bars.

  4. When I went trick or treating, I always liked getting pencils or pens with designs on them since those would get used and were fun. Temporary tattoos might be another good option, if you can find a good package of them for a reasonable price.

    In terms of food, chips would be a good bet as would healthier fruit snacks. Not everyone likes raisins, but for those who do like them they are a good healthier option. Granola bars could be another good option, and they can be super healthy or still have a bit of candy if they have chocolate in them.

    • We give away pencils, stickers, erasers, and temp tattoos. I wish more people gave more non-candy gifts. I can’t believe how much candy my kids get around the holidays.

  5. Glow sticks are GREAT. Also, dollar store jewelry, anything that flashes, noise makers (sorry parents), etc. Party favors are a fantastic resource, and if you’re expecting little ones, tiny stuffed animals are win. Toothbrushes and religious paraphernalia are for the weak ;P

  6. I like your idea of fruit snacks, crackers, cookies, and glow sticks – especially the kind you can wear, I think kids would love that on Halloween. Though this year I decided to scrap the food altogether. I know people who give out fun looking pencils or things as such since the school year has begun. But this year, I decided to take advantage of the bundle sets a comic book store will be selling for Halloween. (They are selling kids comics in bundles of 12 to 20 for $3 a bundle). I decided to hand out the comic book Lil’ Gotham. It’s Batman, it’s Halloween, and I’m hoping to get kids reading instead of rotting their teeth. But we’ll see how well it goes over.

      • Things From Another World. I am not sure if they are doing this special on their website yet, but they might closer to October. And since comic publishers are offering this deal, it might also be available at a comic store near you. I am so excited to do it this year!

  7. I think we’re going to be the soda, juice, water house this year. Those kids/parents are parched running around all night long!

  8. Stickers! There are often huge sheets of Halloween themed stickers in poundshops/dollarstores that you could cut down into lots of small sheets. Then the kids can use them for art projects or stick them on themselves/their friends.

  9. I’d say anything but pencils. My kids’ school limits them on the snacks that can come in so they get pencils for every occasion!

    I think glow sticks would go over the best. Kids love them, but once their dead, you can toss them and they don’t take up any space or have calories.

  10. One thing I love about our area is because it’s so rural and kids can usually only go to 6-10 houses, everyone does loot bags. Last year, my son was pretty thrilled to get crayons, juice boxes, stickers and some little toys.

    This year, I’m going to do loot bags with juice boxes, glow sticks and stickers. I love the idea of the comics too!

  11. Non-food items like stickers, bouncy balls, temp tattoos etc. are so so wonderful for those kids who have food allergies. It’s not just nuts – my daughter’s multiple allergies make it impossible to eat ANY commercial candy. Oriental trading sells little toys and things like this very cheaply.

    I know it’s not possible to plan around every single different allergy, sensitivity, disability, condition etc that today’s children can suffer from. But please remember, that whether a kid is allergic to dairy, or has a sensory processing disorder, or is in a wheelchair and can’t climb stairs – every kid just wants to participate. Any small gesture you can make to include our kids is appreciated so so so very much. (and now I’m getting teary)

    For families with food allergies – I’ve heard of parents who let their kids go t-or-ting and then at home went through the candy, and bought the non-safe candy from their kids, so the kids can then use the money to buy whatever. I also heard about a father who handed out pencils, toys etc to his neighbors to give to his kid. (he left them in mailboxes, along with a note explaining the situation and what his kid would be wearing).

    • We are giving out prizes from the party store… Glow sticks, jewelry, little packs of crayons/colored pencils, temporary tattoos, eye patches, Groucho Marx glasses, and other little favors to avoid allergens, GMOs, and the works. Thanks for the reminder us that some kiddos might not be able to do steps! Our doorbell is battery powered, so I’ll just mount it to the railing at the end of our walkway with a spooky sign!

  12. In my experience, kids hate “healthy” foods (box of raisins is Halloween kryptonite!). But the best non-candy thing I’ve given out was whistles. Annoyed the crap out of everyone else in the neighborhood, but the kids LOVED them. Had kids coming back to our house begging for seconds 🙂

    • I will never forget when I took my then 3-year-old trick or treating and she shouted loud enough for the whole block to hear, “RAISINS ARE NOT A TREAT!” upon receiving some. I would have been mortified except it was too funny!

  13. In Irish and Gaelic cultures, candy isn’t all the common on Halloween / Samhain. What lots of kids get instead are little cakes called “soul cakes.” The story is that for every cake a child eats, they free a soul from Purgatory (nice, right?). Because of the story, kids are encouraged to eat a lot of them. Traditionally, they are tiny cakes baked with autumnal fruits and spices (like cinnamon, allspice, apples, raisins, etc.). There are plenty of recipes for them online. I know people who use whole-wheat flour to make them “healthy treats.” They can also be made gluten-free. I’ve also seen sugar-free options that use agave or other sweeteners. There are literally a million variantions on them, so you can make them exactly as you prefer. If you’re looking for non-candy food options, they’re very traditional and actually taste good.

    • When I was trick-or-treating, I was forbidden from eating anything that wasn’t sealed. Homemade snacks were immediately trashed. I LOOOOVE this idea for a party though.

      • I think this is a very American thing. The Halloweens I spent in Ireland, I noticed that the majority of treats handed out are homemade, and nobody worries about it. It’s just accepted. It’s also worth noting that there has never been a documented case of a child dying or being seriously injured by tainted or mishandled Halloween treats (the two documented cases where kids were killed, they were killed by family members who specifically targeted them). I go back and forth on the “homemade treats” thing, because I love to make them. I should probably restrict that stuff to parties, once my daughter is old enough. But I probably would let her eat whatever she gets, unless it’s visibly altered.

        • That’s actually really interesting. I never did the research on kids dying from homemade Halloween treats because it never occurred to me, but I’ll admit I’m surprised. I was told that this “rule” came to be after people started shoving razor blades in apples.

          • The razorblade story went around everywhere in the early 90s. Apparently it isn’t all myth, but highly over reported. http://www.snopes.com/horrors/mayhem/needles.asp
            We still had a lot of homemade things given to us in a small midwestern town, but we knew to eat them before we got home because our parents would make us throw them out (we trick or treated in large hoards of other kids- not usually with parents after the age of 6). I would have loved to get non edible stuff like temporary tattoos or bouncy balls!

  14. Guys, I wish you were all in my neighborhood! Glow sticks, stickers, temp tattoos, comic books!!! My kids would LOVE all of that stuff SO MUCH MORE than candy!

    • God, can you imagine a neighborhood filled with people from all the Offbeat sites? It would be MAYHEM. Of the best kind, of course. 😀

  15. I had serious food allergies as a kid, so this year I, too, decided to use toys instead. I got little toy glider planes and ghosties that remind me of Pac-Man ghosts. As Amb suggested, I used Oriental Trading. They have a ton of super-cute little toys.

    As a kid, I always liked any small toy I got. I also just swapped the candy I was allergic to with friends, which usually worked out pretty well for me. (My allergies were to food colorings, so plain chocolates were okay, but hard candies weren’t. Having a variety of different candies will probably help maximize the chance that a particular kid will be able to eat some of it.)

  16. I also thought the raisins we super lame.
    My parents have always purchased several types of candy and let children two or so pieces from a tray. My dad has been down on chocolate recently (hard to imagine) so he decided to hand out raisins last year. I though “oh no don’t be that guy.”
    But they ended up doing them as an option to chose from with the regular candy and my mother told me that my children happily chose the raisins, (maybe about a third, not sure the numbers). So I have come around to the idea the healthier options, even raisins are viable if there is some choice.

  17. Kids in our neighborhood are pretty intense. If a house doesn’t give out something AWESOME, it sticks out like a sore thumb. I really like the idea of exotic snacks…something kids can’t or won’t get anywhere else. Last year, we handed out dried fruit packets from a local Asian market; it was a mix of dried berries, and kids went BONKERS over how “weird” it was (despite the fact that it was basically just craisins). The year before, we got these crazy gluten-free wafer crackers with animal faces printed on them. I made sure to get something with an English label in addition to the Korean, as a lot of international markets have. This doesn’t necessarily address all allergy concerns, and it is still giving out something edible, but I have seen hardcore Snickers eaters trade their favorite candies for more dried fruit; I call that a win!

  18. One of the families in our neighborhood actually has a little mini-cookout in the front drive every year. They barbecue hotdogs and serve cider.

    • I’ve heard of parents pulling a wagon with “grown up juice” to share with other parents out trick or treating!

  19. I know it’s not a non-candy, but ANYTHING top-8 allergen free is amazing to hand out. Our favorite around here is YumEarth gummies, YumEarth jelly beans, or, my son’s #1 favorite candy of all time, YumEarth lollipops. They’re top-8 food allergen free and I swear taste better than “regular” candy. As for non-food items, what about little Hot Wheels style cars that you can buy in bulk online, or temporary tattoos? When I was a kid some of the parents were very against temporary tattoos but I’m pretty sure no one cares about them much these days and kids love them.

  20. OOooh! I think I’ll give out those little bottles of bubbles, my daughter would go nuts for them! I love the glowstick idea too! : ) It might be fun to write scary little stories and roll them up with some string as well. That way the kid could have something to read while they snuggle up in bed and try to ignore their sugar rush!
    I’m starting to get that Halloween excitement!!!! yay!

    • Ohhhh I LOVE the scary story idea!! I’m going to be 4 weeks post-partum on Halloween, so I don’t know if I’ll have the energy for that, but hopefully I’ll be able to remember next year!

  21. When I was growing up there was a house on my street that always had tennis balls and pennies; we got to choose which one we wanted. I thought it was pretty sweet.

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