Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Scaring up a Healthier Halloween

It's that time of year.  The time of year that causes a conflict of feelings within me.  Feelings of love and feelings of, well, annoyance.


I love Halloween - the pumpkins, scary decorations, haunted houses and costumes.  I love helping my kids dress up and I love taking them out into the night for trick-or-treating.  We see all of our neighbors and friends, in a truly festive atmosphere.

My annoyance with Halloween?  The candy, of course.  I cringe at the huge amount of candy my kids bring home every year.  Seriously, one small  person does not need that much candy.  Ever.

So in the spirit of a healthier Halloween, I decided to do things differently a long time ago (even before I had kids).  I fill my trick-or-treat bowl with healthy treats, non-food treats and sometimes a little candy.  And guess what?  The trick-or-treaters enjoy the non-traditional stuff just as much, if not more, than the same old candy.

This year, my bowl will be filled with Halloween tattoos and stickers (bought for dirt cheap at last year's sales), spooky cool eyeball balls (found them at Target) and mini-playing card sets (War, Old Maid, Go Fish, etc., themed with Toy Story, Cars, princesses and other movies; a total bargain at Costco for $5.00).

Why not join my quiet revolution?  Check out some of my treat ideas below for Halloween night and school parties.  And let me know if you have any other great ideas of your own.

Better-for-you Treats
These treats are a bit healthier than sugary candy and just as tasty.
- mini pure dark chocolate bars
- small raisin boxes (other dried fruit works great, too)
- sugar-free gum
- 100-calorie snack packs (cookies, crackers, popcorn, etc.)
- pretzel snack packs
- cereal/granola bars (mini Lara bars are yummy)
- small trail mix packs
- Goldfish snack packs
- sugar-free hot chocolate envelopes 

Toy Treats
Who says you even have to hand out candy?  Try giving out special Halloween toys – dollar and party stores are great resources. 
 - individual stickers (look for big, individually perforated rolls)
- temporary tattoos
- unsharpened pencils
- erasers
- spooky rings
- balls
- bright bracelets
- colored shoelaces
- small crayon boxes
- hair accessories (ponytail holders, clips, etc.)
- small play doughs (find knock-offs for cheap)

School Parties
I always volunteer for school parties – that way I can make sure at least one food is a healthy choice.  If you can’t be there, don’t let that stop you; email the party organizer and offer to send a good-for-you snack; or suggest a non-food-related party activity.

            Snack Ideas:
- homemade mini pumpkin muffins with “bug juice” (apple cider)
- homemade mini pumpkin cupcakes; kids decorate with low-fat cream cheese frosting (use natural food coloring)
- apple slices with caramel dipping sauce (or apple yogurt)
- trail mix with raisins and bits of chocolate
- granola bars (Quaker’s taste like treats)
- mini Rice Krispie treats (try to make them yourself)
- air-popped popcorn mixed with mini marshmallows, pretzels, raisins

Party Activity Ideas:
- decorate mini pumpkins; or have a team contest with larger pumpkins
- science game where kids reach into containers and feel “intestines” (cold spaghetti), “eyeballs” (peeled grapes or olives), “teeth” (unpopped popcorn), “ears” (dried, whole apricots) and “brains” (interior of a pumpkin)
- create a scary Halloween story; the teacher starts and each child adds one line
- read a spooky book while the kids make sound effects
- make masks out of paper plates
- dance to fun Halloween music (Monster Mash, anyone?)

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