Every year we accompany our children in their costumes to ring doorbells on the last evening of October. Thankfully, most everyone opts for the “Treat” option of “Trick-or-Treat” when you show up on their stoop in costume, no matter if it’s adorable or frightening. The onslaught of sugary treats may seem tempting (especially if you institute a "Parent Tax" in your home), but do know there are alternatives to indulging in all that candy.
Some parents have been asking: What do we do for our child who has Celiac disease and cannot have gluten, or our child who is intolerant to dairy? Others ask how to avoid allowing our tiny ones from engorging on pillow cases full of sugary sweets? Both are great questions because we may still want our children to enjoy the tradition of Halloween, but would rather not deal with the sugary aftermath or feel like their child is being deprived of the joy of a Halloween treat.
For kiddos with food allergies, the new tradition of the “Teal Pumpkin” is a great way to know if a home has allergen-friendly treats or non-food treats to hand out, visible for your wandering souls looking for goodies come Halloween night. I've even seen stores selling plastic teal pumpkins, ready to go on the porch or stoop and re-use year after year. An easy swap for handing out is to purchase allergen-friendly gummies, organic lollipops, natural fruit leathers or honey sticks. Another option is to hand out small toys – some winners in the past have been temporary tattoos, glow-sticks, glow bracelets, spider rings or stickers (many available at the dollar stores). Some families have found the toys to be more successful than the candy when trick-or-treaters were given the choice.
Also understandable, many parents would rather not subject their littles to the abundance of sugar, genetically modified ingredients, food dyes and high fructose corn syrup they’ll find hiding in the trick-or-treat bag. And no matter what, going door-to-door you’ll be subject to whatever that house is handing out with their good intentions. Many families find a “Treat Swap” to be a great alternative for the candy you’d rather not have your mythical creatures and super-heroes consume.
Some call it the “Switch Witch”, others call it “The Great Pumpkin”, the “Candy Fairy” or even the “Sugar Sprites” who come overnight to take the candy bags and leave a small gift in its place. Some families don’t even give it a name and simply give their kiddos the option to trade their candy hoards in for a more desirable present or even cold hard cash for the older kiddos. Some parents purchase the candy for a nickel a piece, giving them the option to spend the money on something less sugary which will also last longer, such as a set of Legos or an art set. The nice thing about this option is that it can be used for more holidays than just Halloween – birthday parties, Valentine’s Day, Easter… anytime your child wants to swap their candy they can leave it out to be swapped for something better.
One last idea is to donate the candy to science. Look here for a list of fun science experiments for your kids to try with their Halloween bounty: http://www.candyexperiments.com/
Of course, if your child doesn’t have an allergy or intolerance to certain candies you can always let them pick out a few pieces to enjoy and let them swap the rest. It’s important to find the right balance for your family and I hope this gives you a few ideas to make it easier to reach that balance. Happy Haunting!
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