J. Schatzel works in healthcare administration in rural upstate New York and has a master's degree in history.
Whether your child has a food allergy, a dietary sensitivity, or picky taste, Halloween can be tricky. If you live in an urban area and many children trick-or-treat at your home, it is likely that some might have dietary restrictions. While I didn’t have any particular food restrictions as a child, the Halloween "treats" I was always the most excited to receive were the non-candy goodies.
A dentist around the block gave out pennies. A teacher up the street gave out coloring/activity pages rolled up and tied with ribbons. A lady on the corner who decorated her porch like a haunted house gave out spider rings. The following is a list of miscellaneous items I have made, grown in the garden, or accumulated over time at various sales throughout the year that can be given out to trick-or-treaters in lieu of candy and sweets.
Non-Food Trick or Treat Goodies
- Pencils: Fun printed pencils can be found during the back-to-school shopping season. I found a 50-pack of superhero-printed pencils for under two dollars! After Halloween, there are usually large packs of pumpkin/bat/ghost-themed pencils on sale at party supply stores.
- Erasers: These are also great finds that can be had for cheap during back-to-school sales or after Halloween. They won’t go bad like candy, so stock up for next year while they’re on sale. There are often bulk packs in Halloween shapes or with character prints available at party supply stores.
- Stickers: Craft and party-supply stores often have large packs of Halloween-themed stickers on sale after Halloween. Office-supply stores often have bulk quantities of stickers with various characters on sale during the back-to-school shopping season as well.
- Temporary Tattoos: Party-supply stores often have a variety of these available with different characters or Halloween themes.
- Crayons: Large packs of crayons can be obtained for cheap during the back-to-school shopping season. In the spirit of one of my childhood neighbors, I have started bundling three crayons together with ribbon for a neat surprise. The glittery metallic crayons were a big hit!
- Bookmarks: There are many websites on which you can download coloring or activity pages. Using thick paper or cardstock and print your own bookmarks that children can color. You'll be giving them a lasting reminder of their fun evening of trick-or-treating every time they read a book, and the coloring makes for a fun activity in the meantime! I did this when I lived in an apartment in my early 20s before I had kids and was caught off-guard when I realized I would have trick or treaters coming in a couple of hours. They had a picture to color on one side and an area to personalize with their name and favorite book on the reverse. They were a big hit with elementary school-aged kids.
- Friendship Bracelets: If you have a child in elementary or middle school, this could be a fun activity for them. Craft stores often have inexpensive bulk-packs of various colors of embroidery thread. If you have a child who likes making friendship bracelets, this could be a fun activity for them during a long road trip or a rainy day.
- Cookie Cutters: After Christmas, many stores have sales on bulk containers of assorted cookie cutters. Shapes like flowers, letters, animals, dinosaurs, and more are frequently available. I found a 50-pack of assorted animal and dinosaur cookie cutters on sale after Christmas one year, they were a huge hit the following Halloween! We usually don't get that many trick or treaters, so we set aside our favorite cookie cutters to keep before dumping the rest into the cauldron for Halloween.
- Gourds: If you live in a rural area and have space to grow gourds, they are a fun, easy, and cheap way to totally delight your trick-or-treaters. Gourds grow well in upstate NY where I live and require no care once planted. Because it rained often enough (about once a week at the least), I never had to water them. They grew prolifically, and my toddler had a blast when it was time to go pick them! We ended up with a few bushels of assorted gourds from just one packet of seeds, and the trick-or-treaters seemed to really like them.
Fourwaystoyummy from Coupeville WA on May 06, 2020:
I remember coming home from the first Halloween with my Little One. As I looked into his bag I freaked thinking, "how can I let him eat all this poison?" That night I went through his bag and unwrapped the candy and repackaged a nut or piece of dried fruit in the bag. The funny thing is even though he saw his "refurbished candy" bag every day (sitting on the table) he never asked for some. Sometimes we overthink things. I've come to the place where I am comfortable with fewer good treats than omitting everything but that choice is individual. I do think to focus on the "event" and experience is better. We always had some kids over and did some fun games or walked outside in the dark with flashlights and howled like monsters. Simple fun.