Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

8 Tips for a Happy AND Healthy Halloween (and a GIVEAWAY from Clif Kid!)

Halloween is certainly a unique time of year.  When else can you get away with burying a plastic spider in the doughnut box at work, or walk around the neighborhood dressed like your Freudian fantasy of choice?  For many, Halloween represents a time of carefree fun and indulgence…but if you’re not careful, all those treats can add up to a few nasty tricks.  In the short-term, these tricks can manifest themselves on the scale or at the Dr-Averbuch dentist, which may or may not be that detrimental, depending on the person.  However, in the long-term, how your family handles Halloween can make the difference between reinforcing healthy eating habits, or completely undermining everything you’ve taught them about nutrition thus far.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love candy just as much as the next person, and this post is not a plea to stage a protest at the candy aisle of your local Wal-mart.  On the contrary, this post lists 8 steps for ensuring that you get the most enjoyment you can out of your Halloween treats, while minimizing the tricks as much as possible.  (And as you read, see if you can come up with some more ideas and examples to share, especially if you like the idea of Halloween-flavored Clif Kid bars!). Still according to Merrifield Pediatric Dentistry, less sweets is better for kids in general and for their teeth in particular.

1.  Choose Healthy Alternatives –  Who made the rule that you could only give out candy on Halloween?  I recall growing up that one house on our street gave out donuts on Halloween, while another house further down the street gave out apples.  Now granted the donut house might actually have been worse than the candy houses, but at least they get points for thinking outside the box.  But the apple folks were perhaps on the right track – and nowadays there is a whole host of healthier, alternative options that are sweet enough to be considered a treat, but healthy enough to be in a lunchbox.  Instead of candy this year, consider handing out dried fruit, trail mix, or granola bars.    

2.  Trailside Treats – Just because you’re stuck with a bunch of candy doesn’t mean you need to eat it all before Thanksgiving.  Consider utilizing a “treat bin” in your pantry that your family is only allowed to raid on special (and hopefully active!) occasions.  Our family loves packing Halloween goodies on climbing days, and I know plenty of parents that use singular M n M’s or Skittles as bribes motivation to keep happy hikers hopping along.   This will not only make the sugary fun last longer throughout the year, but you’ll be using it in situations where the sugar provides valuable fuel (that is burned off right away!)

Sorting through the top 5 of last year’s candy haul…

3.  Moderation –  I think this one is the biggie that we as Americans just can’t seem to get.  One or two Hershey Kisses won’t ruin anyone’s diet, but one or two king-size Snickers bars probably will.  It’s all about balance, folks.  Oh yeah, and your dentist will probably appreciate it if you don’t exercise your rights in moderation right before bedtime…  

4.  Spirit of Giving – It’s never to early to tap into the spirit of giving.  Many dentist and orthodontist offices participate in a “buy back” program that sends candy overseas to our troops, all details to be found at  It might seem like somewhat of a trivial act, but it’s a great opportunity to teach your child an object lesson about giving (as well as get a lot of extra calories off of your hands!)  If you’re in Charlotte, you can drop your candy off at Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics any time before November 9.

5.  In the Name of Education – Young children love counting, sorting, and organizing games (too bad they grow out of it shortly after they hit puberty…).  Take advantage of the colorful teachable moments your Halloween candy presents to your pre-schooler.  

6.  Drive-bys are Cheating– Nothing gets on my nerves more than parents that are too lazy to walk around the neighborhood with their kids.  Unless you have some sort of medical condition that prevents you from walking, there is absolutely no reason to slowly drive behind your kids in a car.  What a horrible example to set for your children.  Get off your butt and walk around the neighborhood with your kiddos…and on a regular basis, not just Halloween!    

“You think I got this beach-worthy bod with two hands in the cookie jar? No way…”

7.  Get Candy You Don’t Like – If you’ve got kids old enough to have formed strong opinions on what candy they do and do not like, this might be easier said than done.  This is the first year that C will understand what’s going on, but in year’s past, our candy strategy has been as follows – I pick a bag, hubby picks a bag, and then we pick a bag that neigher of us like.  Admittedly we sometimes start hiding the “good stuff” at the bottom of the bucket by the end of the night, but regardless of our own attempts to sabotage ourselves, we still end up with less junk food in the house.  

8.  Stand firm – It might sound like I’m being dramatic, but don’t take Halloween lightly.  Other holidays with even more potential unhealthy temptations are lurking right around the corner.  Set some boundaries at Halloween, and you’ll enter the holiday season feeling healthy, confident and strong.  Cave in to all the treats now, and you’ll open the door for a whole slew of tricks in the coming months.  

What are your family’s stances on Halloween candy?  Do you set limitations on the amount of candy you and your children are allowed to consume?  Are there any other strategies you employ to have a healthy and happy Halloween?  Join the discussion by leaving a comment below – and you’ll automatically be entered to win a box of Clif Kid bars (in their seasonal Full Moon Brownie flavor!)  Remember those “healthy alternatives” I mentioned in the  very 1st tip – these tasty treats would be a PERFECT nutrition-filled option for your child’s Halloween party…The contest will run through Thursday, October 25, when a winner will randomly be selected and notified.  Good luck to all, and Happy Halloween!


23 Responses to “8 Tips for a Happy AND Healthy Halloween (and a GIVEAWAY from Clif Kid!)”

  1. We set limits and put the candy up high so that it needs to be asked for and we have to get it down.


    • Erica

      Up high is a good idea – safe from wandering hands 🙂

  2. Hoping that this year, at two, mason a) wont last long actually trick or treat-ing, 2) won’t notice if most of his candy disappears (going to work with us to share, or to a dentist). I was tempted to have something like clif bars or Lara minis to give out, but the cost can’t compete with candy, sadly…

    Researching a dentist collecting candy now!!

    And have you heard of the Switch Witch? If you leave your candy for her, she trades it for a toy… Considering this tactic… But not totally sold…


    • Erica

      Jill – C is still at the age that he won’t notice if most his candy disappears also…and no I hadn’t heard of the Switch With til I saw Laurissa’s comment below!

  3. Laurissa

    What an excellent idea! We are excited for some tricker-treat fun this year with our 2-year-old. We took him to a consignment shop to pick out a costume… he wanted to be the hamburger and would not take it off. Hmmm, not off to a great start on this ‘healthy’ thing. Our neighborhood is pretty spread out, so hopefully we can burn off a little of the candy on our walk around. We plan on going out early and just hitting a very limited number of houses (bed time is still early!) and setting a strict limit on consumption. It might even be placed somewhere out of sight and forgotten about (hopefully).

    Also, we were thinking about introducing the “Switch Witch” in our family, a system like the tooth fairy. You turn in your candy, to the Switch Witch, and get a toy in return (idea per old neighbors in Raleigh). They offered their kid a better toy depending on the amount you turn in (more candy = better toy). Haven’t explored the logistics of this idea fully but seems like it would be fun for older kids who might make a sport out of candy collection?


    • Erica

      Laurissa- At least yours wants to wear a costume…C has had his Larry the Cucumber costume for weeks and refuses to put it on, although he likes to inform everyone that that’s his Halloween costume…

      Also – interesting idea about the Switch Witch! I’d love to hear how you guys implement it!

  4. Great ideas 🙂 I let my kiddos have 2 pcs the night of trick or treating. Then we sort thru it all and they get to pick out a certain amt, usually 10 pcs or so to keep in a plastic baggie for treats later on. Then the rest is supposed to get donated…. But a certain mommy has a sweet tooth, lol.


    • Erica

      Haley – Yeah, those sweet tooth Mommies… 😉

  5. karen

    my plan is to let my daughter keep a certain number of candy pieces and do a candy buy back with the rest. I also think we will try out “regifting” all those little trinkets you get as birthday favors along with some stickers instead of candy.


    • Erica

      Karen – That sounds like a good plan. I like the regifting idea too!!!

  6. One thing that we do to keep Halloween a little more healthy is to not bake a lot of goodies around that time. Although it can be tempting to go nuts and make a few dozen halloween cookies and cupcakes, we try and keep it a little more healthy. Instead of bringing sweets to the school parties, I’m the lame mom who brings fruit. One thing we can’t resist though is caramel apples – HEAVEN!


    • Erica

      Jessica – Good point! There will be plenty of time to enjoy baking in the coming weeks! Best to not combine it with all the candy…With regards to Halloween parties, I’m also the lame mom…I’m in charge of bringing “orange soda/drink”. They’re getting 100% juice. 😉

  7. Brandy

    My oldest is 7 and putting the candy up high has worked well for us. Last year Lukas loved trick or treating (he was 1 1/3 years old). He was so adorable; it was so enjoyable watching him try to trick or treat. Everyone would ask me what he could have to which I replied, “none of that – he’s allergic to milk, eggs & nuts.” I guess if he gets something that’s strictly fruity candy we’ll be OK but I hate letting him eat artificial colors, GMs, and HFCS! I told people he’d be donating to his brother so they didn’t feel like they were wasting candy on him. This year he knows what candy is so we could be in for a struggle! BTW, we had to run back to the house to pick up his riding push car because his little legs got tired (BIG yards!) – the push car was way more fun than a stroller!


    • Erica

      Brandy – Last year we pushed C around the neighborhood in a wagon. 🙂

  8. We only eat sweets ourselves when on the trail or at the cliff, so our concern is what he’ll get his hands on while visiting friends and at school. Since Alex just turned 1 we have a little time to prepare. As for staying healthy, this is THE time to be outside, hiking, biking, climbing, and getting lost in a corn maze!


    • Erica

      David – You’ve got time to prepare, and kudos to your family for thinking ahead – now is the time when habits are formed! And I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of fall! 🙂

  9. Amelia

    I haven’t even thought of this yet! What great ideas!!!


    • Erica

      Amelia – I figured if I waited til the last minute to post, no one would have time to actually act upon anyone else’s ideas…hoping to inspire in a timely fashion…:)

  10. Jordan D

    We definitely put a limit on candy consumption. We normally don’t keep candy in the house and there is no candy until after dinner. My parents always kept my halloween candy in their room when I was a kid, and that worked to control how much I ate every day.


    • Erica

      Jordan – It also seems like your parent’s ideas about Halloween candy helped to develop a healthy idea about candy for you as an adult as well! 🙂

  11. J-Man will get to choose 5 pieces to have on special occasions and the rest will be left for the ‘switch witch’, although we will probably call it something else. I don’t want to have to battle with the candy with J-Man or myself control. Haha It will be donated.


  12. Claire

    I don’t limit them on the night. It’s the one night they can get all candied out! I try to divide their winnings evenly and pilfer some for myself afterwards.


  13. Emmy

    We set limits on what they can have usually it’s a piece every other night or three pieces every Saturday-something like that so they do not eat it all at once! Thank you so so sooo very much for this:)!!!


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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN