Halloween: How to Give Treats Without the Tricks

Halloween Tips: Treats Without the Tricks

This time of year people are getting ready for Halloween by searching for that perfect costume for themselves or the kids. October also often means loading up on candy to give out to trick-or-treaters. It may be a time-honored tradition to hand out candy chock-full of added sugar and other not-so-great ingredients, but what about giving kids a treat without the tricks?

If it sounds like a buzzkill to be a house not giving out the typical Halloween candy, consider what’s in a lot of that candy and how it can affect the body and mind, especially in the case of kids. Then see below for some fun alternatives to give out.

Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup

What it is:

The main ingredient in most candy, unhealthy sweeteners can come in many forms. We’re talking about added sugars labeled as sugar, cane sugar or cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, and even agave, which is sometimes marketed as healthy but has much more fructose than regular sugar.

Why it’s not good:

The main problem with added sugar is fructose. Fructose is the sugar that makes fruit taste sweet. In its natural state in fruit (which has fiber, vitamins and nutrients) it’s usually fine for most people. But when it’s extracted and concentrated and doesn’t have fiber with it, it’s usually too much for our bodies. There is growing scientific consensus that fructose can be toxic to the liver, just like alcohol. Kids and adults can even get a “sugar belly,” like alcoholics can get beer bellies. Consuming too much added sugar can also significantly increase the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, research shows.

How much is too much?

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men. The AHA limits for children vary depending on their age and caloric needs, but range between 3-6 teaspoons (12 – 25 grams) per day. One teaspoon of sugar is equal to about 4 grams so keep that in mind when you look at labels. For example, just one fun size Snickers has 8.5 grams of sugar (a little over two teaspoons). One regular size bag of original Skittles has a whopping 46 grams of sugar (11.5 teaspoons), which is more than the recommended limit for men and women.

Unfortunately, the average American adult’s daily sugar intake is 22 teaspoons, way above the recommended maximum. So imagine how much added sugar kids and adults could consume on Halloween and the days following if they have a lot of candy.

Alternative sweeteners

Try candy or treats sweetened with fruit. Maple syrup and honey tend to be better added sugar options in moderation since they have some nutritional value and less fructose, but it’s still good to look at labels for sugar content and be aware of added sugar consumption.

Artificial Colors

What they are:

When you see brightly colored candy such as Skittles and Jolly Ranchers, most of the time it’s been dyed using artificial colors. These are listed on labels as “Red 40,” “Yellow 5,” “Blue 1” and other colors. They are also often present in soda, fruit drinks, condiments and other foods and desserts.

Why they’re not good:

Those eye-catching artificial colors can have hazardous health consequences. They’ve been linked to cancer as well as behavioral problems like hyperactivity in children. Some parents attest to the stark difference they see in their children before and after consuming artificial colors.

Trick-or-Treat Candy Alternatives

Plenty of houses will be giving out candy, so if you want to give out something different on Halloween—treats without the tricks—here are some edible and inedible alternatives. If you go for an edible alternative, it’s usually a good idea to give out something packaged in this case so parents can feel more safe about the food and what’s in it. Also, be aware that nut allergies are an issue for some kids. Some people even put a teal pumpkin outside their home to let trick-or-treaters know they have allergy-free treats.

  1. Fruit leathers or fruit snacks

Let kids enjoy the natural sweetness of fruit. Fruit leathers are like smaller, thicker fruit roll-ups and come in a variety of delicious flavors. Several companies make them and they’re usually sweetened with just fruit, so double-check the label. These KIND fruit snacks are made with just fruit too.

  1. Glow-in-the-dark favors

Glow sticks, glow-in-the-dark bracelets, spiders and other items are fun, festive giveaways.

  1. Temporary tattoos

Get a bunch of Halloween-themed or other temporary tattoos that kids can enjoy.

  1. Pencils and erasers

Make school spook-tacular with these fun Halloween-themed supplies.

  1. Stickers

There are many designs, from glow-in-the-dark Halloween stickers, to animals or popular children’s characters.

  1. Halloween toys and favors

From spooky jewelry to bouncy balls and more, your trick-or-treaters can have plenty to choose from.


Don’t know what alternative to choose? Get a few and let trick-or-treaters pick their treat.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!