Sweet-less Trick-or Treats for Halloween by Katie Kimball


Must Halloween be an all-out sugar fest for our kids? Luckily my kids are still (just barely!) young enough that when they get one (small) piece of candy as a dessert after a meal, they’re content with that and see it as a treat. We have Halloween candy around until the summer parade candy takes over. But I still dread the onslaught of unknown sugar that comes with October 31st.

Is there a better way? What options does a “real food” household have for trick-or-treating?

Learning to Host Halloween Ghouls

When we first moved into a real house in a neighborhood, I was pretty excited about hosting trick-or-treaters. Even then I didnít want to contribute to the sugar fest, so I went to a local novelty store and bought small toys in bulk: bouncy balls, fake fangs, gooey balls, witches’ fingers, toy boats, and more.

Wouldn't you like your child to come to my house?

Wouldn't you like your child to come to my house?

I spent about twenty-five bucks ($13 of which was the bag of bouncy balls that I’ll have when I’m a senior citizen) – and I still have the same stash four years later! Turns out our neighborhood doesn’t host a big trick-or-treating crowd. I was so disappointed that first year!

To Sugar or Not to Sugar?

I’m an anti-materialist, too, and I have a healthy fear of “things” coming into our house. We’re running out of places to put “things”, so I’d rather not acquire more than what I need (or really, really want!). My kids both get a lot of toys as gifts from family members, and I wasn’t thrilled about contributing to other folks’ “junk piles”…BUT I decided “things” that won’t hurt anyone’s health are better than candy.

The History of Trick-or-Treating

I enjoyed discovering the following in an old book my cousin found in our Busia’s (Polish grandma’s) attic, The Year And Our Children;: Planning The Family Activities For Christian Feasts And Seasons by Mary Reed Newland:

Begging at the door grew from an ancient English custom of knocking at doors to beg for a “soul cake” in return for which the beggars promised to pray for the dead of the household. Soul cakes, a form of shortbread… became more important for the beggars than prayers for the dead, it is said. Florence Berger tells in her Cooking for Christ a legend of a zealous cook who vowed she wold invent soul cakes to remind them of eternity at every bite. So she cut a hole in the middle and dropped it in hot fat, and lo — a doughnut. Circle that it is, it suggests the never-ending of eternity. Truth or legend, it serves a good purpose at Halloween.

The refrains sung at the door varied from “a soul cake, a sol cake, have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul cake,” to the later:

Soul, soul, an apple or two,
If you haven’t an apple, a pear will do,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for the Man Who made us all.

[People put on pantomimes and dramas to remind people of the] reality of life after death and the means to attain it. it is probably from these that the custom of masquerading on Halloween had its beginning. The folly of a life of selfishness would be the message pantomimed by the damned; the torment of waiting, the message of the souls from Purgatory; the delights of the beatific vision, the message of he Heavensent. Together they warned the living to heed the means of salvation before it was too late. Doubtless the presence of goblins and witches and cats (ancient symbols of the devil) were remnants of pagan times bespeaking to Christians of spirits loosed from hell to keep track of their own and herd them back at cockcrow.

I’m not about to make homemade doughnuts to feed the neighborhood, so for me, I’m sticking with my toy basket. I wish I had some suggestions for how to quell the flow of Halloween candy coming IN, but we just ration it and allow the excitement that comes along with Halloween.

Ideas for a Sweet-less Trick-or-Treat

Time to chime in! What ideas do you have to help people avoid being a candy supplier to the neighborhood kids? How do you manage your own kids and their trick-or-treating loot?

  1. little raisin boxes or natural fruit snacks (my S-I-L always gets them for my son from Trader Joe’s)
  2. holy cards/saint cards (for the bold)
  3. trading cards (baseball, Pokemon)
  4. little soaps (not anti-bacterial!)
  5. pencils, erasers, crayons (bought at the back-to-school sales, of course)
  6. Snack-packs of Goldfish or something else relatively not-un-healthy (better than HFCS or white sugar)
  7. Kids love a few coins!
  8. Playdough (maybe even homemade!)
  9. Activity books and crayons
  10. stickers, tattoos, stamps and toys (Oriental Trading is a source for those who may not have a novelty shop in their hometown)

And I’ve got no ideas for the second question. How do you monitor your own kids’ Halloween sugar intake? Please join in!

Copyright 2010 Katie Kimball

Copyright 2010 Katie Kimball


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