By Lucy Jayne, Registered Nutritionist (Public Health) of the Early Years Nutrition Partnership
Halloween is just around the corner and many little ones will be looking forward to dressing up in their best spooky outfits and taking their buckets out to be filled with treats.
Halloween can often become focused on trick or treating and coming home with a mountain of sugary treats, but there are plenty of things you can do with the kids to enjoy Halloween but that aren’t all about sweets.
Here are some ideas that won’t make the kids shout BOOOOO!
1. Reduce the haul of trick or treat sweeties
Trick-or-treating is a hugely popular part of Halloween. While the odd sweetie once in a while isn’t something to stress about, many parents dread the idea of bringing home a bucket full of them and having a sugar overload for weeks afterwards.
But you can manage the sweetie situation with some planning and simple rules.
- Firstly if you don’t want a full bucket of sugary foods then don’t go round multiple streets, which will obviously mean more sweets than you wanted your kids to have! You could just go round your own street, or plan a route and say you will knock on 10 houses with pumpkins on display for example. This strategy helps to manage yours and your child’s expectations.
- Encourage your kids to take a small single item, and only one item per house, so that they bring a sensible amount home.
- Once you’ve completed your agreed route you can head back home and let the kids have a go at greeting fellow trick-or-treaters. This can be an equally exciting part of the evening for them.
2. Healthy handouts
If you feel uncomfortable handing out sweets, but don’t want disappointed faces at your door, fear not! There are plenty of exciting healthier alternatives.
- The closest option is to fill a bowl with chocolate buttons, or similar mini single chocolate items, for the kids to take one each. This provides a smaller portion than a traditional sweet bag, and plain chocolates are less likely to get stuck to little teeth.
- You could offer home made popcorn, which is cheap and super quick to make. However be careful not to hand these out to very young children, they can be a choking hazard – as can sweets and lollies.
- Plain pretzels work well to offer in a bowl, or fruit chips such as dried apples or bananas chips. Try making a mixed bowl to vary things up.
- If you don’t mind a bit of prep time and are feeling creative you could make ‘wands’ to hand out using pretzel sticks and pieces of reduced fat cheese cut into mini stars stuck to the top!
- And don’t forget the simplicity of a juicy fruit. Satsumas are a good option; they don’t need any prep and won’t make a mess. You or your children could also draw spooky pumpkin faces on them before handing them out.
3. Fun without the food
Something that has been catching on over the past few years is displaying a blue pumpkin to show that you are offering alternative non-food based items. This has been introduced to make trick-or-treating more inclusive for children with allergies or those with additional needs. You could also put a sign on your door saying ‘alternative treats’ or ‘non food based treats here’ if you plan to offer up something a bit different. Focus on small simple items that don’t cost a fortune. Look online for multipacks, which are normally cheaper, or in discount shops that often have multi-buys. You could try:
- Stickers or iron on transfers which you can get in sheets (or bags) and cut up into single items
- Packs of small multi coloured pencils
- Mini sachets of cress or seeds
- If you are happy to dedicate a little more time you could make your own items, such as mini bath bombs, mini muffins or low sugar jelly sweets. The Change4life website has some great healthier muffin recipes and other healthier snack ideas.
4. Creepy crafts
- Use paper plates (or card) to cut out spooky ghosts, pumpkins or bats, decorate, pop a hole in the top and hang up with string.
- Twist four pipe cleaners together, bend the legs and glue a couple of pompoms on top to make creepy crawly spiders.
- Or paint stones with a selection of wicked Halloween pictures to put out on the doorstep.
5. Get creative with Halloween themed fruit and veg art
- Make spooky pictures with fruit and veg pieces such as kiwi witch fingers with dried coconut finger nails, banana ghosts with raisin faces, spiders using apples and satsuma segments, or even a skeleton out of assorted chopped fruit/veg.
- And don’t forget to carve up a pumpkin or two. The kids can draw their own designs on the front and get messy helping to scoop out the flesh. Then pop it in the window ready to welcome trick-or-treaters to your door.
It doesn't all have to be about sugar overload!
Have a fangtastic Halloween!
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