I am always looking on the web for healthy Halloween ideas, until it dawned on me: I have healthy Halloween ideas!
So in no particular order, here they are...
1. Trade the Treats with a Trick: My kids LOVE Halloween. As soon as my 4 1/2 year old sees a pumpkin, he's asking how long until Halloween. But get this: he has never eaten a single piece of Halloween candy. Never.
I know my brothers are thinking I'm just plain cruel right about now. Here's what we do: we buy a gift or a basket of goodies that they will love. Then when we're done trick or treating, we trade them the gift for their candy. They can't wait to see what they get!
2. Teach Charity: This is a great time to talk about how most children get treats all year long (mine certainly do!), while others rarely do. Give away that candy (or at least some of it) to a program in a disadvantaged community, or a local nursing home. You can send the non-perishable items (think lollipops and smarties) to soldiers overseas. At the very least donate it to the next function you attend.
3. Pick Active Party Games: Go online and look up party games, and stick with active ones. My preschoolers (up through 6 years old) will be doing rolling pumpkin races and a glow stick hunt after dark. Flashlight tag anyone? Of course, make sure that costumes aren't too restrictive, and that there is ample lighting to prevent a bad fall.
4. Eat Seasonally: It's one way you stay healthy all year long, why not now? Think apples and pumpkin, and you can't go wrong. We will be having make-your-own "candied" apples using this chocolate recipe and a modified version of a caramel recipe. Then there will be chopped nuts to roll them in. We have a spice cookie recipe using protein-rich flours that we like. We'll make those with festive cookie cutters. Local apple cider is always a big hit - put it in a crockpot with cloves and other yummy spices for a really special treat. Pumpkin muffins like these with frosting instead of cupcakes are also an option. Apple chips, roasted pumpkin seeds, or these crockpot baked apples are other options.
5. Focus on the Fun: No other holiday makes decorating more fun for kids. Kids love decorating pumpkins. This year we're making a huge spider out of black trash bags to hang from the dining room ceiling. I'll make sure I post a picture once we do. Older kids can get very involved in more elaborate spooky decorations. And don't forget the costumes! I think that candy becomes the focus because it's the easiest thing to just throw in a bowl and excite kids. But focusing on convenience is a deterrent from living a healthy life in so many ways, and Halloween is no different.
When we focus on family, community, and fun, every day will be healthier!
PS- My husband and I use the holiday to catch-up with all of our neighbors that we don't visit with often enough. By the time we've hit fewer than a dozen houses, my kids are ready to be done. I'm not sure if this tactic will work well once my children are older, but I love that my kids associate the holiday with a sense of community.
PPS- That cool graphic up top is from this site. You can make your own. I have a frame in my kitchen and I plan to switch-out one of these "wordles" for each holiday/season.
How do you keep Halloween healthy? Share your ideas below...
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