Halloween might be one of my favourite holidays of the year. It holds no religious value, kids and adults get to dress up in whatever their hearts desire and it’s the perfect excuse to indulge in some yummy treats. For our family, it’s a time to explore activities like Pumpkins After Dark and spoil ourselves with some extra “sometimes foods.”
I used to think that Halloween was ALL about candy but as a parent, I realize that Halloween, like all other holidays, is about whatever you make it. You can definitely make it all about candy if you want, but if you’re trying to minimize the amount of sugar your child is consuming, you may be looking for alternative ideas. Here are some of my favourites:
Take the opportunity to teach your kids about donation.
The first time we took Avery trick or treating, is also the first time we spoke to her about the importance of donation. She was 2 and we kept things simple. We decided that after we finished trick or treating, she would have to make some important decisions! She could choose which treats she wanted to keep and which she was happy to donate and for each treat she donated, she would receive a homemade, baked treat. That first year, I baked Gluten Free, Dairy Free brownie bites. It was a huge success! Avery felt good doing a good deed and we felt good knowing she wasn’t overloading on refined sugars, food dyes, additives and other questionable ingredients. This year we will be introducing this concept to Noa.
Get creative with how you celebrate.
When Halloween essentially got cancelled last year, we were determined to keep the spirit alive. We created an indoor trick-or-treating experience that the girls absolutely went crazy for. Behind every door in our house, was either an edible or non-edible treat. Edible treats included a variety of healthier options such as Nomz energy bites, Made Good bars, and Wild Made fruit rolls, combined with your typical choices of Nestle chocolate bars and kinder eggs. Non-edible treats included stickers, stamps, colouring books and other fun Halloween themed toys. The kids had the time of their lives and were so excited about ALL their goodies. They didn’t need every goodie to be chocolate, chips or gummies. They were just as excited for their new dollar store toys. We will be doing the same scavenger hunt this year and likely, forever more!
Take advantage of activities in and around you in October
Why does Halloween ONLY have to be about trick or treating? This tip ties in with the above: explore Halloween themed experiences beyond Trick or Treating. This past weekend we took advantage of Canada’s Wonderlands Camp Spooky and this week we have plans to go to Downey Farms to play and pick pumpkins, paint and carve our pumpkins and decorate the house to officially get it Halloween ready. We baked Green Goblin muffins on the weekend to enjoy throughout this week and on Friday the girls will help to bake the treats they get for each candy they donate. We bought tickets to see Pumpkins after Dark for this coming weekend and on Halloween, our spooktacular day will start with trip to Treetop Trekking. We are having friends joining us for our now annual, indoor trick or treating and after dinner, we will head outside for some old fashioned trick or treating. The kids are not only excited about trick or treating; they are excited for ALL OF IT! We have made Halloween to be so much more than scary costumes and infinite candy - we’ve tried to make it about infinite fun! Think of some activities you can do with your family that the kids will enjoy. If it’s too late for this year, be prepared for next!
One of the things that I’ve realized as a mom is that holidays are what you make of them, even the made up holidays, like Halloween. For my family, Halloween is about dressing up, having fun and indulging in more candy than we would normally have in one day. The scavenger hunt is our way of ensuring some of the treats they get are “mom and dad approved” and of course, we let them trade anything they choose. All the activities we do around Halloween help to create beautiful memories which if you ask me, is way sweeter than any candy.
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Stay safe out there!
Dr. Shelly Ordon, ND