How do you decide which are safe Halloween treats to give out? Or do you even want to give out candy – is there something else?
Some of us actually remember a time when it was okay to give out homemade goodies for trick-or-treaters. At one time candy, fresh apples or home-made treats were thrown into the kiddies Halloween bags and their parents were responsible for sorting through it before the kids ate it. Nowadays, in most neighborhoods, the treat giver of today is expected to assume part of the safety responsibility. So mostly this means giving out purchased treats for Halloween. And, really, you don’t want to make something that will just be thrown out by nervous parents. This leaves many asking, what is safe to give?
1. The first thing to cross off the list is anything home-made unless you’re having a Halloween party at your home or the treats are going to children from families you know and the treats are well marked and easy to identify as coming from your home. In this day and age, no parent is going to let their child eat a popcorn ball or candy apple or even a fresh picked apple from a stranger.
It's true those homemade specials were so delicious and one could watch your budget a lot better but with careful shopping and your imagination you can still watch your pennies and have fun things to give out.
2. Another consideration is the size of the treat. Some are small but large enough to get stuck in a child’s throat, like bite size candies or gum balls. Others may be hard to dissolve, like taffy or caramel, and pose a choking risk.
What To Choose: Instead of candy consider individual packages of pretzels, sunflower seeds, goldfish crackers, fruit roll-ups, or raisins.
3. Allergy Alert: More people today are aware of the common allergy to nuts, especially peanuts. While it’s easy to know that “Snickers” has nuts, it’s more difficult to know if the processing plant where the candy is made also processes nuts. It only takes a tiny bit of nut kernel to set off a severe allergic reaction in some people.
Check Labels: Many Halloween candy boxes label to indicate if they are “Peanut Free”, so do look for that label.
In general, it is safer to choose a non-chocolate candy because these are more likely to be produced in a nut-free facility.
Think of Twizzlers, Hot Tamales, Mike and Ike, Smarties and Sweet Tarts, or Lifesaver Gummies.
If you still want chocolate, look for allergy information after the list of ingredients on the package. Watch for a warning that the candy is made in a facility that also processes peanuts, almonds, or tree nuts. Sometimes the warning is that the candy may contain traces of peanuts, etc. or that the equipment is also used for manufacturing peanuts or tree nuts.
Better Choices: In view of this information, there are some treats developed where the manufacturing process is known to be safer.
These include Junior Mints, Tootsie Rolls, Hershey Kisses, Chips Ahoy Cookies, York Peppermint Patties, and Oreo Cookies.
Here's another option! Let's think about this, for really safe halloween treats, do they need to be candy? This is a good time to think outside the box.
You probably don't want to hand out toothbrushes like some dentists do but there are other choices.
Many years ago when my children were toddlers, I chose small toys for our neighborhood children. Granted, we lived on 16 acres so there weren't too many children but still there could be 20 or 30. I found some very inexpensive toys, much like you might find in Dollar Stores today. But since we all knew each other, I could also include home baking.
In the years since then the safe halloween treats I have given include many things I have found at the Dollar Store:
Stickers, post-it notes, fancy pens and pencils, hair things for girls, colorful shaped erasers, Halloween spooky decor items,
I've also included packages of little paint-ables that I made of plaster of paris in my candy molds.Sometimes I even included those little paint pallettes that you could find for Birthday party treat bags.
I've bought Coconut pudding/jell-o type treats (the small ones would come in a big jar in multiple flavors) that I have bought at the International import section of the local Superstore in West Kelowna and sometimes individual puddings or juice boxes. Those are fun since the kids get to choose which flavor. I hear lots of them say, 'Oh, I'll take this for lunch tomorrow!". At a dollar for a pack of four pudding (or jell-o or fruit cups) that's only $ .25 per treat.
One glorious year MacDonalds sold special Halloween coupons. What a hit they were. The children at the door were more excited about receiving them than they were about the candy I also gave.
All of the little craft things and the Little Moldies I made, I would bundle into mini bags, either tied with ribbon or ready for them to fill with their chosen treats.
If I lived in any area where huge bunches of ghost and goblins came to my door, I might not be able to be quite so generous. Each year I set a budget, and look way beyond just what is available in the Halloween candy section. For instance when I gave out juice boxes, it was because, by accident, I discovered my local Save On store in Westbank had them at the lowest I've even seen before or since. That's not what I was shopping for, and Halloween was some weeks away, but I quickly grabbed up a number of them - more than I needed, but I knew I could always get rid of them if I needed to.
You'll find more tips and ideas for safe Halloween treats at KidsHealth.org. They have some good ideas to help everyone have a Safe & Spooktacular Halloween! I especially like that one item that comes in little boxes (and it's not juice). I might just do that this year! Halloween Candy Hints.
The important thing is to participate and let children continue the fun of trick-or-treating in a safe manner. Fuss and gush over their costumes, don't care too much if some are older or come back twice - when you run out of treats, shut off your lights, knowing you have made Halloween fun for the children.
Because not overspending is important, too. You want to have safe Halloween treats so it is fun for the kids but also you may need to stay within your budget so it's fun for you, too.
When you do, maybe you will get to have an experience like I did a few years ago in Peachland. Where we lived near the beach, we didn't get many children. One time the door bell rang, we raced to the door to find just one small 3 year old boy. His dad hovered in the background and explained that his bag had broken so he just chose his treats and then handed them off to his father.
The little boy was hesitant to leave the porch though (Okay, his dad was calling him but he dug his little heels in and wouldn't leave). He kept trying to reach into the pocket of his jacket but struggled because of his costume.
Then his face lit up and his eyes shone as his hand got yanked out of that tight pocket. Face beaming he held his little hand up to me. He opened his fist. In it one was one very grubby pink Smartie. His "treat" for me. Happy and laughing he turned and ran down the sidewalk to his Dad.
That's the best treat I have ever received on Halloween - ever!
I still have it.
Keep your Halloween fun AND safe with these Safe Halloween Treats while staying within your budget.
Others liked these, you will, too!
Meal Ideas: Oozing Pasta Eyeballs. Weiner Worms, Mummy Meatloaf, Mashed
Boo-tatoes, Black Bat Wings, Green Slime (Pea Soup) and Kitty Litter
Halloween Party Food - Meatloaf Mice, Fungi Salad, Brown Spider Cookies and Swamp Water Slurpers.
Halloween Crafts & Fun:
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