Celebrate Halloween and keep your “crunchy momma” status with these super fun, {not lame} healthy Halloween tips and ideas for home and school!

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I’m going to just cut to the chase, let the cat out of the bag…you get the idea…

It’s not my favorite holiday.

You know…Halloween. Sure, it’s super fun to dress up little kids like fuzzy ducks, silly clowns, and glittery butterflies, but really, I’m in this whole autumn thing for that Thanksgiving turkey!

And yet…

…the kids nearly jump out of their skin for this holiday, and so we roll with it. I’ve spent the greater part of the last 8 ½ years of this motherhood journey navigating just how to approach the sugar crazed holiday, and I feel like I’ve come up with a happy medium that works for our family.

My middle kiddo making pumpkin pasta before trick or treating!

Did you hear that key phrase?

I’ve found what works for *our* family. It won’t be the same for every family, but I’m hoping my list is super comprehensive and will at least give you a bit of empowerment to start making your *own* family traditions to make the holiday special for your kids, without compromising your real food standards.

Because that’s really what it’s all about, right?

The fun, right!?

Listen, I may be one of those ____(insert your choice of terms to describe health conscience moms…crunchy, holistic, green…) mommas, but I don’t want my kids to feel like the odd duck. Sure they may pack bone broth loaded soup for school lunches, but I also pack an occasional PBJ. And yes, for the most part treats are just saved for birthdays and holidays, but we have the occasional Friday night pizza or weekend celebratory cookies.

It’s called balance…

And that balance is crucial to making sure your kiddos don’t buck back against you when it comes to fun things like Halloween. Trust me…I’ve done the whole skipping trick or treating to avoid the candy thing. I thought since I would be having them dump the candy anyway, why bother!

Instead, what I had was a disappointed 6 year old who knew about trick or treating from her friends at school, and all she wanted to do was dress up and have some fun. Not every kid will come to this conclusion, but she would have been just as happy to dump the candy just for the chance to dress up and have some fun! Don’t take that away from them!

Our family Halloween traditions!

Again, every family is different, and there is no one right way to do this Halloween thing. I hope everyone reads that part carefully – my way isn’t the highway, but I’m hoping you can get a few ideas to help, and learn from my mistakes!

  1. We carve pumpkins, dress up, and do the trick-or-treating thing. My kids are still at the ages where this is super cool to them, and they don’t even care that the rule is dumping the candy in the trash afterward. They seriously just want to dress up and have fun!
  2. We swap their trick-or-treat candy for a special treat that they get to make with momma. We do something different every year, and the kids get to pick. We’ve made caramel corn, candy apples, tootsie rolls, and sugar cookies made into pumpkins (I use this recipe using a pumpkin cutter and then use naturally dyed orange sprinkles over white frosting!). They get to enjoy their special treat after trick-or-treating – period. Not the next day or the weekend after. Even if it’s a school night, they are staying up and having fun. Don’t be the party pooper mom. Yep I said it – and I get to say it cuz I’ve been there and it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Live a little 😉
  3. I hand out candy. Well, honey sticks to be exact. I went years without handing out candy because I just couldn’t stand the thought of handing out GMO filled candy to innocent little kids. I couldn’t afford the expensive organic chocolate candy for everyone, so I just didn’t hand anything out. I can’t remember where I got the honey stick idea, but we are going on our 3rd year of handing them out, and it is a compromise I feel good about. Kids get something sweet, and I feel good about the quality.
  4. As far as school Halloween parties go, our school doesn’t celebrate Halloween in the traditional way, so I have zero experience there. They do some crafts, and make applesauce! (The kids love this by the way – let them peel and chop, and then slow cooker or Instant pot the applesauce!) If you have kiddos at a school that does the whole Halloween party fiasco, please leave us some comments below on how you handle the school parties so we may learn from you!
I absolutely cherish this picture of my oldest making the caramel for caramel apples and her sisters watching! That is what this is all about! (Recipe for the caramel apples from Nourished Kitchen is below!)

A quick note on my thoughts about babies & toddlers…

Take those babies and toddlers to the pumpkin patch! Do fun arts and crafts with pumpkin seeds, orange paint, and pumpkin cutters in play-doh!

My philosophy on the babies and toddlers with candy is…do *you* want to explain to a 1 or 2 year old why we don’t have candy every day of the year? They just don’t have the capacity to reason why this isn’t a good idea like a 4 year old on up would. I kept my babies and toddlers with a fun snack of fruit salad with simple whipped cream, or simple fruit leathers (I love the idea of this winter squash fruit leather – perfect for toddlers!), or cut up fruit in a fun mini cookie cutter for Halloween shapes.

They don’t know any better, dear momma. You’ll be so glad you did the next day when you don’t have to explain why we don’t have chocolate everyday to a 2 year old who doesn’t know how to understand that. It just isn’t fair to them.

That said…when it comes to older siblings in the house, let them have some fun. I admit my third born had her first piece of candy much younger than my oldest who was at least 4 before she had hers. However,  I definitely didn’t feel like going through the meltdown process at ages 1 or 2 when she wanted *more*, so she was just in bed when my oldest kiddos had their special treat.

Again, this philosophy isn’t set in stone. It is my opinion, and my thought process. You do you dear momma, but at least this gives you some food for thought! 

Onto the ideas!

SO! I wanted to comprise a list of ideas that will help you through Halloween with your {ahem} crunchy momma label 🙂 Pick and choose what works for you, and pass by what doesn’t. Read through it with your older kids and make some new family traditions together!

Trick-Or-Treat Hand-Out Treats:

Let’s face it…an apple or box of raisins is just not something special to a kid over the age of 3! Lighten up and try some of these fun, safer ideas that will make the kids smile! Please note the prices per candy, and maybe you could do the more cost effective ones for the masses of trick-or-treaters, and save the pricier ones for those smaller, at home parties or classroom parties if candy is allowed.

{PLEASE keep in mind that Amazon prices can fluctuate. I broke the price down per candy for your convenience, and the price here reflects what Amazon had the price at during the time of this post publishing.}

Treat Alternatives:

Let’s face it…kids probably have enough pencils, and the gross plastic fake Halloween teeth will just get tossed in the garbage. Here are some fun, non candy ideas for the kids that stop by that can’t have candy!

{These aren’t really my thing, but I do think that for the little guys that come around, some parents might be thankful to get something like a sticker that isn’t full of sugar. I’m pretty sure you will want to have the candy from above on hand for older kids. PLEASE keep in mind that Amazon prices can fluctuate. I broke the price down per toy for your convenience, and the price here reflects what Amazon had the price at during the time of this post publishing}

  • Stickers (2 cents per sticker. Obviously, you can find stickers just about anywhere! Shop around! I thought these were cute for the Halloween holiday!)
  • Temporary Tattoos (6 cents per tattoo. Obviously, you can find temporary tattoos just about anywhere! Shop around! I thought these were cute for the Halloween holiday!)
  • Stampers (18 cents per stamper. Obviously, you can find stampers just about anywhere! Shop around! I thought these were cute for the Halloween holiday!)
  • Glow Sticks (6 cents per glow stick.)
  • Bouncy Balls (13 cents per bouncy ball)

Homemade Treats The Family Can Make Together:

Make sure you use the comments to tell us your family Halloween treat traditions! I would love to add to this list!

Honey Caramel Apples (This is the recipe we use every year!)

Honey Sweetened Caramel Corn

Gluten Free Halloween Ghost Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Latte {Because Mom & Dad need it! Leave the coffee out for the kiddie cups!}

Homemade Tootsie Rolls

Spider Cupcakes

Candy Corn Panna Cotta

Chocolate Dipped Mandarin Oranges

Paleo Ghost Truffles

Sweet, Spicy, & Salty Pumpkin Seeds

Dark Chocolate Nut Butter Cups

Fresh Figs With Cheese & Walnuts

Chocolate Covered Apples

Salted Caramel Apple Parfaits

Pumpkin Gummies

Cinnamon Maple Nut Butter Apples

Honey Nut Popcorn

Healthy Family Halloween Dinner Ideas {Kids will actually eat before trick-or-treating!}

Traditions That Will Make Halloween Super Special!

Make sure you use the comments to tell us your family traditions! I would love to add to this list!

  • Pumpkin carving contest
  • Play Halloween themed Pictionary
  • Pumpkin seed counting contest
  • Make your own personal pizzas (2 recipes above in the Halloween Dinner section!)
  • Watch a movie
  • Play board games
  • Play Halloween themed Charades
  • Have a scavenger hunt
  • Have a spa night

Fruit Based Treats For Classroom Parties (Or at home for those toddler treats!)

Applesauce Making (Have the kids peel & chop, then slow cooker or Instant pot it in class!)

Halloween Monster Mouths

Fruit Bat Snack Bags

Monster Fruit Cups

Pumpkin Spice Fruit Dip

Frozen Boo-Nana Pops (I’d use greek yogurt!)

Halloween Green Yogurt Fruit Dip & Spooky Fruit Snacks (I’d skip the nutella or make your own)

Healthy Halloween Orange Pumpkins


Ghost Berries (I’d use organic white chocolate or even dip in Greek yogurt and freeze.)

Orange Jack-O-Lantern Fruit Cups

Candy Corn Fruit Pops

Spiders On A Log

Fruit Gummy Worms

Treat Alternatives For Classroom Parties

Think games and crafts! The focus at classroom parties doesn’t always have to be on the food. If they kids are having fun, and get a break from normal classroom routine, that is all they care about.

Please note there are probably a zillion Halloween crafts and games! I tried searching for things that could be done in the classroom easily and affordably. If you are a teacher or parent that have some fun classroom craft ideas, please drop them in the comments below and I’ll add to the list as we need!


Halloween Spider Craft

Halloween Rock Monsters

Monster Corner Bookmarks

Pine Cone Spiders

Yarn Pumpkins

Pumpkin Apple Stamps

Paper Plate Mummy Lacing Craft

Craft Stick Spider Webs

Build A Monster (This link has a free printable!)

Paper Plate Black Cat


  • Carve a pumpkin and have a estimating contest on the amount of pumpkin seeds
  • Roast the pumpkin seeds!
  • Peel & chop apples and slow cooker or Instant Pot applesauce right in class! If you have access to an oven at school like our school does, you can have older kids do a baked applesauce which will make the whole school smell amazing!
  • Make play-doh with a fun fall scent or slime in class
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Science experiments
  • Bingo (this link has a free Bingo printable!)
  • (I had a harder time finding games! If you are a teacher with some fun Halloween games, please comment!)

SO! We want to hear from YOU!

Let’s make this the most comprehensive, “crunchy momma” guide to a {not lame} FUN Halloween! List out what you do in the comments! If you are a Switch Witch family, a big party family, or you do something totally different, we want to hear it!


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  1. These are such great ideas! My grand kids do the ‘switch’ and love it. But I am always surprised by people’s reactions when they hear ideas like this, like somehow these kids are being deprived. I think it’s brillant!

  2. Oh I LOVE this post!!! I’m the homeroom mom for my daughters Pre-K4 class and it’s so hard to try to make it a fun AND healthy party! I try to focus on a game/craft, a goodie back with healthy fruit snacks, fake teeth, and some other non-food items. We also do fruit, cheese, and a cupcake or cookie…moderation for me is key. We will trick-or-treat and swap candy for better options at home and then maybe get a toy! Love all the healthy options you posted to pass out! Thanks so much for sharing this post!!!

  3. This is such an amazingly comprehensive post and I love how you’ve offered so many options. Also, now I just want to make myself a huge pumpkin spice latte 🙂

  4. What a great guide you put together to tackle everything about Hollawe’en! It surely isn’t easy to keep the health aspect in check. Your practical advices and the balanced attitude are priceless, leaving me feel (a little more sane and) inspired to be a fun mom this holiday!

  5. Renee!!! THIS is such an awesome post, thank you so much for your time putting this together, I’m sure this took a lot of time. LOVE all of these suggestions and alternatives. Those honey sticks are so great! We love them, such a great idea to hand out. And your girls, oh my goodness those photos are too sweet.

  6. Such great ideas. Thank you for taking the time to put it all together. Your littles are too cute. I’ve mellowed out a bit as I’ve been a mama longer. We have our fun on Halloween and then the “switch witch” comes that evening and leaves a fun surprise in exchange for all of the unhealthy candy. My kids love it. Honey sticks are a great idea!

  7. I love this! We’re totally the house that gives out water bottles and real fruit gummies on Halloween, NO SHAME in promoting a healthy lifestyle in a fun manner. Jack gets to trick or treat and pick out 5 pieces of candy he wants to keep. The rest we give away. Love these ideas!

  8. Great article! Thanks for sharing! I’m curious, do you let your kids eat any of the candy? Do they get to pick one? Or the whole thing gets dumped and they get the homemade treat instead?

    1. Hi Amy! So far, yes, I dump it all, and have gotten away with that. Mostly, I’m sure, because it’s all they have ever known, and they are still pretty young. I’m sure this will change to letting them try some as they get older, but we will see how that shakes out. I’ve been letting my oldest make her own decisions for about a year in regards to friend birthday parties and all the junk. She has made some good and some not so good choices – though the not so good choices lead to better choices next time when the tummy ache ensues 🙂