Halloween: The Trick is the Treat

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Trick or treat, smell my feet! Give me somethin' good to eat!

How cute it is to see all the little monsters and witches, superheroes and princesses knocking on your door, begging for a treat. A treat, right? Something good to eat, that's what they're asking for. But is that what they're getting? Are we giving these adorable little urchins something suitable and proper to eat? Hardly. We are filling their bags with sugars, additives, chemicals, fats, and all kinds of junk that serves no purpose other than to wreak havoc on their poor little bodies. We're damaging our kids, one bite size at a time. As it turns out, we've been tricked into believing we're giving these kids treats.

So what is the parent of one of these little panhandlers to do about all of these tricked up treats that are brought home? I'll tell you what we do in our house. Following tradition, the candy is first dumped out onto the middle of the floor so each child can see their spoils (literally, in this case) and admire their own Mt. St. Sugar. As a dutiful parent, I look through each mound, searching first for razor blades and stick pins (yes, I did grow up in the 80s). After removing anything unwrapped or questionable, I go in for round two. Anything that is mostly comprised of artificial dyes and flavorings (with a little high fructose corn syrup mixed in for taste) gets the boot immediately. Each kid is then allowed to pick a certain number of goodies from the remaining not-so-super-unhealthy candy. The rest of their loot is bought out. Yes, I pay my children for all of the junk that well-meaning neighbors donated to them because I happen to place a high value on their health. We take a trip to the store the following day and they get to spend their hard-earned cash on the toy of their choice. The edible goodies they picked out are given sparingly, usually over weeks, until they forget about it.

So what happens to the remaining cavity causers? Garbage. I throw away quite a bit of candy, let me tell you. The first couple of times I felt a guilty little twinge; I know people spent money on those sugary gifts and I abhor waste. In the end, we must do what is best for our family, and I know--and you know--that keeping a giant bowl full of sweets sitting on the counter is no good for anyone. It takes a tremendous amount of willpower for you and your child to resist a limitless amount of candy so easily accessible--get rid of it! Outta sight, outta mind!

Victory note for us: I just threw away some chocolate pumpkins from last year! Note to self: clean out the candy jar a little more frequently.

Okay, I'm not going to leave you hanging. Let's address the question that's been nagging you since my opening paragraph, if it's not good to hand out candy, what should we hand out? You can get bulk bags of toys, trinkets, pencils, puzzles, stickers, etc. for a price comparable to candy. If you have a larger budget, splurge on treats that offer some sort of nutritional value or, gasp!--real chocolate. What about money? My kids must visit at least one hundred houses, if they had a quarter--even a dime from every house they'd be in heaven!

What are your ideas? Can you list some healthier alternatives to hand out to the trick-or-treaters instead of candy? Ideally something that won't risk getting your house egged!