What to give out instead of candy
This Halloween, think treasures, instead of candy. Kids love little trinkets like spinning tops, stickers and collectable cards. Most children especially love gifts from nature like polished rocks, crystals and seashells. Think keepsakes, tokens and stocking-stuffer type gifts but don’t forget to think healthy and green. Although non-food items are generally healthier than food items, try to avoid non-recycled plastic toys. Here are our suggestions
Green Halloween treats and treasures
(This list is for your information only. Green Halloween is not responsible for the availability, prices or delivery of listed items. Note: Just like with traditional holiday treats, many items may be unsafe for children under the age of three. We strongly suggest that parents inspect their children’s treat bags before allowing their children to eat or play with any items they receive for Halloween.)
Green Halloween treats and treasures need not be purchased. Handmade items, especially those made out of recycled and natural materials can be easy, fun and inexpensive – not to mention, thoughtful. Books such as The Children’s Year and Earthways have tons of great ideas for unique, easy-to-make, seasonal gifts.
Tip: The following items also make great "replacements" if the Halloween Fairy or Great Pumpkin visit your home (to swap out conventional candy and leave better treats, treasures and/or gifts behind.) Don't forget to compost uneaten treats.
Food items ("treats")
- Organic juice boxes or pouches from Honest Kids
- Organic apple sauce snack packs
- Real-fruit strips and rolls from Stretch Island Fruit
- Whole food bars such a LARABAR minis
- Bare Fruit trial size packs
- Boxes of organic raisins and, where available, other organic dried fruits.
- 100% honey sticks DO NOT GIVE HONEY TO CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF TWO
- Individual packets of fair trade, organic Amazing Grass Chocolate SuperFood
- Jammy Sammy bars & & Yo Drops from Revolution Foods
- Raw or roasted nuts (ask parents before giving out nuts due to allergies)
- Organic Twisted Fruit
- Trial size packs of dried veggie chips, like Terra Chips
- Glee Gum “minis” or other individually wrapped small gums
- Plum Kids Fruit Straws™
- Organic granola/breakfast bars by
- Organic, gluten-free treat-sized crispy rice bars from Nature’s Path
- Trial/snack sized bags of organic cookies, crackers, or popcorn by Snikiddy, Barbara’s Bakery or Annie’s
- Individual bags of Lesser Evil popcorn and other varieties
- Crunchy Munchies (individually wrapped pumpkin seed treats)
- Individual “Jr” packs of organic nut butter (be sure to ask parents about possible nut allergies), such as Justin’s Nut Butter or Barney Butter
- Organic licorice bars, rope, and gum, (cut into pieces), by Tundra Trading
- Organic agave sticks
- Organic organic chocolate and candy such as Endangered Species “Bug Bites”, Surf Sweets, Eli’s Earth Bar or Angell Bars (more on candy here)
- Individually wrapped organic herbal tea bags (all of those princesses will be delighted to have tea for their tea parties!)
* Green Halloween is currently working with a number of food companies to create healthy, affordable, bite-sized versions of their snacks. As these products become available, we will post them here. Be sure to sign up for our mailing list to be the first to learn about these new products. If you have suggestions for food products you would like to see on this list, contact that company directly and let them know about Green Halloween. As more parents like you demand that the 'treats' we give our children are healthy, the more healthy-food companies will join in the fun.
Non food items ("treasures")
- Acorns (kids love items from nature)
- Adhesive "bandages" with pirate, black cat and other fun themes (one per child. Great for older kids!)
- Barrettes or other hair things
- Bean bags (homemade)
- Coins (US or non-US)
- Confetti-biodegradable, water-soluble
- Cookie cutters - mini
Catcher Note Cards (one card per child)
- Crayon “rocks” (soy-based)
- Earth tone feathers
- Elf and fairy items
- Fake jewels (lead free)
- Games for Your Brain Ocean Cards (one card per child)
- Glass rings
- Glass beads
- Large metallic star confetti or “fairy dust”
- Mary’s softdough or homemade
- Mosaic glass tumbled, recycled (safe for older children)
- Pencils made
from recycled money or plastic FEATURED
- Polished rocks/ skipping stones
- Printed items like word
games, word search or cross word puzzles
- Rainbow peep
- Recycled glass tiles: Seattle based, made of 100% recycled materials, shippable
- Sachets (homemade)
- Seed Packets
- Soy or beeswax
- Spider confetti
- Spinning tops
(recycled plastic) FEATURED VENDOR
- Stamps from foreign countries
Dreams, 36 Bedtime Wishes (one card per child)
- Temporary tattoos
(recycle-themed) FEATURED VENDOR
- Whimsical treasures
(Recycled plastic) FEATURED VENDOR
Almanac for Kids Puzzler Deck (one card per child)
- Worry dolls
- Xeko cards
- Yarn bracelets
Cool Tricks for Kids cards (one card per child)
Great Art Projects for kids (one card per child)
Brain Tickling Activities for Kids (one card per child)
Tricks and Treats for Halloween (one card per child)
cat cards (one per child)
- 3-D dog cards (one card per child)
For ideas that are a little more expensive and would be appropriate for party favors or prizes, see this list.
TIP: Check out our growing list of local Green Halloween® retailers. If you can't find these items locally and you decide to shop online, check with friends and neighbors to see if they'd like to purchase items with you. In addition to saving money on shipping, you'll reduce packaging and fuel usage by having your items sent together, rather than separately.
If you feel passionately about giving out a more traditional treat, but want to keep it healthy and green, you’ve got a lot of options, many of which cost just pennies a piece. The goal with choosing candy is to think outside the conventional candy box, which means applying the same criteria for candy that you would for any food: look for organic, all-natural, dye-free ingredients that are (ideally) ethically sourced and packaged with the Earth in mind (i.e. compostable packaging, sold in bulk, etc.).
Health-wise, a fantastic choice is pure, dark chocolate in bite sized pieces by companies such as Divine Chocolate (http://www.divinechocolateusa.com/default.aspx), Equal Exchange (http://www.equalexchange.coop/) and Endangered Species Chocolate (http://www.chocolatebar.com/shop/pc-42-5-organic-dark-chocolate-bug-bites.aspx). Dark chocolate is anti-oxidant-rich and when it is also Fair Trade you know the farmers who grew the cocoa were treated and compensated fairly. Many candy companies also give a percentage of their sales back to worthy causes. Endangered Species Chocolate, for example, contributes 10% of its net profits to “help support species, habitat and humanity” so handing out their products is an extra sweet choice. Other companies that sell organic and/or fair trade chocolate in bite sizes: Green & Blacks, Nirvana (coins), and Sjaak’s.
Also at the top of the healthy-er and green candy list: Surf Sweets’ fun selection of sour worms, gummy bears and more, all packaged perfectly for Halloween. (Bonus: they’re gluten-free , too!) Check out the Surf Sweets Green Halloween® Party Guide for recipes, games and more. Pure Fun also has an amazing array of individually wrapped organic, fair trade, vegan and dye-free hard candies (in “pops”, “rocks”, “jaw boulders” and more) in flavors such as root beer, Goji berry, and ginger. Pure Fun also sells a bag of USDA Certified Organic, Kosher, Vegan, allergy free and Gluten Free Pure Pop© lollipops in a Halloween multi-pack.
Additional companies who make and or sell certified organic, all natural candy include:
- Surf Sweets (featured vendor)
- Endangered Species
- Divine Chocolate
- Equal Exchange
- Angell Bar
- Eli’s Earth Bar
- Yummy Earth (available in bulk)
- Simon Candy Company (look for Naturepops organic 50-count Halloween bag)
- Natural Candy Store (mixes available)
- Hillside Candy (compostable wrappers)
- Verdi Good’s homemade, all natural & organic caramels
- Let’s Do Organic or Tundra Trading organic licorice bars
- Certified organic, fair trade chocolate ladybugs
- Crispy Cat organic candy bars
* In many cities, the leftover candy can be recycled and turned into compost! Just be sure to remove candy from its wrapper first.
Treats and treasures for schools, businesses and organizations or your neighborhood bash
If you are expecting to hand out treats and treasures to several hundred or more
kids and are looking for affordable items that are also healthy and green,
you’ve come to the right place.
Weisenbach Specialty Printing, a FEATURED VENDOR, has tons of Earth-friendly items that are perfect for a Green Halloween and most can be custom printed with your logo or a Halloween message of your choice. They also sell many items that are pre-printed and ready to be handed out.
Here are our favorites:
- Pencils: from recycled
plastic, recycled denim or recycled money
- Tattoos: custom or
- Coloring books: Earth-friendly
- Guide wheels: fun, educational
- Shoe laces: custom printed and
- Soy crayons in 3 or 4 pack:
- Stickers: recycling theme
- Whistles: recycled plastic,
- Spinning tops: recycled
plastic, custom printed
- Buttons: recycled material
with soy ink, custom
- Magnets: recycled, custom
- Seed paper/bookmarks for
planting or reading
- Bookmarks with recycling
- Door hangers: recycled, custom
- Hand fans (save our pad)
- Organic cotton tote bags:
printable (for treat/treasure bags)
- Soy candles: custom
- Organic cotton t-shirts: custom
- Happy Hallogreen!®
- Think outside the candy box®
- Go Green on Halloween
- Putting the GREEN in Halloween
- Turning Halloween Green
- Healthy + Fun = Happy Everyone
- It’s Halloween, just greener
- Trick-or-treating green style
- Green Halloween logo
- I ♥ Earth
Ask for items made in America.
Do you have additional ideas for Green Halloween treats and treasures? If so, email your ideas and where to find them and we may put them on our site. If you have a Green Halloween item to sell and would like to become a featured vendor, click here.
Treat & Treasure Bag: Treat and treasure bags may be made out of old pillow
cases, used shopping bags, purses, or sewn out of fabric. Kids love to decorate
their bags and make them their own. Because Green Halloween includes non-food
item treasures (in addition to or instead of healthy treats), you may also want
to help your trick-or-treater make a treasure chest to carry his or her
Halloween goodies. Click here to
find directions on making an easy treasure chest. You may want to cut a circle
in the side and hang it from string so that your child can easily carry it with
him or her.
After Halloween, your child might want to keep his or her treasures hidden away in a special, hidden place. Making a treasure box is a fun post-Halloween activity. Be sure to use as many reused, reclaimed, recycled and earth friendly materials as possible when making any crafts. Click here and here for places to find kid and planet healthy craft supplies.
One other option is the Green Halloween reusable trick-or-treat ChicoBag®, designed by kids! 10% of the sale of this bag will support the Green Halloween initiative (so you may also want to consider stocking up on them for Halloween door prizes and gifts as well)! Create a tradition of using the bags year after year. When they’re too old to hold any more treats and treasures, ChicoBag will take them back and recycled them into something new. Green Halloween ChicoBags can be found at retailers across the US or through the ChicoBag website. (Your child can enter to have his or her design featured on next year’s bag and win great, green prizes! Click here for more information on the design contest)
Lighting: Care2.com suggests, “For an exceptional flashlight*, take blank paper and fit it like a tube around the flashlight's bulbous part, extending 4-5 inches and essentially converting the flashlight into a mini-light saber. Once the paper is fitted correctly, cut out silhouettes of witches, spiders, etc. Glue them on the paper and tape it around the flashlight. When turned on, the patterns will stand out on the glowing beam.”
*Remember to use rechargeable batteries rather than disposables during Halloween. Battery acid is toxic, leaching into groundwater and causing serious environmental contamination. Dead batteries should be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of properly. – Care2.com
Shakable, hand-cranked and solar-powered flashlights are also battery free and fun for kids to use.
Want more ideas for trick-or-treat essentials? Check out our new book, Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family.
Green Halloween shopping tips
Thinking Green on Halloween is as simple as 1 – 2 – 3 …
Whether buying food, treats, treasures or prizes for your Green Halloween party, thinking green is just as much about what you don’t buy as what you do buy. Reducing the amount of waste we generate by cutting down on excessive shopping is not only better for our planet (and easier on our wallets) but reducing the number of products we buy also teaches our children the art of simplicity as well the value of moderation.
When purchasing items for your Green Halloween, it may help to consider whether the items you’re buying are of quality and can therefore be enjoyed past November 1st. If not, can the items be reused or recycled? In addition, look for products that meet one or more of the following green criteria:
- Organic or pesticide-free
- Food items are made from
healthy and whole ingredients and do not include hydrogenated oils, trans-fats,
artificial colors or flavors. The items have limited or no salt, sugar or
caffeine (including chocolate)
- Non-food items are made from
safe materials and do not pose any suspected immediate or long-term health risks
- Made with Earth-friendly
practices, such as by organic farming
- Preference given to locally
grown or made goods (which alleviates environmental impact from shipping.) Get
to know your local farmers and shop with them as often as possible.
- Non-food items are made from
Earth friendly materials such as sustainably harvested wood or recycled plastic
- The item contains as little
packaging as possible
- The people making the items earn fair wages and work in safe conditions (ideally, imported goods are certified Fair Trade)
It can be difficult to find products that meet all three criteria, so we suggest that parents try to consider one or more factors when shopping for Halloween. We also believe that when consumers continue to request that these items are readily available and affordable, businesses will step up to meet the rising demand.
More green ideas: Every little thing counts when it comes to making green choices.
- Always bring your own cloth or
recycled plastic bags with you when shopping for food, gifts, treats or
- If you generally drive to do
errands, try to get your shopping done all at once, rather than taking many
short outings. You’ll save on gas and money while reducing your contribution to
pollution and global warming.
- Of course, if you can walk,
ride your bike, carpool, or take public transportation, you’ll leave an even
smaller eco-footprint behind.
- Most importantly, if you can go without – do! Nothing could be greener than focusing on people rather than things.