If you are as concerned about Americans’ sugar consumption as I am, Halloween is one of those holidays that makes you just cringe. Store isles are lined with confection after confection. Parents are racing past hoping their children won’t notice, so they may avoid the begging, pleading and whining that candy seems to induce. If you have children, you dread all the sweets that will soon be piled on the kitchen table while your children count up their loot. You also know that you’ll have to hide most of it, or that ceiling-high stack will be devoured within a couple of days.
We can do very little about what other people give out on All Hallows Eve. But we can make a difference for other parents. This year, instead of that same old bowl of sugar-coma inducing junk food, our family is giving out non-food prizes. You heard me right. No candy will be distributed from our house this year. And the children that visit us won’t be disappointed in the least – I know this because the items we’ll be giving out are fun, inexpensive and will still be around long after the candy, and bellyaches, are long gone.
If you’re concerned about the rapidly rising obesity and disease rate in our children today, I urge you to make this one small change in your holiday routine. Other parents may be happy to see non-candy treasures in their little Ironman’s hands and do the same themselves in the years to come!
Here’s how you can find inexpensive, fun and healthy treats for all those Hannah Montanas that show up at your door.
- Check your local dollar store. Kids love stickers, pencils, cool erasers, coloring books, cars, bubbles, etc. Just be sure to check that it’s safe for all age groups. If not, you might want to keep a special package of items back, like board books or rubber ducks, just for the toddlers that visit you.
- Check online retailers such as Oriental Trading. They have a huge array of items, all reasonably priced. When our catalog arrives every month my kids will spend a good hour looking through it and picking out stuff they’d like. Normally I wouldn’t have use for 12 light-up yo-yo’s, but on Halloween those bulk deals really come in handy.
- Books For Treats is an ingenious program that encourages parents to recycle their gently used children’s books by giving them out on Halloween.
“Since Halloween 2001, we’ve given up to 6500 books each year to excited, costumed Willow Glen trick-or-treaters. Now-former Mayor Ron Gonzales, now-former Councilman Ken Yeager, Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio joined us in greeting the kids and happy parents. We are supported by the Diabetes Association.”
How can you participate? The website gives us some ways to get involved.
- Gather gently read children’s books to give out in your neighborhood.
- Download our kit to help you sort your books by grade level.
- Volunteer to help (fill out the form on the left)
- Have your company become a sponsor
- Make a donation of any amount through PayPal to info@BooksForTreats.org. We appreciate any funds, as they help us purchase used books, provide PR and ads to get the word out, and keep our web site up to date.
- Talk to your friends, co-workers and neighbors about participating in Books for Treats. Send them a link to this web site.Want to talk to someone about how you can help?Contact Rebecca Morgan, founder and Executive Director
408/998-7977 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you are determined to hand out food, look for snack packs of apples, oranges, carrots, etc. (These are usually sealed and thus more appealing to parents who are concerned about safety.) At least this will give mini Capt. Jack Sparrow something healthy to munch on while he commands his imaginary ship.
With our determination, and a little luck, maybe we can start shifting the norm in this country and teach our kids that candy is actually a trick. Doing something that’s good for you is the real treat.
© 2011 by Amy Dungan. Article and photograph used by kind permission of the author. Send Amy your comments to Amy Dungan.