The U.S. Census Bureau says that each American ate an average of 26 pounds of candy in 2016. No wonder so many Americans, including our children, are overweight. If you refuse to contribute to the glut of extra sugar or if you follow a particular diet for medical or moral reasons you may opt for alternative rewards for everything from good grades to holidays. Non-Food Treats While most trick-or-treaters expect candy, many children are thrilled with small toys and other non-edible gifts. Here are some ideas, which can be combined with edible treats in a treat bag or handed out by themselves as you see fit. You can get these items from Oriental Trading Company (http://www.orientaltrading.com), but if the recent recalls make you wary of things made in China you can also find them at your local party store. Keep safety in mind and steer clear of tiny items that may be choking hazards if your crowd is under three years old.
Pencils – usually you can find ones decorated in the holiday’s theme or even for birthdays or rewards
Erasers – be sure they are labeled clearly so kids don’t mistake them for candy
Small memo pads
Packs of crayons
Small coloring and activity books
Comic books or small books
Unopened kids’ meal toys – my children don’t always like what comes in their meal so I save the toy and pass it along. You may also be able to buy the toys directly from the restaurant or even get them to donate the leftover ones.
Small packs of Play-Dough or modeling clay
Individual Craft kits
If you do choose to go with edible treats, try to pick something the child can bring in their school lunchbox, or something they can save until the initial sugar buzz wears off. Many snacks come in single serving sizes. Read the labels to find a treat that you find acceptable as far as sugar content.
Small boxes of cereal
Small bags of trail mix or pretzels
Individual boxes of raisins (at my local supermarket these even come with Disney characters on them)
Packets of pre-cut apples with caramel dip
Packets of mini carrots with Ranch dip
Packets of crackers with cheese dip
Packets of bread sticks with peanut butter dip
Fruit leather made from real fruit
Cups of sugar-free pudding or gelatin
Coupons – many fast food places sell treat booklets good for a dollar or a small ice cream. The proceeds from the Wendy’s booklets go to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.