More Costumes, Less Candy and Guess What? Halloween Is Still Super Fun
Why focusing on costumes instead of candy won’t ruin Halloween for your preschooler
Can Halloween still be fun if it’s not about stuffing yourselves with as much candy as possible? Just ask these guys.
It’s our first Halloween in America, after spending four years in Italy where all the kids were born. Our oldest is four, the little guys are two (“and a half!”) and one. I tried to explain some of the Halloween traditions I used to love as a kid and here’s how that went.
Me: It’s super fun. You dress up in costumes, knock on people’s doors and say, “Trick or Treat!” Then they give you candy.
Four-Year-Old: Oh. Why?
None of them get it.
But here’s what they do get: Winnie the Pooh, Piglet and Tigger, too. These guys have tried their costumes on half a dozen times so far, and will likely do it every day leading up to Halloween. They’re so excited about dressing up, running around, and being fluffy that they haven’t spent one second worrying about how many miniature Snickers bars they’ll get and how to divvy up the rest of the loot.
When I saw this “Halloween Fail” post by a fellow parent though, I understood. The issue is the uber-popular Pinterest idea of serving a platter of bananas as ghosts and clementines as pumpkins instead of more sugary fare. She thinks it’s lame. It’s taking away from the fun. Why even have Halloween if you’re going to mess with the formula of costumes + candy? And I get it. I grew up trick-or-treating too. It’s one thing to give out little boxes of raisins to unsuspecting Trick-or-Treaters in lieu of candy. Don’t do that. No one wants raisins. Or popcorn balls. They want tiny packages of candy. That’s what trick-or-treating is.
The beauty of this is, parents get to decide how much trick-or-treating their kids do, or whether to even go down that road at all.
But what about when you’re hosting a Halloween party? Or when your turn to bring the school snack falls on October 31? I love the idea of serving good, fresh, homemade food to kids, even when there’s a holiday happening. Since when is that a problem? Does it have to be an exasperated “Why does everyone have to be so PC?” moment? And what’s so great about serving kids tons of sugar anyway?
Just because that’s what I did as a kid doesn’t mean it’s an awesome tradition to pass along. I’m not smoking Pall Malls while the kids rattle around in the backseat of a brown Volkswagon Rabbit. None of my toddlers have worn bell bottoms. I don’t let the kids run outside with no instructions other than “be home before dark”. It’s not the same. Sometimes it’s a little sad. Sometimes it’s not so bad.
Real food. That’s the idea behind the Pinterest post. I head up a website about cooking pretty healthy food for my family and I’ve got a Healthy-ish Halloween Ideas Pinterest board of my own. We’re having a little Halloween get together at our house next week and we’ll serve every one of them. Zero M&Ms will be involved and I know for a fact that none of the preschoolers will say a thing. Except maybe when they cheer about decorating their better-for-you cupcakes.
Ours are very little kids. They don’t even know about most of the candy options available in the world, and that’s fine with me. I don’t want them to get hooked on the nasty packaged stuff, which is what it’s designed to do. I’d like them to continue getting excited about food made from real ingredients, which includes bananas and oranges. If they have Halloween faces on them, it hardly seems to be spoiling the fun.
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