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Tricks for Turning Halloween Handouts into Local, Organically Grown Treats

November 05, 2012
Trick or Treat Change

Leftover change from Halloween grab bag of money

This year I refused to buy corn syrup candy to hand out to trick or treaters on Halloween. We’ve been working to eliminate highly sugared processed foods from our diet. So, why would I buy into the same to hand out to others?

We gathered input from friends and looked at a variety of other options for what to give out for Halloween instead of candy:

  • Glow Sticks: Too pricey, rejected.
  • Stickers: Yeah maybe, but teens wouldn’t be thrilled. And those are the kids that TP & egg houses.
  • Local, Dark chocolate: Again, too pricey.
  • Seeds to plant: Again, too pricey.

Usually, we have a lot of kids come to our door, so looking at handouts that might cost over $.50/piece wasn’t in our budget. And, each of the pricey options above fell into that price range. So when another friend said she had filled a bowl with pennies and told each kid to grab as much as they could with one hand, I thought that might be for us.

But, just pennies sounded kind of dull, so I decided to do mostly pennies with a few nickels, dimes and quarters thrown in as well. Starting with a budget of $40, that gave us quite a lot of change to work with.

I had hopes to create a creepy bag that kids would reach into, unable to see the prize, and pull out a small fistful of change. Unfortunately, my crafting skills (and time) weren’t up to the task. Instead, I filled the bag and grabbed a handful myself to drop into their bags, hands and buckets. Some got all pennies. Others got a mix. I never looked at what I grabbed. I just grabbed and dumped.

I loved the responses and questions.

Our first little ghoul thanked me and told me she loved me.

Many of the kids wanted their treat put in their hand instead of their bucket. Each looked at me strangely when I filled their hand with change.

On two different occasions, kids asked why I gave them money instead of candy. One father hauled his kid away, embarrassed…probably thinking she looked ungrateful, so I didn’t get to tell her. The mother of the other inquiring kid allowed me to tell the kids that we decided to let them choose what to do with the money instead of just giving them candy, which had made someone in our home sick. Mom nodded. The kids thanked me and smiled.

Another little girl went hurtling down our front stairs, hollering, “Mommy! Mommy! We got pennies!”

Overall, the change hand-out was a success. Every kid was thankful. No eggs coated our home in the end. And, perhaps because the night was so rainy, we had quite a few less visitors than in years past.

Halloween Leftovers

The Best Possible Food Leftover from Halloween: Cabbage, Chard, Broccoli, Porcini, Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Bok Choi, Parsnips, Sunchokes, Celery Root & More

That meant lots of leftovers in our trick or treat bag of goodies. Fortunately, it wasn’t filled with candy we can’t eat.

Instead, we had quite a bit of that $40 budget still rolled up and ready for use. We took it to the farmer’s market yesterday where we turned it into several pounds of cabbage, parnsip, celery root, dried porcini, Brussels sprouts, sunchokes, carrots, red cabbage, bok choi, cauliflower and broccoli. (To be honest, I used up almost all the rolls of leftover change, and added in about another $20 cash to do our shopping.)

Then, magically, I turned a small portion of those Halloween leftovers into a delicious coq au vin for dinner. And, that’s way better stuff than a bowl full of candy that neither of us would eat.

Too bad I can’t just give each kid a carrot, but all those creeps in the world have made us less afraid of fructose corn syrup-infused, factory made candy than we are of a dirty carrot pulled from the Earth itself.


  1. Michelle says:

    I love the handful of change idea. I would have thought that was fabulous as a kid, especially with some non-pennies mixed in. We got a total of about 8 kids this year, too, so adding in a fair number of nickels and dimes still wouldn’t cost us much.

    I totally overestimated how much candy I needed this year, so my husband will be getting a little orange or black peanut butter cup with his packed lunches every day until Christmas.

  2. Michelle, I’m glad this resonated with you. I still remember the house that always gave every kid a dime when I was a trick or treater. It was my favorite…and a dime went a really long way in the 70s. Sure, I probably bought candy or a slurpee or an ice cream with that dime, but I also may have popped it in my penny bank. In any case, I never disliked getting that dime instead of a piece of candy.

    Here’s hoping next year you have some pennies left over to buy orange carrots and real peanuts instead of all the candy you’ve not this time ’round!

    Thanks for your comment 🙂

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