No, I am not the candy police. I hand out chocolate to trick-or-treaters, and I let my kids have free reign over their stash Halloween night. I am not standing at the door passing out carrot sticks or confiscating my kids' haul when they cross the threshold (though I will admit to sneaking a few Butterfingers after they go to bed).
But I think it makes sense to factor in the mountain of candy to come when planning class Halloween parties—especially when the party is the same day as trick-or-treating. Some schools are even asking for healthier celebrations.
I've planned a lot of class parties in my day, and I've learned something valuable: The kids actually seem much more excited about games, activities, and crafts than they do about the food. So I don't feel pressure to provide over-the-top frosted cupcakes or stay up all night decorating cookies anyway. Here are five healthy ideas that have worked for me over the years:
1. Popcorn: Either pop it at home or buy it pre-popped (look for packaged popcorn made with just popcorn, oil, and salt). Fill little bags and let kids munch while a parent reads a spooky Halloween book. Save this idea for bigger kids, since popcorn is a choking hazard for kids under the age of 4.
2. Clementines: This idea couldn't be easier. Have kids decorate their clementine like a jack-o-lantern with permanent markers. Or bring pre-decorated clementines to the party and have kids peel and eat them.
3. Green (or Orange) Smoothies: I've hauled my high-speed blender to many class parties over the years. The kids love taking turns adding ingredients and pushing the buttons. You can make "Green Goblin" smoothies using spinach (get a recipe idea here) or "Jack O'Lantern" smoothies with mangoes, oranges, or peaches (get an easy recipe here). Decorate clear plastic cups with silly faces and add a fun straw.
4. Apples: Another kitchen gadget I've brought to Halloween parties is an old-fashioned, hand-crank apple peeler. Get a bag of apples, and each kid can take turns peeling her apple and then eating the fun spiral it creates.
5. Grapes: Thread them on a skewer and call them "Eyeballs on a Stick" or add other fruit for Cyclops Skewers. Sometimes all it takes is a silly name to get kids engaged and interested.
Get more healthy Halloween inspiration here. And, for more ideas for healthier class parties, as well as healthier school fundraisers, non-food classroom rewards, healthy preschool snacks, and ways you can change the junk food snack culture in your child's school, camps, and sports team, check out my new e-book, The Snacktivist's Handbook.
Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, educator, and mom of two who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition. She is the author of The Snacktivist's Handbook: How to Change the Junk Food Snack Culture at School, in Sports, and at Camp—and Raise Healthier Snackers at Home. She also collaborated with Cooking Light on Dinnertime Survival Guide, a cookbook for busy families. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.