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COLUMN: Be original when choosing Halloween treats

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By Jessica Bickett

I remember trick-or-treating when I was little. My dad would take us all over the neighborhood and beyond. The amount of candy we ended up with was so enormous that we still had Halloween candy at Easter. Of course, it was mostly the stuff we didn't like.

There was one house, every year, where the lady always gave us the same thing - an apple. I remember thinking, “Who gives apples on Halloween?”

Well, guess what? In a sense, I have become the apple lady. I have yet to hand out apples, but I don't hand out candy. I think my husband was embarrassed that first Halloween after we were married when he walked into the living room and saw my treats sitting on the couch – jump ropes and bouncy balls.

He said, “Is that really what you are giving out?”  

I believe the non-candy trend is catching on, though. On a recent trip to a wholesale club, I saw large packages of small Play-Doh containers and Halloween pencils and erasers. These items were no more expensive than a large bag of candy. I also saw small bags of pretzels in Halloween packaging. You can also check out the party favor aisle at the local store. Other great treats include stickers, bubbles, hand stamps, rubber bracelets, yo-yos, plastic bugs and spiders, crayons, puzzle books and glow sticks. Of course, the types of treats you choose depends on how many ghouls and goblins you are expecting. 

If your child brings home a huge pumpkin full of candy, parents can ration it out in plastic baggies and allow children to have a small bag after eating their meals. You could also save some of the candy to build and decorate a gingerbread house for the holidays. Candy doesn't have to be a trick to deal with on Halloween or any other holiday as long as you follow the rules of moderation and keep it as a treat. 

Halloween is a great time to be creative and fun. Giving children treats other than candy is a healthier alternative. Start a new tradition in your neighborhood.

Jessica Spalding Bickett, MBA, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with Lincoln Trail District Health Department. Nutrition counseling is available for children and adults by appointment at the LaRue County Health Center. For further information, call 358-3844.