Planning a More Natural Halloween

Posted by: Haley Reen


Each year, my family celebrates Halloween with much fanfare. It’s our favorite time of year. We decorate the whole house, even the bathrooms, and put the lights and other outdoor decorations outside as soon as possible, usually the week before October begins. At the end of the month we have a large, family friendly party to celebrate. However, as my children are small and we are a mostly media-free and sugar-free household, we do things a little differently than most. Here are some of the ways we modify the modern Halloween to fit our family’s values:


I make my children’s costumes

Now, I don’t sew and I’m not really all that handy a crafter. But most store bought costumes are licensed characters, and since we don’t watch a lot of television or movies, it has not occurred to my oldest daughter that she could be a character for Halloween, so she uses her imagination when choosing what she would like to be. This year she will be a unicorn, and her baby sister is along for the ride. Making costumes isn’t complicated, even for people without a lot of time or skills. I simply crocheted two white beanies and made small unicorn horns and colorful manes. A white leotard and tights, some rainbow legwarmers we already had, and a yarn tail makes a splendid unicorn. A google search of “DIY Halloween Costume” produces ample ideas.


Healthy Treats 

I’m not anti-treats. I’m just quality over quantity and moderation when it comes to treats. We do trick or treat, but we only go to a few houses, and we usually swap the traditional store bought items our kids get from neighbors with items that we are more comfortable with. We “trade” our child the candy and junk food for items we have set aside like home made pumpkin pie spice play dough, bubbles, and stickers. (She is more than happy to trade, being unfamiliar with candy, she doesn’t know what she is handing over.) We even allow some candy, but we prefer small portions of organic and natural ingredient candy. We get these items from


All Hallow’s Read

We make our annual family-friendly Halloween party an “All Hallows Read” party. We make bookmarks decorated with Halloween stickers and colorful ribbons. We have each guest bring a used or new Halloween themed book, wrapped up, and there is an exchange so each child gets a new book to take home. We read stories with a flashlight for effect. Nothing too scary of course, but always silly. Party guests are served pumpkin soup and the book “Pumpkin Soup” ( Helen Cooper) is great to go along with that! It’s fun to get children involved in celebrating and its entirely possible to do it without exposing them to a barrage of items that don’t align with your family values. We look forward to Halloween all year.


In what ways does your family celebrate Halloween? Do you create any unique traditions?



About Haley Reen

I’m a work at home mother to two girls, 3 and 1. I am a post partum doula, and maker of cuddly things. I am heavily involved with my daughter’s Waldorf education. We are a multi-cultural family, sharing Chinese and African American, and European heritage. We live in the greater bay area of Northern California.


7 thoughts on “Planning a More Natural Halloween”

  1. Thank you so much for the “trading” candy idea! My husband and I were literally just sitting here discussing how we would handle the trick or treat candy with our two year old this year, and this is a perfect solution.

  2. Thanks for all of the ideas! My son is eight months old, and I’ve been debating how to make Halloween special without compromising the values I want our family to have. Saving this article to review later! (Do you eat the candy?? 🙂

  3. You mean you’ve never heard of the Pumpkin Fairy???

    You leave the spoils of your trick-or-treating out for the fairy and in the morning she brings a gift in exchange (she takes the candy, obviously). Of course, the more candy you leave, the better the gift.

    We’re vegan so my son can’t eat most of what he collects but he loves collecting it for the fairy, the thrill of the hunt.

  4. We use the Big Pumpkin. Big Pumpkin trades the bags of nasty candy for a present and some good quality chocolate and the candy goes to the work jar. Kids are tv-free except for an annual showing Charlie Brown Big Pumpkin and Grinch, which are precious relics of my husband’s childhood.

    We give out small play dough, bags of prezels, and for the kids who cannot do without sugar, super small organic lollipops. The prezels and the play dough always go first.

  5. We have the Halloween witch, who takes all the candy to give to the dead, since they don’t have teeth or bodies, the candy doesn’t other them. When we go trick or treating we make sure to take treats with us because most of the kids eat some of their candy while they walk…we bring dried fruit, apples, coconut water, grapes, nuts/seeds, packaged in little bags or containers(baby food jars, etc.)
    We have also in the past let neighbors know how we eat and a few have given us stickers, play-doh, raisins, dried cranberries, etc. instead of candy!

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