Trick or Treat? 20 ideas that aren’t candy.

For our first Halloween in the suburbs, we were the young (yes), cool (no), hip (no) couple without kids but that didn’t stop me from wanting to be part of the Halloween neighborhood fun. I wanted to be a hit with the trick-or-treaters so instead of candy, I thought it would be fun to hand out Play-Doh tubs instead.

When I was buying the Play-Doh I thought it was the best idea ever but as Halloween night got closer and closer, I really started to sweat my decision to buck the system with a non-candy treat. Were we going to be THAT house? The most disappointing house on the block? Would the neighborhood kids come back to egg our house later that night because we deprived them of their annual right to a no-restrictions sugar fix?

It turned out that the Play-Doh was a hit (whew) and all our trick-or-treaters loved it. Not because they are huge Play-Doh fans but simply because it was unique. So, if you want to stand out as the house that does something different this year or simply don’t trust yourself with all that candy in your house, I’ve got some fun and affordable options for you:


I’m telling you, the kids loved them. And you won’t mind having some of these leftover because they're a great size throw in your purse to keep on hand when you need to entertain your kids outside of the house. 80 mini tubs for $33 on Amazon. 

Glow Necklaces

Fun and functional! You can get these 5 for $1 at The Dollar Store. Snap them ahead of time for two reasons: 1) So your trick-or-treaters can wear them immediately that night. 2) The glowing sticks will look really cool in your treat bowl. 

Flashing Rings

 Again, safety first. And again, bowl appeal. I love these, kids love these. Who doesn’t want to add a little flash to their costume? 96 for less than $40 on Amazon. 

Mustache Whistles

Ok, if you're not into the glow stuff, then this is the next best thing. If the cars can’t see them coming, at least they’ll be able to hear them coming. 48 for less than $8. 

Halloween Pencils

Lightweight, cheap and useful. Next month all that candy will be just a distant memory for the kids, but that pencil will keep the spirit of Halloween alive as you fight them on their math homework. 8 for a buck at Target.

Spider Rings

Super cheap. The rings, not you. But while we’re on the topic, you might want to give a few out to everyone. 144 for just over five bucks on Amazon. Seriously, better give ‘em all a handful. 

Vampire fangs

What’s more Halloween than vampire teeth? Answer: Glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth. I found some! If the kids don’t like these then they are probably too old to be trick-or-treating anyway, so you just did society a favor by making them realize that. 72 for under $7 on Amazon. 

Silly Straws

My kids love these. Even if they just last for one meal before getting thrown out, they still lasted longer than a 3 Musketeers. (Well, maybe not longer than a 3 Musketeers—but definitely longer than a KitKat.) 18 for $8 on Amazon.

Glow-in-the-dark sticky eyeballs

Sticky what? Huh? Just go with it. I will go ahead and guarantee you right now that you’ll be the only house on the block passing these out on Halloween night. 48 for about $8 on Amazon. 

Slap Bracelets

Dress up like a witch and “slap” them on the trick-or-treaters to give them a harmless scare or have them rolled up and ready to grab. 50 for $12 on Amazon.

McDonalds Treats

For just a buck, you can get a Halloween booklet at participating McDonalds with 12 coupons for free items at McD’s including an ice cream cone, apple slices, apple juice or milk, and hamburger. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Coupons are good through Dec. 31, 2016. 

Wendy’s Frostys

Also for a dollar, you can pick up a Wendy’s Halloween coupon book that has five coupons, each good for a free Jr. Frosty. Not quite as good a deal as the 12/$1 McD’s book, but 85 cents of every booklet Wendy’s sells benefits the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoptions, so it’s worth spending a little more. Coupons are good until Feb 1, 2017.


And the Best House on the Block award goes to ….

If you don’t get many trick-or-treaters you might be able to afford to step up your treat game. I grew up on a cul-de-sac without a lot of foot traffic on Halloween. I still talk about how one of our neighbors handed out those huge 1-lb Hershey bars on a silver platter to all of us neighborhood kids. One of the highlights of my childhood. In my eyes, that guy is a legend.

Here are some ideas that will run you about a dollar per kid. A small price to pay for going down in history as the “coolest neighbors ever.” (At least according to everyone age 10 and under.)

Hot Wheels


Nail Polish (hot tip:  Dollar store)

LED Party Wand

Glow-in-the-dark Slime

Puffy Toss Balls

Play Foam

Glittery Silly Putty (Kids, you’re welcome. Parents, so sorry.)


Please, please let's not go crazy with this non-candy thing. I'm not trying to start a trend. It’s fun if there’s one, maybe two houses in each neighborhood doing something different. But if there’s not still a very heavy ratio of Snickers, Twix and Reese’s in the mix on Halloween night, then I’m afraid everyone’s houses will get egged. By me.