Thrifty Green Halloween: Enjoying a Fun and Eco-Friendly Holiday

Is it possible to have a wickedly wonderful Halloween without disposable costumes, expensive candy, and ultra sugar highs? Yes! You could …

A. Move to another country
B. Hibernate
C. Join a commune

Kidding—but seriously, there are a few ways to limit the cost and eco-impact of this year.


Throw a Halloween party: Our friends are going to celebrate the holiday with a party, allowing them to skip late night trick-or-treating with their children and manage the sugar factor a bit. I’ll have to pass along Rebecca’s recipe for wholesome pumpkin bars so they’ll have an easy treat that the kids can enjoy.

Manage the candy: We are planning on going trick-or-treating this year, but we’re just going to a few houses and limiting my son’s candy. We haven’t yet decided whether to let him gorge for one night and then give the rest of the candy to our co-workers, or provide a piece of candy to him daily for awhile. Option number one lets him enjoy and then get back to healthy habits but option number two might entail a huge stomachache and a late bedtime. What do you do about this?

Make the costumes: Using Rebecca’s clever costume ideas, your child can be a trend setter hobo baby this year! Hit the thrift shops and think outside the box!  Roscoe posed for this picture in his $4 resale shop pumpkin suit when he was just two months old. 


Pennies: I still remember the woman in my neighborhood who gave out a small bag of pennies each year at Halloween. It was my favorite house! We might do this for little ones this year, but just hand them a few so that we don’t have to package them up. The older kids might not be thrilled with this option but I don’t think they’ll refuse free money.  Foreign coins would be especially cool but I’m not sure if I want to exchange money just for trick or treaters!

Stickers: It’s fun to know that children can have something to play with instead of eat in their Halloween bags. While this isn’t a perfect eco-option, it’s better than plastic wrappers that often can’t be recycled.

What are you doing this Halloween to keep the holiday healthy and green? I still haven’t decided what to pass out on Halloween night so I’d love to keep the ideas coming!

Thanks for joining us this week for Thrifty Green Thursday!  Want to jump in?  Read here to see where to start.


  1. For the candy situation, we’ll allow the kids to have a couple pieces that night, but then we’ll leave the rest out for the Halloween Fairy to pick up. In exchange, she’ll leave a small gift (a new coloring book, fingerpaint, etc.), as well as some healthier treats (usually a splurge item, such as organic candy, or Annie’s graham bunnies).

    Maybe in the next year or two, we’ll make some friends so we can have a halloween party, instead of ToTing.

  2. I actually LOVE trick-or-treating with my kids. The main reason is meeting neighbors. It is such a fun thing to go up to people’s door and talk to strangers who live in your own neighborhood. We don’t do enough of that!

    So far my kids are happy with going to just a dozen or so houses. When we get home all the candy goes in a communal bowl – they have never been allowed to think of it as THEIR candy. I leave it out for a day or two and let them splurge. Then I put it away and they forget about it. It’s never been a huge issue. I think it’s better to not make a big deal out of NOT letting them have sugar. I also think from a dental perspective, it’s better to overdo it one day than to eat small amounts of candy every day for weeks.

  3. Thanks for the great ideas. The pennies remind me of when I was a kid. I used to take the pennies the very next day after Halloween to a local penny candy store and buy MORE candy……lol. You just reminded me that I can throw some pennies in my kids treat bags that they are handing out at school, so thanks. For a green Halloween this year we are going to try and compost our carved pumpkins in the backyard and see what happens. I think the kids will like seeing nature take it’s course 🙂

  4. I love these ideas! I always dread the eco-issues surrounding Halloween, particularly all of those small wrapped candy bars. Gone are the days when you could just hand out apples or homemade cookies. I was thinking of handing out crayons (not a great eco option, but at least they’ll be used more than 10 minutes). I’m still thinking about other things, and will probably do a little online research on the topic this week.

  5. My kids love to trick or treat, so we’ll definitely do that. We use candy as a treat for our kids a lot, ( I know, bad), so in a way all the candy they get is nice because then we don’t have to go to a store and buy our own.

  6. Am I the only one who thinks it’s a little mean to throw a party so your kids can’t go trick-or-treating? I loved trick-or-treating as as kid, and it was fun the one time we did it with Audrey last year. As Eileen mentioned, it’s a great way to get to know the neighbors.

    As for cutting back on the candy, since Roscoe is only 2, I’d probably just give him a piece on Halloween and then make the rest disappear. Once he’s older (and knows better), I would probably keep it for him and dole it out. I like April’s idea about trading the candy in for a prize, if you’re really concerned about too much candy.

    As for what to give out on Halloween night, I just give out candy. One year I got worked up, thinking I was contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic, and thought I’d give out dental floss or something. Then I decided against it. I don’t think even my dentist cousin goes that far!

    Donna–good point about kids buying candy with their pennies! Ha!
    Kathleen–Yes, gone are the days of giving out apples or homemade cookies. Too bad; that could have been fun.
    Cathy, I think we have similar outlooks on Halloween: FREE CANDY!

  7. Rebecca, I’m with you. The more I read and observe in my students, the more I think there are other factors in the childhood obesity epidemic that contribute more than candy. ‘For one, candy has always been around for kids and we haven’t always had this problem. I firmly believe that anything you make a big deal of NOT letting your kids have, that is all they will think about. I think it makes more sense to let them feel like candy is a once in a while thing for special occasions and keep things healthy the rest of the time. So they don’t think of it as an every day food.

  8. It’s funny because I grew up in a family where sweets were very limited and my sister and I did some crazy things to fulfill our cravings–like dipping hunks of unsweetened chocolate in sugar gnawing away at them. I agree that you can definitely go too far when it comes to restricting anything!

  9. We use the treats from trick or treating to fill up the candy dish for the neighbors who come around (thank goodness ours are little still!)

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