Frugal Trick or Treat

If "Trick or Treat", or "Beggar's Night" as it is also called, is a tradition in your area you are aware that buying all that candy to hand out can be an expensive proposition. There are alternatives to buying pricey bags of brand name goodies...here are a few of them:

USE COUPONS: If you feel you must hand out Hershey Bars or Reeses Peanut butter cups watch your Sunday paper for coupons. There are almost always a few for different brands and if you match them up with a sale at least you'll save a little.

OTHER CANDY: There are a lot of kinds of candy that are substantially cheaper than those listed above. Lollipops, for example, frequently come in huge bags for a low price. Dress them up for Halloween by putting a facial tissue over the top, tying a black or orange piece of yarn around where the pop meets the stick and drawing on eyes...if you haven't guessed, this makes a cute "ghost pop". You can also buy an assortment of cheaper candies or gum and package them in sandwich bags. Seal with a Halloween sticker.

OTHER FOOD: You can hand out apples, popcorn, homemade cookies, etc. Be aware, however, that some parents are nervous about that sort of thing and might just throw the stuff out when their kids bring it home.

From Elizabeth Christiansen: I was a little taken aback at the fact that you called parents who throw homemade trick or treats away nervous. Last Halloween there was a news report the day after Halloween about a few children who received candy bars that had razor blades stuck in the middle of them. Thankfully their parents caught this when they brought the candy home to be inspected before they where allowed to eat it. We live in a large city where sometimes you don't even know your next door neighbors let alone the person down the block from you. This is the first year that my daughter will be trick or treating at peoples houses that we do not know. I will be inspecting all the treats before they are eaten just as my parents always did for me. And I will be throwing out any homemade or suspicious looking treats. You can call me "nervous" but I would prefer being called cautious.

We're not sure exactly why Ms. Christiansen took offense at parents being called "nervous". We were not advocating that you let your kids eat treats from an unknown source, just letting you know that people might throw them away so don't waste your money. In fact, if your children are going far out of your neighborhood for trick or treat you may want to rethink that! For facts about actual incidences of sharp objects in treats go to the Urban Legends Reference Page.

NON-FOOD ITEMS: Sometimes you can get packages of small toys (of the sort you would put in birthday party goodie bags) at a low price. If you are the organized type and see these over the course of the year pick them up and save in a box for Halloween. I recently saw pencils at 2 packages of 10/$1.00...this comes out to 5 cents/pencil which is far less than the price of a candy bar! Kids also love stickers. One year we had a surplus of "Dumpster Dived" stickers (we lived right down the street from a sticker factory at the time) and offered Trick or Treaters a choice of candy or stickers. About 80% chose stickers! Use your imagination and keep an open mind about what qualifies as a treat. There are many parents out there who will appreciate that you didn't give their child more candy!