Growing up, Halloween was always a double-edged sword.

For a kid who rarely got to have candy and anything "artificial" growing up, Halloween was the most epic of holidays—costumes and staying up late aside, filling pillowcases full of the candy treats I wasn't allowed to eat the other 364 days of the year felt even more special than Christmas!

But trick-or-treating with my dad meant that every time a piece of candy would drop from a homeowner's hand into my outstretched pillowcase, my dad would shout from the edge of the sidewalk "Thanks, but are you going to pay my daughter's dentist bill?!"

Ugghhh. Groan! Does this count as childhood torture?!

I was weirdly relieved when a dentist moved into our neighborhood and started giving out toothbrushes every Halloween...made one house on the block a dad joke safe-zone.

And so, as the years went on, after complaining about the sugar, and about how Halloween candy is actually made more than a year in advance (ewww) with the worst ingredients known to man, my parents started getting creative with our own halloween offerings. 

And it stuck! All these years later, my husband and I carry on the tradition and give out lots of fun, unique treats that rarely elicit dad jokes, and always leave the kiddos smiling. And we feel good about it too. Shocker, as parents who now limit the artificial-food-that's-not-really-food and sugar snacks that our three kiddos eat, this feels like a total win-win, even on the sweetest night of the year.

While these ideas may be more expensive than the bag of 100 mini candy bars you can buy at Target or Walmart, you're guaranteed to be the coolest house on the block and can feel good about what you're putting into the hands of your neighbors and friends too.

Take a chance, try something new. You'll be the hit of the hood!


    1. Comic Books — There are a lot of easy and inexpensive ways to source Comics! Whether you have old ones lying around, go to the Goodwill or used book store, or even buy them in bulk on Amazon.com, these are a great Halloween treat!  You can find tons of comic books from the 1980s all the way to the present, and each kid gets a fun read which they can also swap and share.  Bonus, they're really lightweight for kids to carry around all night!
    2. Practical Jokes (Whoopee Cushions, Hand Buzzers, Fake Dog Poop, etc.) — For many years we gave out a selection of Hand Buzzers, Whoopee Cushions and Fake Dog Poop!  The kids thought it was the greatest thing ever, and we all got a good laugh seeing fake dog poop all over the neighborhood the following days. Buying these toys in bulk is easy online. There is no shortage of novelty stores with tons of fantastic tricks just waiting for their magical debut at your home.
    3. Bandanas — Who doesn't like a bandana?! Bandanas are colorful, easy to wear in your hair, around your neck, or even use in magic tricks! Everyone from 1-99 can get use out of a bandana. They can be easily found in bulk quantities online, or from discount stores, Chinatown, or go crazy and make your own if you're handy!  All you need is fabric, scissors and a sewing machine! 
    4. Bouncy Balls — Halloween means it's the time of year when the sun goes down early and it's hard to play at the park for long after school.  Small bouncy balls are always fun at home and keep the kiddos entertained no matter how young or old. Plus, they're easy to buy in bulk online. I've seen 250 bouncy balls as low as $16 online, with free shipping.
    5. Fun Mini Erasers — As a mom of two girls, I have to tell you that I am likely biased about erasers. They are like currency in our house, and can be used to bribe just about any outcome we need.  They are coveted, beloved and even come in handy when you make a mistake! Whether you have the budget to buy the super cute 3D Japanese erasers in the shapes of food or animals, or the standard cute ones of sports, emojis, food shapes, etc... you can't go wrong. Kids LOVE getting erasers and will be eager to pick the one they want. 
    6. Glow Sticks — Halloween is dark, glow sticks are bright... and they're like a party waiting to happen!  Everyone loves to glow in the dark and being visible while crossing the street is just a bonus!  400 pieces for $23.99 means the kiddos can each pick a few!
    7. Cans of LaCroix — While cans of bubble water are on the heavier side, they are quite a treat! I don't know about your kids but mine think it's pretty special to get their own can of LaCroix! It's not soda, it's not bad for you and who knows, maybe mom or dad will get to drink it while walking the kids around the hood! 
    8. Light Up Rings —  Kids love things that light up, and that they can wear! Whether you give out the bumpy, flashy light up rings, or ones in the shapes of animals, this is a Halloween treat that won't get tossed at the end of the night!
    9. Activity Books — Whether you're into word searches, crossword puzzles or mazes, there are so many fantastic really super cheap activity books for kids. These will live long past halloween night and if you're anything like us, you can keep the extras in the car for road trips and any long shopping outings that happen unexpectedly! We have a store in Portland called City Liquidators that always has bundles of these type of books for really cheap, but you can always buy them online at Amazon.com or OrientalTrading.com or other sites.
    10. Fake Mustaches — Everyone looks good and silly wearing these or these. And that makes it all that much more fun when you give them out in bulk so the whole family can get in on the action! We've had more than a few fun photo moments with the leftovers from our Mustachoween a couple years back!
    11. Baseball Caps — Whether they are fun ones for the littles, plain ones or customized printed ones... there is nobody who wouldn't want another baseball hat! This item can run the gamut on price... but if you plan ahead you can design some special hats every year that your neighbors won't be able to wait for! There are thousands of online wholesale vendors who sell baseball hats, trucker hats and every kind of cap you could possibly want! 
    12. Colorful Shoelaces — You could just do orange, or order a variety of colors... but shoelaces are a super fun way to change up your everyday shoes with a burst of color!  Available in bulk packs of single or mixed colors, you can easily get 20 pairs of laces for about $10
    13. ROONS — If you're the kind of incredible household that gives away full candy bars each Halloween let me say THANK YOU, from my childhood self. Then let me suggest a little change... same price, but baked fresh, packaged individually and adults/kids alike will line up to receive these most incredible treats. Although, buy more than you think you need! Last year when we took our kids trick-or-treating, we left a massive box of 100 Roons on the porch with a sign that said "please take one". We were shocked to come home and find the entire box empty - especially because our street typically doesn't get that many visitors.  My husband decided to review the footage from our Ring Doorbell and *shock*... we saw a dad come up to the porch with his daughter, look into the house windows to make sure nobody was there, and empty the ENTIRE box of Roons into his bag!!!  

Happy tricking or treating!

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