Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday! It starts off the holiday season. You don’t have to worry about giving/getting presents, there’s usually no family stress, and you get to dress up and pretend to be someone/something you aren’t. I just love it.
So of course, I have passed on the love of Halloween to my kids. For me, homemade costumes and fun treats are a requirement. But since we stay away from so many conventional foods and refined sugar, I’ve had to get really creative with some of our treats.
I thought I’d share with everyone some of the fun goodies that we make. Every year, we have a Halloween party and invite friends and family to help us celebrate. I just love seeing everyone in costume and, by hosting the party, I also know that what they eat will be good for them.
Fingers and Dip
We started off the evening with fingers and dip. I took organic baby carrots, used a little of the dip to “glue” a sliver of almond to the tip (to act as the finger nail). I put them in the center of the dip so they looked like they were poking out. I arranged the crudites around this – so there are a variety of veggies to dip. You could make little veggie cups, so each person could have their own “hand” instead, which would make it easier for a school event, etc. You could also use something a little healthier, such as hummus instead of dip.
I’ve also seen a variety of veggies turned into “spooky” parts. Snap peas with almonds poking out as “teeth” and deviled egg eyes – using an olive slice as the pupil are usually big hits. The best thing I discovered is that even the kids that say they don’t like veggies will eat them when they look “spooky” because it’s fun.
For dinner, I had a hard time coming up with something that I thought all the kids would eat. I didn’t want anything fussy, that would take a long time to cook, or be difficult for the kids to eat. I finally decided to make mummy pizzas. They’re simply whole wheat organic English muffin pizzas, just made to look like mummies. You could easily make these using pitas or pizza dough (making a big one or mini ones)
To make the mummy pizzas, all you need are English muffins (or other base), pizza sauce, cheese, olives, and red peppers. I took the English muffins, spread a little pizza sauce on each, cut white cheddar cheese into small strips and arranged them to look like a mummy. Then I took 2 olives per pizza, cut a small piece of red pepper to fit inside the olives, and arranged them to look like eyes. I baked them at 350 until the cheese was slightly melted and the pizzas were warm (for about 8-10 minutes). They were a huge hit!
I save the desserts until after the kids trick or treat. I think it’s fun to come back to the house and know that there’s something extra special to enjoy after you go door to door. I know that some moms (and dads) try to hold off on the trick or treating until the kids are older or try to avoid it completely. But I love it. There’s something super cute about the little ones going to someone’s door, getting so excited, and yelling out “trick or treat”. It’s such a thrill for them (and for me)!
My son is 5. I made his trick or treat bag a couple of years ago and it’s plenty big. Not huge, like a pillow case or some bags you see for sale, but big enough that if he filled it – I’d probably freak out. He knows that I go through his bag with him and that he only gets to keep a few pieces (about 5 pieces) and the rest get put in the treat basket for others that come to the door or get taken to my office for co-workers to eat. I’m sure as he gets older, it’ll be harder to do this…but I think it’s easier for him to let go of the candy because he knows we have dessert waiting for him after all the trick or treating is done.
For kids that come to our house, we have 2 treat baskets. One that’s filled with organic candy and one that’s filled with goodies: play dough, small toys, stickers, crayons, etc. Last year, I found these awesome finger Rock’em Sock’em Robots that were a huge hit. We let everyone take something from both baskets and you’d be surprised, the older kids were way more thrilled with the Rock’em Sock’em Robots and, even, play dough than they were about the candy. It was awesome!
Spider cookies are such a hit around our house, we actually make them year round. I started off with a great recipe from Nourishing Gourmet and tweaked it a little.
1 cup of nut butter (any type is yummy, but I use crunchy peanut butter)
1 cup rapadura or sucanat
1 tsp vanilla extract
large chocolate chips (like a Hershey’s kiss) or chocolate squares
chocolate covered pretzel sticks or pocky sticks
mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Mix the nut butter, rapadura, egg, and vanilla together until well blended. Scoop or roll into balls about 1″ big onto a cookie sheet, leaving a couple of inches for expansion between each cookie. Take a fork and lightly press down – creating a criss cross pattern.
Bake for about 8-10 minutes or just before they look done. Take a chocolate chip (like a Hershey’s kiss) or a chocolate bar square – I use a Equal Exchange Organic Dark Chocolate bar and break off each square – and gently press into the center of each cookie. Then take 2 mini chocolate chips and gently press them into the cookie for the eyes. Let them bake for another 1-2 minutes, until the chocolate is slightly melted. This will allow the chocolate to stick to the cookie after they are done.
After baking and while the cookies are cooling, take your chocolate covered pretzel pieces (about 3-4 inches long) and gently insert them into the cookies to look like legs. I put 3 “legs” on each side of the cookie. I wasn’t able to put 8 “legs” in the cookie without them being too cramped. But if you made them slightly larger, I’m sure it would work.
We make these cookies without the legs all the time. Even without the chocolate, these are exceptional peanut butter cookies. You can also try them as sunflower butter or another nut butter, if you have peanut allergies. Sometimes, we make them adding cacoa nib (just add with all the other ingredients) and they are super yummy.
I took bananas, inserted a Popsicle stick in them and froze them. I took a bag of white chocolate chips and melted them. Note – if you’d prefer to dip the frozen banana into the white chocolate to coat them (which would give a smoother coating), you’ll need more than 1 bag of white chocolate chips. I had to spread the white chocolate because I didn’t have enough. Stick the mini chocolate chips to make the face while the white chocolate is still warm, otherwise they won’t stick.
I took a box, gift wrapped it, and then cut little slits in it so the Popsicle sticks could fit and all my little ghosts would stand up. This made a really nice presentation and was convenient at serving time.
I love to decorate for Halloween also. But I am super DIY. We have a few decorations that we use yearly that we got at garage sales, thrift stores, etc. But there are a few things that we’ve made that we love to also use.
Our Door Eyes are super easy to make. Just take black construction paper (or black paper the size of your window) and cute 2 eyes out. Take tissue paper and cover the eyes you just cut out. It doesn’t have to be neat, as no one from the outside will see it. If you want to make it super nice, so that people on the inside see the same thing as outside, use another piece of black paper and cut the exact same eyes out. Sandwich the tissue paper between the 2 pieces of black paper. Tape or adhere the black paper to your window. When the lights are on inside – the eyes “glow”.
I don’t know why, but I love doing this. We have been using the same “eyes” for 2 years and will definitely be putting them back up this year. They also look great from the street. Every time we drive up at night during October, I get a cheap thrill seeing them. You can do this to any window you might have and you can elaborate. We have a bathroom window that I’ve been thinking about doing this too, but adding a nose and mouth. Or you could do any silhouette or other ghoulish shape.
I fill a small plastic grocery bag full of packing peanuts (to create the fullness of the body), poke a hole in the middle of the bottom of a big garbage bag, and pull the handles of the grocery bag through the hole to create a loop so I can tie them to our trees. You could also use white fabric and/or a balloon (as the inside body). We glued on the face as I found that the stiffness from the paper face helped prevent the bag from wrinkling – which happened when we drew the face on with a permanent marker. I know it’s a bit wasteful, but we love making these each year, so we have stuck with the garbage bags rather than have white fabric ghosts.
Whatever you do – just make sure you have fun! As my kids get older, we get to be more creative and make more things. It’s fun to add each year and see what we can come up with. Plus, it’s a great way for us to have a project that we can work on together.
Each year, everyone (including my kids) get to decide what they want to be for Halloween. We can change our minds as many times as we want UNTIL we buy the supplies. Last year, my son wanted to be a skeleton. It turned out to be a great learning experience. We got a black sweat shirt and sweat pants and some white fusible fabric. We went online to find “bone” clip art and cut the white fabric for the bones. Then we ironed them on. He got to learn and discover where all of the major bones were and he looked awesome!
And me? I was Super Mom! All I did was get some self adhesive felt and create the Super Jen emblem for my t-shirt. The cape was one I made for my son when he was a vampire a couple of years ago. Everything else (including my beloved boots) I have owned for years. But the costume was fun and made me feel great. I mean, who doesn’t want to be recognized as Super Mom at least once?