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Parent blog: School Halloween parties

In this Confessions of a Partially Proficient Parent blog post, Julie Poppen admits her classroom Halloween party weaknesses but offers hope for more organized parents.

I admit it. I’m the mom bringing juice boxes to the classroom Halloween party.

No fancy games.

No organic treats shaped like witch’s hands or a vampire’s fangs.

But alas, I’ll be there. It is my daughter’s final classroom party after all. I have no idea what they do in middle school, but from what I understand parents don’t mill around taking photos of their cute, dressed-up youngsters and handing out treats.

For those parents able and willing to put just a tiny bit more thought into the classroom party, I’ve collected some tips. Furthermore, many schools now have guidelines asking parents to bring healthy snacks or consider no treats at all. So what do you do if you can’t bring candy or frosting-smothered cupcakes?

EdNews Parent healthy schools expert Cathy Schmelter says “anything creative with fruit would be a great idea for a Halloween party.”

  • For example, consider carving a mini Jack-o-lantern out of an orange, stuffing fruit salad inside the rind then replacing the top. Students can also decorate the orange with a black marker like a pumpkin.
  • Another idea is to slice open an apple or sugar pea so that it looks like a mouth and add almond slivers as teeth. Add strategically placed red jelly or red pepper near the almonds to make them look like vampire teeth poking out of a bloody mouth.
  • Grapes are always good to use as bloody eyeballs (strip the skin, roll in powder sugar and natural red food coloring).

Halloween parties are also a great opportunity to add more activity to the day. For example, a “monster bash music party” will encourage kids to actively showcase their most ghoulish dance moves, LiveWell Colorado suggests.

Think about creating other fun activities that do not revolve around candy. Pumpkin-carving contests and Halloween arts-and-crafts provide fun alternatives to massive candy consumption. How ’bout enlisting parents to do some face painting?

If you can’t handle too much brain damage over the classroom Halloween party, consider these very easy ideas.

Non-food treats

  • Play dough
  • Halloween pencils, erasers and stickers
  • Gift certificates
  • Books
  • Plastic spiders
  • Miniature skeletons
  • Bracelets
  • Face paint
  • Bookmarks
  • Barrettes and hair bows
  • Yo-yos
  • Balls
  • Silly Bandz
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Glow sticks

More healthy food treats

  • Energy or granola bars
  • Honey sticks
  • Sugarless gum
  • Small lollipops
  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Trail mix
  • Mini cereal boxes
  • Bagels
  • Hot chocolate mixes
  • Mini bags of pretzels
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Juice boxes
  • Popcorn

Candy, candy, candy

OK, now that you’ve made it through the party and Halloween itself, what next? Well, even the experts say it’s OK to hang on to some of the candy. But keep it out of sight and think of creative ways to keep the candy intake to a minimum the following days.

  • Set a limit on how long to keep candy in the house.
  • Participate in LiveWell’s candy exchange programs on Nov. 2 in Denver and Nov. 3 in Lone Tree.
  • Find a “candy buy-back” program.
  • Have kids “sell” their candy back to you in exchange for a special outing, sleepover, mystery “prize” or other fun option. Just be sure you don’t eat all the candy.

What about a morning Halloween party?

And think about this idea for next year: Inquire about holding the party in the morning. It may be too late to switch up the party time this year, but it’s a good time to plant the seed for next year.

Emily O’Winter, healthy schools coordinator in Jeffco and an EdNews Parent expert, says kids arrive at school dressed up, which helps decrease time spent on party prepping and the party itself. Plus, kids are excited when they come to school on Halloween party day, so they can dive right in to the party and then move on to academics.

“This not only gets the exciting event done early (reducing all day jitters and distractions) but healthy treats are quite easy in the morning: green eggs and ham, fruit (peeled grapes = eyeballs) “breakfast booritos” etc.,” O’Winter says. “Additionally, everyone gets breakfast, which, as we unfortunately know, doesn’t happen for all children on a regular basis.”

For additional ideas about having a healthy Halloween, check out LiveWell Colorado’s new Healthy Halloween page or this Action for Healthy Kids page.

Share more of your ideas by making a comment on this post.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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