Halloween is clearly the most unique of our annual traditions in America, and is just behind Christmas as the favorite holiday for my kids.
But, as usual, here I am ready to rain on your parade and tell you that’s it’s also a time of increased exposure to a bunch of Bad Stuff (nope, not just the candy).
Read on for my tips for making this Halloween fun-scary, not SCARY-scary.
1. Avoid PVC Costumes
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) scares me more than zombies, because it contains phthalates, those pesky endocrine disruptors I’m always talking about. Unfortunately, many store-bought costumes contain PVC—you’ll often be able to identify these by the strong plastic-y smell they emit, but not always. (Some of these costumes have also been found to be laced with heavy metals and flame-retardants, just some added spookiness.)
While the idea of making your own costume probably sends more chills down your spine than a haunted house, you can do a light version of this that doesn’t involve any sewing. Here are some ideas that I like.
2. Choose Toxin-Free Face Paint
Make up your little Dracula with a nontoxic face paints. Here is the one I like.
And here are some face-painting ideas that even a non-artist (hi!) can pull off.
3. Swap Out Candy
The amount of sugar in Halloween candy is positively terrifying for most parents, but there are lots of other ingredients that make most candy Bad Stuff: from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives to trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, candy really shouldn’t be considered food at all.
I would bring home all the candy we’d collected in the neighborhood, and then play a game that involved placing a selected piece of junky candy (like a Tootsie Roll) into a bag and then closing my eyes and selecting something from my mom’s bag of aforementioned Hippie Candy in exchange.
Another variation we tried as we got older was just to dump our pillowcases full of candy on the floor as my parents dumped all the Hippie Candy out, too. Then the bartering began! Somehow, I never felt deprived or bummed out about this; for one thing, I actually liked fruit leathers, and the game of switching was fun. Also, my parents always let us keep some of our very favorite “real candy” (for me, this was always the peanut butter cups).
Bonus: Make a Seasonal Table
I wish I could say I’ve been able to pull this off, but not yet. Still, look at how pretty my mom’s house looks every Halloween—proof that it doesn’t have to be just a time of big plastic spiders!
Stay sane and have a wonderful Halloween,