Best thing you can do for kids & planet this Halloween

There are dozens of ways to make Halloween healthier for children and the planet. You can substitute "treasures" for treats, make costumes instead of buying, refuse to purchase anything made from virgin paper etc.

But here's our top tip that everyone can master regardless of whether you're going to offer better-for-health organic sweets, the candy bars remembered from your youth, beads or bells:

Whatever you hand out, just give one.  

We know, we know. That sounds stingy! Revolutionary! Won't my house get egged?

We doubt it, especially if you handle this by making that one gift so special that every child will remember visiting your home. How?

Decorate a large box like a treasure chest. (In this case, gaudy is good.)

Fill the  box with a variety of treats and treasures. (For ideas, check

When a child comes to the door, bend to her eye level. Hold the treasure chest and say quietly, "I'm so glad you have come to our house tonight! I have a something very special for you. In this box are many treats and treasures. I will open the box and you can choose any one item, but only one."

Slowly and as dramatically as possible, open the lid. 

No doubt the visitor's eyes will get larger and she will spend a minute or two making her decision. Compliment her on her choice.

Now we know what you're thinking. I get a dozen kids coming to the door at one time! This will take forever.

You're right. It will take more time. But think of it this way: not only are you saving money by buying less and creating less waste, but you are giving individual children attention. You are helping them to see the benefit in deliberately making choices rather than running on auto pilot. And in our experience, children nearly always treasure one over a dozen. What a gift! 

So what if you have a line around the block? 

By the way, dressing up like a wizard or pirate can help!

Try it and let us know how it goes.


Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are a mother-daughter team and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at

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