Help me give out the best treats this Halloween!
October 5, 2012 7:58 PM   Subscribe

Halloween treats to delight all ages! What would your child want to get from trick or treating?

This is my first halloween in a long time where I live somewhere Kids will come knocking. I love my neighborhood and want to give the kids something that isn't just every-day candy.

I am looking at glow sticks, mini playdoh, cool pencils and such but I'd love some suggestions from those who have kids and maybe are dying to go trick or treating themselves. I want to keep it under $200 and expect to get about 200 kids coming by so anything that averages a dollar or less would be good. I am keeping in mind that there will be little kids for whom most toys will not be suitable and older kids who are not going to want a pencil. I will have candy available.

Are full size candy bars still a big deal or should I take more effort to really please the neighborhood kiddies?
posted by loquat to Food & Drink (40 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
On Halloween, kids want candy. That's it. Unless you are handing out iPads, anything but candy is a bummer. Full size candy bars are the way to go.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:04 PM on October 5, 2012 [21 favorites]

I vote for temporary tattoos (don't have kids, just love temporary tattoos).
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:05 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

LEGOs would go over really well with most of the kids I know, as would anything that does something surprising and/or is awesome (real insects inside super-bouncy balls, etc.)

Actually, anything that bounces is generally a big hit; I mostly know kids under 7 these days.
posted by SMPA at 8:05 PM on October 5, 2012

Packs of gum & juice boxes were the most popular things I gave out. (I filled a big bowl with different kinds of candy as well as the gum & juice. The gum & juice disappeared almost immediately.) My kids would LOVE glowsticks. I think that pencils aren't too fun. (I always hated getting them on Halloween.)
posted by belladonna at 8:06 PM on October 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you plan to give out toys and the like, be aware of choking hazards for children under 3 (e.g. anything LEGO).
posted by jedicus at 8:07 PM on October 5, 2012

We used to give out candy and also cool little prizes for really good costumes or especially awesome groups. While these were often leftover carnival prizes, sometimes we'd get special things from Oriental Trading-- I think an all-time favorite was little bottles of bubbles and wands. Playdoh and glow sticks, also a hit. It's especially good for kids with allergies or other issues where food is problematic. Have fun!
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:08 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Peanut butter cups (even the individual fun size) were halloween gold when I was a kid.
posted by janepanic at 8:09 PM on October 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

Pencils are lame. If you are going to give toys (glow sticks and temporary tattoos are cool), also give candy! Kids in my neighborhood are always super rude to the lady who gives our toothbrushes every year.

(One year I went trick or treating with a friend in her cousin's neighborhood, and some of the stops gave us MONEY. I ended up with $10 that year and it was amazing, but also super, super strange and weird and 12 year me was kind of uncomfortable, so I don't recommend that, afterall.)

Good on you for trying to be awesome to your neighborhood kids!! :)
posted by firei at 8:14 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

anything that bounces is generally a big hit

With kids, yes! With parents whose kids are cranked full of sugar, not so much. I think the glowsticks and temporary tattoos are great ideas, though. Don't get hallowe'en themed tattoos, though, can't use those in a week.
posted by mhoye at 8:16 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't eat chocolate. When I was a kid, on Halloween, my sister would give me her non-chocolate candy, and I'd give her my chocolate. Her pile was always several times larger than mine (well more than double). Coming across a house with high quality, exclusively or primarily non-chocolate candy would have sent me over the moon with delight.

A full size bag of Skittles was my holy grail.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:22 PM on October 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Warning: once you become The House That Gives Full Size Candy, you can never go back.
posted by spinturtle at 8:23 PM on October 5, 2012 [34 favorites]

Glow bracelets were a big hit the year we did that. Have something else to give tiny kids though - they eat glowsticks.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:31 PM on October 5, 2012

We give normal candy plus optional squishy eyeball toy ("do not eat squishy eyeball") to the over-5s. Some kids just want candy, some kids come back year after year asking for squishy eyeball. We got a box of thousands of the squishy eyeballs, so there is a box marked "EYEBALLS" on top of our kitchen cupboards.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:31 PM on October 5, 2012 [24 favorites]

Full size candy is pure gold in my neighborhood.
posted by Jandoe at 8:34 PM on October 5, 2012

About the tiny kids - my experience is they are maxing out their concentration on remembering what to say when, what to say about their costume, etc. Don't expect that little kids will be bored of the Halloween routine and looking for new and different treats. They are hanging on for dear life trying to remember if trick-or-treat comes before or after they knock on the door.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:36 PM on October 5, 2012 [22 favorites]

Candy candy candy. Name brand chocolate bars (snickers, reeses, 3 muskateers,etec), no fakes, and no second tier ones like Mr. Goodbar etc. Stick with snickers and you're golden.
posted by bluesky78987 at 8:43 PM on October 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I loved when I got small cheap toys/favors for halloween as a kid. Not so much pencils and toothbrushes. Oriental Trading is perfect for this kind of thing. I'd also give out candy too though, since for most kids Halloween is all about the candy. But since you're giving out swag, full size candy bars aren't necessary.
posted by katyggls at 8:46 PM on October 5, 2012

My kids are all about the candy, so I think you should offer candy, but perhaps have a cool toy too. I heartily second glowsticks or other glow-in-the-dark things, as Halloween is the perfect opportunity to play with them. Also my kids went crazy for the mini-glowsticks they got given last year.
posted by Joh at 9:19 PM on October 5, 2012

I've given out full size candy bars for the last five years.

You get to watch their eyes get big when they realize.

If not candy, I'd give out glow sticks/necklaces.
posted by Argyle at 9:36 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Little magnifying glasses! Or a big bucket of dollar toys from Target, kids get to choose. Fake mustaches. I also like the glow-stuff idea.
posted by chickenmagazine at 9:36 PM on October 5, 2012

Another note - if you will have a ton of kids coming through, keep things simple for the kids. A big bucket where kids get to choose becomes a horrible bottleneck. Better is to have one candy bowl, then a separate bowl with one or two types of toy/whatever (eg we have a bowl with just squishy eyeballs). If you have ten types of toys, kids will want to inspect and consider their choices, so they will stand there and get bogged down. This does not work if the next group of kids is already coming up the walkway.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:47 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I still remember the one full size candy bar I got in ten years or so of trick or treating. Just saying.
posted by MadamM at 9:52 PM on October 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

firei: "(One year I went trick or treating with a friend in her cousin's neighborhood, and some of the stops gave us MONEY. I ended up with $10 that year and it was amazing, but also super, super strange and weird and 12 year me was kind of uncomfortable, so I don't recommend that, afterall.)"

Oh man. Gotta break it to you: That was for UNICEF.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:58 PM on October 5, 2012 [7 favorites]

Growing up one of my neighbors was a dentist. He always gave out glow in the dark toothbrushes. Regular toothbrushes are boring... but glow in the dark ones were exiting.
posted by oceano at 10:07 PM on October 5, 2012

Little bags of chips, Doritos or corn nuts. An oasis in a chocolate desert.
posted by paperback version at 12:13 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

One year we picked up a bunch of foreign candy - mostly Canadian (we're American) but a handful of British treats too. Neighbors later told us the kids really horded these precious treats.

I had a neighbor that had homemade chocolate lollipops in the shape of ghosts that I loooooved and still remember as the most awesome treat. Some parents would not like this however (poison urban legends, plus there's no ingredient label for allergies).
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 1:47 AM on October 6, 2012

Seconding bags of chips or Corn Nuts. I used to LOVE getting Corn Nuts in my trick or treat bag!
posted by Happydaz at 2:02 AM on October 6, 2012

Mom of four-year-old twins here. Please, no Play-Doh. :)

Our neighborhood is kid central, and some people give out only nut-allergy-safe candy. It's not as limiting as you might think, and most of the preschools around here are nut-free, so people are getting used to thinking about it anyway. Here's a helpful list.
posted by candyland at 4:24 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tatoos on oriental trading are very cheap and super fun. Do that and full size candy bars, and spider rings. You'll be a hit!!
posted by pearlybob at 4:44 AM on October 6, 2012

If you give out chocolate bars, try to have some non-chocolate candy too; a lot of little kids don't like chocolate that much.

One year we gave out See's lollipops-- not the cool Halloween ones, just a bag of mixed ones we had around, and they were a huge hit with slightly older kids.
posted by BibiRose at 6:41 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you give out chocolate bars, try to have some non-chocolate candy too; a lot of little kids don't like chocolate that much.

That's a good choice to offer. It can also match well with peanut/non-peanut choices in case someone's worried about allergies. Non-chocolate items are often non-peanut as well.

Butterfingers and Reeses usually go in my "peanut" bowl. I might get a bag or two of whatever new product they're trying to test this year, but usually I stick to the classics.

Now-n-Laters, although they seemed really old fashioned to me, were a big hit last year. One year I was able to get a few bags of snack-size Swedish Fish, those were very popular. Anything that's a little unusual and interesting but not totally weird or gross seem to get good traction.

I can't get too inventive with what I hand out, because this is a high traffic trick-or-treat neighborhood and I feel obligated to buy in bulk. My best luck at finding "good" stuff to hand out in big quantities has usually been at Target. I'll supplement that with "regular" Butterfingers, etc., that you can find anywhere.
posted by gimonca at 8:17 AM on October 6, 2012

I've gotten a good response from giving out balloon animals. I make a bunch in advance, and then continue to make them on demand as kids arrive. I also keep a bowl of candy for kids who don't want to wait around for a balloon animals, for which there's often a short line.

As for full-size candy bars: I would only do that if most of the kids coming to your house are older --- say 9 or 10 years and above. Four year olds are just going to make themselves sick with full size candy bars.
posted by alms at 9:23 AM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Last year I held out a bowl and let kids pick (the bowl was medium-sized and I restocked it between kids, so they wouldn't be overwhelmed). Surprisingly, fruit leather was a big hit, and so were glow-stick bracelets -- even when right next to some standard candy.

I like to have the option for some non-candy choices (I've handed out books from the thrift store, crayons, etc.) but I always let the children choose.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:44 AM on October 6, 2012

Those snack size cookies that are in bags or wrapped are popular.
posted by just asking at 4:21 PM on October 6, 2012

Full-sized cans of pop were always a huge thrill (and far too rare) when I was a kid.
posted by windykites at 5:40 PM on October 6, 2012

homemade chocolate lollipops

note that if you hand out anything that is homemade, handmade, out of a large package and not individually wrapped, or with messed up or unusual/nonstandard or wonky wrapping, there are a lot of kids whose parents will take it away and not let them eat it. This used to happen to me every year and it made me really sad. Another reason why cans of pop are a winner- you don't have to wait for your parents to check them! So you get to enjoy them while your parents rummage through everything else (and take a cut of your candy. Grr).
posted by windykites at 5:49 PM on October 6, 2012

Oh man. Gotta break it to you: That was for UNICEF.

Not necessarily, I know a lot of people who give money to trick or treaters, or used to. Unicef trick or treaters always had a specific collection box in their hands.

Full size candy bars, little toys from Oriental Trading, glow sticks, bang pops, are the biggest hits over the past few years here. I don't get many kids though, so I can spoil the ones I do.
posted by SuzySmith at 9:16 PM on October 6, 2012

My kid gets a good haul from our neighborhood - a good mix of regular candy, trinkets, etc. She can still point out which houses ever gave her a full-sized candy bar and what kind it was.

I'd say if you wanted to raise the bar you can rubberband things like temporary tattoos, glowsticks, little toys to the full-sized candybars. If you buy the bars in bulk, you can still easily come in under your dollar per kid budget.
posted by mikepop at 7:02 AM on October 8, 2012

Inspired by this thread, I got the bi-colored glow bracelets from Glow Granny, and they were a great hit. Kids liked them, their parents liked them, and they were much easier than balloon animals. I opted for higher-quality sticks, and I didn't have any problems with leaking.

As a bonus we had about 200 left at the end of the evening (I bought 300 for $33), so we've been having all sorts of fun making glow sculptures at bedtime.

Thanks to all in this thread who suggested glow sticks. I wouldn't have thought of that myself. I had no idea you could get these for 10 cents each in bulk.
posted by alms at 9:30 AM on November 5, 2012

Response by poster: I bought full sized candy bars to hand out and the kids flipped out! It was so worth it to see their eyes go big and look disbelieving at the tray before them. Some kids got a handful for being so incredibly well-mannered. So much fun!

Was at the store the other day and they had Halloween goodies at 60% off so I bought all their glow-in-the-dark stuff to hand out next year along with candy. Thanks for all your suggestions!
posted by loquat at 12:37 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

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