Halloween is just around the corner, and kids are dreaming about all the booty they will collect from their unsuspecting neighbors. ALL this candy free for the taking? WHAT a HOLIDAY!

But we all know that candy can take a toll. What parent hasn’t experienced (and thereafter dreaded) the post-Halloween sugar high, with hyperactive children bouncing off the walls and fighting with each other, and the subsequent sugar-crash and nearly unbearable grouchiness after the candy runs out. That dramatic up and down isn’t good for kids, but (sigh) it’s (hopefully) only a once-a-year binge so even though I don’t like it, I’m not quite as concerned with that. It’s the chemically processed and unpronounceable ingredients in commercial Halloween candy that really has me concerned.

Are you concerned, too, but don’t want to be cast as the Wicked Witch of the neighborhood (and possibly getting egged and TP’ed) for handing out boring apples and pretzels? Here are a few ideas for different treats that still let the kiddos have their Halloween fun.

Photos by Jeff Turner and Marcus Nelson, both via Flickr.

Photos by Jeff Turner and Marcus Nelson, both via Flickr.

1. Choose organic candies.

Pouches of YummyEarth and Annie’s fruit snacks or crackers and Endangered Species Bug Bites bite-size chocolates are made with no chemical colors, artificial flavors or corn syrup and kids love them. This of course won’t eliminate the sugar highs, but at least you’ll know it’s real sugar.

2. Make your own treats.

While most communities today discourage homemade Halloween treats for (real or perceived) safety reasons, you can still make your own for family members and good friends who stop by. Try some of these ideas:

Egg-free Cookie Dough Truffles

Caramel Apples: Has anyone ever finished a whole caramel apple? I always feel like my teeth are going to fall out halfway through. To make this a little less of a sugar-high, try cutting the apples into wedges, insert a stick at one end, and fully coat the wedges (so they don’t turn brown) with a thin layer of caramel. (This works best with homemade caramel, which tends to be a little thinner.) Then you can leave as-is or coat with nuts or chocolate shavings. This makes a 2-3 bite treat, which just happens to be the number of bites between houses in the average neighborhood. (Feeling ambitious? Here’s a healthier caramel recipe.)

Mini organic cupcakes with frosting that will turn kids’ mouths a spooky green, orange or black. (If you prefer natural food colorings, check out Maggie’s Naturals.) Mini cupcakes are another perfect 2-3 bite size.

Bags of salty-sweet trail mix are also a simple, low-sugar, cooking-free option.

3. Toys

Halloween tips articles always say that toys are a “great” option instead of candy, and I agree — to a certain extent. You’ve gotta have cool (and age-appropriate) toys. They don’t have to be expensive, but things like glow stick necklaces and bracelets, glow in the dark toys, cars and bouncy balls are good for younger and middle-school kids, but older trick-or-treaters might, at best, give you the stinkeye and not come back next year or, at worst, return to egg your house under cover of night. Best to have a few options available…

4. What about the aftermath? Introducing…the Candy Fairy!

Of course you can’t control what other houses give out, so the Candy Fairy lets the kids have their trick-or-treating fun and then miraculously transforms the candy overnight into healthy options, organic candies, toys, or a mix of each. There are lots of variations, too: Some families let their kids gorge themselves on Halloween, and then the Candy Fairy steals everything leftover. Other families let kids choose 5 or 10 pieces to enjoy in the upcoming week, and then the Candy Fairy steals or transforms the rest. Some Candy Fairies turn the candy into one big non-food “treat” such as a toy the child has been wanting. This last variation is especially nice for families with children who cannot have sugar for health, attention or hyperactivity reasons, but who want their child to experience the fun of trick-or-treating.

Sugar is definitely vilified these days, and there’s no doubt Americans need to cut back on sugar consumption for the sake of our children’s and our own health. But if we can discipline ourselves to view it as a treat to be enjoyed in moderation throughout the year, then there’s no reason why children (and you!) can’t enjoy a little sugar splurge on Halloween — especially if it’s a delicious organic chocolate or homemade yummy!