A Clever Idea for Candy-Less Halloween Treats (Teal Pumpkin Project Approved!)

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little boy reading book

Skip the sweets and give out this treat instead.

Halloween is synonymous with candy, but it’s not always the best food group to have kiddos stock up on. Hip2Save reader Nancy has a more beneficial alternative to pass out come October 31st!

The Teal Pumpkin Project was created by FARE with the idea to give out non-food items so kids are able to participate in the fun holiday, but not receive things that can make them sick. By setting out a teal pumpkin, you tell parents it’s safe for children with allergies to stop at your home and trick or treat

Donated book in bin on porch for Halloween

I like to offer something other than just candy for Halloween. A friend of mine cleaned out her bookcase and gifted me a box of beginner reading books so I put the books out in a bin for trick-or-treaters on Halloween last year. That said, I also did offer candy as well. By the end of the night, almost all the books were taken! – Nancy

How sweet and smart!

If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a neighbor like Nancy with a stockpile of books on hand, you can check out gently used children’s books at the thrift store, yard sales, or even in listings on Facebook Marketplace.

Thank you, Nancy, for sharing this Trick-or-Treating idea with us! While some kiddos may think of this as a trick rather than a treat (and maybe even some parents who like to sneak into the candy stash 😆), books are such a great alternative (or in this case, addition!) to the traditional sugar-filled sweets. And even sweeter, they’re Teal Pumpkin Project approved!


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More fun Teal Pumpkin Project treat ideas!

About the writer:

Emily obtained her Bachelor's degrees from Clarkson University with 5 years of content writing experience specializing in health, beauty, fashion, home, & living frugally.

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Comments 29

  1. Mary

    I did this book idea a couple of years ago and not one book was taken. They still went up to the door and asked for candy though lol :-).

    • Alexandra


    • Christine

      My son would’ve LOVED the book idea!! So sad that children would rather have something as fleeting as candy versus something enriching and lasting as a book!!

    • Marie

      My girls were avid readers and loved books. They lalways asked for books for birthdays and holidays (still do in their late teens and early twenties) but I don’t think they would have opted for a book over candy or a toy for Halloween since it was a special treat for the holiday and not something they had very often. They made that candy last! That said, I love the idea for the teal pumpkin project and those that can’t or don’t eat candy. We usually have stickers, temporary tattoos, fun erasers, spider rings, etc.

      • Lauren

        Isn’t lack of delayed gratification and understanding of these abstract ideas kinda a hallmark of childhood? I mean, of course most kids pick candy. 😆

      • Marie

        I agree Lauren! I would hardly expect an 8- or 9-year-old to understand that candy is fleeting. IMO it’s part of the holiday. Nor does it take away from the appreciation of books. We have made so many things taboo and attached a level of guilt no matter what someone chooses. Maybe we should just let kids be kids instead of some of the judgmental comments on here. If it’s innocent fun who cares; it isn’t like a little bit of candy is really going to hurt them. (And no, I never egged a house and wouldn’t condone it, or don’t consider that innocent fun.)

  2. Lo


  3. J


  4. Hope

    Although I really do like the idea..I think it’s a good way to get your house egged. Its Halloween..kids want their candy.

    • Lauren

      Except for the kids who would rather a book. Or the kids who can’t have candy for allergy/health reasons…literally the whole point of the teal pumpkin project. Also, I’m hoping that kids who are interested in beginner reader books aren’t egging houses quite yet.

      • M

        I think the whole idea of teaching kids to beg strangers for candy (treat) or vandalize their home if they don’t makes no sense (trick).

        • Will

          Probably shouldn’t celebrate Halloween then..

  5. kp

    Love this!

  6. CWDsouza

    my toddler boy loves book.. i wish i lived near you..

  7. Momof2

    Our town library does a new book giveaway on Halloween and it’s a huge hit! The place is always packed they even have books for teenagers.

  8. Heather

    We are doing this for the first time at our library, we partnered with our Friends of the Library group and they are supplying the books to give to kids. 🙂

  9. 5pink1blue

    I know a family that offered a piece of candy or a small toy ( saved Happy meal toys and the like) and while a lot of toys were taken candy was more popular.

  10. Kathleen

    We’ve been doing Teal Pumpkin the last few years due to medical issues, so I have a bowl of toys and things I offer, but I also offer a bowl of candy. Only a few take the candy, most kids take the toys!

  11. Niki

    My kids would be THRILLED to get to pick out a book! What a fun surprise for kids. Great idea!

  12. Rachel

    We still have candy we give out but we also have glow necklaces and bouncy balls(with parental permission). The kids love glow necklaces and bouncy balls.

  13. Misty

    I’ve been giving out glow sticks for the past few years. Kids love them!

  14. Beth

    Ive been saving all the rings we get from cupcakes, cakes, etc throughout the year, I have quite a few including Halloween, sports, character themed etc, I figured these would be good for kids with allergies or as a fun addition to throw in, probably have about 75, I buy reduced bakery ALOT lol

  15. hip2trade

    If choosing to put out books, the dollar tree has a varied selection.

    • Liza (Hip Sidekick)

      That’s a great suggestion, thank you!

  16. VRae

    We get a lot of kids, I mean A LOT. Like 300+ so something where they have to choose would take up too much time but I do love this idea. I give out little gift bags every year and this year I am handing out little tiny cauldrons with candy in it. I was able to get them last year for $0.05 per cauldron so I thought why not. As for non-candy items I make about 25 skulls (instead of the cauldron) which have bubbles, mini coloring books, crayons, erasers, stickers and a sticky eye ball. Typically I use paper bags to avoid plastic but the cauldrons were too cheap to let get trashed/salvaged.

  17. Darla

    I gave out markers or pencils with cool erasers and tiny play-dohs last year. I got them at Michael’s (thanks hip2save) on sale. I think they like them.

  18. witoldyna

    This is such a great idea! I hate giving sweets to the kids, they eat enough sugar as it is, so I will buy some books for them. One year I had small erasers and other tiny toys and kids liked them, opposite to that, I am always left with. Sweets which I have to throw away because we do not eat processed food when we can avoid it.

  19. Tamsa

    We live in a pretty large neighborhood. So something that has been appreciated by kids has been capri suns! They get pretty thirsty running from house to house.

  20. kcmiami88

    We live in Florida where people do ALOT of trick or treating…. some of the non candy things that are the biggest here are waters, light up bracelets/necklaces, and chips or even small toys…. I’ve seen someone do books, but most the books were ones that the kids just took home and never touched since they were not books that are relevant for kids nowadays… my biggest suggestion is if you do books maybe find some that kids actually want to read. I think my 5 year old got a 200+page book on a military branch aircraft…. he couldn’t make it through a page of it even lol.

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