Festive, Frugal & (almost) sugar free ~ Our Harvest Halloween Party

I have always loved the fun of pumpkin carving and getting the kids dressed up. I especially love walking the neighborhood, kicking up crunchy leaves while my children run and scamper up walkways, ringing doorbells and shouting trick or treat. But not this time.

Every single year we feel day-after trick or treat regret. What to do about all that candy?

This fall and winter, during the season of nasty colds and flus we are being extra vigilant about the amount of sugar we eat to help keep our immune systems functioning in top form. We are all limiting ourselves to one sugar treat each week - one dessert, one cookie or one soda (you get the idea).

Each family member gets to choose their poison. Me? I'm preferential to cookies. Damien and I were willing to make a small exception for halloween candy but not to have bucket's full of the stuff in our house. Our children's health and well-being is important to us. But that doesn't mean we don't want them to have fun. So the kids and I planned a party.

I'm sharing a few of the details here and they are not specific to the halloween season and you could incorporate them into any fall festivity.

Harvest Halloween Party:


What's a party without food? I wanted the food to be seasonal, tasty and easy to prepare. These Pumpkin Biscuits with Cranberries fit the bill. I sweetened them up with 1/4 cup sucanat (minimally processed sugar). All the guests and my kiddos gobbled these down, even the self-proclaimed "picky" ones. I served them with local apple cider and I had planned to make applesauce but ran out of time.


Decorating this time of year is so easy with all the natural fall beauty.

My children had carved pumpkins earlier in the day and we lit these. We also made paper bag lanterns by drawing (in oil pastels, you could use anything I suppose) pictures on brown paper bags. I rubbed a bit of coconut oil on the paper after they were colored to help "illuminate" the designs - not sure if it made a difference but they sure looked pretty lighting up the steps and window ledges inside. We put a few rocks in the bottom with the t-lights to hold them upright in the wind.


First of all it was a dress-up party and the kids all had such creative costumes. Our kiddos wore the costumes they had prepared earlier this month.

We did 2 crafts and one run-around activity. The first craft was to make gourd "pets", kind of like making pet rocks. We bought a bunch of funny little gourds from a local farm and at the party the kids glued googly eyes, feathers and sticks to create their own little "thing". Some looked like geese and others were decidedly extra terrestrial in nature. The second craft was to make these leaf masks from 5 orange potatoes.

But the best activity by far was the clothesline maze and I'm so thankful the weather co-operated. Remember the fun my kiddos had running through the sheets earlier this spring?

Well that experience got me thinking, perhaps I could make a maze out of sheets and blankets hung on our clothesline. Yesterday morning I emptied our linen shelf and spent an hour or so creating a maze in our backyard. The party was at night, so it was dark and the kids ran through many times, getting lost and finding their way, squealing with delight. I was so pleased with this stroke of genius, and my mama's heart was happy that I'd done this extra special thing for my kids.

And that was the party. Tonight we're going out for supper to the college where Damien works, they have an amazing (& inexpensive) dining services, and we'll let the children choose both a dessert and a chocolate bar from the little store. It is halloween after all, time for a little indulgence!

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  • Karen

    Karen on Oct. 31, 2009, 11:36 p.m.

    We were at your house last October on Halloween - wish we'd been there again this year to share in the fun. Glad to hear the biscuits were good - had made a mental to make them when I read the recipe. Now they're a definite must-do.


  • Denise

    Denise on Nov. 1, 2009, 2:56 a.m.

    my mama's heart was happy that I'd done this extra special thing for my kids.

    I love this sentence. sometimes when we go above and beyond our normal call of duty we wonder if it will be worth it - yes, it was worth it.


  • Spring

    Spring on Nov. 1, 2009, 2:56 a.m.

    Sounds so lovely, wish we could have gone! This year, our play in Monmouth was our costume and Halloween time, so we got out of trick or treating easily. :) Of course, a few families brought some candy to share, so they each got to have a few things, and I gave them roses after the show, as is traditional in theater. I do miss the pumpkin carving, so we may have to have a little fall celebration of our own, with popcorn, (which I won't eat) and jack o' lanterns, and some leaf jumping. I loved the paper lanterns, too! I'll have to see if I have some bags lying in a cupboard somewhere!

    Spring's last blog post... I've Been Busy


  • nicola@which name?

    nicola@which name? on Nov. 1, 2009, 5:16 a.m.

    how fun, renee! i love this time of year and halloween is one of mike's favorites to decorate. we happily let the kids trick or treat, but this is the first year lala has "gotten it." her loot got taken and put in the freezer. she gets one a day. the thing is...she will forget within a week or two. that works for us and our family. previously, she always understood that the loot came home and went back into the trick or treat bowl (or disappeared). we tend to give out small coins, pencils, light sticks, etc. although this year we did give out small peppermint candies. nicola http://whichname.blogspot.com

    nicola@which name?'s last blog post... inspired internet :: october


  • kyndale

    kyndale on Nov. 1, 2009, 3:10 p.m.

    Ooh, sounds like a fun time at your house. I guess it's tricky (no pun intended) to get away from the usual trick or treating which is a big pull for my kids. I so dislike the candy. It's horrible in my view. And why do people give out full size candy bars? Sugar is so evil. In our house, the candy leaves magically also. It's just not a good thing for our bodies! Maybe next year, we can try the party instead! As always Renee, you are full of inspiration! Thank you:)


  • jamie

    jamie on Nov. 1, 2009, 9:35 p.m.

    love the halloween party idea- we had a "no candy" party as well- the only sugar was in the pumpkin muffins we made. potato printing, pumpkin painting, puzzles, running around outside... good, wholesome, natural fun!! each kid also got a mini bag of those utz pumpkin pretzels, a sheet of stickers, and.... a honey stick!!
    we've had the same talk with our kids about sugar and health, and it especially rings loud with us since all four of us had the flu last year and missed all the Christmas AND New Year's celebrating!! great idea! thx for posting!


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 2, 2009, 12:55 a.m.

      Jamie, Thank you for sharing this. I was starting to feel like a sugar bad guy type mom. It's not that I want to deprive my children, quite the opposite. I want us to enjoy good health and to really appreciate the treats we do eat. There is just way too much sugar in our society. I love your activities - potato printing, how clever.

      Thanks again for visiting and sharing!


  • debbie

    debbie on Nov. 1, 2009, 11:54 p.m.

    What fun you created with your family - I particular love the laundry line maze. A true stroke of genius! It is so nice to hear of another family who limits sugar - sometimes I wonder if we are depriving our kids of something, but then I remember the sugar blues, the icky day-after "hang-over", and the compromised immune system...I know it's the right thing for us. (I did have a mini tirade about how irresponsible it was for us all to give out candy on Halloween with the threat of this virulent flu, which has hit our town pretty hard...I tried to keep it to myself and not be such a kill-joy!)

    Thanks to your mention of Divine chocolate, my girls traded in their candy for one bar each...with no regrets.


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 2, 2009, 1:05 a.m.

      Phew... another family who limits sugar. Nice to know we're not the only ones! One of the worst parts of having all that halloween candy in the house is that my children get obsessed with it, they idolize it almost. I just don't want to go through that anymore.


  • Kika

    Kika on Nov. 2, 2009, 9:10 a.m.

    Well, I have not taken the leap to get rid of all this sugary junk. I actually detest this time of year because I actually spend money on junk food to hand out! Then, I have to limit the candy eating in my own home for months on end (or let kids pig out and deal with the consequences)... I hate it. We've tried parties (but they involved candy too)or hiding out in our own basement, feeling like prisoners but people still ring the bell incessantly. So we gave in and let our two youngest trick or treat but limited quantities. I feel like such a kill-joy sometimes because I adored halloween as a kid and was allowed to go out with friends for hours. I know how unhealthy this is and want to figure out some alternative. Aaaargh!


  • Colleen

    Colleen on Nov. 10, 2009, 2:22 p.m.


    We also try to limit sugar, especially candy. It sound like we don't do as good a job as you do though! But I was proud of my nearly 5 y.o. daughter when we were at a Halloween parade and she told the girl next to her (who kept handing her candy off of the floats), "that's too much." We did a very limited trick or treating of 4 friends' houses. That was plenty.



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