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Here's to a Healthy Halloween

Put down that giant plastic pumpkin of candy—you don’t have to deal with a sugar fright fest this Halloween. Instead, you can host a party that puts the focus on active games and healthy—but still tasty—treats.

Kids still get to show off their costumes, but they can also enjoy physical activity and nutritious snacks. And the big payoff: There’s no sugar crash at bedtime. (Whew!)

Ghastly Good Fun

The big secret to a successful Halloween party is the games. Look for games that really encourage kids to move around. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ghost in the Graveyard: This classic game is a combo of hide-and-seek and tag. Choose one person to be the ghost, and a spot to be home base (if you have a fake gravestone as part of your outdoor Halloween décor, that makes a great base). Players stand at home base and close their eyes while the ghost hides. Players count: “One o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock …” until they get to 12 o’clock. Then they shout “Midnight!” and scatter, searching for the ghost. Whoever finds the ghost calls out “Ghost in the graveyard!” That’s the cue for all players to race back to base with the ghost in pursuit. The first person the ghost tags, or the last one to reach the base, is the next ghost.
  • Costume Relay: Collect a bunch of dress-up accessories that can mostly work with costumes kids are already wearing—things like capes, big shoes, scarves, hats, glasses. Divide them into two piles, one for each team of relay racers. To play, kids must run to the pile, grab one item, put it on, and run back to their team. Then they must hand off their item to the next player, who has to put it on, run to the pile, add another item, and run back. Keep going until the last player is wearing every item from the pile.
  • Frightening Freeze Dance: Cue up some monstrous tunes and get the kids dancing. Have your DJ stop the music unexpectedly and yell, “FREEZE!!!” All the dancers have to freeze in position immediately—and hold that pose until the music starts again. If a player doesn’t freeze immediately, they have to do 10 jumping jacks (really spooky ones, of course) before they can start dancing again.
  • Boooo Bottles: This one is a take on the old carnival ring toss game. Wrap some empty bottles in glow-in-the-dark duct tape and arm the kids with glow stick bracelets. Everyone can compete (in the dark, of course!) to see who can toss the most bracelets onto bottlenecks.

The Treats Are The Trick

Even candyholics can max out at this time of year, so to keep your kids healthy, serve up the kind of goodies that have Halloween spirit, but are nutritious too. Here are a few options:

  • Zippity Dip: Serve a black-bean dip with some orange veggies: carrots, bell-pepper strips, baked sweet-potato chips. You can even carve out a small pumpkin (or another autumn gourd) to use as a bowl for your dip.
  • Jack-o’-Lantern Pizza: A round pizza crust makes the perfect “canvas” for a jack-o’-lantern face—veggies of all shapes and colors are perfect for eyes, noses, garish grins and more. To make your pizzas healthier, start with a whole-wheat crust and go easy on the cheese. Top-your-own pizza is a fun party activity, too.
  • Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: Save those seeds when you carve pumpkins! Toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and then roast in the oven. You can also experiment with flavorings like cinnamon, chili powder, or curry. The result is a yummy snack that includes protein, magnesium, and zinc.
  • Bowl of Eyeballs: A big bowl of chilled grapes does the trick every time when you tell kids to close their eyes and pick an eyeball. Making up a spooky story about how all these eyeballs ended up in a bowl will have everyone shrieking—and eating more fruit—in no time flat.