The sad cocoa situation
The unfortunate reality of chocolate is that there is still child labor and slavery involved in cocoa production, and the attempts at improvement have been insufficient (for more information, look up “child Labor in cocoa production”). Halloween is a huge driver, as a mind-blowing amount of chocolate is purchased from these larger corporations.
It is one of those areas people don’t want to look at because they don’t want to be “that house.” Do we have to cave to that negative peer pressure?. There are so many alternatives out there. Just think about what is at stake here.
You could avoid buying chocolate altogether. One of my kids’ fondest memories is of a neighbor who dressed up as a gorilla and handed out bananas. The whole act was entertaining!
People assume kids won’t want healthy snacks but that is just not true. The first time I mixed in healthier options like fruit roll-ups and other fruit-and-nut snacks, those options went just as fast as the candy and chips. One kid even thanked me for having something healthier! Not all kids go for the sweets. Some prefer the salty or spicy options, and fewer people hand those out, so they tend to go quickly, too. Admittedly, I use a mixture to avoid my kids' disapproval and embarrassment.
But even unhealthy non-chocolate treats, including the big name corporate ones, are not as plagued with human trafficking as chocolate. Maybe transition to just doing better. And you can still buy chocolate: just buy fair trade. I also make fair-trade chocolate-y goodies for my kids and their friends so they don’t feel like they are missing out somehow. Those home-made goodies taste way better anyway. Keep reading to the end for ideas on what to make!
Costumes, kids and adults
Costumes for your kids (and maybe for you, too!) can be found at second hand stores. It did take some convincing when my kids made the switch because you have to be flexible about what you are looking for. But there are so many used costumes in great condition out there! Shop early for the best options.
You can also make costumes. Try to think of ideas that take only a few add-ons to regular clothing. Look at the outfits the employees wear at stores you shop at– you may only need to add a name tag and maybe a toy card-reader. Airlines have recognizable staff outfits, too.
Just please, remember to be culturally sensitive. There is so much cultural appropriation and stereotyping in costumes. Avoid this by focusing on imitating popular tv and movie characters, employee uniforms or the classic spookie theme.
Keep your pets safe
Don’t forget about how stressful this can be for your fur babies. Especially cats. People seem to unhinge their superstitions about cats and can be quite cruel. Keep them inside for a few days before and after.
Dogs can be reactive to all sorts of people seemingly invading their territory, while others love the constant flow of people- just know your dog. Remember that chocolate is poisonous to them– their occupancy in your house might be another reason to avoid all that over-abundant corporate chocolate!
Now, how about some fun recipes?
Here are some links I curated for you:
These are adorable! Gluten-free and vegan
Delicious, simple ingredients here:
I love all things pumpkin. And I adore the author, Danielle Walker. Here is a link to one of her recipes:
and a review of one of her cookbooks which has a collection of fun, kid-approved Halloween delectables. I’ve made most of them!:
DId you know that you may be able to rent a baking pan in a fun shape? Here is one place I know of if you are local to the Minneapolis area:
Or buy molds or cookie cutters. I like the idea of a ghost cookie cutter that can be used as a tulip shape in the spring.
For Made-in-USA baking molds, check out Nordic Ware at https://www.nordicware.com/
They are based right here in St Louis Park, MN! But you can buy their wares anywhere.
OK- now go out and have fun with it!