Sometimes I amaze myself. In fact, I’m amazed that I didn’t foresee that I would be painting 35 treat bags this morning. I thought it would be a fun family project--until I remembered that we don’t have time for fun family projects on Wednesdays. We pick up Kristen at the bus stop, drive to piano lessons for both kids, race home, change clothes, and head out to the stables for her horseback riding lessons. We eat out at some non-organic, non-local-food place, like last week’s Fuddrucker’s fiasco. When we finally get home around 8 p.m., Kristen finishes homework, then baths for both kiddos, then reading...and finally, bedtime. There’s no time to paint environmentally-correct treat bags, unless I do it. So guess what I’ve been doing for the past 45 minutes? Sadly, I’ve only painted one side...now the bags need to dry so I can finish them later and stuff them tomorrow. ARGH.
I also amaze myself by assuming Kristen’s teacher would be really excited about an eco-friendly Halloween craft for the kids--without checking with her first. Her teacher was less than enthusiastic about a scarecrow invading her classroom. My friend reminded me that since our kids are now in third grade, gone are the days of elaborate parties and parental involvement. We can send snacks and the kids will have a game day--Kristen is very excited about taking her Nintendo DS.
OK, sorry, enough of my ranting. I’m feeling a bit Kermit-like today--“it’s not easy being green.”
It’s interesting, though. When I started researching ideas for the greening of Halloween, I felt hypocritical. Let’s face it...I will never be the mom who hands out the following recommended treats, gathered from a variety of “green” websites:
- 100% Honey Sticks
- Dried veggie chips
- Organic agave sticks
- Or, my personal favorite--toothpaste. (A handout that will get you a smashed pumpkin for sure.)
I’ve already admitted my quandry...a compostable treat bag that’s filled with individually wrapped, non-local, non-organic candy. My friend Dana and I faced the same dilemma...we want to include some fun treats, but when checking out the plastic crap at Target...we both walked away. So, what are a mom’s alternatives?
Here, in no particular order, are some ideas for treat-bag fillers that will not relegate you to “weird” mom status (well, at least, I hope). I’ve included some websites and stores, and I’ve limited the items to things that won’t break the bank:
- Mood pencils with the message, “Happy Hallogreen!” Just like the rings, the pencil changes color depending on your “mood.” $8.50 for a pack of 25. www.RecyclingIsCool.com
- Fair Trade Milk Chocolate Spooky Balls--$4.99 for approximately 22 balls. www.naturalcandystore.com
- Tops created from recycled plastic.
- Pirate eye patch. www.orientaltrading.com
- Bead necklaces from recycled plastic.
- Worry Dolls. According to legend, Guatemalan children tell one worry to each doll when they go to bed at night and place the dolls under their pillow. In the morning, the dolls have taken away their worries. I stumbled upon this site, which offers a box of 6 worry dolls for $.60 or a colorful bag of 6 for $.45. www.worrydollswholesale.com
- 52 Tricks and Treats for Halloween--card deck, $6.95. Include one or two cards per treat bag. There are lots of other card deck options--look for question and answer type decks and divvy them up. www.barnesandnoble.com
- Friendship bracelets or hemp bracelets.
- Small coloring books or word searches made from recycled paper.
- Seed growing kit. Cute kits for $1 at Target.
- Individual popcorn bags. The paper bags can be recycled.
- Candy in boxes, like Junior Mints or Nerds. The boxes can be recycled.
- Mini boxes of raisins. Personally, I would have been annoyed to receive raisins when I was a kid, but they are good treats for the little goblins.
The last three items are also cost-effective for handing out to trick-or-treaters.
What else? What creative, eco-friendly fillers will you add to your treat bags? I’d love to know, so please share your ideas!
Now, what about in-class snacks? For Kristen’s class, I’m providing “Dirt Cupcakes”--you know, cupcakes with icing, dipped in crushed Oreo cookies for the “dirt” effect, with a gummy worm stuck in the middle. I know, I know--there’s nothing organic, local, or healthy about the cupcakes. Still, kids like them, I’m minimizing the trash output by baking them in paper cupcake liners, and I’m sending them in a reusable container. Plus, there’s that whole subliminal message about taking care of the Earth that goes along with the dirt cupcakes, right?!
Of course, it would be better to serve local apples...which can easily be dressed up with a healthy dose of caramel for party festivities. Yum. We’re definitely making caramel apples at home this weekend.
I can’t send in celery sticks or hand out dried veggie chips...it’s not in my nature. I want to be good to the environment, I do. I want to be a steward for healthful, local eating. Honestly. But I can’t sacrifice cupcakes. Or caramel apples. Everyone needs a little sugar on holidays, right? (OK, all anti-sugar readers...please don’t tar and feather me. Growing up, my friend Marie wasn’t allowed to eat any junk food at home. Know what she did? She came to my house and gorged on Hostess Ding Dongs and Cheetos. It’s all about moderation...unless someone has a serious health issue.)
Finally, for a small activity--since Kristen’s teacher doesn’t want anything elaborate--I’m sending a reusable jar filled with candy corn. The students can guess the number of pieces of candy in the jar, and whoever is closest to the correct number will win.
***ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT***
Late-breaking development. Instead of game day, Kristen’s class is now watching Old Yeller during the party. What teacher thinks that Old Yeller is festive for a Halloween party? Kristen sobbed when she read the book, and with her animal obsession and soft-heart, I’m afraid she might be psychologically scarred--I know I was an emotional mess when I read the book many, many years ago.
To top it off...our puppy was hit by a car last Halloween. You have no idea the amount of emotional devastation that occurred for several months in our home. I’m not being dramatic--we were a mess. I was hoping we could just make it through this Halloween without a major relapse. Ack--what to do? Should I pull her out of school a little early? What’s your opinion?
OK, on that happy note...I’d better wrap it up for now. There are treat bags waiting to be painted, horses waiting to be ridden, and laundry moldering in the washing machine. Until next time...please share your green Halloween tips and ideas here. I can’t wait to hear how you’re going green for Halloween!
Tomorrow...we're going to talk about what to do with that pumpkin on November 1.