Make Halloween a giving holiday

Turning Trick or Treat Upside Down

by Kimberly Daley

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Halloween is a holiday best-known for scariness with frightening costumes, haunted houses, and ghoulish decor. But, it can also be a wonderful time of year to spread kindness even on a budget. Here are three simple ways to brighten someone's day this Halloween season:

  1. Before Halloween, try reverse trick-or-treating. If you or your children have costumes, put them on. Call somewhere that might love visitors (like a nursing home, a hospital, or a center for adults with disabilities) and ask if you can bring the residents a small gift or piece of candy. Then go backwards trick-or-treating and give out treats instead of asking for them. Just be sure, when you call ahead, to ask permission before bringing in food. Due to allergies and dietary restrictions, a non-food gift might be better. Even a very small present (a pack of gum, a travel-sized bottle of lotion, or something as practical as a pair of warm socks with a ribbon tied around them) can go a long way toward brightening someone else's day.
  2. Did you know that (according to one in every thirteen children in the US has a food allergy? That means that a lot of the cute trick-or-treaters who come to your door might not be able to eat much of what is in their bag. If you'd like to make that night a bit easier for those kids and their parents, you can participate in the Teal Pumpkin project. This campaign began in 2014 as a way for community members to show that they have allergy-friendly prizes waiting for trick-or-treaters. All you need to do is buy a few non-food items (this can be as simple as purchasing a package of party favors). Then paint a pumpkin teal or simply print off a flier from the Teal Pumpkin Project's website and tape it onto your front door. When a kid with a food allergy comes by on Halloween night, he or she will know to ask for a non-food prize. And be sure to spread the word in your community. This is a new idea, and many people would love to participate if they knew what to do.
  3. See Also: Frugal Halloween Fun and Games

  4. After Halloween is over, share some of your extras! Whether you have a few unused packages that didn't get handed out to trick-or-treaters or you just have more sugar in your home than you'd like, take this opportunity to give some of your surplus candy away. Many dentists will accept (and even pay you for) your extra Halloween candy, and then they'll mail their collection to soldiers stationed overseas. You can look for a participating local dentist by visiting Or take matters into your own hands and search online for information about Operation Gratitude or Operation Stars and Stripes. Both are organizations that facilitate the delivery of care packages to our troops overseas. If you mail your candy in early November, there is great chance that it will be in the hands of a soldier by Christmas. And if you have a few extra minutes, write a letter to a soldier. Your words of encouragement can mean a lot to someone who is spending the holiday season far from home.

If circumstances have put your family in debt, find out how to conquer your debt by creating a plan personalized to your family's budget and lifestyle.

If one of these three ideas appeals to you, or if this has sparked an idea for another Halloween act of kindness, take advantage of this time of year to spread happiness. There is always someone who can use your encouragement, and this holiday gives you plenty of opportunities to be kind, one piece of candy at a time.

Reviewed October 2017

Take the Next Step:

  • Interested in engaging your family in paying it forward? Here are some ideas to get you started.
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