Non-Toxic Halloween Ideas

October 3, 2023

Halloween is a spooky holiday already, but what’s in your child’s costume, candy, and even trick or treat bag might contain more tricks than treats. But the good news is there are some simple swaps you can make to take out some of that scare, and keep your kids happy, too!


Children do not have developed enough systems to detoxify chemicals and flush them out of the body quickly, allowing chemicals to build up in their bodies and do long-term harm. Some of these toxic chemicals act as endocrine disruptors (interfering with our bodies hormones, causing an over- or under-production of hormones, or that can block or mimic hormones), which can be especially harmful for children during important times of development. Their skin is also thinner, and they take in more food, water, and air pound for pound than an adult can.

And the little ones are more closely tied to their environment – crawling around on the floor, sticking everything in their mouth that they can get their hands on (including their hands!), and they most likely don’t wash their hands as frequently as adults do. With more years of life ahead of them, there’s also more time to toxic chemicals to do harm.

But before you toss everything because it might be bad, take a deep breath and dig in to the following tips. They’re quick, easy, and your kids may never know they just had a less-toxic Halloween! And you don’t have to follow each of these steps – just do what you can so you can lessen the amount of tricks while your kids can still enjoy the treats!


Non-Toxic Costume Ideas

First up is costumes. Many costumes contain flame retardant chemicals, which makes them sound safer, but that’s not necessarily the case. 

Many flame retardant chemicals act as hormone disruptors, while others are linked to lower IQ and are associated with issues in brain development, behavior problems, attention issues in children, and others are linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Who knew an innocent costume can expose your kids to all that?

These flame retardants are added to materials to comply with fire safety standards, but the studies show that they may only delay ignition for a brief period and can make fires more toxic. Listen to the podcast episode above for more info, or see the study on this blog post.

Solution: Search Pinterest for costume ideas using children’s pajamas or other clothing. There are so many great options out there! Look for 100% organic pajamas, or use costumes made from more natural material like 100% cotton, hemp, silk, organic cotton, or wool. Milkbarn Kids, Monica & Andy, and The Tot are a few places to look for fun pajama prints, and companies like Bella Luna and Sara’s Silks have eco-friendly, non-toxic costume ideas. While all of these ideas may be more pricey upfront, they don’t have to be used just for one day, like many Halloween costumes! Of course the pajamas can be re-worn, and the play pieces can be used for dress-up anytime, or saved to use for another costume.
Solution: Search Pinterest for costume ideas using children’s pajamas or other clothing. There are so many great options out there!

nontoxic Halloween costumes


Vinyl is commonly found in softer, pliable masks, as well as in some treat bags.

 The problem with vinyl (also known as PVC) is that it can also be contaminated with phthalates (linked to hormone disruption, lower IQ in children, and early puberty), cadmium, and lead (heavy metals).

Avoid: Items labeled with PVC or recycling code #3 (typically an arrow with a #3)

Solution: If using a vinyl costume, open the costume at home and let it off-gas outside or in the garage for a few days (an area where you don’t spend a lot of time). Wash hands frequently while wearing the costume.

Otherwise, Pinterest and other websites have creative options for children’s costume ideas using simply using pajamas and other common clothing.

Vinyl is also commonly found in Trick or Treat bags. Use a cloth or canvas option or even a pillowcase.


Heavy Metals

A study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found some alarming toxic chemicals in makeup marketed to children, including heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and lead in children’s face paint. The study found the darker the pigment, the higher concentration of heavy metals.

Hormone disruptors and probable cancer-causers were also found.

Solution: Buy a non-toxic face paint colored with natural colorants (such as Earth Paint or Elegant Minerals)


Candy’s obvious red flag is sugar, but there are other undesirable ingredients, like artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, and often, GMO ingredients. Today we’ll talk about artificial colors, but you can find more info on GMO ingredients and high fructose corn syrup, along with safer solutions, in my membership.

Artificial colorings can contribute to behavior and hyperactivity (definitely not something we want to add to on a holiday, in addition to all that sugar!), so candy without artificial colorsthese might be a better option, especially for those of us with kids with ADHD or attention and behavior issues.

Artificial colors also have a cancer connection – three of the most-used colorings (Red #40, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6) are known to be contaminated with benzidine, a known cancer-causer, so anything with artificial colors should be avoided, if not completely eliminated. There are more and more companies that are phasing them out, and safer products are getting easier to find.

Avoid: Ingredients that have a color followed by a number (for example Red No. 40 or Red #40, Yellow No. 5, etc.)

Look for: candies that are colored with natural colorings, such as beets, turmeric, and carrot, and blackcurrant, such as:

Black Forest

Yum Earth

Wholesome Sweet



While these brands are non-GMO and are colored with natural coloring, such as organic carrot concentrate and turmeric, they are still chock full of sugar. So keep in mind that it still doesn’t make them a health food, and they should be consumed in moderation. 

Non-Candy Items for Trick or Treating

The last couple of years I’ve put non-candy items in a large bowl and let the trick or treaters pick, and they have loved it. I was a little nervous how it was going to go the first year I tried it, but seeing the kids’ faces when they saw the Halloween candy alternativesbowl  was priceless, so I did it again. I don’t get many trick or treaters where we’re at, so now I buy a couple packs of organic juice boxes and they get one of those and then pick from the bowl.

With candy prices being so expensive, I’ve also been surprised that when you can buy these things in bulk, that it actually costs less, which is another huge plus! When my daughters (and husband 😂) saw the bowl full of non-candy goodies for the first time, I thought they’d be sorely disappointed, but they loved the toys and I had to tell them they could only pick out one of each until after Halloween. They were  17 and 19 at the time, so I call that a mom win!

Ideas for candy alternatives:

Glow rings

Halloween pens

Halloween stamps

Temporary tattoos

While I know that these can be considered items that will be thrown away, I also like to balance the kids having fun, while reducing their exposure to ingredients that aren’t good for them. Especially as the parent of a child with ADHD, it was important to me to reduce some of the symptoms, making the holiday (and the days after!) easier on both of us!

Candy Swapping

If you want your kids to have the fun of trick-or-treating but don’t necessarily want all the sugar that comes along with it, there are a few options that can be a good compromise that you and your kids can agree upon.

Try these tricks after the trick-or-treating is done:

Have your child trade in the candy “worst offenders” (often the most colorful) for a different kind of treat that isn’t food-related, or switch their colorful candy out with one of the naturally-colored candy brands listed above. Or switch out the worst offenders with some of the non-candy ideas listed below.

Use the Switch Witch, who visits the house and switches candy with a “healthier” candy (there a doll Switch Witch, like Elf on the Shelf, to make it even more fun). You can do this with just some of the candy you want to avoid, or make it even easier and have your children leave their bag of candy outside their door so that the Switch Witch can leave a toy (it can be as simple as something around $10) outside their door.

Here a few fun switch ideas:

3D Dinosaur Night Light

These are cute for a decently low price point. They change color, or can be changed with a remote control.

Color-Changing Night Light

My 19-year old daughter just bought a whale and a dinosaur night light. 🙂 These are cute and change colors when you tap their head.

Mini Garden Terrarium

Choose from cute themes such as Dinosaur Egg, Mermaid, and Unicorn, and grow your own mini-garden using justwater, chia seeds, mini-figurines, and colored sand.

Wikki Stix

These reusable shaping sticks are made of non-toxic, food-grade wax. Fun to use over and over again – for any age!

Gift Card

If your kids are a little older, maybe they’ll prefer a gift card. Who can go wrong with that? Whether it’s a $5 or $10 gift card for Amazon, Apple, Google Play, Spotify, or their favorite store, this would make a candy switch easy!