When my kids were little the Candy Monster would come the day after Halloween.
We would leave him the candy, a toothbrush, and a note reminding him to brush his teeth.
Last year they wised up to the Candy Monster though.
“It’s really you, Mommy!” my just-seven-year-old insisted.
So that trick doesn’t work when your kids are of a certain age.
This question of dealing with Halloween candy came up on my moms forum and the answers were so inspiring, I asked permission to publish them here:
Q: This is the first year my 5-year-old will go trick-or-treating. Does anyone have any good suggestions in dealing with keeping the sugar thing in check? We’ve never given him candy. We want him to enjoy the holiday, but to keep the treats to a minimum.
Kelle: We have the “Candy Fairy” come the night after Halloween. Our daughter gets to pick out five pieces of candy to keep – then the rest goes in a bowl for the Candy Fairy to take to all the little children who did not get any candy. The Candy Fairy leaves a prize and a note thanking Ella for her kind donation.
Kelle Lovett sells tutus and children’s clothing in Ashland, Oregon
Brette: We take a lot of the Halloween candy and save it for our gingerbread house for Christmas (which we decorate, but DON’T eat). The kids like to save colorful and pretty candies for that, as well as use brown candy bars for roof tiles and stepping stones.
It works in several ways: It still gives them something fun to do with the candy and it also makes them think about the holidays coming, so they remember all the fun associated with that and don’t feel deprived if they don’t eat buckets of candy.
Brette Sember, a mother of two in Buffalo, New York, is author of The Parchment Paper Cookbook: 180 Healthy, Fast, Delicious Dishes.
Angeline: I read about candy science experiments at Candyexperiments.com. Your kids can do cool experiments with their candy rather than throw it away. You can even invite friends over to have a candy experiment party and do games with the experiments. The website gives you examples.
Aliza: What works for us is to let him have all he wants that night and then it disappears. This is how I was raised as well.
Kimberly: First we make sure to pay extra attention to what they eat all day, and after the parade, before trick-or-treating, we make sure to get them to eat a balanced meal.Then we trick-or-treat and let them have a couple of pieces as we go.They are mostly focused on the trick-or-treating, and they don’t usually get candy so 2 or 3 pieces feels like a lot to them. When we get home they sort and play with the candy and then they choose as many pieces as they are old to keep. The rest they leave on our hearth for the Great Pumpkin.
The Great Pumpkin takes all the candy that night and leaves them a small gift. This is the trickiest part because it has to be good enough to make them feel good about giving up the candy but you don’t want to go too big because you will be in trouble with each successive year as they expect something just as good. (My daughter who is eight is already thinking that she would rather keep the candy.)
My husband and I throw the candy away or he takes it to work. Last year we gave it to someone who took it to a dentist who sends it all to soldiers overseas. A little complicated, but worth it. My youngest daughter came back from every door incredulous and jubilant that they were all handing her candy. It was priceless to watch.
Then the children HAND OUT stuff on our walk through town and even at trick-or-treating house stops. They love it and it takes the focus away from the whole evening being all about receiving candy. This year, I got little gifts that go along with the costumes my kids are wearing. My daughter is a “Candy Corn Fairy” so she has candy corn pencils, candy corn fake tattoos, and then little individually wrapped bags of candy corn to give out. My son is Spiderman and I got a roll of Spiderman stickers and a big bag of plastic spider rings for him to hand out. It makes it extra fun to walk down Main Street and go from door to door!
We put them to bed and then raid their stash. LOL. We sort out the good stuff and throw out the lame stuff. We put a little selection of candy in a tupperware on the top shelf and divvy it out over the next couple of days as a lunchbox treat or after-dinner treat. It runs out pretty quickly and then you’re left with much healthier things like pencils, stickers, and fake tattoos to remember the fun Halloween festivities!
Sarah Jane Nelson is an actress, singer, and mother of two.
Heather: My mother-in-law always allowed her children to go trick-or-treating with the understanding that all of their candy could be traded to her for a special halloween treat that everyone made together. This is a tradition that my husband and I are trying to continue. The treats are often something sweet but we get to monitor what goes into them; less processed sugars and ingredients etc. I’ts good family time and a great reminder to our children that we care about the things we allow into our bodies. And we still have fun dressing up!
Heather Cole is a mother of two: Zaya, age 5, and Leith age 2.
I tend to be sort of relaxed about Halloween candy (you wouldn’t think so from this rant, or this long post about healthy foods to bring to school, now would you?) but these ideas have inspired me to be more creative this year.
They can have as much as they want on Halloween but then we’ll try using it for candy experiments and putting some aside to make gingerbread houses.
What about you? What do you like about Halloween? What don’t you like? What’s your best suggestion for dealing with all that candy?!