Please let me be clear on one thing – my kids WILL be having Halloween candy this week. They are excited about that part of Halloween, and I don’t blame them. At one particular house in my neighborhood growing up, I still stopped by every October 31st even when I was a teenager. I have such fond memories of sipping warm apple cider and talking to the sweet lady who was basically the neighborhood grandma.
That is what I want for my kids – memories of dressing up and interacting with the neighbors who are always delighted to see them. Since we live in a more established neighborhood, my kids are some of the few on the block. I know that these thoughtful people would be quite disappointed to know that my kids did not get any of their treats.
How do we make it NOT BE all about the candy? Without eliminating this sweets gathering tradition, these tips will help out with not having that be the focus of Halloween.
Start out the “hunt” with full tummies. By walking around the neighborhood, they can build up anticipation without mindless munching that might happen if they are starving. Tell them when they have gathered all of their candy, then they get to pick a few favorites to enjoy.
Stretch the candy out. My kids get to enjoy one piece of candy daily for their dessert for a few weeks. Since usually these Halloween treats are snack size, they are still enjoying them without thinking that they need a full-size candy bar. Can having this candy around be problematic? Sometimes. We have been known to have a candy sneaker or two. This is frustrating especially if the treats they are taking are not their own. I think this year I am going to try to notice more the amount and try to monitor it a bit more, and let my kids know that if they are taking candy at the wrong times, they will lose the rest. (Now if I can just follow through …)
Swap the candy out. If your child happens to be involved in many trick-or-treat events, they could have literally bucket-loads of candy. Many dentists will “buy” back candy or provide other incentives for your kids to trade in their extras. Other places can offer similar incentives. One our personal family Halloween traditions is trading candy for a kids meal at one national pasta chain. While I do make my kids trade in a bit of their own, since we arrive with 4 kids, I do also buy extra candy the day after to donate as well. They send the candy on to the troops.
Donate the candy out. Now you can actually send off your extras as a fun gift to U.S. troops through such programs as Halloween Candy Buy Back which works in conjunction with Operation Gratitude. Another great organization that collects for the soldiers is Operation Shoebox. These programs are great ways to provide morale boosters for those who sacrifice for our country.
Leave the candy out. While this step may not be realistic if you are actually trick or treating, you can control what else happens at home. During this age of Pinterest, so many people have created fun treats that are actually healthy. Visit Suzanne’s Healthy Halloween board to see some favorites. You can help control the sugar that goes out in your neighborhood – sometimes all you need to do is add a few stickers to already packaged treats or baggies full of healthier options. Also in the days preceding and following October 31st, make a point of serving your own kids some of these options.
By following these suggestions, you can make Halloween be more about dressing up and interacting with the neighbors. As for helping you pick out the perfect costume for your child, sorry you are on your own. 🙂