Too Many Snickers for Trickers?

Halloween excites me.  Even though I was the youngest of three children, I took on the task each year of decorating for Halloween.  I strung orange lights, fashioned life-size ghosts, begged mom to buy paper skeletons.  Every few  years I staged elaborate haunted houses in the basement on the ping-pong table.

The spookiness wasn’t the only attraction.  I was a bonafide sugar freak who made mouse holes in the Halloween candy bags mom had purchased weeks ahead of time and slipped out pieces one by one to satisfy my never-ending jones.

I outgrew this addiction (whew).  But as an adult and parent my mind would spin at how many American holidays center around giving children candy.  Candy canes, candy hearts, candy easter eggs, candy corn – seemingly requirements of a happy childhood.  Nevertheless giving a child a large bag and cheerfully encouraging them to go foraging to collect as much candy as possible seems peculiar.  Particularly if, as a parent, you don’t really want them to eat all the candy.

So how do we handle this?  One strategy offered to me was to allow the child to choose the number of pieces of candy that totalled their number of years on the earth.  Three for the three-year-old, fifteen for the teenager.  Another loving parent told me about the Pumpkin Man.  If one leaves a bag of candy out for the Pumpkin Man, it will be transformed into a present the child longs for.  I always volunteered to have a big group of trick or treaters come to our home for a pre-game meal and gave them hearty fare to fill them up.  Have you guys found a way to manage the Halloween sugar fest for your kids?  Let’s swap ideas.

12 thoughts on “Too Many Snickers for Trickers?

  1. At our house, we offer a cash for candy program. My daughters would much rather have some cash to buy an outfit than candy. I’m happy to indulge their fashionista tendancies at the local consignment store.
    While it is sort of a crazy holiday in which we encourage them to acquire bag loads of candy, I think it can be more about the thrill of acquisition then about the candy itself. Especially if that candy can be traded in for something that will last longer than a stomachache!

  2. A friend did something similar with her daughter’s Halloween spoils by allowing her to trade candy for small toys, fun pencils, bookmarks, and the like. Of course, this brings up the question of encouraging the acquisition of stuff. However, I think a little Halloween candy (or birthday cake, or Christmas fudge) is not the end of the world.
    I agree that most of the fun is usually in the chase. As a kid I had a major sweet tooth (still do, just manage it better now!), and even so I would tire of my candy bag. I remember finding it under my bed around Easter one year, still half full.

  3. Our 4 year old’s school does a trunk or treat and they encourage only healthy treats or non-food treasures for the kids, so we get to dodge the bullet for another year. I know the day is coming when he’ll be going door to door and loading up though, so I’ll enjoy seeing the suggestions you get.

  4. What I have to offer may be a surprise to many people, but I have to comment that for many years I lived in low income neighborhoods in North Carolina and Virginia, and even when living in middle class neighborhoods, low-income kids would come to trick or treat in our neighborhood because their parents considered it safer or the kids thought the loot was better. It bothered me to hand out candy, so what I did was offer a big bowl or tub that kids could see well into and not only put candy in it (candy that passed my own children’s muster) but I also put in new packaged toothbrushes, new pencils and pens, and beautiful apples and oranges. You can’t imagine how some kids’ eyes lit up when they saw this and many chose the “alternative” treats. Some asked if they could have candy AND a toothbrush! Cute!

  5. When I was a kid my parents allowed me to eat all I wanted that night, but we had to throw it all away the next day. My parents had good intentions, but the result was that we learned to absolutely gorge on sweets when we could get them, and we felt a lot of bitterness toward our parents, too.

    With my kids I’ve tried to be a bit less extreme, and give them a little more control in our Halloween strategy. We basically let them stockpile whatever they end up with, and they are allowed to eat one or two pieces a day. The candy lasts a long time this way, and as other holidays come along we add the additional “loot” to the stash. Every so often we find that the whole candy bin is infested with bugs, and we have to throw it all away, and then they start over with their stockpile. It seems like the whole family has been happy with this system. 🙂

  6. After reading the above options, this may seem radical to many though ironically it is the simplist of options: Don’t go trick or treating. Don’t have your porch light on or put a flyer to announce that you are not giving out candy.
    Find families in your neighborhood who are interested in returning Halloween back into a community event with celebration, fun, crafts, games and good home cooking with healthy options. There are plenty of alternative sweets: we have made a puffed and whole grain RiceMellow treat or batches of no bake mini round cookies that you can pop in your mouth…both are sugar free, wheat free and YUMMY!
    Getting away from foods or practices is as simple as saying “no more” then finding others to share, support and agree on new priorities.
    You could be surprised how many others are ready for simplifing holidays and life too!

  7. Hi Cynthia,
    I let the kids have a few pieces each day for about a week and then the candy gets hidden until Christmas time when we use it to decorate Gingerbread houses!

  8. I remember one family when I was a child that gave most of their Hallowe’en candy to a children’s hospital for the kids who couldn’t go out trick or treating.

  9. My step daughter’s Mom started a great tradition and we’ve adopted it at our house as well.

    The “candy fairy” comes in the night of Oct. 31. She/he exchanges the bulk of the candy haul for a small gift. Win – Win.

    It’s worked great for years!

  10. My children are young, so the Sugar Sprite still comes about a week after Halloween to gather the bulk of the candy in exchange for a gift. They keep a handful of favorites and give the rest away to get the Sprites thru the winter months. Even though we do not end up with quite as much loot as other families, (due to food allergies, we only go to trusted neighbors who know the deal), we still end up with quite a bit! As they get older, I have heard there are many fun Home Chemistry Lab experiments with candy, fun!

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