It’s that magical time of the year. Our children are discussing their Halloween outfits non-stop (and sometimes changing their mind multiple times). One thing most of us dread is the sugar high that comes with it. When my boys were younger I used different strategies, non-candy items, organic candy and environmentally friendly treats… my husband drew the line when I mentioned we could hand out apples. As a new mom, I was very intentional about reducing their exposure to Halloween candy. It worked great for the first couple of years. Now that they are older, we have changed the strategy. It is no longer realistic (or healthy) to keep candy off limits, but we also don’t want to put candy on a pedestal.
For the last few years, we have come up with a plan to make sure there is little candy available for our boys after Halloween. Having a plan makes it easy for all of us to have clear expectations and contain the sugar hight that can come in the days (and weeks) after trick-or-treating. So, this is what my family does to reduce our Halloween candy intake:
1. Trick-or-Treat Early
Our halloween fun starts early in the evening. We usually head to trick or treat between 5:30-6:00 pm (extra planning for working parents as schedule must be clear). By going out early, you miss some houses that might not be ready, but still get enough to make it fun. Plus, it is still daylight. We always have a big snack before trick-or-treating to reduce how much candy is consumed along the way
2. Curate the Halloween Candy that Comes in
As soon as we finish our round, we go in the house to curate whats on out bags. Prior to trick-or-treating, we decide on how much candy we will keep at our home. This sets clear expectations and helps reduce anxiety. We go through the bags (I take all things Jolly Rancher… my fav) and we keep non-candy items and a selected few of each kids’ favorite treats.
3. Re-Distribute the Halloween Candy
Since we usually finish trick-or-treating early, we have plenty of time to re-distribute anything that doesn’t make the selection. This is perfect since we are usually running out of the things we have purchased to give out. Whatever is left, we leave by the door for those later tricker-or-treaters. By the end of the night, everything is usually gone.
Its extremely difficult to have a candy-free Halloween. Over the years, I have also realized that keeping candy off limits is counter productive especially on these days. I have finally learned that by not denying candy treats makes it easier to limit what is taken on Halloween. And, of course, everything in moderation. We finish the night with a fun dinner at home and by the time they go to sleep, the last thing on their mind is candy. Focusing on the experience and tradition also helps. So, once again, we will head out this year with the same strategy. With confidence that it will mostly work (because in parenthood nothing is certain).
4. Halloween Candy Buy Back or Donation Programs
If you have used these strategies and still have Halloween candy, here are several Halloween candy donation programs. These are helpful to get the bulk of candy out of your home while also giving back. Also, if you end up tossing out candy, don’t feel bad!
- VK Pediatric Dentistry
- Children’s Choice Pediatric Dentistry
- Operation Shoe Box
- Move America Forward
- Operation Gratitude
Do you have ways to reduce candy intake, certain Halloween candy donation programs you love, or favorite annual traditions?