Deciding what to do with leftover Halloween candy is always a tricky topic. Kids don’t need so much sugar, but we also don’t want them to get a complex about healthy eating. Here’s what I do.
Halloween is one of the most exciting days of the year for many children, but there has to be a better way to get rid of all that candy than letting children eat it. My 9-year-old and 7-year-old returned home from trick or treating last night with a total of 208 pieces of candy (yes, they counted it). In past years, we’ve kept their Halloween candy in a bag in the closet, and I would let them have one piece of candy most days of the week. The candy bags would be there for months, sometimes even until Easter. I thought this was “moderation” but I was never quite comfortable giving them a daily dose of candy.
Candy isn’t real food, and I don’t want them eating it every day. I’m happy to let them indulge on special occasions like Halloween, but I don’t want Halloween to stick around for months. I considered a few different strategies for getting the candy out of the house:
- Let them eat a lot of candy on Halloween and then donate or throw away the rest. (I feel guilty throwing it away. However, it’s not actually food so I also feel guilty donating it and putting another parent in the same position.)
- Keep some candy for them to eat on occasion for the next few weeks, and throw away or donate the rest.
- Keep some candy for them to eat on occasion, and give them a toy or money in exchange for the remainder of the candy.
My children didn’t express an interest in gorging in candy on Halloween. I think they’re learning that they don’t feel well when they eat a lot of sweets. Both of them asked if they could eat one piece of candy when we got home from trick or treating, and of course the answer was yes. It’s always encouraging for me when I see them make healthy food decisions on their own.
Dealing with Leftover Halloween Candy
I decided that this year I would implement the third option, trading them for the excess candy. I struggle with the balance of “making” them eat real food and letting them enjoy the frivolities of childhood. I said they could keep 25 pieces of candy, and I would give them each five dollars in exchange for their remaining candy. They talked me into 30 pieces instead of 25, and they were thrilled with the five dollars. I know it’s a bit ridiculous to pay them to give up the extra candy, but I wanted it to go smoothly and my ultimate goal was to see them willingly say goodbye to an unhealthy pile of sweets.
I’m not sure if I should donate the extra candy or throw it away. It isn’t real food and I don’t like the idea of passing it along to another family. On the flip side, a family living in a homeless shelter or dealing with a job loss may get an extra smile one day as a result of a sweet treat.
I would love to hear your suggestions about this. What would you do with 148 pieces of candy? How do you deal with the overabundance of Halloween goodies that make their way into your house?