Creative tips on how to manage Halloween candy
Confession time: I have a love-hate relationship Halloween. I love all of the festivities and the costumes and the fun of Halloween. But I hate the ridiculous amount of candy we end up with when all is said and done. Of course, when I was a kid I loved it! As a mom, and learning so much about the many health problems that sugar contributes to, I feel a little stressed out with the many pounds of candy in their trick-or-treat bags. Yet, I feel guilty about throwing it all out.
This year, we went around our neighborhood (which only has 100 homes) and our church trunk-or-treat. Still, my kids ended up with way too much candy! Halloween night is kind of a free-for-all with what they can eat (meaning I don’t put super strict restrictions on them), but they know that the next day they will have to hand over their stash and we will sort through it. There is a little bit of moaning and complaining, but if I didn’t do this they could seriously eat through it all in a matter of a week or two! I don’t mean to be a spoil sport, but it can’t be good to consume that amount of candy in such a short period of time! (Really, it’s not good to consume any amount of candy anytime, but it’s all about moderation, right??)
Aubrey tried to be sneaky this year. When I asked for her candy, she only brought down the candy she didn’t want, claiming that was all she had except for “a few” select pieces of her favorites that she wanted to keep upstairs. I wouldn’t have had a huge problem with that except that when I compared her small pile to the boys’ loot, I knew something was fishy. She had a mischevious grin on her face when I asked her about it and she reluctantly led me to her hidden stash. I nearly died of laughter and disbelief when I opened the top of her vanity, revealing more than “just a few pieces” of candy….three and a half pounds to be exact!!
When it comes to sorting candy, we have established a very efficient system. We separate the candy into categories. Here’s what it looks like and I’ll break it all down for you and explain each category.
First, we put aside anything that we can use in December for our gingerbread houses. You wouldn’t believe how many pieces of candy you can eliminate by doing this! It saves me from having to spend more money on candy at Christmas time, plus the kids rarely end up eating their beautifully decorated gingerbread houses anyway. It’s a win all the way around! Some of the candy that we have found works well for gingerbread houses include: nerds, skittles, smarties, sweet tarts, red hots and gobstoppers.
We also sort all of the lollipops into a separate bowl. I have the cutest Thanksgiving turkey that I made, years ago, that uses lollipops for feathers. I used to buy lollipops for my turkey until I realized that my kids don’t need that many suckers, so we now recycle the Halloween lollipops for his feathers.
We put aside anything that is bite-sized that will fit in our Christmas advent calendar. I used to only use the bite-sized chocolates, but we never end up with enough and I always end up going out to buy Hershey’s kisses. Seriously, we don’t need to bring any more candy into the house! So, this year I added in tootsie rolls and starbursts that we can put in our countdown calendar. I figure one tiny piece of candy a day won’t hurt too much.
Chocolate goes into it’s own bowl. Let’s be real here-only a crazy person throws out chocolate! And let’s not forget that there’s a parent tax for taking the kids out to collect all of this candy…
Everything else goes into a “miscellaneous” pile. After we have bagged up our gingerbread house and advent calendar candy, and given Mr. Turkey his feathers, I let the kids weigh out a pound of candy to keep. Yes, I really have them weigh it out! It’s the best way I’ve come up with to limit their candy intake and it’s kind of a game to them. They can choose a couple of pieces of candy a day, if they’ve eaten all of their fruits and vegetables, of course.
After all of this is done, we still have gobs of candy left over. We bag up the chocolate in it’s own, special bag. Everything else goes into another Ziploc. Sometimes I will use the left over chocolate to make dessert for family dinner; cookies or brownies with chocolate bits in it. That gets it out of the house quickly and we share with our extended family, so we aren’t consuming all of this candy ourselves! If I have any leftover by Christmas, I will put a few fun sized candy bars in the kids’ stockings. I will also hold onto it for special occasions…maybe a trip to the movies or some other outing, a family movie night, or an added treat to birthday gifts for friends. It can also be used in treat bags for the kid’s birthday parties! On Christmas Eve, we always put together lunch kits and take it to the homeless. I told the kids that this year, we will add some candy to their kits; they seemed pleased with that idea.
At a glance, here is a list of what you can do with your excess Halloween candy:
- Pick out anything that will work for gingerbread houses and put away until December
- Put away small, bite sized candies that you can use for your Christmas advent calendar
- Bake chocolate candies into brownies or cookies
- Donate to a women’s shelter or a homeless shelter
- Take it to your dentist; often times the dentist will trade the candy for another treat
- Donate to the Ronald McDonald house: they collect candy to give to families who are staying there
- Trade them a toy or money for their candy (and then donate the candy somewhere else)
- Save it for other occasions: birthday treat bags, Christmas stockings, a trip to the movies, road trips, etc.
What do you do with your Halloween candy?