Halloween has always been one of my favorite parts of fall, but aside from the short walk around the neighborhood to collect treats, it’s not the healthiest of holidays. Kids’ costumes are awesome (who doesn’t love a 2-year-old Dwight Schrute?), and the first year it clicks that he gets candy in return for a knock on the door, a child’s determination is nothing short of hilarious. But then what? The costumes come off and mountains of Mounds glare at you until Easter. We’re faithful to our clean diet most of the time, but we definitely partake in some Halloween goodies. And as the kids get older, it’s harder to hide or dump the leftover loot so I went in search of ideas to make the extra sweets less of a fright.
Aside from the obvious ( just letting the kids eat their six pounds of Laffy Taffy), here are some fun and, perhaps, healthier ideas to try:
1. A visit from the “Switch Witch” lets your child trade Milk Duds for healthier treats like LaraBars, organic fruit snacks, or even little games and trinkets. But maybe not exactly like this…
2. Repurpose candy by mixing it into baked goods or trail mix for holiday gifts for teachers and neighbors.
3. “Donate” it to science. There’s likely to be a “one for the microscope, one for my mouth” trend, but there are plenty of fun experiments to do with M&Ms and their candy candy friends.
4. Sweeten up holiday decor by filling vases with candy corn or by decking your gingerbread halls with Sweet Tarts.
6. Kiss up to the dentist through a candy exchange where you trade your candy for healthy treats or even cash! Participating dentists and orthodontists donate the candy to soup kitchens.
7. Flip the script by reverse trick-or-treating at local nursing homes, veteran’s homes, and women’s shelters. If you want someone to deliver the treats for you, The Ronald McDonald House accepts candy donations and delivers the treats to local shelters.
8. Get a little sneaky and use the candy to teach sorting and counting. This might be another one that lends itself to some taste-testing, but turn it into a lesson about the sense of taste and you’re golden.
Until now, my family has used a kind of gradual extinction method in which the candy gets put away in a cabinet, doled out occasionally, and then forgotten about and dumped. I don’t think my 7-year-old is going to let those Red Hots extinguish so easily this year, so I plan to be more intentional about choosing some treats to save and donating the rest through Operation Gratitude. Wish me luck. Lots of it.
What does your family do with the surplus of sugar? Happy (and safe!) trick-or-treating!
Erin is gratefully living and learning from her adventures with five small children and husband in Decatur, Georgia. A former teacher, Erin now devotes nearly all of her time to trying to figure out how to raise a happy, healthy family. With her husband Josh, she helped start FitWit and The FitWit Foundation.