Halloween is a time of excitement and indulgence, especially for kids who eagerly anticipate the treasure trove of candy they’ll collect during trick-or-treating and Halloween parties. While a sweet treat is always welcome, us parents are out here tryin’ to strike a balance between healthy enjoyment and falling off the deep end into a sugar coma. While the easiest way to manage the mountains of candy brought in on Halloween night is to simply “chuck it”, here are some more… creative ways to handle your kids’ Halloween candy stash without resorting to the wastebasket. Plus it will get them involved in the trade-off in a more voluntary manner, rather than having them wake up the next morning asking, “where’s all my candy?!”
Creative Ways to Tame the Treats
The Candy Trade-Up Game
Turn candy management into a fun game! Allow your kids to trade in a portion of their traditional candies for healthier alternatives. This could be candy with cleaner ingredients, their favorite (or new) homemade treats like chocolate covered fruit, baked goods or an ice cream sundae night (still sugary yes, but one night of treats instead of a million treats spread over weeks of consuming). This encourages them to make conscious choices while still enjoying the Halloween excitement.
DIY Trail Mix Station
Set up a trail mix station with various nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Allow your kids to mix a few pieces of their Halloween candy with these healthier options for a more balanced snack.
Candy Treasure Hunt
Create a scavenger treasure hunt leaving clues in and/or outside the house that will lead them to a grand prize. The twist is, they will need to pay to see each clue and the currency will be their candy. Seal each clue in an envelope and require a candy payment in order to open the clue and move on to the next stop in their hunting adventure. The final stop on the treasure hunt can require the largest candy payment (the remainder of candy or an amount of your choosing) in order to gain access to their grand prize (similar idea to the Easter basket hunt found here.)
The Switch Witch
This is probably the most popular idea that helps kids get on board and excited to switch out their candy for an alternative prize. The general idea is that kids gather their Halloween candy (again, the amount can be predetermined) with the intention to trade it in for some sort of toy/trinket/or even experience. Similar to the tradition of Santa visiting while everyone is sleeping, the Switch With will take their candy and leave the prize swap in its place. There is even a book you can read to incorporate with this tradition called Switchcrafted, which explains who the Switch With is and why she comes to switch out Halloween candy.
Halloween Candy Buy Backs
Another alternative to trashing your trick-or-treat candy is to bring it to a candy buy back location. Visit this website and find the nearest buy back location to you! Just gather your candy and bring it to the participating location and you can trade in your treats for things like cold hard cash and other prizes and trinkets which will vary based on how the location chooses to participate.
Donate to Treats for Troops
Soldiers’ Angels Treats for Troops is an organization that collects excess Halloween candy to include in care packages to our US troops. Businesses and organizations can participate by collecting from employees or the general public and will exchange various prizes for extra candy that is brought in to exchange. However, you don’t have to be a formal business or organization to participate! Families are able to join in by bringing their unused candy to local participating sites and can earn buyback prizes and a tax-deductible receipt for their donations. Visit this site to learn how to register as a business/drop spot or to find the closest participating drop off point to you.
Healthier Candy Options
Some families choose to opt out of the sugary side of Halloween (or maybe even Halloween all together) for one reason or another and that’s what’s so wonderful about having the freedom to choose…you get to choose what is best for YOUR family! While our family enjoys dressing up in fun (not spooky, lol) costumes and running around neighborhoods with family/friends collecting free candy, we also control the candy chaos by using one or more of the above listed ideas as well as opting for candy options that have safer/low-toxic ingredients. We have even done our own candy swap at home where our kids will trade certain pieces of candy for other brands we have previously purchased that are free of things like dyes, artificial flavors, hi fructose corn syrup, etc. Here are some of the candy brands that I’ve found have much cleaner ingredient labels than some of the more conventional brands and that our kids love the most!
Cocomels offer organic, dairy-free, and gluten-free caramel candies made from coconut milk. They contain no high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors.
UnReal creates candy using simple, non-GMO, and sustainably sourced ingredients. Their products are free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
YumEarth specializes in organic, allergy-friendly candy. Their treats are made without artificial dyes, high fructose corn syrup, and common allergens like nuts, dairy, and gluten.
Justin’s offers organic nut butter cups made from high-quality ingredients. They’re free from artificial preservatives and hydrogenated oils.
- Enjoy Life
Enjoy Life produces allergy-friendly chocolates and snacks. Their products are free from common allergens like dairy, nuts, and gluten, making them a suitable option for those with dietary restrictions.
- That’s It
That’s It creates fruit-based snack bars and bites with no added sugars or preservatives. They’re made from simple, whole ingredients, providing a healthier alternative to candy.
- Black Forest
Black Forest offers organic gummy candies made with real fruit juice and without artificial colors or flavors. They’re also gluten-free.
Hu makes organic chocolate bars with simple, clean ingredients. Their products are free from refined sugars, dairy, and no soy lecithin!
Finding a balance between holiday traditions, parties and celebratory sweets can be hard…especially if you’re the type that has done the research and know how to read and interpret labels! It’s hard to “unknow” what you now know…know what I mean?? Bottom line…there’s no right or wrong answer and there’s fifty shades between one end of the spectrum to the other, but hopefully these ideas will help you to strike the right blend of fun and moderation and find a healthy balance for YOUR family.