Not to sound like a super old person here, but in my day, kids had ONE day to trick or treat, and that day was Halloween. Sure, if we were lucky to live in a great candy-giving area (or convinced our parents to let us tag along with our friend who lived in a great candy-giving area) we’d fill a pillowcase full of sugary treats in one night and take the rest of the year to eat it all. Nowadays though, it seems like there are Halloween events for a full 6 weeks leading up to October 31st. That means our kids are getting bags and bags and bags of candy. And with this Halloween candy crush getting into tiny sticky hands, we parents know where that’s going to lead: sugar-fueled tantrums, hyperactivity for days, and maybe even a little blue-colored vomit.
It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of the season and go to every Halloween event we come across. Of course we want our kids to enjoy being kids and not totally deprive them. But let’s face it: the candy bag isn’t filled with highly-coveted items like jumbo size Sour Patch Kids. There’s a lot of fillers and duds in there too…dare I say, Milk Duds? They really don’t need it all, but convincing a child to simply give up his candy stash can be like getting through this October without seeing a guy dressed as Pennywise the clown from IT: impossible. So, here are some relatively painless ways to avoid the Halloween candy crush:
#1: Trade The Candy In
Many dentists in our area participate in the Halloween Candy Buyback program. This means they will pay your child $1 per pound of unwanted Halloween candy, which is then shipped to US troops overseas. That’s a win for all involved!
Another trade-in option is Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. They’re once again having their Crummy Candy trade in for a free kid’s meal November 1-5th.
#2: Swap Cheap Candy Out For Better Quality Stuff That’s On Sale Now
Though it’s still technically Halloween season, many grocery stores have already put their Halloween candy up on sale. Organic candies do tend to be pricier than their mainstream counterparts. However, they are currently 25% off at Whole Foods for example, and bound to be further discounted starting tomorrow. You might be surprised by the variety of organic options that are now available, such as lollipops without fake food dyes (see photos below for more ideas). It’s not like you’re asking your kids to trade chocolate for raisins. These are certifiably delicious treats! So, come November 1st, strike a deal with your child to swap out the cheaper quality candy from their haul for the healthier (but still quite tasty) stuff.
Here are some items I was recently able to buy on sale at Whole Foods:
#3: Attend More Non-Candy Halloween Events
Look, I realize it’s very tempting to attend every single free Halloween event held by local stores, towns, and schools. We all love free stuff, and having more reasons to show off our awesome homemade costumes. And you want to create wonderful fall memories for your children. I totally get it!
While we can’t exactly take a drive to see the fall foliage here in Southern California, there are plenty of non-candy-centric activities to do nearby. OC Moms Collective hosts a terrific Spooktackular event at My Gym Yorba Linda where kids have a sweet time going wild in the gym. There are several fun pumpkin patches in our area that features rides, carnival games, petting zoos, and corn mazes. Tanaka Farms‘ Hello Kitty themed pumpkin patch gets top marks this year. The best part about visiting their pumpkin patch is that it’s a working farm, and so the emphasis is more on organic living and nature than candy consumerism.
Another alternative idea: my friend organizes a candy-free trunk-or-treat event every year that’s a big hit with all the kiddos. It’s held in a park and everyone sets up their own little station like you would at home. In lieu of fun size Twix and blow pops, kids get Halloween stickers, coloring books, mini-puzzles, balloons, spider rings, etc. Stuff you can buy in bulk online or at Michael’s during their October doorbuster sale (70% off!). Other non-candy treats include honey sticks, bags of Pirate’s Booty, and kettle corn. In fact I think my son prefers this haul over candy alone!
Children’s museums like the Discovery Science Center and Pretend City have special Halloween-themed exhibits. These are fun for the kiddos but again not candy centric. You can make great memories for them without hastening the arrival of their first cavity.
I’m not saying don’t do any actual trick or treating events. I’m just saying it’s okay to be more selective about it. You don’t need to get free Halloween candy every weekend in October. The one exception I make to this rule is Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. It’s a super fun event and you’ll probably end up bringing home like 47 pounds of candy in just one night alone. But if you’re going to do one big Halloween party per year, that’d be my choice!
#4: Do The Switch Witch
I don’t condone bribery, and normally don’t outright encourage materialism either. However, I think one toy your child is really excited about is worth a literal ton of unnecessary Halloween candy. You can still let them keep a small amount of their favorite sweets. And you don’t have to trick them into believing in a whole other mythical toy-giving being like Santa or the Easter Bunny if you don’t want to. For more details on how to do a Switch Witch in your house, check out this post from our sister site in Knoxville.