Tricks for getting rid of all those Halloween treats
by Lara Krupicka
If you're like me, Halloween goes like this: Wrangle kids into costumes. Take pictures. Tag along while kids run from house to house, collecting candy. Occasionally fix costumes and hold heavy candy bags. Watch kids sort candy, count candy, eat candy. Wait for kids to fall asleep late, post-sugar rush. Sneak candy from kids' bags.
It’s fun and exhausting, like any good celebration. And like many good celebrations, it leaves behind cleanup work – only in this case, the cleanup issue in question is how to dispose of all that candy. If you've scratched your head over this dilemma before, I have a few solutions for you:
Let Them Eat
Do you ever wonder why we let our children collect so many sweets if we have no intention of having them eat it all? After all, they do work hard (run around the neighborhood in clumsy getups) to get it. They "deserve" to enjoy some of it. But how much and when can vary widely depending on your view of sugary diets.
Our house follows a closed cabinet policy. Our children know to ask before grabbing a snack. So when it comes to Halloween candy we typically say, "one piece." The Halloween haul takes a long time to disappear, but we know they're not ruining their teeth or their health. You may dole out your candy piecemeal this way or attach a healthy-eating rule such as requiring your children to eat a piece of fruit before having any candy.
Lunchtime provides another opportunity to whittle down your stockpile of treats. Let your child select a candy to pack in their lunch bag in place of a cookie or dessert.
Or you can create a candy countdown for an upcoming event, like a holiday, a special visitor or vacation. Make paper links of construction paper cut into ½-inch wide by 3-inch long strips – one for each day of the countdown. Glue each strip into a loop, linking each successive loop into the one ahead before gluing. Tape or glue a piece of candy to each strip. Hang from the wall or ceiling. For the countdown, simply have your child tear off one loop with candy each day until the awaited day arrives.
Give It Away
There's no reason to pitch good candy, particularly when there are those who'd love to receive a special treat. After you've sorted through your children's stash to remove any broken or unwrapped pieces (and left a few for your kids), you can package them up to give away.
To donate close to home, ask if your local food pantry takes candy. The families who patronize pantries welcome sweets as much as our own kids do.
by Lara Krupicka
Or if you'd like to support our military, they also welcome donations of candy for care packages. Operation Gratitude and Operation Shoebox are two of the larger non-profit organizations accepting donations of candy.
Donations to Operation Gratitude can be sent to:
Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Attn: Rich Hernandez
Send donations to Operation Shoebox at:
PO Box 1465
Belleview, FL 34420
Trade or Sell
Some dental offices have gotten creative in recent years. They realize the need to discourage excess consumption of sugary treats. But they also recognize the economics of collecting Halloween candy. So they bargain sweets out of kids' homes by offering to "buy" Halloween candy. Some offer cash per pound, while others trade toys for quantities of candy. Ask if your dentist has a program like this or search Operation Gratitude's database of participating dentists at http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/.
If your dentist doesn't do this but you feel a need to compensate your children for their (free) candy, consider your own buyback program. Offer to swap so many pounds of candy for a new toy, or better yet, book they've been eyeing at the store. Just be sure once you've "bought" the candy you promptly remove it from your house before your children want it back – unless you are buying it for yourself.
You can also use up leftover Halloween candy the same way you use up leftover turkey at Thanksgiving: hide it in a recipe. This is easiest using chocolate candies. Simply break them into smaller pieces, if necessary and mix into chocolate chip cookie dough. Then bake. Or melt down chocolates for brownies or fondue.
To make use of a wider variety of candies, set up an ice cream sundae bar. Crush larger candies and place into bowls to use as ice cream toppings.
If you want to add more "nutrition" to your leftover candy, try the Snickers® salad recipe in the sidebar. The caramel and nuts in the candy, combined with apples, gives this salad the flavor of an old-fashioned taffy apple.
With a strategy or two in hand for where the excess treats will go, you can relax this Halloween and let your children ring doorbell after doorbell. Because the only cleanup challenge you'll face this year is where to hide the empty candy wrappers.
Lara Krupicka is a freelance writer and mom to three trick-or-treaters. She appreciates that they put aside a few of her favorite treats when they sort their candy.