By Tracy Lane
What are you going to do with all that Halloween candy? It’s a fair question for every mom this week. We’ll all be fighting that same battle against our willpower to tuck our sugared babies into bed and then devour their sweet treasure heaps of Trick or Treat.
When our oldest was 3, finally old enough to carry her own bucket and enjoy some true Trick or Treating, I thought it was normal to approach Halloween ready for some candy fun, with no real plan on where all those sweets were going to go. What kind of mother was I?
I quickly discovered that the other mamas had a candy strategy: (all good moms apparently) dump the loot at the end of the night. And those same moms had candy-eating rules for their little cowboys and princesses: one piece to be enjoyed around the neighborhood outing, no more. Now I know we’re past the years of parental responsibility to pre-open every Snickers to be sure there’s no hidden knife inside, but I feel like the social pressures of this era of our Halloween parenting are crazy strong too.
What’s a mom to do who just wants to have a little fun and enjoy a few sweets to celebrate a fall holiday with her family? Well you do need a plan, and we’ve got that for you. Whether you like to save it to ration out for yourself and your family or if you’d rather participate in the activity of gathering but not so much eating, here are 10 ideas for what to do with all that Halloween candy coming at you this week.
1. Eat it. And let your kids eat it. When we were kids, our parents let us stash our candy piles in a specified kitchen baggy and we ate through it until it was gone. Did we get less candy then? Or were our parents less worried about GMOs? I don’t know the answer, but I know my 8-year-old self liked it either way.
2. Freeze it. Think of all those times throughout the year when you have to pick up a bag of candy for your child’s classroom event, a social gathering at home, summer ice cream sundae bars, a birthday party piñata, etc. Why buy it? You get your stockpile once a year on Halloween and store it in the freezer to use as needed.
3. Upcycle it. Candy is versatile. It doesn’t only have to be unwrapped and eaten. Halloween is just the beginning of sweet holiday fun. Designate some to fill a living room bowl for guests to snack on waiting on Thanksgiving dinner. Save appropriate pieces to use for gingerbread house decorating in December.
4. Bake it. Make candy covered apples. Bake chocolate varieties into cookies and brownies. Make a double batch and deliver a plate to a new neighbor. Here’s a delicious recipe for Reese’s peanut butter oatmeal bars. Yum!
5. Mail it. Did you know that Operation Shoebox will send your candy to our troops overseas? Through their program, Trick or Treat for the Troops, they collect donations from families like yours and provide a treat to those fighting to protect our great country. What a unique way to say thank you!
6. Switch it. Let your kids choose ten to fifteen pieces of their favorite candy. Then overnight, the “switch witch” comes to take the rest. In the candy’s place, she leaves a book or small toy. Now you just have to decide what you’ll do with the confiscated candy!
7. Trash it. I assure you this is the last on my children’s list of ideas for Fall Festival fun. But I have learned it’s more common than some might think. So, if you know yours and your family’s weakness to sugar and would prefer to eliminate the temptation, you would not be alone if you dumped the pumpkin bucket into the garbage at the stroke of midnight on November 1.
8. Sell it. To a local dentist. No kidding. There is actually a buy back program that many dentists participate in around the country to keep your kids cavity free through another candy season.
9. Donate it. Many teachers or school and community librarians keep goody baskets to reward children. They may appreciate a large donation to fulfill the incentive basket at no cost to them. You could also look into gifting it to a local shelter who will be hosting upcoming holiday parties for their residents.
10. Test it. Turn it into a science experiment that makes learning fun and interactive. Here’s a link for several experiments to try in your kitchen.
Happy Halloween week. Whatever you decided to do with all your candy, we hope you make sweet memories with your little ones. Candy might keep but babies sure don't. Enjoy yours this holiday!