What Do You Do with the Leftover Halloween Candy?

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We are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood known for its excellent trick or treating opportunities, and our street is one of the most popular ones. Halloween is a blast, because we get to see loads of cute kids in costumes and they usually take all the candy, so we don't have leftovers. My own kids, of course, come home with their own haul, and we have to deal with it. (By "deal with it," I mean decide whether or not to make any rules about eating it and stop myself from binging while they're at school.) What are the options?

Our three sons are 15, 12 and 7 years old, so we've been through quite a few kid-centered Halloweens and have a few more to go. Especially with our first child, we really hated the idea of our little one having any candy at all. I breastfed, we carefully introduced new, organic, developmentally appropriate foods, and we smugly reveled in the fact that our kid loved things like carrots and hummus.

But candy, y'all. Candy is delicious and who am I to deny my kids what I enjoyed so much as a child? Like my own mother, I don't keep candy in the house, so my children only get it on holidays or if they buy it for themselves. The way I see it, these are parents' options on Halloween:

  1. Sell it to the dentist. Our dentist doesn't do this, as far as I know, but I have heard some of them pay kids by the pound for their candy. But what does the dentist do with it? Besides, my kids might just buy more candy with the money.

  2. Donate it to a shelter or food bank. This one doesn't work for me personally. If I don't want my own children to eat it because I think it's unhealthy, it feels wrong to give it to other people. Though I do think people staying in shelters or making use of a food bank deserve treats as much as the rest of us, I suspect those places get over-run with treats this time of year. If I was shopping a food bank to feed my family, the last thing I would want to see was more candy. (As an aside, this recent post on Scary Mommy is a great point of view on food banks and who uses them.)

  3. Take it to your office. This is a great idea if you want to be totally annoying. Also, you'll make your kids mad. Also? You will end up eating it anyway.

  4. Eat it. Eat it all. Make creative things with it. Use it to decorate cakes! Have candy for dinner! Put chocolate bars in the blender with some Kahlua and ice cream and make a slushee. Eat it in a sandwich with Nutella. Maybe you've had a tough year. Maybe you've just had a bad hair day. You deserve all the candy!

  5. Make rules. Let the kids have X number of pieces a day until it's all gone. But guess what. If you have more than one kid, at least one of them was more aggressive and got more candy. Have fun refereeing the fights when that kid is the only one left with the goods. Also, don't be too shocked if the kids don't happily eat their quota every day without asking for more. This method will force you to deal with the candy situation for at least a couple of weeks.

  6. Let the kids have a field day and hope they get bored or sick. Years ago, I read a quote from some dentist somewhere (probably on the internet) that made sense to me. Two or three days of sugar is less taxing on the teeth than two pieces a day for a month. This technique is similar to making your kid smoke a whole pack of cigarettes when you catch her smoking one. The theory being she'll get sick and never want to smoke again. (My personal theory? Probably won't work. Also, it's illegal to give kids cigarettes.)

In my experience letting our kids eat as much as they want, they eat a lot on Halloween, a fair amount the next day and a few pieces the third day. By the fourth day, the candy is all but forgotten. And by Day Six, I can throw it in the garbage and they never even notice.

What's your Halloween technique? And — be honest here — what candy do you dig out of your kids' bags and eat when they aren't looking? Skittles and Butterfingers for me!

(Image credits: Anne Postic)

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