Doling Out the Candy -- or Not

Life Balance

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Doling Out the Candy -- or Not

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Halloween is just around the corner -- which means it's time to plan ahead for how you'll handle trick-or-treating. I suggest that you do this planning two ways, first for how you'll handle the candy that your kids bring home, and second for what you will give out to the trick-or-treaters who come to your door. 

How Much Candy Your Kids Eat

First things first: if you're the parent, YOU are in charge of this, not your kids. Of course they're going to want to eat all the candy their little bellies can hold, and it won't be surprising if they whine for more -- no matter where you draw the line.

But if they get what they want from that whining . . . well, that's your own fault.

So, figure out where to strike the balance between (a) being a responsible parent, looking out for your children's well-being, and (b) not being a complete spoilsport. My wife and I let our kids have five pieces of candy on Halloween night, as soon as they come back from trick-or-treating. After that, they can have two pieces of candy from their Halloween trove each night after dinner.

We find that this keeps them from gorging, while stretching out the fun of enjoying treats from their jack-o'-lantern Halloween buckets.

Three further pieces of advice to help this work:

1. If your kids like chocolate, encourage them to eat the chocolate candy first, since it will go stale before the hard candy.

2. Don't be afraid to throw away excess candy. You could discard a little each day, or just toss out everything around Thanksgiving. (At that point, the kids will probably have enough access to pie and cake that they won't fuss about the lack of candy.)

3. You can always dispose of masses of candy by depositing it in the break room at work, by sharing it with your Sunday school class, and so on.

What You Hand Out

Just because kids come to your door doesn't mean that you have to give them candy -- regardless of what the grocery stores and candy manufacturers would have you think.

Here are a bunch of things to substitute for sugary snacks that the little goblins standing on your porch will actually enjoy:

  • Comic books. You can pick up used ones super-cheap from a comics shop -- or you might even have the shop give you leftovers from Free Comic Book Day.
  • Trading cards. A lot of little boys, in particular, love cards from Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and the like.
  • Pennies.
  • Halloween pencils or erasers.
  • Halloween toys -- plastic spiders, rubber eyeballs, etc.
  • Stickers or rub on tattoos.
  • Noisemakers, kazoos, etc.

You get the idea. Just because it's Halloween, and just because everyone else is passing out candy, doesn't mean you have to play along. You can still give away goodies that trick-or-treaters will enjoy, without loading them up with empty calories.

Now, over to you: How do YOU handle the Halloween candy craze with your kids?

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Tim Walker

Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro in Austin. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer for the Life Balance blog in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. Tim is a compensated CareOne blogger.

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