After a successful night of trick or treating, your little ghosts and goblins are likely coming home with upwards of a pound or more of Halloween candy. Each. Which no doubt excites them to no end, but leaves you, as the parent who has to deal with the sugared-up child and potential dental bills a little wary of what to do with it all. There is a possibility that they could eat it all, given enough time and effort, but that doesn't seem like a solution with which most parents would be onboard. So, after that initial sorting where all the wraperless, open, and downright yucky third tier candy is dumped in the trash, and Mom & Dad's favorites have made their way into the secret parents' stash, it's time to decide what to do with the rest.
I'm the type of mom that lets my kids keep some of their Halloween candy. I don't think a piece of candy from time to time will be the death of us. So I give each of them a quart-sized Ziploc bag and allow them to fill it with whatever of their stash they choose. This is of course after I've sorted through and removed any of the pieces my egg & peanut allergic children can't have - come to Momma, chewy Sweetarts and Reese's of all varieties!! Once the individual bags are filled and you are still staring down a mountain of excess candy here are a few options to consider:
(1) Donate it
This is the option my kids and I have decided to pursue this year. There are at least two organizations that I know of that collect your donated Halloween candy and include it in care packages being sent to U.S. Military personnel all over the world. What a sweet and simple way to say thank you to the brave men & women who sacrifce daily to defend America. Check them out and decide which might work best for you.
(2) Candy buy back or trade-in programs at local dentist offices
Check with your local dentist and orthodontic offices. Many participate in candy buyback or trade-in programs where children bring in their extra Halloween candy to trade in for goodies like toothbrushes and healthy snacks, and in some cases, cold hard cash! This is a good option if your kids need a little extra incentive to part with their "hard-earned" candy. Extra bonus, many of the offices that collect candy are themselves donating it to an organziation like Operation Gratitude or Operation Shoebox.
(3) Candy Fairy
This is an at-home form of candy trade-in program whereby the children leave their excess candy out and overnight the Candy Fairy comes to take it away, leaving them whatever goodies you see fit. I started this with my kids two years ago because I didn't want them taking their candy to the local dentist that was offering cash. Instead the Candy Fairy left them each an age-appropriate puzzle or book. Of course then you still have all that candy in your possession. Now you can donate it or send it in to work on the sly.
(4) Send in to work for community sharing
Most offices these days have some kind of community candy bowl, whether it's located in the break room, or on the receptionist's desk. Take your kids' excess Halloween candy in to work and contribute to the community stash. You might not be a fan of Three Musketeers, but one man's trash is another man's treasure, and just watch them disappear. You'll get the candy out of your house, and potentially make someone else very happy. Win-win.
(5) Use for educational sorting or math games at home
Individually wrapped candy can be a great subsitute for boring sorting and counting beads for your little ones who are learning math concepts. The youngest ones can sort by color, or shape, or even type of candy. Older kids can use it as a visual aid for addition and subtraction problems. And you have a built in incentive if you so chose - it's my experience that candy can make a great reward for a job well done, and tastes even sweeter when it's earned.
No matter what you decide to do with your kids' Halloween candy, have a safe and festive Halloween. And don't forget to remind your kids that saying "Thank You" is every bit as important as saying "Trick or Treat!"