Limits to Candy at Halloween?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Don't get me wrong, Yes, Trick-or-Treating is about the kids having fun.  And, I love-a me some candy.  But, what I don't love is having it hang around the house with the family snacking on it for days afterward, nor do I like the sugar highs and crashes that often go along with it.  But, I always feel bad just throwing it out.  Lots of children react adversely to the ingredients (like corn syrup, artifical colors and flavoring) present in most types of candy, including having headaches, and displaying aggression or fussiness, and can have a "Halloween Hangover".  So what to do?

To limit the candy intake in your own home, Simple Organic has some great ideas.  They suggest you could try a visit from the Sugar Plum Fairy.  You allow the child to pick out some favorite pieces of candy to have after trick-or-treating, then leave the rest out in a nice container or plate overnight for the Sugar Plum Fairy.  The fairy takes it back to the fairy village and they use the candy to help build houses and homes.  In exchange, the fairy leaves a new book, craft kit, new toothbrush, coloring book, or other gift of your choice.  This way the child enjoys a limited amount of candy in moderation, but doesn't feel deprived of their bounty.

Another idea is to donate your candy.  Doctor's offices, Libraries, and many other businesses often have a candy jar out for public consumption.  They might appreciate the free donation of your left overs.  Mom or Dad might have success taking the candy to work and leaving it out in common areas in a bowl or jar for co-workers to snack on throughout the day.  I'm not sure on the policy of your local Homeless Shelter, but you could call them and ask if they would be interested in your candy donation for their residents. 
Plus, being a military wife myself, I advocate Operation Shoebox.  They welcome donated Halloween candy and distribute it to troops overseas.  You can send a one-time donation, or sign up to Adopt-a-troop.  Including a child-made card is always a nice way to say thank you.

Working with your child, set aside some candy that will be used for activities only (not consumption).  Perhaps you use the wrappers for a craft project (but pitch the candy).  Choose a variety of colors and shapes of candies and wrappers and use for a candy sorting activity.  Some candy can be saved in a tin for making a Gingerbread House later.  If you are feeling ambitious, Science 2.0 has the Top 10 Scientific Uses for Leftover Halloween Candy.

Limit the time your child trick-or-treats to begin with.  Trick-or-treating might last 2 or 3 hours, but that doesn't mean you have to spend the whole time out there.  Plan to go for a set amount of time, then have fun activities or crafts planned back at the house for the remainder of the time.  Children also like to participate in handing out candy, so especially if you have a busy neighborhood, let them have the job of candy handler for part of the time.

Feed them a healthy dinner first. 
Be sure they aren't diving into their Halloween bags when they are starving. 
Have a good dinner before heading out for trick-or-treating,
and they will be less likely to gorge themselves as much later.

Alternatives to giving out candy:
Candy isn't the only fun option at Halloween.  Try handing out bundles of crayons or colored pencils tied together with a rubber band or ribbon.  The dollar stores often have large bags of Halloween rings (spiders, pumpkins, etc.) that children love to receive.  Bulk stores like Costco and Sam's Club will commonly sell large packages of mini cans of Play-Doh.  Mini bottles of bubbles are also sold in bulk usually in the party favor aisle of many stores.  Halloween stickers, temporary tattoos (buy a package and cut them up into individual tattoos for handing out), seasonal pencils, erasers, Halloween magnets (just make sure they aren't a choking hazard), packets of apple cider mix (like Hot Chocolate Mix), granola bars, and baggies filled with air-popped popcorn are also good alternatives.  Juice boxes or small bottles of water are also a popular alternative, and trick-or-treaters will always be thirsty when they are walking around the neighborhood.  Be aware that not all parents will allow their child to eat home-baked or homemade goods meant for consumption as a safety precaution.  It might be best to stick with pre-packaged items to ease other parents' minds.

There are also Organic and Natural options for Halloween Treats:
Mother Nature Network has a great list of traditional candy alternatives, including Annie's Bunny Snacks Variety Pack (package includes: 8 - Chocolate Chip Bunny Grahams, 8 - Chocolate Bunny Grahams, 8 - Honey Bunny Grahams, 12 - Cheddar Bunnies Crackers).  You can purchase Annie's products (including All-natural Fruit Gummies) at many regular grocery stores and Target.  Simple Organic recommends a product like YummyEarth Organic LollipopsSurf Sweets is a company that makes organically-sweetened gummy candies and jelly beans that are free of artificial colors and sweeteners, corn syrup, gmo's and gluten.  Click here to see where you can purchase them (many stores like Whole Foods carries their products).

Finally, don't make Trick-or-Treating the only Halloween event.  Visit a farm, pumpkin patch, or u-pick orchard.  Carve pumpkins and bake the seeds together (see my previous posting for a recipe).  Pumpkin Scrubbing is a great Practical-Life montessori activity (just provide a scrub brush, some soapy water and a towel and the kids will scrub away!).  Dress up the day before Halloween and pay a visit to nursing home residents to brighten their day.  Organize a neighborhood or school-wide Halloween parade.  Complete Halloween themed activies and read booksat home in the days leading up to Trick-or-Treating.  Bake cookies together or make caramel apples or apple cider.  Have the child participate in making portions of their costume.  Make the Halloween decorations for the house together.  If the candy isn't the only focus of the holiday, it won't be such a big deal if there are limits placed on the intake.  Also, be sure to explain to the child why the candy is being limited.  It is always a good time to teach them responsibility in their eating habits.♥

NAMC has a good article about a Montessori-Style Halloween celebration here.
I read (somewhere??) after Halloween is over, compost a whole pumpkin by planting it in the ground.  The compost will feed the seeds, which will sprout next spring. 

Don't miss these great Halloween 3-part cards from United Teaching!



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