Is everyone ready for Halloween? It’s only one short week away!
Where I live is only a few miles from Anoka, MN which is, in fact, the “Halloween Capital of the World.” Don’t believe me? They even had a Halloween stamp this year dedicated to cute little Anoka. People around here go BONKERS over Halloween. It’s absolute madness! But it’s also a TON of fun, with a whole weekend full of festivities including multiple parades, (3 to be exact) a 5k fun run (Which I am participating in this year, thank you very much!) and a lot of SUGAR.
Having a crazy ton of fun isn’t the hard part. The tricky part is keeping it simple and most importantly keeping the sugar to a minimum.
WHAT? Limit sugar on Halloween? In the Halloween capital of the world? Yup, that’s what I said.
Yes, I let my kids eat SOME of their trick-or-treat candy. It’s that balance piece that I talk about all the time, like in this post HERE about keeping simple living simple, and also in my START HERE page.
(I also go into quite a bit of detail on balance with food in my “clean eating guide” that you get FREE when you subscribe! Find the sign up at the end of the post!)
We do limit how much candy our kids can have on Halloween. We do it in a way that gives them a feeling of control and we use a simple system that gets them to willingly hand over the rest of their Halloween candy!
Why do I limit the candy?
- SUGAR – We all know by now that sugar is horrible for us. Especially growing kiddos. Refined sugar, lowers their immune systems and is overall horrible for their endocrine systems. I love the documentary FED UP, which is on Netflix. It covers everything EVERYONE should know about sugar. Most people might not know the whole story, so I highly recommend it.
- FOOD COLORING – Food coloring is one of those things that makes me so angry because it’s hidden in SO many foods you might not expect, so read ingredient labels! Candy and frostings are pretty obvious places to find it but, food coloring is NOT food! It has been linked to many negative side effects (including cancer and hyperactivity) and I believe that avoiding them is very important. Lisa Leake over at 100 days of real food wrote a wonderful post all about why she hates food coloring. Check it out HERE .
- GMOs – Unless your candy is organic, it’s most likely full of GMO sugar and/or corn. Sugar and corn are two of the leading GMO crops grown in the USA. If you are like me, until I know the whole truth about GMOs we avoid them as much as we realistically can.
How do we limit the candy?
#1 – I DON’T BUY ANY CANDY.
Seems obvious, right? If it’s not in the house then we won’t eat it! Pretty simple right? So, what about the trick-or-treaters? You might be surprised at how many non-food Halloween treats are available. You also might not realize that non-food treats are a huge benefit for kids with food allergies or type 1 diabetes! And they aren’t overly expensive!
My favorite things to hand out at our house are fun sized play-dohs.
I found a pack of 80 fun sized play-dohs at Costco for under $15!!
Some other ideas include:
- Halloween pencils
- Temporary tattoos
- Pennies (yes actual pennies, the really little kids love this!)
- Bouncy balls
#2 – THE GREAT PUMPKIN PAYS US A VISIT
When my daughter was almost 3 (her birthday is the day after Halloween so I mean literally almost 3) and my son was 2 months old, my mother-in-law told me this incredible idea she had heard about. I don’t know where she heard it from exactly, but I know it’s become more and more known. The “Great Pumpkin” comes to your house on Halloween night while your sleeping and leaves you a gift in exchange for your candy (I’ve also heard of this with a “Switch Witch.”)
My kids are 6 and almost 9 this year and they STILL love the “Great Pumpkin”. The way we’ve always done it is by letting the kids decide how much candy they want to keep out of their trick-or-treat stash. (Usually we say the less candy you keep the better the gift might be.) This gives them some control over what will happen. We also let them decide if they want to eat their chosen treats all right away or spread it out over time.
They’ve never kept more than 10 pieces of candy and almost always have chosen to spread it out over a weeks span or more. I consider that a win. No tears and they are more than happy about it!
They pick out their favorites and put the rest in our designated “Great Pumpkin” bag shown below.
So, what kind of gift does the Great Pumpkin leave? My best advice is to keep it simple.
I try to stick with necessary or educational things that can also be fun. Like fun winter pajamas or books from a favorite series. Since I mostly buy second-hand clothes and books, getting these items brand new is a huge treat. I’ve also, in the past, thrown in a box of crayons that I stocked up on during the back to school sales with a coloring book from the dollar store.
Don’t forget to think beyond brand new as well. I found a “like new” Angry Birds mug at Goodwill for $0.99. My son loves Angry Birds and loves eating smoothies out of fun mugs. Needless to say, he will be getting that as part of his “Great Pumpkin” gift this year. (I still have to find a fun mug for my girl!)
He also loves any books from “The Berenstain Bears”. My daughter likes them as well. I grew up loving these books and they all teach such sweet and important lessons. We have quite a collection of them that are from way back when I was little and we’ve read them all multiple times, so this year the “Great Pumpkin” is bringing a few new titles. Here is a picture of a part of our current stash.
So, this year along with a fun mug and a book, they will also be getting some money. This is the first year we have done this, but we’ve begun (especially with my daughter) really working on teaching money management. We’ve been encouraging them to save their money to buy the things they really want for themselves. This will give them more opportunities to live and learn about spending and saving.
Now, what do we DO with all the candy?
Well, I don’t have a perfect answer for this one yet. It’s still something we are working on. I don’t like the idea of throwing it away for many many reasons, but giving it away isn’t helping the health of whoever ends up eating it either.
What I’ve done in the past is stick it all in my chest freezer. If anyone crosses my path that is planning to buy candy for something like a fundraising event or some other event, I will offer to give it to them. There are many of these types of events going on over the holiday season and I figure if they’re going to be buying it regardless of whether I have it to give them or not, it is doing some sort of good.
I hope this inspires you to have a simple, but crazy fun and low sugar Halloween! How do you handle all the candy around Halloween? Feel free to leave me a note in the comments. 🙂