Candy conundrum: Creative ideas to purge the Halloween loot

Faith & Family

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Halloween is the magical time of year when children solicit ever more treats from strangers while hopped up on five pounds of Kit Kats and dressed like superheroes, princesses and the occasional ketchup bottle.

Yes, it’s about as good as it gets as far as childhood is concerned.

Then, when the night is over and you haul your loot back to your house, the real fun begins. In my home growing up, we would spread our treasures across the family room floor and have a massive trade-off, which usually consisted of me tricking my little sister into swapping her Sour Patch Kids for my Tootsie Rolls.

There was a clear hierarchy ranging all the way from the king-sized candy bars down to the toothbrush that somehow always found its way into the bag. (Side note: If you are the person giving out toothbrushes, the joke is over. We get it. Sugar is bad. Take a step down from your pedestal and eat a Twix.)

And don’t even get me started on candy corn. You couldn’t even trade that stuff for a Tootsie Roll.

This post-Halloween trade-off was also a good time to weed out the already-opened items that mom was convinced were laced with anthrax. Could the night get more magical?

I carry on this candy-trading tradition with my children, and I still love spreading the candy out on the floor after a hard night of trick-or-treating. But now that I’m the mom, I am the one freaking out when there is unpackaged candy in the mix or anything that looks like candy-shaped Ecstasy.

I also have to make sure my children don’t end up in a sugar coma by midnight. So, in our house, we generally follow these rules for Halloween candy:

  • You can eat as much as you want on Halloween.
  • Mom gets to take a parent tax as often as she wants because of childbirth.
  • After Halloween, you may have a piece of candy a day as long as there are no battles over eating lunch or dinner.

So far, the rules work well besides a minor tummy ache for overindulging on Halloween and the fact that Mom’s candy tax sometimes turns into a full-on, late-night chocolate frenzy where Dad finds her on the couch shrouded in Kit Kat wrappers and guilt.

But I digress. Here are some other great ideas about what to do with all that Halloween candy if you don’t want the temptation in your house until Christmas.

Donate: Send your candy to the troops as part of Operation Gratitude (see

Swap it: Some parents offer their children a trade for their candy in the form of a small gift, money or a gift card. There is even a whole book that introduces kids to the “Switch Witch,” who appears in the night to swap out candy for a gift.

Sell it: Some local dental offices will pay your kid for candy. Check out to find dentists near you that are offering cash for candy.

Store it: Stick your loot into a bag in the pantry and draw from it to fill piñatas and goodie bags throughout the year. Just imagine the look of surprise on your children’s faces as they bust open an Easter egg in April only to find a handful of candy corn — or a hardened Tootsie Roll, if they’re extra lucky.

What are your rules for Halloween candy at your house?

From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, Erin Stewart discusses it all while her 8-year-old and 5-year-old daughters dive-bomb off the couch behind her.