Ask Design Mom: What Do You Do With Halloween Candy?

With six kids, you must get lots of candy from trick-or-treating. I’m curious about your candy policies. Do you limit how much the kids can eat? Any tips would be appreciated. Thank you. — Candace

Great question, Candace! That is certainly the topic on my mind this morning. I haven’t vetted this with a dentist (and you’re welcome to judge) but this is what usually happens at our house. 1) All the candy goes into one big shared pot. 2) We sort some of it by color (see above) because I can’t help myself. 3) I let the kids eat as much as they want for about 24 hours or so. At which point, they’re super sick of anything sweet and start craving salty/spicy foods, like warm soup and bread. 4) If there’s anything left (there usually isn’t) it gets tossed or frozen for another day.

Basically, I like the candy over and done with as quickly as possible.

What about you, Dear Readers? How do you handle your Halloween candy?

P.S. — Stephanie has some great tips for Halloween candy here.

87 thoughts on “Ask Design Mom: What Do You Do With Halloween Candy?”

  1. I still have candy left over from LAST year!! No one in the household eats any candy…so I always try to dump the end of it in the last kids bag…sorry if that’s your kid…neighbors…

  2. My sister does what they call the “Halloween Fairy”. Each kid gets some candy (for example, four pieces for the four year old) and then mom takes it away. Overnight, the “Halloween Fairy” replaces their candy with a small, wrapped present! The kids love it and look forward to the “Halloween Fairy” coming every year.

  3. My friend does the same thing as Alie’s “Halloween Fairy”, but they call it the “Switch Witch.” Also, in our area there is a dentist that will buy back the candy for $1 per pound up to 5lbs. He then sends it overseas to the troops.

  4. We only go to 2 or 3 houses and they can have 1 piece after chores are done. Between that and Daddy imposing the candy tax after the kids go to bed, it’s gone in about a week.

    Easter chocolate gets put in the freezer and used for cooking and baking throughout the year.

  5. The Great Pumpkin visits our house with gifts when the candy is left for him! They get to keep five pieces after eating some while trick 0r treating!

  6. Although I suspect it might be considered slightly politically incorrect, I love your idea of candy overload! Mostly because we do the same thing at our house. ;) I’m already craving broccoli.

  7. As a kid my siblings and I were allowed to eat as much as we wanted for a day or two and I think it’s kind of an important lesson in how gross you feel when you eat too many sweets!

    I love love love the color sorting. So pretty. :)

  8. our kids have fabric Advent calendars, with the pockets that need to be filled annually.

    we have two kids, so each kid puts two chocolate bars in each pocket… one for them, & one for Mom or Dad. They then get put away until Dec 1, so that spreads the chocolate out, and it means we have really cute handmade advent calendars!

    That takes care of most of the chocoalte, and leaves them with the filler candy. The older one pigs out till it’s gone, the younger one forgets after a few days, and then his ends up in Christmas stockings for both!

  9. My older (and wiser) brother used to teach us little girls how to play poker with our candy. We always lost and he ended up with most of our candy. After a few years we got a ltitle smarter and would take out our favorites first. With my kids – we eat a little here and there for a few days, then either toss it or freeze it.

  10. Katherine Garvey

    I read a great tip in a parenting magazine. After the kids have had their fill of candy, they get all of the leftovers together and do “science experiments.” They melt down all the chocolate and gummy bears, or freeze it and break it with a hammer. Maybe they mix it with vinegar, or lemon juice to see how it reacts. My mad scientists are still tiny, but I’m definitely using this in the future!

  11. My husband is a dentist, and we do the exact same thing. My kids think it is great that there are no restrictions on the candy intake, although, I don’t know if they ever get sick of sweets!

  12. I love hearing everyone’s ideas/policies!

    Growing up, we had to immediately surrender all candy to our parents into a big shared bin which was high up in a cupboard and totally off-limits. My mom would put a piece in our sack lunches but it seems like we never saw most of it again. Rebelling from that, I let my kids keep control of their own candy. They have a few pieces on Halloween, and then I put two pieces into their sack lunch every day, and beyond that they can earn more by doing extra chores or finishing all of a particularly non-kid-friendly dinner. Even though I am fairly strict with what they consume, I like them to feel like they have some control over it. After a reasonable amount of time (a few weeks maybe) I’ll make sure they throw away the rest but it’ll most likely be gone by then. My kids are 6, 6, 8, & 10 and old enough to exercise self-control (and tattle on each other) when they keep their Halloween/Valentines/Easter candy in their own possession.

  13. Yep! I’m with you. I want them to enjoy their candy haul, but only for a day. I’d rather deal with their sugar high and get it over with. My youngest one was just saying he doesn’t want anymore candy. My kids sort their candy too and they usually make animal shapes out of them. Sometimes that’s more fun than eating it.

  14. excellent question! i never really know what to do with ours. i want my daughter to have fun and enjoy the experience of halloween, but i also don’t want it lingering around the house. i usually let her eat what she wants for a while and then i ususally end up throwing a lot of it away. luckily she usually forgets about it after the first couple of days. off to read the other suggestions.

  15. I let my kids eat what they wanted last night and in spurts today. We are then organizing a candy collection in my girls’ preschool class and sending the candy to a friend’s uncle (troop) who is in Afganistan.

  16. Why are parents so worried about their children’s Halloween candy? My solution is…if they can eat if faster than me then they deserve to have it!

    If you don’t feel the same and don’t live near a dentist who’ll send your candy to the troops you can always offer it to the staff at your favorite restaurant. As a restaurant owner I can attest to the fact that employees exist solely on caffeine and candy.

  17. When I was a kid, we’d get home from Trick-or-Treating and the great loot-swap would begin. Then we’d binge on candy for about an hour or so after school every day until it was gone. Mom and Dad had free-range in all 3 kid’s candy buckets, so that helped. We were also aloud to pack one piece for a treat in our school lunches. The candy was usually gone by Thanksgiving.

    With my 3-year-old, she only gets a small amount of candy to begin with & we ration it as long as it lasts. Only a few pieces a day ’til it’s gone. Mom & Dad, of course, help ourselves too, but we’re not huge candy-eaters.

  18. My friend had the best idea ever. They eat and save a few pieces and then she freezes the rest and they pull it out a few weeks later and make gingerbread houses.

  19. I love that you just let them go at it. I feel the same way, although I do restrict it a bit to avoid the pukes (it has happened). Get it over with, learn the lesson, and move on. And share. (My 4-year-old has learned the hard way and has not forgotten…”if you eat too much candy, your tummy will feel yucky!”) That said, you never saw a happier kid than mine having a tootsie pop after breakfast this morning. :-)

  20. My 3 year old can’t have artificial coloring/flavor/etc, so we took him to a Halloween event and traded his bag of treats with things he CAN have (he gets all the good chocolate: Ghirardelli and Green & Black :P) plus some small toys. We’re letting him have a bit of the candy every day until it’s gone.

  21. Our school collects “extras” to provide sweets for a women’s shelter we support. The older children pack lunches for them once a week and the candy is dessert/treats for the year. The service group sends home sandwiches baggies the day before and they get loads back the day after Halloween.

  22. HI,
    This year in Boulder, probably Denver too, there are places where you can donate your candy and get $1 for each pound. They then send it over to the troops in Afghanistan. Kids get money, mom gets rid of candy, troops are happy. Can’t go wrong. Of course, the dentists are sponsoring this event.

    Also, I keep some of it and hide for stocking stuffers at christmas.

  23. The candy is starting to drive me nuts! LOL. It will be leaving our house after tomorrow night. I will keep a little bit for treats and such but the majority take a trip to Daddy’s office.

  24. I am loving all these tips! This is the first year where it is really an issue in our house. With a 3 and 4 year old they are offically aware that their buckets are getting lower on candy when they have only eaten a piece or two. Last year we were having some potty training/regression issues with my youngest so all of the left over candy went into the “potty presents bucket.” She didn’t get a present every time she went because she would go peepee in the potty no problem. But we needed some motivation for other times.
    This year everyone is potty trained and I am at a loss for what to do with it. Thanks for all the tips!

  25. My older son (5) is a candy-a-holic so for a long time he has had a 3 “treat token” limit. When Halloween comes, he gets 2 pieces that night and then we just use the Halloween candy for his treat token exchanges until it is gone. Of course, I have been known to “help out” :)

  26. We let the kids have a few pieces on Halloween night, a few pieces the next day and the rest is set aside for them to decorate holiday GINGERBREAD HOUSES! :)

  27. we do the same thing – eat it and get it over with. My dentist says it’s better to just have a major sugar day and not drag it out.

    It does make for kids saying funning things…”I’m not really that hungry (for dinner). Candy was my appetizer!”

  28. Hello,

    I really am pretty lax on the candy rules (& so was my mom), but I love how creative everyone is..”switch witch” is my fave and probably something I will try next year.
    It does make me really sad to hear about how much candy goes in the garbage not to mention $$$$$$. I kinda feel like “what’s the point?” The gingerbread house idea would be a better option.

    Thanks for this post.

  29. You know, I’m not big on the candy thing. We get plenty, because who can deny how fun trick-or-treating is? We do the big, shared pot of candy, like you. Instead of sorting by color, I sort by type of candy and put each type in its own baggy so that flavors don’t mix. I put each bag into the big pot and the kids get to have a piece or two every day for the first few days and then they usually forget we have candy and I’ll surprise them with a treat when they are especially good. I’ll go through and throw out old nasty candy every so often, but the harder stuff ends up lasting us throughout the year. I hate to admit this, but sometimes I’ll even recycle some of it in future holidays (Christmas, etc.) where I don’t want to buy a lot more.

  30. we take a similar approach… but this year my husband said they could each keep 31 pieces. where’d he come up with 31? i have noooo idea. i was sleeping when this rule was decided on.

  31. Childhood is short. Let them have some candy. It doesn’t kill them (in moderation) and if you don’t let them have some they’ll grow up and hate you for being too strict. Just my opinion. My six kids get a free pass on Halloween, Christmas, Valentines and Easter. Every other day the candy is much more limited!

  32. This is the first year I’m going to have to worry about it and I haven’t formulated a plan yet. Although the “if he can eat it faster than me…good luck!” idea sounds like a winner. : )

    In all likely-hood it will stick around for a week, then go into our “stash”. When I rediscover it around Easter I’ll pitch it…

  33. Our kids choose 15 peices of candy for keeping. Then they happily place the remainder on the back porch in the candy bucket as an offering to the “Great pumpkin” (thanks to charlie brown cartoons). When they wake up the day after halloween they excitedly open the back door to find what fun thing he left them in return. This has been a hit in my 8 1/2 yr. olds life since he could go trick-or-treating. I have to admit that he had a real hard time this year giving up his loot. We told him this would be his last year giving it to the pumkin & he would keep his candy next time. Our other youngers didn’t mind it at all. They each got one toy/fun thing: Lego Racer(s), DVD “Spookly the pumpkin” & Potato head halloween ghost.

  34. i remember marvelling over the assortment as a kid. sculpted (wrapped) candy, arranged and sorted and prob swam around in it on the floor.
    i dont remember eating any! im going to have to ask my mom what she did (altho i have such a sweet tooth today).
    i like the no limits idea too. theres always so many convos about healthy eating in our house its nice to break the rules sometimes for balance. love the coupons trade in too!

    1. I love the comment, “prob swam around in it on the floor”! That’s what I remember the most about trick-or-treating as a kid…dumping our haul out on the living room floor when my brother and I got home, and diving in head-first. Or, in our cases, mouth-first. hehe

  35. I think letting them gorge themselves for one day is a great idea — when I was a kid, my mother would let us have maybe 2 pieces of candy on Halloween, and then one small piece a day after that. I thought it was ridiculously strict, since for the entire rest of the year, the only sugar we were allowed to have was one candy bar on Sundays! We didn’t even get Apple Jacks or Cinnamon Toast Crunch or any of the sugary cereals that kids love. So, one day would CLEARLY not have done us any harm, and we would have LOVED it!!!! That’s what I’m planning to do with my kids.

  36. Well, having many toddlers in my house I sort through the candy as it comes in and pick out the things that they can’t have like gum or blowpops and put them back into the outgoing bowl. Then I let them have 5 that night and 5 the next day and we then sort out the chocolates like snickers and stuff – freeze them – and make different things with them.

    My family is famous for snickers pie, milky way shakes and crunch cookies. We give them out at Thanksgiving Treats to the neighbors.

    The other stuff like smarties and things that are non chocolate we use as cleaning bribes throughout the year. I never have to buy candy and it lasts through Easter. Hahaha, just in time for more candy!

  37. My brother and his wife celebrate with a visit from the Great Pumpkin. Their son can choose whether he wants to eat his candy or leave it out for the Great Pumpkin to have. If he chooses the later the Pumpkin leaves him a toy instead. He ALWAYS chooses toy. Pretty cute idea :)

  38. My little guy is only 14 mo so we didn’t make it out trick-or-treating this year but I think I’ll be adopting your idea when the time comes. Eat it and get it over with!

  39. On Halloween and November 1, my kids get all they want. Then they count the number of days until Thanksgiving, and pick out that many pieces. They get one a day until Thanksgiving. It’s kind of a mini-November Advent calendar!

    Daddy brings the extra into work, where he gets a lot of extra visitors to his office!

  40. Our candy policy is a little complicated–but its for a good cause!! A local dentist does a “buy back” program, where he gives kids $1 for every pound of candy they bring in. Our school has an “adopt a family” program where we help provide food and gifts for families in need over the holidays. SO–at school, we have a big box. Kids bring in candy (our family takes all the candy you don’t like plus 10 pieces each) and the school takes it to the dentist. The dentist gives up $1 per pound PLUS he matches it (he is awesome) and we use that money to buy gifts for adopt a family. It makes the kids feel good about getting rid of candy!
    (We freeze most of what we keep to take when we go to movie theaters!)

  41. the kids are allowed to have 5 pieces after trick or treating (which i think is pretty generous given our all natural diet over here!). the next day they can have 3 pieces. the next day one. then it’s gone.

  42. There is a dentist here in town that buys back Halloween candy for $1 per pound of candy. The candy is then collected and donated to Operation Gratitude, an organization providing care packages to troops. Not only do you get rid of any excess candy but you also contribute to a great cause!

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