The week before Halloween, our family systematically fell ill with a wretched stomach virus. We didn’t make it to the pumpkin patch or corn maze and since Judah decided he wanted to be a firefighter this year, there were no last minute costumes to fashion. We were well enough just in time to go trick-or-treating with some family friends — a change from previous years when we lived in a neighborhood known for Halloween festivities and would always run out of candy to hand out!
Speaking of which, did you know that Americans spent an estimated $2.6 billion on candy during the Halloween season this year? I also read that an average Jack-O-Lantern bucket carries about 250 pieces of candy amounting about 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar! That’s wonderful for little monsters looking to bring home a mega-haul, but some kids have allergies, dental concerns or medical/dietary requirements that may be restricted from having gluten, chocolate, soy, nuts, food dyes, etc. Plus, the inevitable sugar highs and crashes, tummy aches, bargaining for “just one more” piece of candy and temptation to raid the kids’ stash can often times be more trick than treat.
As an alternative, some families invite the Switch Witch to come into their homes. After the kids are tucked into bed and asleep for the night, the Switch Witch makes a trade — candy for a gift — in the same way the Tooth Fairy leaves cash for a lost tooth. Kids can decide how much candy they would like to trade and the gift doesn’t have to be extravagant. Some kids write a note to the Switch Witch in advance of trick-or-treating asking for what they would like.
We haven’t introduced imaginary figures with our boys such as The Tooth Fairy, but we have taught them about moderation and making healthy choices for healthy bodies. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that we avoid refined sugars in the house and don’t buy a lot of fancy new toys, so the idea of enjoying a few pieces of candy and trading the rest for a simple game or toy was actually preferred.
As for the candy, we donated it to Halloween Candy Buyback, a non-profit that partners with Operation Gratitude to ship unopened donated candy and toothbrushes in care packages to American military servicemen and women overseas. For each pound of candy donated, $1 is given back (up to five pounds) and could potentially reimburse the Switch Witch. The unwanted candy can either be dropped off at a participating dentist’s office (search by zip code) or mailed directly to Operation Gratitude by November 15th. It’s a wonderful way to put those extra treats to good use and bring a smile to the troops by sending a little comfort from home. It also teaches children about the importance of giving back to those who protect us and serve our country.