Did you know that Americans spent an estimated $2.6 billion on candy during the Halloween season last year? 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 and dyes. 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 don’t restrict candy from our kids but teach them about moderation and making healthy choices for healthy bodies. Since we avoid refined sugars in our house and don’t buy a lot of fancy new toys, the idea of enjoying a few pieces of candy and trading the rest for a simple game or toy is actually preferred.
As for the candy, we donate 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. 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.