are you drowning in halloween candy?

Trick or Treating in 2011

Are you drowning in Halloween candy today?

I know I am!

For most of us, it happens every year.  It may even be a bit “worse” here in our community.  In the Quad City area we are a bit unique, since we have Trick or Treating on multiple nights.   Kids can trick-or-treat in Illinois one night and in Iowa another.  The kids love it, it allows them to double-up on the candy, wear their costumes a few more times, and extend Halloween.  But it also can result in lots and lots of candy.  Even for those of us who stick to one side of the river, the candy haul can be overwhelming.

Reflecting on my childhood Halloweens, I remember my mom getting us dressed in our costumes (handmade, of course) and sending us out into the neighborhood to trick-or-treat as long as we wanted.  I recall dragging home a huge bag of candy, and the glee I found when I dumped it all on the floor to sort through the “good candy” and the “bad candy.”   My mom set strict rules on when we could eat our candy, so I also remember slipping upstairs to eat a piece or two when I thought my parents weren’t looking.  In retrospect, I’m sure they knew exactly what I was doing, but at the time I believed I was pretty sneaky.

Looking at my children, I realize not much has changed.  We don’t eat a lot of candy in this house.    Our oldest is only 7, and I don’t think he’s learned my tricks yet.  So far my husband and I have been successful in our efforts to teach our children how to live a healthy lifestyle.  But at Halloween, that all flies out the window when our kids are faced with overflowing buckets of candy.   In our house, November 1 can mark the beginning of a month filled with bargaining, begging, pleading, and yes, my arch-enemy, whining.   All this occurs at the start of a month that is meant to be filled with thanksgiving and grateful thoughts.   It’s enough to have prompted me a few years ago to throw away all the Halloween candy in a moment of frustration.

So last year, determined to break the Halloween Candy Cycle, I tried a new approach.  I heard about the Halloween Candy Buy Back Program.  This program allows kids to “trade in” their Halloween candy for cash or other items at a dentist’s office or event.    We didn’t have an opportunity to trade in our candy through a dentist, so I talked with the boys about whether they would like to donate their extra candy to the soldiers overseas.  Much to my surprise, they were excited about the idea.  Together we decided that they could pick out 25 pieces of candy each to keep, and we would donate the rest.  The boys went through their candy, selected the “choicest” pieces, and then helped me pack up the rest of the candy.  We then shipped it off to Operation Gratitude.

The boys were excited to help the soldiers overseas, and I was excited to have found a way to deal with the mountain of candy in our house.  Plus, the boys learned an important lesson about helping others, gratitude and being thankful.  They’ve talked about the candy we sent to the soldiers several times over the last year.

The candy we’ve already saved from the Labor Day Parade.

We’re planning to donate our extra Halloween candy again this year, and the boys have even saved their parade candy from Labor Day to include in this year’s shipment.  It’s a new tradition that we plan to continue for years to come.  I was even more excited this year to find out that there are local dentists participating.  In fact, Paula Sands talked about the program on a recent show.  (Click Here to view a video stream of the segment.)

For more information about the Halloween Candy Buy Back Program and Operation Gratitude, check out the links below.  There is also a search feature on the Halloween Candy Buy Back program site that allows you to search for dentists participating in the program, and find the one which is closest to you (there are several in the QC area).  Or, if you can’t make it to a local dentist today, consider packing up your extra candy and sending it off to Operation Gratitude.   Our shipment will be going out early next week!

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