Halloween habits: Must treats be sweet?

Posted October 18th, 2011 by Jessica Haney in Child, Health, Parenting

What is Halloween without the candy? Plenty of fun! Granted, it was easier to keep my son in the dark about the relationship between Halloween and candy when he was two and a half. Now that he’s in kindergarten, he knows the score.

But that first major year of celebrating—candy-free—in my community taught me that we really can create our own traditions and that the fun is not always all wrapped up in memories of the way we did things when we were kids. That toddler Halloween day was about parades and friends, dressing up, and playing outside, and it was a great time.

Last year, at age four, though, my son was well aware what everyone was getting in their treat-or-treat bags, but he expressed no desire to eat any of it. He and I are gluten-free, so he understands that a lot of mainstream foods are just not for him. (And maybe we let him believe that some stuff we don’t want him to have has gluten. Sue me.) We’re pretty close to a no-sugar house, mostly because I know how terrible it makes me feel, but also because I can tell he is not far behind in the sugar sensitivity department. When he has it, we all pay. As far as I’m concerned, no one but his taste buds stands to gain anything by including candy in our lives, so for the most part we don’t.

What then, do we do with all the booty from that door-to-door scavenging? Give it to the Switch Witch, of course!

I learned about the Switch Witch when my chapter of Holistic Moms Network had a Moms Night Out about “holistic Halloween” ideas. The idea is that children who believe in the Switch Witch can put out their candy at night and expect her to turn it into something else before morning. We put out all our candy, but you could also suggest, as Charity O’Neill-O’Kane does in her children’s book, that the child save his or her three favorite pieces and give over the rest.

My son has received things he’s asked for in a store and that I’d be happy for him to have, but that I’m not going to just cave and buy on the spot. Last year, he’d been asking for an umbrella, and the Switch Witch apparently remembered that he’d been a frog the year before, so he got a green frog umbrella along with some seasonal-themed stickers and crafts from A.C. Moore (which, by the way, rewards procrastinators by heavily discounting holiday items on the day of and sometimes even a week or two before).

In our house, the Switch Witch also brings her crafty surprises after other holiday parties or birthday parties with overwhelmingly sweet goodie bags. We occasionally have to write her a note requesting that she come, and we understand that we might have to wait a day if she wasn’t expecting to make a visit.

We’ve also enjoyed recycling our gifted candy into art, like with this coconut tree. I like anything that makes candy just a material and not something exciting solely for consumption.

I won’t say that my son doesn’t occasionally lack graciousness with what he is given by the Switch Witch. This strategy is not a panacea for greediness, just for keeping blood sugar levels under control and my kid’s body dye-free. But for the most part, he’s still willing to play the game (fingers crossed for this year!).

It probably helps that his parents don’t consume candy or give out candy. (We’ve been doing tattoos and mood pencils for the past few years, but I need to head over the Green Halloween for some ideas on how to change it up this year, I think).

Without sounding judgmental against the rest of the world, we just try to be clear about our belief that candy is not good for our bodies because it makes us jumpy and not able to sleep. Other people can eat it. We can get other stuff. Just two different options.

I wonder what the Switch Witch will “magic” the candy into this year. Better get on that!

How do you manage the Halloween haul? And its aftereffects?

A Pepsi addict at the age of eight, Jessica Claire Haney now walks the walk so that her son will have a shot at better health than she has. She blogs at Crunchy-Chewy Mama about living naturally. Most of the time.




2 Responses to “Halloween habits: Must treats be sweet?”

  1. Thrift Store mama

    I love how you are so non-judgmental about this with other families. Sugar doesn’t seem to negatively affect me, other than I am already overweight so candy is not necessary and I do want my kids to view it as a treat, not as a snack. We let our kids eat several pieces of candy the night of Halloween (after a high protein/high fiber, low carb dinner) and then 1 per day (about an hour before dinner) for several days. They usually eventually forget about it, and then we throw it away (or, dammit, I eat it).

    But I’m interested in reading more about how you view your choices that are different than the mainstream. I try to be blase about it and often use self-deprecating humor to avoid sounding judgmental (oh, my kids still watch pre-school tv so they really don’t know about the Disney tween shows yet; or, no, they don’t have Barbies – all those little pieces would send my self-diagnosed OCD into overdrive) without sounding judgmental. But I find that other people seem to want to make a big production out of it. For example, I absent mindedly mention that I’m going to grab a diet coke and someone says: “Soda ? I haven’t had a soda in 10 years !” or I say “Hey, did anybody see that episode of real housewives last night ?” and she responds smugly “TV ? Oh no, we don’t watch TV. I haven’t seen a tv in 15 years.”

    Or what about the mother who noticeable grimaces when I turn on an episode of “The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That” (a pre-school aged science themed show) for a couple five year olds at the end of a playdate ?

    Okay, I’m headed over to your blog tonight to see if I can pick up any nuggets of wisdom from past posts !

  2. aimee @ smilingmama

    I find that our 5 yo gets a little obsessed with candy from holidays or goodie bags but if we let him have a few pieces then he pretty quickly moves on and forgets about it. This year we are going candy-free with our Halloween handouts, I bought about a dozen packages of glow bracelets (I think they’re 10 per package) which we think will be a hit. The only thing is that my husband thinks we should “break” them so they’re glowing as we give them out and I think we should let the kids do that when they want to wear them later!