When my children were tiny, we started using the Halloween Witch. The Halloween Witch is a tradition that helps children learn moderation by selecting only their favorite Halloween treats to keep, and then learning to give away extra, unneeded candy.
On Halloween, we always Trick-or-Treat as early as possible. We set out soon after an early dinner, just as the sun is starting to set. We go until our pumpkins are full. Oftentimes, the children want to keep going, but this is another great opportunity to teach that we have been given our share and now we need to allow others their turn.
When we return to the house, we allow each of our children to keep 10 candies. I know, many parents may think that this sounds terrible, but I personally do NOT believe that a child needs to eat several pounds of candy. Besides, we have most of our fun with friends when we go Trick-or-Treating. For us, the candy is just an extra bonus to the costumes and friends--not the main focus of the evening.
Dump out the candy buckets and help your child choose the candies that they want to keep (a process that can take a while, but just be patient and encouraging as they make this hard decision!) Praise your child for their yummy choices! Have them put their special candies back into their Halloween buckets and have them go put them away for now.
Now, there is probably still quite a pile of candy left in your floor!! Get a special Halloween bowl or bucket and let the children each select their next 10 favorite pieces of candy to put in a bowl for the Halloween Witch. Help the children choose their favorites to give away to the Witch, who is too old to Trick-or-Treat, but loves candy too! The Halloween Witch also shares her candy with kids who might have missed Trick-or-Treating that year, so encourage them to choose candies that other children would love. Basically, they are learning to choose things that they love, and to give those items to another. Have the children go and place the bowl by a window or back door.
OPTIONAL EXTRA: Explain that in exchange for their candy, the Halloween Witch will leave them a surprise, which they can find in the bowl the next morning! At our house, the Halloween Witch likes to leave everyone a new book or gives the family a new board game. In my opinion, it should be something that feeds the mind or relationships, instead of us feeding ourselves with empty candy.
Tips for Using this Strategy:
- What to do with the extra candy that you are left with, after the kids have chosen their favorites and you have set some out for the Halloween Witch:
- Personally, I have my kids hand out ALL the remaining candy to children who come to OUR door to Trick-or-Treat…meaning I don’t EVER actually spend ANY money buying candy for Halloween.
- You can actually have the children leave ALL the extra candy (after they have selected their favorites) for the Halloween Witch.
- Donate the candy to organizations that send the candy overseas, to cheer up our armed forces.
- Locate a local dentist who offers money to your kids for every pound of candy that they give to the office. Just have the kids bag up their remaining candy that night and head out first thing in the morning to the dentist’s office!
- Save any candies that you want from the Halloween Witch’s bowl/leftover candy to use in December for Christmas Stockings.
- One last, very important tip, please prepare your children for the Halloween Witch BEFORE you go Trick-or-Treating—even start talking about it days in advance. Talk about the whole process involved, from beginning to end (that you will go Trick-or-Treating, go home when bucket is full, choose a certain number of candies to keep, choose candies for the Halloween Witch, and pass out leftovers to other children OR donate leftovers). This will only work if your children understand what is going to happen. Springing this idea on them as soon as they get home from Trick-or-Treating is definitely NOT recommended!!!