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As a kid, and like most, I couldn’t wait to head out in the night with my plastic pumpkin and it’s flimsy plastic handle precisely at 6pm to ring the doorbells of neighbors and bravely commanding “Trick or Treat” to the usually-obliging home-dweller.

Rarely were we tricked but sadly, some years, our loot was lackluster. The Year of Too Many Tootsie Rolls; the Year of Jaw Breakers and other choke-ables; 1982 aka the Year of the Tylenol Laced Candy; and finally, the two year run known as NO CANDY: The Year Wearing Braces.

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As a kid, and like most, I couldn’t wait to head out in the night with my plastic pumpkin and it’s flimsy plastic handle precisely at 6pm to ring the doorbells of neighbors and bravely commanding “Trick or Treat” to the usually-obliging home-dweller.

My sister and I would bargain ahead of time: I’d give her ALL my Butterfinger candy bars if–and only if–she gave me ALL the PayDay bars. There’d be no trading on Mary Jane or other taffy type of candy and should we have an uneven amount of candy, I’d give her my Reeses Peanut Butter Cups but only IF she had Cow Eyes. Usually, we’d end up fighting over the candy trade. Trick or treat was a sibling civil war and sugar-motivated generator in my mom’s mind.

We were never allowed to keep the Pixie Stix (mom feared “powdery substances”), no one wanted the Rolo’s and anything coconut went right to Dad. Unwrapped or loosely-wrapped candy was tossed as were any apples (“you never know,” said Mom). Neither my sister nor I cared about the foil-wrapped roll of pennies from the old man in the dark house. If you follow my posts regularly, you know I frequently write about healthy food for kids. Candy–and sugar–is pretty much off the list. But, I’m still a cool mom and they kids do Trick or Treat (and yes, get ‘some’ candy).

What did we do? As my own kids began Trick or Treating, I quickly became my mother. However, I have over time, discovered 5 great ways to avoid the post-Halloween candy battle, both among siblings and as a mom trying to instill a consumption boundary with the kids.

1) The day before Trick or Treating, each child made a visual chart of the few candies they really (really, really) wanted. Each child wrote the name of the candy, colored a picture of the candy (or found a picture online) and printed it out. Next, the kids printed out a Halloween themed coloring page followed by a fun coloring activity, colored the paper, cut out their candy pictures an attached it to the coloring page. Almost like a vision board for Halloween. This provided a reminder of what they really preferred when the goods were later strewn all over the table in the rush of excitement.

2) Make 4. We made four “candy catchers” for the Trick or Treat sorting fest. A candy catcher is simply, a container. The first was for the candies on the pictures they made. They sorted their candy and first pulled the candies on their picture. I also had a very small stash of favorite candies in the cupboard just in case.

I also picked up three cheap plastic orange bowls at the dollar store.

One I labeled “Treats,” for the rest of the candies and the other labeled “Not My Kind of Treat” (think Rolo’s).

I used one smaller bowl that I labeled “Tricks not Treats,” for the junky items such as trinkets, straws, and tchotchke’s. The Not My Kind of Treat bowl contents would go to the area candy buyback, an event growing in popularity across the country.

3) Make the Candy Graveyard. The final candy catcher was a box the kids had decorated in a graveyard theme for those candies that were suspect and ready for the garbage. I went with the “out of sight” theory so no candy would accidentally be mixed in with the good candy.

4) Pick 4. Once the kids have put their candy choices in the Treat bowl, they can pick four candies (or an amount you deem) they can eat that night or packed in their lunch. This gives the child a sense of ownership and selection of choice rather than you dictating what they can have for a treat. If there is an issue, you can always adopt the choice route: “well Timmy, you can have either the Skittles or the Milky Way, which do you prefer?”

5) Candy control. The day after, kids usually want more candy than you are comfortable. Now is the time to be inventive with your parental culinary skill. Crush up some candy pieces and add to pancake mix, muffins, or freeze for holiday baking. Chocolate saves for months in the freezer; most candy in wrappers, the same.

As you can see, Trick or Treating does not have to be the start of a post-Halloween candy battle. A few minutes of pre-planning can save a lot of grief with the kids afterward.

Do you have a great Halloween tip to share? We would love to hear from you and possibly, share your story.

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