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Trick or Treat?

Halloween in our neighborhood is a fun, old-fashioned party. The kids still walk house to house, not store to store in a mall. Different blocks offer plenty of adult treats to go along with the kiddie ones -- usually chili, fondue, whiskey and other adult beverages. It's the last big outdoors block gathering before winter hibernation sets in.

Between Halloween night and the events leading up to it, the candy-to-child ratio is bound to be overwhelming. Last year, I persuaded the boys to keep a few pieces and give the rest to "boys and girls who couldn't go trick or treating." Some parents hold onto small toys and have their kids trade the treats for toys. Others let their kids eat all they want on Halloween night and discard the rest. In some towns, dentists buy the candy off of kids.

Let's have some wicked fun today. What are you and your children dressing up as for Halloween? What tricks do you use to limit their sweet intake for the next month? Or do you let 'em eat all the Halloween candy they want till it's gone? And where's your favorite trick or treat haunt?

This Week's Talkers: Is That 4-Year-Old Really a Sex Offender ... Small Changes, Fewer Calories Help Kids ... PC Magazine's 10 Hottest Kid-Friendly Gadgets ... Parents of Obese Kids in Britain May Get Warning Letters ... Hannah Montana Wins Over Tweens, and Parents' Wallets

This Week's Recalls: Bumbo "Baby Sitter" Seats ... Halloween Pails ... Football Bobble Head Decorations ... Toy Garden Tools ... Go Diego Go Boat Toys ... Dollar Tree Store Children's Jewelry ... WeGlow Children's Jewelry

By Stacey Garfinkle |  October 26, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Preschoolers
Previous: Are You Prepared? | Next: Cough, Cough ... Now What?


on the bumbo recall, it is really about not putting it on a raised surface. Not a defect in the seat but how people are using it.

Posted by: SSMD | October 26, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I'll probably be burned at the stake for admitting this, but I just let the kids eat the candy. On Halloween night I let them gorge (although generally in the excitement they end up not eating much at all). I pack a couple of pieces in their lunches each day until the candy is gone. When they come home from school they can eat what they want until about an hour before dinner. They seem to self-regulate--they eat candy daily but it has never "ruined their supper," altered their behavior, made them sick, given them cavities, or caused them to gain weight. So they eat the candy and in a week it's gone and then I don't have to deal with it again for another year.

We're traditionalists when it comes to costumes--my daughter and I are dressing as witches and my son is going to be a clown (assuming I get to work and get the costumes made this weekend!).

Posted by: Sarah | October 26, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Please get a life, OK. You went trick or treating as a kid. You collected loads of candy. I assume your life was not destroyed and you still have all of your teeth. Let your children enjoy Halloween, When your children come home, they can have one item that night. Have them sort through the material and give away the things they do not like. Put them in a basket and limit their intake in whatever manner you like. But they didn't walk around on Halloween just to give it all away. You didn't, so why should they. Stop trying to protect them from imaginary threats and worry about the real ones... And one more thing, don't think you can take one out of their stash for yourself. You'll be caught...

Posted by: Michael | October 26, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I'm with you Sara. Although our daughter is still too young to understand what is going on, I remember the trill of categorizing and counting up candy, making trades and then getting some in my lunch bag for the whole next week. Somehow a few Reeses Peanut Butter Cups always went missing (my mom's favorite), but that was just part of the game. Good for you, for allowing the holiday to be a time that you do get to go to the extreme a bit. Everything in moderation... most of the time... is how I see it. :)
(Now I really want a Reese Peanut Butter Cup and it's not even noon. UGH!)

Posted by: Mama | October 26, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I think the difference between when we were kids and now is that Halloween is a much bigger deal wiht all the decorations and parties and party bags etc... We all had homemade costumes and it was one evening. The awesome house was the one that gave out full sized candy bars!!! Now, as usual everything is done to the nth degree. 3 big parties before where they get candy, and everyone makes a big deal about how much candy they give out. They get a huge bag of candy at every birthday. My kids get more candy than is reallly reasonable in the course of a year. We have left over candy from last Halloween. So, while I try hard to be old school, I can see why parents would say "enough" and swap out some of the goods.

Posted by: Moxiemom | October 26, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The Pumpkin Fairie comes to all good little boys and girls the day after Halloween (night of Nov 1). My kids keep 7-10 pieces (they never even finish them) and leave the rest for the Pumpkin Fairie, who then leaves them a little present in thanks. Gets rid of the hoards of candy we have and I get to pick out all the good pieces before bringing it in to work! The kids love it.

Posted by: Andrea | October 26, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

My daughter is going as Disney's Princess Aurora. We got the costume on clearance last year. We will just give her a star wand and tiara from home and she is good to go. She doesn't seem to care who she is suppose to be. She just wants to be someone. Oh side note, toys r us was running a special if you bought $20 Tinker bell play set you get the costume for free. So we grabbed the next size up and she can be Tinker bell next year. On the candy thing, they get small treat bags at school from teachers, bus driver, and classmates. There is a Harvest party at day care this Monday and two trips to the pumpkin patch. We let her eat as much candy on Halloween night (usually around 3 mini candy bars). Then we bring the rest into work and the switch witch comes and leaves toys. This year she is more aware and really likes candy. So we will give her half and the switch witch will take half. Then she can have a piece a night till its gone. I just went to Target and bought our switch witch goodies from the $ aisle. One way to limit how much candy, is to simply take them to less houses. We only do about three blocks till she gets bored. She also likes to give out the candy to the other kids. So she does a little trick or treating and a little giving. We usually over buy to give out. Then we save the extra candy for her birthday pinata in January.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 26, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

My mom rationed out a piece a day (after we ate all we wanted on Halloween). I think we made it to Easter once before it ran out!

Posted by: nell | October 26, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

My son is going as a Power Ranger, daughter is a princess. They get to eat as much candy as they want for three days, and then it goes into Mama and Daddy's "work" where it's eaten by our colleagues. Our neighborhood is very old school with door to door trick or treating (the adults get beers instead of candy) and lots of fun for all. We don't go nuts when we decorate, but I do put some stuff up. Other people do very spooky setups, but I save the big show for Christmas.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 26, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Let's see, we're dressing up as a family, opening the west window with a candle in it, and celebrating harvest and our ancestors. We're making a big feast of wonderful food, and remembering to set an empty place for our deceased should they choose to come join the celebration. We'll light a fire in the fireplace (due to drought...even with the recent rains, I hesitate to start the traditional bonfire), and we'll dance the night away celebrating the bountiful harvest, thanking the Goddess for her blessings on us this year, and thanking our ancestors for their wisdom that has been passed down and shared with us. We'll be letting go of the cares and concerns of the old year, and make plans for the new.
Keep in mind that Halloween is not a holiday of costumes and trick or treating for all. For some of us, it's an important celebration of our faith, filled with joy and thanks.
Blessed be, all!

Posted by: Organic Gal | October 26, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Re: The Pumpkin Fairie comes to all good little boys and girls the day after Halloween (night of Nov 1). My kids keep 7-10 pieces (they never even finish them) and leave the rest for the Pumpkin Fairie, who then leaves them a little present in thanks. Gets rid of the hoards of candy we have and I get to pick out all the good pieces before bringing it in to work! The kids love it.

Now THAT is a really great idea! Almost makes me wish my boys were younger...something to keep in mind for the grandkids maybe...? I let my boys eat as much candy as they can stand on Halloween night after I've picked through it for defects and open ones. Then I let them snack on it after school for about a week. They know after that week, it's gone. Either in the trash or to work with me.
We had the best time shopping for costumes this year...I just love Halloween!

Posted by: momof3boys | October 26, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm not concerned about my child's sugar intake. What I am concerned about is the greed and gluttony and waste associated with Halloween. We attempt to keep things lower key because of that. If you don't go out and gather 4 pillowcases of candy every year starting when your child is 2, you don't have to children who turn into evil, greedy, glutonous creatures - and I'm not talking about their costumes - come this time every year. Then you don't have to worry about things like exchanging the candy for money at a dentist or sneaking and throwing the candy out, both of which are wasteful on several levels.

Halloween can be a really fun time of year if you don't have greedy little children to contend with.

Posted by: Witchy Poo | October 26, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

For those of you trading your kids candy in for toys or money and then taking the candy in to work--how do you justify that? Is the candy any better for the adults than it is for the kids? Seems to me it's a lot less healthy for the adults, who undoubtedly have more problems with weight and less opportunity to burn off the extra calories than the kids do. At my workplace there always seems to be way more candy laying around after Halloween than there is at home.

Posted by: Sarah | October 26, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Sarah, that's so true. Weight Watchers is starting up in our office the week after next -- and probably just in time for all the Halloween gorgers.

For those who feel candy is verboten, how were you raised? Don't you have fond childhood memories of eating sugar until it made you ill, and then you didn't do it again because you'd learned your lesson? And do you not feel that forbidding it now just means you're delaying this lesson for them? I mean, really, must we as parents control everything?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 26, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

My dd is still too little to go out- we'll probably start next year. I'm always surprised by how few kids we get, since we live in a townhouse development. Maybe they are all going to parties instead?

I do get very annoyed by the teenagers who show up at 10pm and bang on the door after everyone has gone to bed. In the first place, 17-year olds can buy their own darn candy (and aren't they embarrassed???) and in the second place, they are old enough to know not to bang on people's doors once the lights have all been turned off. Shoot, my parents taught me that when I was 6.

Posted by: reston, va | October 26, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

one advantage of an only child is that my son didn't learn that you were supposed to eat the candy you got until somebody at his preschool spilled the beans to him. halloween was a monday that year & i had tantrums for a week when i wouldn't give him all his candy. he even tried to climb the bookcase to get at his candy. saturday morning i told him that he could now eat as much candy as he wanted which he promptly did. he ate 4 candy bars in a row and then threw up. after that he wasn't interested in candy. i like the halloween fairy idea.
the difference between having a child eat candy & bringing it to the office is huge. my office is 75 people. his stash of candy doesn't last that long when divided up by everybody here.
thanks to the lean plate club i now don't give out candy nor do i give out cheap plastic crap. i give out bags of goldfish crackers. the kids seem to like them. i feel good about giving out something that is not crap.

Posted by: quark | October 26, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"the difference between having a child eat candy & bringing it to the office is huge. my office is 75 people. his stash of candy doesn't last that long when divided up by everybody here."

Which would be fine if you were the only one bringing in candy. And maybe you are, but here it seems to be about every third person who brings in a large stash of candy to share with the office--either their kids' loot or their leftovers that didn't get handed out. But it adds up to more candy per person at work than at home. And with the obesity rate at work running about the state average of 23% and the obesity rate at home being 0%, I figure it's best to keep the candy at home.

Posted by: Sarah | October 26, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm going as a slumber party girl- with bunny slippers, pjs, pillow and pigtails.

I will point out amusement in christian groups who revert to "harvest parties" as a way to avoid the pagan roots of the holiday. There's just so much euphemism and hypocrisy with that, specially when compared to how christmas evolved and is treated.

As for the candy- I think it's ok to limit to a certain degree. Teaching them about giving some away to help others is great. But part of what Halloween is great is because it's candy candy candy- and at least for a few days, I say enjoy it.

Posted by: Liz D | October 26, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Liz D., if you think that the Christians reverting to "harvest parties" is amusing, just think how I feel about it! Yeah, I find it amusing, too. Just yesterday a co-worker was going on and on about her church's plans. And I said "hey, I didn't know you were a pagan too!" She said something about devil worship (naturally). I explained that no, Samhain is sort of a new year's, harvest festival, and honoring one's ancestors all rolled into one for my traditions, so her harvest party had deeper roots in pagan beliefs than Hallowe'en even did. Needless to say, she wasn't nearly as amused as I was, and I've been told at least three times since that she's "praying for me..."

Posted by: Organic Gal | October 26, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Stacey, you mean adults are given whiskey and wearing costumes in your neighborhood? Then roaming around in the dark with kids? Hmmmmm, let the neighborhood sex offender in on this new custom. Unbelievable.

Our neighborhood has an after-school costume party then turns the little kids loose on the neighborhood. They generally come in groups with adults following with flashlights between 5:00 and 7:30-ish. Somebody here has a garden tractor with a wagon and drops off wagonloads of kids at one end of the street and picks them up at the other end. After 7:30 the groups dwindle away and bigger kids (meaning the ones with their own beards and mustaches) come along with the pillow cases. I think that's ridiculous and I'd be humiliated myself if I did that. At that point I turn off the porch light and go inside. And, no I do not answer the door after turning out the light because the little kids are told to only go to houses with a porch light on.

I don't have kids so I generally buy the kind of candy I like (Hershey's kisses and miniature candy bars). If any candy is left over I bring it to work and share with the scavengers at the office.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 26, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

The guys in our office really appreciate the free candy. Not too many people bring it in. One guy even told me the day after Halloween was his favorite day of the year because of all the free candy. I think the difference is that we expect adults to know how to self monitor.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 26, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

DD is still pretty little (almost 2), so she won't be eating any Halloween candy. She will, however, be dressed up (as a dragon), and I'll take her trick or treating to a few neighbors we know. DH has joked that if we take her around early enough, we can just give out the candy she collects to the kids who come to our house later.

Posted by: NewSAHM | October 26, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Foamgnome, I've had a candy dish on the corner of my desk for years and know exactly who takes hands full of it. These are also the same people who keep telling me they are going to 'repay' someday but they never do. I don't eat it myself -- really -- I prefer potato chips and can look at a candy bar for days without touching it. Only one guy, bless his heart, brought in a bag of Hershey's kisses to refill the bowl.

It's kind of nice to have treats available when the 3:30 slump sets in and the scavengers start prowling. I've also been known to bake cakes for office birthdays which are appreciated in my territory.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 26, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to agree with Foam re: candy in the office. Adults have or should have a greater ability to engage in moderate candy consumption as opposed to kids. Its not like everyone would be thin if we stopped the candy dishes in the office.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 26, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

So a couple pieces of candy are worse than the three-martini expense account lunch with bread pudding the size of a brick for dessert? Candy in most cases is not the cause of obesity. Lack of exercise because of packed schedules, leaving for work in the dark in the morning, coming home in the dark in the evening. Too much else to do. Don't blame a couple pieces of chocolate a few times a year. Get a grip.

Should candy makers be next on the list of purveyors of bad health like the tobacco growers and trans-fat peddlers?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 26, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Re:DH has joked that if we take her around early enough, we can just give out the candy she collects to the kids who come to our house later.

That is exactly what we did a few years ago when the kids were younger. I let them trick or treat until they were tired and eat what they wanted. Then as older trick or treaters came to our door, we passed out what they had accumulated. Unfortunately, there were no goodies left to take to work...:)

Posted by: momof3boys | October 26, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

We have a parade down the street (complete with a fire truck from the fire station). Then everyone goes out trick or treating. Some people just leave a bowl of candy on their porch so that they can go out with the kids. Some people really go all out with haunted houses, etc.
The decorating starts the beginning of October, but this year seemed to take a little longer to start. IT's a great time of year - I remember always having to wear coats over my costumes in NY - it's nice down here that's it's warmer and the kids don't have to do that.

Posted by: atlmom | October 26, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and with the kids - i let them eat some the day of, but typically there's not enough time before bed (and they might not have had dinner).

Then it's one piece after dinner, if they remember to ask, which doesn't happen every night. One piece after lunch on weekends - again, if they ask.

I'll take some into work, too - to pay back the next dept over where I steal their candy almost daily.

Posted by: atlmom | October 26, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

yeah, we look at it as just a large neighborhood candy distribution system.

Posted by: atlmom | October 26, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember when haunted houses were EVERYWHERE?! I remember going to a different one every week leading up to Halloween. Most of them were free except for the Jaycess which cost $1. Where has all that fun gone...?! :)

Posted by: momof3boys | October 26, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

i don't remember a lot of haunted houses as a kid but i don't remember pumpkin patches either.
my son actually self regulates pretty well. his one time eating candy 'til he puked pretty much did it for him. i guess that is the advantage of being a picky eater.

Posted by: quark | October 26, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

and for the person who wondered where the kids were- we get more trick or treaters the older my son gets. More people know you, more people will come to your house...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 26, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I didn't know Samhain was the celebration of your ancestors as well. I thought it just was about the end of the harvest season. Why do you open the window to the west?

Posted by: momof3boys | October 26, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Where I'm from, Haunted Houses became a thing of the past because the Fire Marshal's always shut them down, and rightfully so. They were fire traps.

I always remember trecking out to the pumpkin patch (and I'm 34) and about 10 or so years ago, the corn mazes became the "in thing".

Posted by: lurking | October 26, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

HA Organic! I'm glad you can take that with a smile. Are you going to give her a "christmas" wreath and wish her a happy solstice or such? :)

Posted by: Liz D | October 26, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Organic- wait 'til you get to tell her about Easter! I always get a kick out of telling people that "Eastre" was the Saxon goddess of spring whose sacred animal was (you guessed it) the bunny. There's barely even a veil over this one!

Interestingly, in Spanish "Easter" is "Pascua," which of course is directly derived from the word for "Passover." Interesting stuff.

Posted by: va | October 26, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

I love reading everyone's perspectives on Halloween!

Since Halloween is on a Wednesday, we're going to Bible class as normal. Around here, the shops all close for business at 4 and hand out candy, so we're just going to do that. He's 2 and doesn't care anyway. I just want people to see the awesome Jayne Cobb costume I made. :)

As for the candy, DS is allergic to most of it anyway, so the Great Pumpkin is coming to take the ick stuff bring a small toy. The rest'll go to the office or in the freezer for later.

Posted by: Karen in AL | October 27, 2007 1:04 AM | Report abuse

"on the bumbo recall, it is really about not putting it on a raised surface. Not a defect in the seat but how people are using it."

Should I get into my forseeable misuse talk again? Check the CPSC regs on that one.

Posted by: rubytuesday | October 29, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

the first year I moved to DC we bought about 200 pieces of candy because we were going to have a party and wanted it around in bowls. We gave out every piece to, yes, 200 kids who came by our house. Since the snipers we get only about 60 kids. The snipers ended trick or treating where I live.

Posted by: DCer | October 29, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

We live in a townhouse community that gets a lot of kids (both young and teenagers). Each group of townhouses is around a common courtyard. We started a tradition a couple of years ago of setting one table out in the middle of the courtyard, and putting one bowl on it from each house. Then the adults with no small children can man the table while the rest of us take the kids trick or treating. Then we take over when we come back. We decorate the courtyard and make a little neighborhood party out of it!

Posted by: Trish | October 29, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Where I grew up we didn't have trick or treating, and therefore, find it rather bizarre. My FIL called it begging, and with Thanksgiving etc around the corner, I think little kids get enough candy. If daughter starts asking to participate we'll probably do so, but in a "this is only for little kids" kind of grumbling way. Don't understand why grown-up people would choose to dress up. Sounds like an excuse to get drunk and be silly to me.

Posted by: DopeyMummy | October 29, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

My mom has boycotted Nestle because of their unethical marketing of infant formula for my entire life. The only limits she placed on our trick or treating was to trade us all our Nestle candy for Reeces peanut-butter cups. Never having had a Nestle candy bar, and loving Reeces cups like crazy, we thought this was an excellent plan.

We tended to self-regulate the candy consumption otherwise--us kids generally ate 5-10 pieces the first night, with a few shared with my parents, and a week later were sick of candy and it was all stale anyway so we threw it all out.

Posted by: popslashgirl | October 29, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

My kids would sort the candy on Halloween, keep what they wanted, and bring the rest to school to sell to the children who weren't allowed to trick or treat. My oldest son made $35 one year.

Posted by: Sparks | October 30, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

"Candy in most cases is not the cause of obesity. Lack of exercise because of packed schedules, leaving for work in the dark in the morning, coming home in the dark in the evening. Too much else to do. Don't blame a couple pieces of chocolate a few times a year. Get a grip."

Actually lack of exercise is not the cause of obesity according to much of the recent medical literature. The main culprit is eating too much, period. a couple of pieces of chocolate occasionally should not be harmful; it's just the couple of pieces everyday that could get you.

Posted by: mimivac | October 30, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

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