Solving the Halloween Candy Conundrum

• 09 November 2009

















So, it's been a little over a week since Halloween, and you may be wondering what in the world you are going to do about the massive candy intake still taking place. Here's a little idea my husband came up with and I must admit, it was the best thing we've done as parents in some time. Our kids loved it so much that we are making it an official tradition!

The goal was to make tossing out candy both fun and the child's own choice. In no way did we want to manipulate them into tossing the candy, we simply wanted to create "incentives". So we gathered the 3 kids and asked them to go retrieve their Halloween candy bags. Once we regrouped, my husband and I presented them with coupons we made to be used in our "store". When making the coupons we tried to come up with experiences, services, treats or excursions that were enjoyable and inexpensive (and in some cases, "free"). I can't tell you how excited they were to turn in 5 pieces of candy for each coupon. No coercion necessary! They were cheering and laughing and pretty much thinking this was the best idea ever. Some examples included:

* hike with Dad up the canyon
* stay up 30 minutes past bedtime
* mom cleans your room
* dad cleans your room :)
* popcorn + a movie with mom
* kids meal at Kneaders
* special drink at the grocery store
* overnight with Dad in the teardrop

Watching the kids redeem their coupons is a hoot. One morning my son presented me with his "mom cleans your room" coupon right before we left for preschool. You should have seen the ear-to-ear grin on that boy's face. Guess who had a change of plans that morning? The next evening his sister took a turn...after I thought all my children were down to sleep, my oldest came downstairs to the kitchen. Before I had time to ask her what she was doing or what was wrong, she quickly presented her "stay up 30 minutes past bedtime" coupon and we both smiled. All in all it's created a fun, positive feeling in our family and we are really thrilled with the discovery.

56 comments:

  1. What a great idea, I bet they are loving the deals they are getting. It's a win-win.

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  2. This post made me smile. And that's a great thing for a Monday morning...or any morning, really. :)

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  3. no wonder your kids LOVE this. I know i would. great idea!

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  4. What a fantastic idea! I was just talking to a few friends about too much candy. My one friend told me that her children leave their candy out on the porch for the "candy witch." When they wake up in the morning, the candy witch has left a small toy in place of the candy! I thought that sounded fun, but my kids do not need more things, so I think I'll try out your tickets.

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  5. Love this idea! In our house the problem is solved by Mom eating all the Halloween candy when the kids aren't looking... ;)

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  6. Terrific idea! It gives the children options and hey, less cavities :)

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  7. Brilliant. I know I would have loved this idea as a child too.

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  8. love this idea. and the coupon ideas listed are so fantastic. love the story of your preschooler. so cute.

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  9. We actually do something along these lines with our kids all the time. They don't turn in candy but earn tickets for completing chores or being extra good. They can then use their tickets for rewards that are free or very cheap.

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  10. Great idea... we do something similiar. I'd love to know what some more of your ideas are (I'm always looking for something new to add to the list!). Thanks for sharing!

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  12. My mom gave us one ziplock bag (the big kind) to fill up with our candy. Anything left she'd eat or throw away, and I resented her for it.

    Your idea is much better, and I may have to adopt. I like that Mom and Dad are having fun with it as well =)

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  13. This is great!!! A friend of mine actually donated her son's candy at his dentist's office and it gets sent to the troops overseas. Her son also made a small bit of cash in return! Pretty cool.

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  14. This is a good idea! I was thinking of sending our candy to projec Rudolph which is a gives the candy to the troops. This is a gret idea. I think I will have to try it next year.

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  15. This is not a good idea, it's pure genius! Thanks for sharing. :)

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  16. That's me above, Anonymous. I don't know what my fingers did!

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  17. So, I need to thank you. I copied you Lemons activity from RS for my American ward here in Mexico City. It was great. Thanks, thanks, thanks for the fun ideas! It was a lovely event for all.

    http://dannynlauren.blogspot.com/2009/11/when-life-serves-you-lemons.html

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  18. Such great ideas! I don't have kids but I work with junior high girls at church..and I need incentives for them. I'm going to use some of your ideas for them..such as an ice cream sundae at a local restaurant - or a goody bag or something...

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  19. What a wonderful idea - I loved the 'stay up 30 mins past bedtime' story :) Thanks for sharing. ps: I love your new blog header!

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  20. What a great idea! I am going to have to use that as my little's get bigger.

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  21. I just found your blog via a link to this coupon idea. I love it! When my son (Ian- 1yr.) is old enough we are defiantly going to be doing this. Thank you for sharing the idea.

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  22. That's a lovely idea. The Great Pumpkin visits our house. We allow the kids to fill a sandwich size bag with a few pieces from the sack then leave the rest out for TGP. He comes in the middle of the night and takes the candy and leaves a small toy for each child. They still get a little bit of sweets but a toy they've been wanting that we won't buy (only birthday, Christmas and Easter in our house). They have no problem giving up the candy...

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  23. oh this is a seriously genius idea! love it...

    and if we hadn't eaten all our halloween candy (my trick is to give the girlie teeny tiny bags when we go trick or treating and when they're full, we're done!)I'd definitely steal it ;-)

    xo

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  24. I think that next year I will steal this darling idea! Thanks for the fun tip. Luckily, my kids had their fill and have forgotten about the loads we have stored (hidden) in the pantry! :)

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  25. I LOVE THIS! My baby is only 5 months old but I am storing this away for future use.

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  26. what a great idea.....made me smile too.

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  27. I read your post and then thought about it all afternoon. My husband and I put it together this evening after bath, and can I just tell you that I haven't felt (at the end of a day, no less!) like a good mama in awhile, and this did it. My daughter was so excited to exchange candy for coupons, and then use the 'stay up late' one tonight, too. Thank you for the great idea!

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  28. stephanie, this is such a great idea! i've heard all sorts of things for getting the kids to give up candy, but this takes the cake...such great coupon ideas, too.

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  29. Hi Steph. I found your blog from Marian Chase's. It's been great to see what you and your family have been up to since MIT. I must say I'm very impressed.

    What a fabulous idea of giving up the candy! I love that the kids are happy it and ultimately get to spend quality time with mom & dad.

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  30. this is a GENIUS idea! i just linked to it from my blog! the way we get rid of the candy temptation in our home is to put it all away to use for decorating our gingerbread house! it saves us from having to buy candy for that project too!

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  31. Um, excuse me, but this is brilliant! Im sooooooo going to do this. Thank you!

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  32. Cute, cute idea! I am definitely using this one next year. Thanks.

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  33. This is a fantastic idea. Very creative and inspiring. I would love it myself.

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  34. i love it! I'm not sure our 3-year old would get it, but I think she will next year!

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  35. This is such a fun idea, I love it!

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  36. I had to leave you a 2nd comment to say I told my kids that we would be doing these coupons tomorrow and told them a few ideas. When they heard "Daddy cleans the playroom" they went wild! Granted, Daddy doesnt know about this plan yet ;-) Then I overheard them plotting to only give me bad candy and wraps. They are tricky!

    I also put a link to this on my FB page. Its that good! Thanks for sharing.

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  37. Wow, I love your idea! I have a child with Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes and have been looking for a way for her and her sisters to enjoy trick or treating but not eat all the candy. Thank you for the wonderful idea!

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  38. brilliant! Our candy has already gone to the landfill, but I will be using your method of coersion nest time the occasion arises.

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  39. I really like this idea, I want to use it when I begin my family...

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  40. Just to be clear.. yes our kids LOVED this and have had a blast trading in their coupons over the last couple of weeks, but we aren't totally anti-halloween candy or anything. The kids stuffed their faces while trick or treating, and before initiating the candy for coupon trading event we had the kids count their candy so that I could carefully calculate how many coupons should be "10 candy" coupons or "5 candy coupons". That way I knew what to offer them and still leave them a small handful of candy to indulge on. It's all about moderation. And to be honest at the get go I didn't know how well it would work. I can't tell you how happy it made me to find out that my little 4 year old boy preferred "2 extra stories before bed from dad" over having 5 pieces of candy in his stash. Plus, it was a great excuse to do a bunch of fun things like dates, extra stories, going on a hike with one child etc. These are things we should be making time for anyway. Thanks to the good ol' american candy hoarding holiday... now my kids have coupons that will force me to be a better dad for a while as they turn them in.

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  41. COUPONS!! That is the answer! THank you! I have been struggling for 2 years to think up something (besides candy) to put in an Advent calendar that the kids would be excited about. We don't really "do" candy but I love the idea/anticipation of an Advent calendar. OooH! can' wait to finally pick one out!

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  42. Awesome idea - offering choices with style!

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  43. Wow what a great idea! Lots of fun and it really creates interaction with your kids. Thanks for sharing.

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  44. I can just see the smile on L's face! That is so great I love this idea, you might have to remind me of it in a few years!

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  45. That is just brilliant and warm and sweet and perfect. Thank you for sharing!

    When my little Henry is old enough, I am definitely going to try this.

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  46. My friend sent me a link to your blog. Although we aren't doing this with candy we are having major bedtime issues with our four year old and this is a great solution. She can draw a coupon every morning that she sleeps in her own bed all night long. I love your ideas and we added:
    One show before school (we don't do much tv), one show after school, two desserts in one night, go to the playground, go swimming, sleep in baby brother's room, mom cooks something special on a night that you don't like dinner, don't have to eat one thing on your plate, Happy Meal, extra bedtime story.

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  47. In my opinion,I think that you should just let your kids have the candy.Most kids don't end up finishing it anyway,and there's always the "bad" candy that we don't like anyway,and besides,if your children are that small,they usually don't end up with too much candy because they get tired out while trick-or-treating.

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  48. The Halloween fairy comes to our house and takes the candy and replaces it with something fun - like a game or toy. The kids get to pick out 10-15 pieces they love (after the initial Halloween night free for all) and then the rest goes away. It works well for us but I love your ideas too!

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  49. I hope I remember this when I have kids on day. It's brilliant.

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  50. That sounds great! We do the Candy Fairy, where my daughter leaves out a bunch of her candy and the Candy Fairy replaces the candy with some little toys. She has no problem trading in her candy for something that will "last longer and be more fun", in her words. And as for "most kids don't finish their candy anyways" Umm, you've never met MY kid, she'll trick or treat from 6p-9pm and then proceed to eat every single piece of candy she collected, if we let her, which is why we don't.

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