A Pre-Halloween Discussion

I plan to do a few Halloween posts next week where we can share pictures and videos – probably pictures one day and videos another day.

But for today, let’s talk about what our kids are going to be, and talk about ways to keep them safe.

Safety is first here – we aren’t using masks, just makeup. Also, both girls have glow in the dark bracelets and a necklace, just to make sure they are seen at night.

They will do the Trick or Treat thing, but we’ll only go to houses where we know the people. That means our neighbors and my parents’ neighbors.

And my strategy for getting rid of candy is to let them gorge themselves until it is gone. I’ve tried the “two pieces a day” thing as well as the “eat as much as you want, you don’t have to ask” approach, and the latter approach seems to work much better for our family. So, they are allowed to pig out on candy, after they’ve eaten a meal, for several days after Halloween. On school nights there is a shorter time limit, but on weekends once they’ve eaten breakfast they can have as much candy as they want until about an hour and a half before time for dinner. We don’t normally have candy in the house, so this is a special time. But, I think that this also keeps candy from being something that is forbidden. It’s something we don’t do much of, but when it’s around, they can eat until they don’t want anymore. And I’m happy to say that they usually stop before they make themselves sick. Since I don’t stop them, they know it is their responsibility to stop eating before their tummy hurts, and after overindulging to the point of a tummy ache once or twice, now they are good at stopping before they make themselves sick. Without being reminded. Self moderation over imposed moderation – that’s good, right?

This year the girls have talked me into dressing up with them. They tried to talk RK into it, but as of now he’s saying he isn’t going to. I bought him some vampire teeth and a vampire cape though, just in case he changes his mind. I can do some makeup to make him look realistic if he decides to. I’ve also offered a little incentive, if he will indulge my fantasy a bit.

The girls are also going to dress the dog up, with an outfit they created out of stuff we already had. He’s going to be a fairy-dog. With wings. He’s a big macho dog, not a little cute dog. It’s one of those costumes that is so ridiculous it’s cute.

GlitterGirl has chosen a kind of glamorous outfit, and I’m going to allow her to wear eye makeup and blush (the lipstick is too much, we tried it and I said “no”). I’m going for the elegant supermodel look, not the hussy look, and after a bit of research on techniques for applying eye makeup on Asian eyes, I’m pleased with the results. This outfit would not have been my choice, but it’s hers and I’m going to go with it.

TwinkleToes is going to be all Glittered up this year, so she’s not going to be left out in the makeup department, but hers is going to be cute, not glamorous.

I have a few questions for you, if you’d like to answer them in the comments.

First, do you have any safety tips I didn’t cover here? We’ll be with both girls the entire time. We’ll only visit houses where we know the people. They are wearing makeup, not masks. And they have glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces just to make sure they can be seen in the dark.

Second, how do you handle the “eating of the candy”. Are you a family that doles out a set amount each day, or a “just eat it all so it will be gone as quickly as possible” family. Whichever you are, why do you feel that is the better decision for your family? I don’t think there is a right and wrong way here – just different choices for different families.


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32 Responses to “A Pre-Halloween Discussion”

  1. HoosierBaby Says:

    We always walk around our subdivision. It’s maybe 30 houses total with only about half actually participating. It’s more like a block party with everyone wandering around and chatting. We get a few cars that come in and dump a load of kids, but for the most part, it’s just families within our own area. At 3, she’s been fine with this. At some point, she’ll catch on that she’s really not going to too many houses. I guess we’ll deal with that when it happens.

    We let her eat what she wants after she’s eaten “growing food”. That’s just a term that has developed in our home to differentiate healthy food from snacks. She’s all about growing, so she knows to eat her growing food before treats.

  2. sophie_mom Says:

    Like HoosierBaby, we stick to our subdivision for trick-or-treating. It’s a huge event, with neighbors sitting around fires, one neighbor even has a tractor that he fills with hay and takes the children for hayrides, and some homeowners build haunted houses in their front yards (although we don’t take the girls to them…too scary).

    Regarding candy consumption, they are allowed a few pieces a day. Honestly I end up bringing a lot of the candy into my office for my co-workers to eat (or else I’d end up eating it). If I allowed my girls to eat as much as they want, they would. Actually I did allow this one year and my 3 year old ate so much that she wouldn’t eat lunch or dinner. She’s very tiny, so I need her to fill up on real food, not sugar. They are now allowed a few pieces a day, AFTER they have eaten a real meal.

  3. iwantmybabynow Says:

    We usually suggest donating her candy to a local nursing home, and if she agrees, I take her to the store and let her get a non candy treat, such as a Webkinz or something similar, around $10ish. She eats some the first and maybe the second day, and that’s it.

  4. RumorQueen Says:

    My parents’ neighborhood also goes all out for Halloween, which is why we do most of our Halloween stuff over there.

  5. lizzyf1 Says:

    after having 2 boys I couldn’t wait to dress up a girl! she wanted to be Minnie Mouse (I love it!!!!) and then all of a sudden changed her mind to be spongebob (what?!?!?!!?!). Well darn it anyhow the store didn’t have any spongebob costumes so she picked a princess! it’s really cute and the skirt has the fiber optic lights on it. We trick or treat in our neighborhood and then she gets excited to hand out candy! This year she’s going to a pre-trick or treat party and then we’ll go out with friends. Should be way fun for a 4 year old!

  6. 3kids2dogs1hubnME Says:

    One of my biggest safety things are to make sure the costumes don’t drag too much and may catch fire on pumpkins which are lit on folks porches. That always makes me nervous- especially on windy nights!!

    We generally let the kids eat the candy as they want it. Their biggest thing is to go through the candy 100 times over to see what they have- and what they want to trade! I normally bring in (about 2 weeks after Halloweeen) about 80% of their candy to work for the candy jar.

  7. ldw4mlo Says:

    At almost 4 one of us (usually Dad) goes with her. We just do our neighborhood, SIL/MIL as well. Unless we truly know someone well………………….

    Anything not factory wrapped gets tossed. Nothing is allowed to be eaten until us grown ups have inspected the wrapping for tampering. Not that we don’t trust our neighbors, but whose to say what happened before it got there. Anything we don’t like the look of we toss.

    We do healthy/low sugar snacks during the day. If she has eaten well and we had no issues, she can have a treat (and it can be candy) after dinner (she could lose this privelage). So at Halloween and Easter she will always pick candy. She is not old enough to do inventory yet, so it becomes a piece for her, a couple of pieces disappear……… Until it is gone.

    I get the you don’t want to make it forbidden fruit, but really candy is not a food group, so it is a treat. So she gets it is a tasty choice, but not a good food choice or one you should have tons of.

  8. RumorQueen Says:

    For us – having it a few pieces a day for six weeks until it was gone made it a habit. Letting them gorge on it for a week or so makes it a treat. It happens at Halloween and at Valentines, and a little bit at Easter. The rest of the year their “treat” after dinner is fruit. We keep either oranges or clementines on hand, as well as bananas and apples and usually peaches and plums as well. There are also carrots and cauliflower and broccoli for snacks between meals. Oh, and cherry tomatoes, but those go fast, so even though we buy them at every trip to the store, they don’t stick around long.

    I figure a few weeks after Halloween, and a week after Valentines and a few days after Easter – that’s not going to hurt anything in the grand scheme of things. It keeps candy from being forbidden, but also keeps it firmly in the “special occasions” category.

    It seems to me that if we get rid of the candy as quickly as possible then we can go back to the “treat” being something healthy a lot faster. Plus, like I said, when we drew it out then it became habit for the “treat” to be candy, and I didn’t like that habit.

    So, for us, gorging on it and getting it out of the house as quickly as possible works best. For others that is probably not the best solution.

    One thing that’s a huge deal in our house though – both of my kids have known exactly what was in their “loot bags” from a very early age. I would never take candy out to try to trick them, they would know it right away. They are great at sharing with me, and if I want a piece of candy I ask for it, I don’t just take. And I don’t ask for something I know is their favorite. I’m going for mutual respect, and that means not taking their candy away just because I’m bigger and I can.

  9. Number Cruncher Says:

    In our household, the big issue for Halloween is Unicef. As with probably most families who are involved with international adoptions, we have very negative feelings about that organization.

    When someone offers coins for Unicef, is it most appropriate to just say “no thank you”? Or is it more appropriate to tell the person the reason why we feel the way we do about Unicef? Something along the lines of that Unicef is a political organization which is attempting to put an end to international adoptions, and any money given to Unicef will be used to try to force children like ours to live in poverty in an orphanage in the third world, rather than have the opportunity to grow up surrounded by a family who loves them and can afford to feed them well in North America.

  10. DoubleK Says:

    We take both girls to the two streets behind us (our street is a 45 mph zone without sidewalks). We go with our neighbors and their two girls. All of the adults have flashlights and we usually only go to houses of people our neighbors (lifers in the area) know.
    Both girls wear costumes that are above the knee (a ladybug and a fairy this year) and no mask.
    This year we are praying the rain holds off so we don’t have to be bundled up and under umbrellas!
    As for the candy, they know we put it in the candy jar and is used as a post-dinner treat throughout the year or until it runs out. They can select one piece after dinner.
    After we are done trick-or-treating, we sort through it and they “give” us the candy they don’t want – which just conveniently happens to be the ones we want!
    We also stop at one neighbor’s house and he always gives them the giant candy bars as well as some cookies.

  11. MyBabyGirl Says:

    Interesting subject. Our son, who is now 16 has never been a halloween fan. It creeps him out so after a few attempts for trick or treating we stopped pushing. He doesn’t mind the cute stuff but the scary stuff, well, he still steers clear.

    DD is not even 2 yet so hasn’t got a clue. We will dress her up and take pictures and visit a couple of neighbors but nothing big. She doesn’t seem to mind the decorations or specialties stores so far.

    As for the candy, to ration or not to ration, I think that depends on the family and what works for them. When DS was little he would make himself sick on candy at the holidays (Christmas, Valentines, Easter, etc.) but now he knows when to stop. But I do agree that meals are a must first.

  12. LouiseMe Says:

    I grew up with a knock-yourself-out candy approach and honestly, I think it worked really well for us. One way was that we knew that once the candy was gone, it’s gone and there isn’t going to be any more coming into the house. That right there was an incentive to make it last *on our own terms*. My brother was a more patient person than I was, and he would spread out his candy whereas I would pig out. After a short while of watching him eat candy longer than I ate candy and feeling jealous about it, I learned to space out my candy consumption too. The thing is, we both essentially ended up eating 2-3 pieces of candy a day and we never had to battle with our parents about it or feel deprived, and we never went crazy around it like our friends who weren’t allowed any and couldn’t control themselves. Even though the treat was spread out, it didn’t really become a habit because we knew that once it was gone it was gone and we weren’t getting any more no matter how bad our “habit” was. Mom would just say, “Well, you ate it all” and that was the end of that.

    Another thing my mom did that you may not run into with girls, but as my brother got a little older, people started giving me (the young, cute girl) more candy than he got. He was still within an acceptable age for trick or treating, but I always got a bigger haul. So when we got home, we pooled the candy into one big pile and then had to negotiate with each other how to divide it evenly (are two rolls of Smarties worth a Milky Way? Three?). That was a good life lesson too.

  13. beenheredonethat Says:

    RQ, I could have easily written your post in regards to eating the Halloween candy. We have four kids, 34, 28, 10 and 5. It started with the older kids, I just get completely sick of having candy hang around the house for weeks, so gorge it is for my crew also. They are so tired of candy by about the third day they are ready to get rid of the left overs without a struggle. The candy is just a non issue for us for the most part. They have each made themselves sickish once and that is it, they self monitor. It is not the forbidden big bad thing that we have seen it become in countless families, it is mostly just this particular holiday ritual that is quickly over and forgotten until next year. Food issues in my DH’s family is a HUGE thing and we refuse to allow it to become an issue in our home. We offer good healthy food, but never demand that any kid finishes what is on their plate, if someone doesn’t want to eat a certain color/texture/whatever of food, fine, no problem. If a kid has only eaten mashed potatos and gravy for dinner so be it. If they are healthy and growing we have observed that they learn to branch out quickly when left to their own devices. Food, combined with harping, demanding and punishment just doesn’t fly in our home. MIL has been set straight on multiple occassions, the kids learn way more quickly than she does!

    Also, we have asked them about the candy buy back program their dentist offers. They are NOT interested, so we let them do what they want with it along with good, frequent toothbrushing. There is just something magical about having all that candy with no restrictions. It is like sitting on the floor throwing $$$ all around after hitting the lottery. I will not deprive my kids of that. Such crazy fun!!

  14. sarah123 Says:

    This is our first Halloween with Lily Mei. She is 2 and we already had a party at Music class and she did great in her Minnie Mouse costume sans the ear headband. She would only wear it for pictures. Anyway, no mask for her and we are only going to visit a few houses of family and friends. She really understands the treat part of holidays and enjoys them A LOT! We allow 1 piece of candy a day as a general rule but unless she asks we don’t offer. It’s usually a tiny dum-dum pop so I don’t think that’s too awful. We got rid of the Easter candy about a week after it came into the house and will probably do the same for Halloween. We made the mistake of keeping some of the pinata candy from her bday and that’s how we wound up with a lollipop a day.

  15. patience432 Says:

    I’m with RQ on the Halloween candy issue. If it’s in the house and available, they quickly grow bored with it and I have found that there usually is a lot left after two or three weeks and my oldest daughter was okay with tossing it at that point. This is our first Halloween with our youngest girl home (we were in China last year on Halloween) and the whole family is looking forward to it! We will go trick-or-treating at a few homes in our neighborhood and then head over to grandma’s house. Earlier in the day, our neighborhood has a kids parade. All the adults line the streets in chairs and the kids march by in their costumes. Pets in costumes are welcome too. Afterward, we have refreshments for the kiddies before they go home to get ready for trick-or-treating. Can’t wait!

  16. ladeeesquire Says:

    Georgiana is only 22 mos old. She’s going to be a bumble bee fairy (seriously, so cute!!!) but will probably only trick or treat 8-10 houses on our street. That will be good enough. I’ll let her have a couple bites of candy just cuz its fun. She’s never had candy so it will be interesting to see what she makes of it.

    With my older boys we always did the whole neighborhood. I know I’m in the minority here but I was never all that afraid of getting poisoned candy. Sure, I’d check it over to make sure it was wrapped properly but beyond that, I really didn’t worry.

    We always let the boys eat what we considered a reasonable amount of candy for about a week (a few pieces after lunch and dinner) then I’d take it to work or toss it. My younger son always had a bit more of a sweet tooth than my older but candy just was never a big deal in our house.

    Today at age 21 and 19, they eat zero candy. It apparently just doesn’t appeal to them. We’re not overly health conscious people but I do try to really reduce sugar intake to a bare minimum for little ones. I think they avoid developing a sweet tooth that way. 2 cents.


  17. notetojenn Says:

    My child is not quite two and our family does not generally eat refined sugar, so we haven’t really had to deal with this issue much. However our plan in the future is to emulate what my parents did with their four daughters; the child may put aside five pieces (one for after school snack every day for a week), and then the rest is donated to the homeless shelter. This always gave us a fine lesson in sharing our gifts with others.

  18. daddyjac Says:

    We go around our neighborhood, which should be fine for a three year old. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with the loot. Last year he got a few pieces and I ate the rest, though I’m sure he will be more savvy this year. However we do it, I suspect the candy will be out of the house within a couple of days, with him getting no more than a few pieces per day.

  19. luvbugsmom Says:


    You asked for other safety tips. Glow in the dark necklaces and bracelets may not be enough, depending on how well lit the street is. I recommend flash lights, too. Not only does it increase how visible your kids are to on-coming traffic, it also improves the kids’ vision, helping to prevent tripping and other accidents. If you have to walk in the street at any point, walk single file on the shoulder or as far to the side as possible, with your kids in front of you. If there’s a crowd on someone’s porch, wait until they’re done before going up. That way there’s less pushing, fewer stepped on toes, and less risk of someone stumbling off the steps.

    Instruct your kids not to touch any Halloween decorations they may encounter on people’s lawns or porches. Flickering lights may be hot candles. Anything that lights up or moves is probably electric and should be approached with the same caution as household appliances. Things that dangle can be accidentally pulled down and a child can get entangled in them.

    Then there is the time when I was about 10 and decided to play with a stuffed scarecrow on someone’s porch. It turned out to be someone in a costume and boy did I ever get a fright!

  20. jump4joy Says:

    I love the “Halloween Fairy” idea. Varies in content – but the idea is the same.

    The children are allowed 10-20 (or whatever) pieces of candy, and you leave the rest outside the door Halloween night (or by the bed or wherever you want). The Halloween fairy takes the candy and leaves a present in exchange! Voila – candy problem solved!

    I made up an elaborate story about special fish that live in her land that only eat sugary treats – thus not having teeth. The fairy really needs the candy to take care of her fish!

    So yah, that’s a fun way to get rid of a large bulk of the candy.


  21. ldw4mlo Says:

    One thing that’s a huge deal in our house though – both of my kids have known exactly what was in their “loot bags” from a very early age. I would never take candy out to try to trick them, they would know it right away. They are great at sharing with me, and if I want a piece of candy I ask for it, I don’t just take. And I don’t ask for something I know is their favorite. I’m going for mutual respect, and that means not taking their candy away just because I’m bigger and I can…………………..

    Right now she is an out of sight out of mind girl. So with the candy on top of the fridge, she just forgets about it………. and when she gets to that point its bye bye, usually before 2 weeks.

    When she gets to the point of knowing and caring, we will have a meeting of the minds about expectations. I expect this year will be the start of that……………..

    As for the rest of year, we have little bits around and we talk about better choices, good choices, not so good choices. And how it is Ok to have some food just for fun as long as we make mostly good and better choices.

    Somedays she will go for fruit after dinner, some days ice cream or yogurt or some cheese and crackers, some days its a couple of hershey kisses or a dum dum lollipop……………. On days she doesn’t eat so well or gets into something she clearly knows she shouldn’t mischeif wise she loses the candy as an option…………..

  22. 2qts4me Says:

    We usually go to about 3 parties before Halloween. We also go trick or treating on the strip. One of our neighbors goes all out, we have no idea what he is going to do until the day of Halloween. He hires robotic monsters and other creatures, he usually has a laser show and it really is like being in another world. Last year he had huge coffins on his front yard, and when the kids walked past they would open up. His kids are teenagers and they go all out handing out the candy to the little kids. None of the neighbors use fire in any of their displays. An older family have a cutsie Halloween for the smaller kids. They go all out too, but their decorations are more mild but still fun.

    I stay home to hand out candy, and the kids and Daddy go trick or treating.

    Daddy lets them eat as much as they want on Halloween and then we put the candy away and ration it out over the months. Our kids eat very healthy so one day a year won’t kill them.

  23. byulaw99 Says:

    A local dentist around here gives dollars in exchange for candy. I can’t remember the ratio of candy to dollars. I think that idea is pretty good…kind of like the fairy idea…exchanging candy for gifts. For my family, I am going to propose the idea of the exchange. If that doesn’t fly, each kid will each pick out their ‘special treats’ (20 or so things) – the rest we will put in a “general candy bucket” to share with me, grandparents, friends, cousins, etc….and after a few weeks, throw out whatever is left in there. As far as their own candy…they can decide how they want to eat it…if they want to eat it all in one day, I am going to let them, or they can spread it out over weeks, that will be their choices….so long as they stop an hour before bedtime.

  24. my3sons Says:

    It never would have occurred to me before, but I know someone whose child recently had a very severe reaction to facepaint. At the time it seemed like an anomaly, but then I read this today: about lead and other dangerous chemicals in face paint! Different kind of safety issue.

  25. RumorQueen Says:

    my3sons – that’s scary.

    I’m using my makeup on GG, so that’s not an issue.

    I’m going to use the clear glitter stuff on TT’s face, I wonder if that’s okay? I’ll have to google the company that makes it tonight and see what I can find out about it.

  26. RumorQueen Says:

    luvbugsmom – the adults have flashlights and we light the way for them. We found that having GG carry a flashlight and her candy was too much, and the flashlight generally ended up in the candy container, or she handed the candy container to us while she held the flashlight. I’m sure GG can probably handle both now, it’s been five or so years since she couldn’t handle both – maybe I’ll give her one this year to hold herself, just to see how it works now.

    I doubt TT could handle both, though.

    The bracelets and necklace are really bright. We’ve used them before and you can see them a long ways away when they’ve got them on.

  27. hisgirlre Says:

    I just had to add to the safety issue one thing… I always watch for crowds of older children that may be coming up behind us as when my DS was two he was trampled by other childern who could not wait their turn. I made the mistake of thinking it was cute to let him say trick or treat on his own and was a few feet behind him and could not get to him fast enough to keep them from stepping all over him. He still gets really nervous around a crowd of kids.

    As for the candy part we have done it both ways and really I leave it more up to a behavior thing. My DD has food issues and uses food for securtiy and so I am really careful about letting her have a free for all as later she will have major melt downs about not eating all she wants when ever she wants (and not just about candy, but ALL food in general). My DS could take it or leave it and very rarely wants more than a couple a day. He would rather have gum than anything.

    Costumes were really a fun thing for us this year as my DS got all involved in making his own with dad. They went all out with spray paint and graphics and had some great quality time being creative. While DD is all about the glitter and mommys make-up. She will be a sweet llittle bumble bee and has decided that bumble bee has saved the day as per her brother… She has no clue he is refering to the transformer and I love the way DS rolls his eyes as she struts in her costume “saving the day”.

  28. aprilgal Says:

    Our little two year old will be going as Kai-Lan this year. Not very original and really don’t know how the hair-thing will work out. She will only be going to several houses of very close neighbors.

  29. 2qts4me Says:

    Our oldest is going as a female vampire, I don’t know if they even have them. She is obsessed with vampires and some show on BBC America. She is not going trick or treating though, she just hands out candy.
    Another is going as a spider witch and we have a ninja. Nobody ever wants to be a princess or a cowboy LOL

  30. DoubleK Says:

    I should have also added one thing I also do is we only keep the candy that can fit in an old-style cookie jar. That is their after-dinner treat jar.
    The rest, I bring in to work (yes, I am one of those people!) for everyone to enjoy in the break room. Get that candy out of my house or I’ll dive into it!!!

  31. can't_sleep_at_all Says:

    I’ll have a 10 year old dressed as a Chinese girl – she says she’s an older version of her baby sister from China! And the little one will be dressed as Curious George. She wore her costume to preschool today and was so excited!

    As for safety, we live in a subdivision that has about 40 homes, most of whom we know. But we have the rule about not eating things that aren’t in wrappers. If someone hands out apples, we have to know who it’s from. Same with homemade treats (popcorn balls, cookies).

    Older daughter is upset that the little one also gets to go to my office party this afternoon. But, she’s in middle school now and I hate to have her miss half a day to just get more candy than we already need. We’ve negotiated that she can have all the things in the younger daughter’s bag that contain nuts, since the little one is allergic. There will be 2-3 days of gorging, then it slows down (cause the “good” stuff will be gone!). One year, I put a lot of it in the freezer – works well for the chocolate stuff. Then, I wasn’t as tempted to gorge myself – one piece at a time worked! :)

  32. Jess Says:

    We dole out the candy. They get quite a few pieces Halloween night, but the rest is saved back. I think getting it is a bigger deal for them than the candy itself. And they’re also getting food coupons and erasers and pencils and other, non-candy treats anymore, which I appreciate.
    The candy can last until Easter. Then they’re bombarded with candy again. Between these two holidays, I may never have to buy candy again! ;)
    Actually, I’ve been stricter about sugar this fall with the swine flu and all, since sugar suppresses the immune system. So I may be stricter with the candy allotment this year.