Have fun with costumes, games, crafts and giving For a lot of kids and adults Halloween ranks right up there as one of their favorite holidays. Yes, it revolves around candy, but dressing up, carving pumpkins and scaring friends is where the real fun lies. Here are some tips on casting candy in the minor role that it deserves this Halloween season.

Focus on the fun

Celebrate Halloween and make fun and games the focus, rather than just trick-or-treating. Create an impromptu Halloween play with all the “characters” in costume, paint faces, make costumes together, decorate pumpkins, host a haunted house, read spooky books or tell spooky stories by flashlight. 

Give candy to a cause

Here’s a great opportunity to teach your kids about showing gratitude through giving. There are a few different programs that send Halloween candy to our troops overseas, giving a little sweetness to their long days. One is the Halloween Buy Back. Participating dentists (see side box) gather your Halloween candy and send it to the troops. Another is called Operation Gratitude. You can box up candy and send it directly to this organization by November 15. Go to their website at https://opgrat.wordpress.com for details on what to send and to where.

Tricks to limit candy intake

Most parents impose some sort of rules when it comes to Halloween candy. Others use subtle tricks to distract—especially for younger kids. An easy one is keeping candy out of their rooms and in an out-of-sight place. Let them dump, sort and snack on their candy Halloween night, then gather the extra and put it in a freezer bag in the cupboard or in the fridge or freezer. By freezing candy you can delay doling it out for months to come. Freezing has the added bonus of kids having to wait for it to thaw, with fingers crossed that they lose interest before that happens.

Set limits pre-Halloween on how much candy a day your child can eat. Some parents say Halloween night is a free for all, then limit how many pieces their kids get a day. But before they hit the sidewalks, feed them a full dinner to lower their desires to fill their bellies with candy on the big night.

Artsy parents are known to use candy for crafts, helping kids build candy haunted houses (aka gingerbread houses) in the days following Halloween. Make pictures of ghosts, witches and scary faces with glue, paper and smaller candies and powders.  

Of course you can trade candy for prizes, just like kids do with tickets earned from their favorite fun place. Ten candies equals a small prize, 20 equals a large. Before Halloween, gather small books, stickers, art supplies and toys so you are ready to bargain.  

Practice moderation

Halloween is a great opportunity to teach the concept of moderation—and to talk about the health differences between foods. Explain how fruits and vegetables not only taste good but also help our bodies grow, compared to candy that only tastes good and makes our bodies work. 

A lesson in body cues

If your kids do overindulge and complain of a stomachache or feeling sick, use it as an opportunity to teach the skill of listening to their bodies when it comes to food. Kids who learn cues for being hungry, full and how certain foods don’t sit well for them are more apt to have healthy eating habits overall. That’s because they learn to eat according to what their bodies are telling them rather than the clock.

Share your Halloween candy with our troops

The following regional dental groups, among others, are participating in the national Halloween Buy Back program that sends candy to our troops overseas. Bring your candy to one of these locations, or search the website for a participating dentist closer to you at halloweencandybuyback.com.

Front Range Dental Center
2720 Council Tree Avenue, STE 260
Fort Collins, CO, 80525
Phone: 970-673-7321

Ross Family Dentistry
1907 Boise Ave. Ste 5
Loveland, Co, 80538
Phone: (970) 667-1236

Wild For A Smile
1819 61st Avenue #101
Greeley, CO, 80634
Phone: 970-506-1339