a peek inside the fishbowl

01 Nov, 2009

post-Halloween thoughts

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|parenting

Sarah's Halloween lootWhen I was a kid I remember collecting Halloween candy in giant pillowcases, making my own costumes (that is, unless you count the time time I wore this costume … although mine was Snow White!), and I remember the candy. Back then people were still handing out the odd apple and handfuls of loose peanuts. I don’t think chips were very common. Chocolate was kind of scarce. There were lots of lollipops, and molasses chews in orange and black wrappers. I loved those, even though I was liable to lose a filling or two.

I always ate the good stuff first, and by the end it was all Dubble Bubble and Thrills gum.

Fast forward to today: I can’t believe how much candy we have in the house. Pictured here is Sarah’s haul. We also have candy left over. Not pictured: a bottle of Chubby soda and a can of apple juice. (Who gives out apple juice at Halloween?)

Halloween kittyWe’ve always told the girls that Halloween is the Season of Sharing. Makes sense, right? Neighbors share loot with you, and you (meaning the girls) share with your parents. So far that has worked out just fine.

I will be eating my fair share of their candy. The chips will go into lunches and the rest will be partitioned out on a daily basis for WEEKS to come.

Last year I hived off 30-40 pieces of candy, hid it in a grocery bag in the bottom of our china cabinet and didn’t pull it out until the Spring. Chocolate and candy have a long shelf life, so I wasn’t worried. And I was the hero of the day for procuring a fresh supply of rockets and Tootsie Rolls.  

I’d be interested in hearing about your theories on candy distribution.  Do you let your kids eat as much as they want, or do you draw a line somewhere?

20 Responses to "post-Halloween thoughts"

1 | Jay

November 1st, 2009 at 9:16 am


Our daugher has anaphylaxis. So although we still trick or treat when we get home we sort that candy – safe and unsafe. The unsafe candy is then put in a bag that we leave for the Great Pumpkin. He comes and takes the unsafe candy and leaves a little present behind. This is a great way to ration the candy in our house. Our son who is not anaphylaxis also participates in the Great Pumpkin adventures. Waking up to presents in the morning takes their mind off the safe candy that’s left in our house – most of which will eventually make it to the office for sharing.

2 | Betsy Mae

November 1st, 2009 at 9:43 am


I remember crying because I had to wear my bulky winter jacket over/under my costume which ‘wrecked it’. lol!

I also remember running from house to house and which houses handed out LAURA SECORD chocolate bars (they were gold to me). Dumping my pillow case on the living room floor and sorting the candy by category, trading with my brother. Fun times.

My girls put all their stuff together and they are easy about sharing everything. I inspect it all after they trick or treat and then I let them eat as much as they want whenever they want. Surprisingly, neither of them eats very much of it. not just on Halloween, but in the days after Halloween. Too bad I can’t say the same of Bert and I!!

3 | Miss Vicky

November 1st, 2009 at 9:55 am


we’ve got a peanut allergy here, so we divided the stash into safe and unsafe piles. He had 3 pieces last night and we’ll dole out the rest gradually – I suspect it’ll last a while.

4 | Yoni

November 1st, 2009 at 10:06 am


A third of the haul goes to the food bank (kids get to pick what stays and what goes), and then one treat a night until gone (with mom and dad helping after dark along the way).

5 | lacoop

November 1st, 2009 at 10:17 am


Usually we wait until the ‘buzz’ is over (a couple of weeks at most) and then we toss everything in the garbage (we are not as cruel as that makes us sound). But after reading Yoni’s comment, we will bring it to the foodbank instead of tossing it.

6 | LO

November 1st, 2009 at 10:26 am


we sort-get rid of all ‘could lose a tooth or filling candy’ and get rid of any pop (who gives pop?) and other suspiciously wrapped items and then sort -chocolate and candy in one big bin and chips in the other. We do police the candy and usually by Xmas throw out what is left.

7 | Shannon

November 1st, 2009 at 10:40 am


Last night our four year old picked five favourites, then a glass of milk before bed. This morning, he pickd his 10 favourites, and we bought the rest for dimes and quarters. We’re heading to dollarama on Hazeldean to spend his $6.50. He can barely contain himself until they opn at 11AM.

Of the candy we bought of him, we’ll eat some and then hide the rest for a rainy day – hopefully a few months away.

8 | Ginger

November 1st, 2009 at 11:05 am


We don’t have this issue yet but I am excited to read all the ideas for when the boys are old enough to trick or treat. I thought I would also share what my best friend started when her first daughter was old enough to trick or treat. When they get home they sort the candy and save only a small amount. Then the rest of the candy is left in the pumpkin pail for the tooth fairy. The tooth fairy comes that night and collects the candy and leaves some healthy snacks, new tooth brushes, stickers, and a few other small gifts. I know her older daughter loves that the tooth fairy visits and I am sure the younger one will enjoy it as well.

9 | milkfacemama

November 1st, 2009 at 5:20 pm


48 hours to gorge to your delight (and someties your stomach’s misery). This allows the girls to prioritize what is worth eating and gives a physical lesson in excess consumption when too much is eaten (no problems over the past two years) – the rest goes to the food bank. We hold back a hidden reserve of the candy that is worthy and distribute as special treats when warranted.

This year we saw the standards but were thrilled to see Jason Sezza (nursing an injury on a game night) giving out full Aero bars and another house giving out Kisko Jumbo Freezies. Needless to say, those were both prioritized by the girls. Best part of Saturday night after the bags are dumped and the loot is being sorted, one of the girls asks, “Mom, can I have a carrot?” Priceless.

10 | Lindsay

November 1st, 2009 at 6:00 pm


I’m kinda’ old fashioned I guess. I remember rummaging through all the candy to see how much “good stuff” I’d gotten. My sister and I would then negotiate trades – she liked Oh Henry bars so I’d trade her my Oh Henrys for her Mars bars. Then we eat a few pieces a day until it was gone.

With my daughter, all her candy sits in a bowl on the counter. She doesn’t get much junk for most of the year so I just let her have it. The only rule is no candy in the morning. :-) Last year she ate a couple of pieces a day for a week or two and then slowly forgot about it. I actually threw out a bunch last week to make room for this year’s stash.

If she starts going crazy eating it I might have to reconsider… but so far so good. :-)

11 | Laura

November 1st, 2009 at 6:39 pm


Wow, you guys are all so nice! We eat 2 or 3 pieces that night 2 or 3 pieces the next day or 2 and then make a rainy day treat tupperware. The rest gets taken to daddy’s work. No buying it off them, presents or shopping trips – all great ideas, but wow you guys really go out of your way to make the kids happy!

My kids always had it this way, so far nothing has been said about that being unfair so I will keep your ideas stashed in my mind for future years. Love the food bank idea, I will even share it with my grade 6 class and take a collection. (Maybe they won’t be on a sugar high for as long!)

12 | Scattered Mom

November 1st, 2009 at 10:03 pm


We used to draw the line when Jake was little. Once he was 12, we decided that it was time to stop. If by 12 he didn’t figure out what was too much, well, then there wasn’t much hope (lol)

Now we don’t really care if he scarfs it all down in a week or doles it out. He never really eats it all anyway, and I think he STILL has his Turtles egg from Easter!

I have lots of leftover candy too. My ideas to use it up:

a) chop up the mini chocolate bars and put them in cookie dough or top brownies with them b) use gummy candies, rockets, smarties, etc to decorate sugar cookies, cupcakes, or gingerbread houses around Christmas time, and c) suckers can be crushed up and used to make stained glass window cookies as well.

I like the idea of putting it away and bringing it out sometime later. I don’t think our food bank would accept Halloween candy, and although the Great Pumpkin trading it for a toy worked for awhile, once he got older it didn’t work quite the same magic.

13 | Annie

November 1st, 2009 at 10:31 pm


I was just having this discussion with a friend tonight. My daughter is only 2 – she doesn’t even remember that she was given candy last night!! Meanwhile, my friend’s 4 and 6 year old certainly remember and Mum was drained from today of being constantly pestered about eating more candy… Her new plan (starting tomorrow): each child can choose 5 items for the day and set them aside. They can then eat them all or save them – but they cannot pester Mum again for the rest of the day…

As for food banks… We actually heading out for “trick or eat”, collecting food for the food bank… We started this last year when my daughter was too little to understand… We hit up a few neighbours and brough 2 big bags of non-perishable food to the food bank… The same goes for this year. Next year (if I am organized enough!), I might try to drop off flyers around our neighbours to give them a heads-up… I hope to make this a regular tradition and that my daughter will come to expect canned goods instead of just candy…

And of special note – the mini purple pen from 1 house and orange play dough from another house were pretty huge hits for her (as I said, she forgot about the candy, but she woke up remembering the pen and playdough!!).

14 | Just An Ottawa Dad

November 2nd, 2009 at 9:57 am


I was surprised/disappointed with how few kids were out this year. We had less than half the number of kids we had last year.

My distribution system is greatly simplified by how much my daughter loves to share (she’s 3). Everytime she wants something, she needs to give something to everyone else in the house, including the 2 month old.

So really, she only gets 1 out of every 4 things, and only 1 per day. I suppose my wife and I do pitch in every evening and have an extra piece or two as well…

15 | andrea

November 2nd, 2009 at 10:24 am


Hi all – I wasn’t sure about the issue of donating candy to the food bank so I decided to contact them and ask them directly.

Here’s what they wrote:

“We accept excess candy from Halloween, classifying it as “a category “C” item (the same category that we place other donated items like cookies and chips in). It is distributed to those in need as a bonus item, over and above the other healthy and nutritious items that food banks provide. We certainly encourage those making a Halloween candy donation to also include some of their family’s favourite nutritious non-perishable goods.”

16 | Yoni

November 2nd, 2009 at 10:31 am


Remember too that Food Bank donations are also useful in teaching children the importance of charity. While money to them may not hold much sway, candy sure does.

17 | Chantal

November 2nd, 2009 at 10:47 am


I put it aside and let the boys have some here and there over the next few months. They are pretty resonable (most of the time) and don’t over do it. Although I do put it out of reach so they have to ASK me first :)

I bring the stuff they won’t eat to work. It is usually gone by lunch.

18 | spydergrrl

November 2nd, 2009 at 12:28 pm


The Dude knows that if he shares, he will get to enjoy his candy, so his first order of business was to offer us some :)

We usually start by separating out all the stuff he doesn’t like, which becomes our pile. (Chips, anyone?) Then, we put all candy received at parties and Hallowe’en in a box which is stored in our basement pantry. He knows it’s there and can request to have a piece (“Can I have something out of my box?”).

Over time, I usually throw out most of the hard candies and lollipops and the rest get dolled out over the course of the year. As a result, we rarely ever buy candy or chocolate bars.

The system has worked well for the past few years, and I feel like he’s much more reasonable this way (we are always joking that he is lacking the part of the brain that tells you when you’ve eaten enough :)

19 | edumama

November 3rd, 2009 at 6:28 pm


Great ideas- thanks for sharing. We’ve just entered the foray into candy craziness– my 2 year old went absolutely bonkers on the chocolate she consumed (we went to 4 homes…) and ran around and jumped in circles on her bed until she literally conked out. Quite amusing actually.

I have to think about what we’ll actually do when the time comes that she remembers she has treats. I am making an effort to eliminate the terms ‘bad’ and ‘good’ food from my vocabulary (a workshop I attended at Hopewell was very inspiring) since I have a very unhealthy relationship with candy/chocolate/chips (can’t keep it in the house as I devour it!)

This reminds me of the very embarrassing fact that I used to graph (yes- graph) my hallowe’en loot and keep a record as to whether my parents were dipping in or not. I liked to share with my folks on my own terms. Gulp- very sheepish about this all, but time to fess up. I can only hope my own kids will feel less compelled to hoard. I love the charity idea.

Thanks for the ‘sweet’ ideas…

20 | mrsgryphon

November 5th, 2009 at 2:10 am


We let our 3.5 year old have as much as she wanted Hallowe’en night (only a few pieces of candy, I was surprised!) then the next morning she picked out some of her favourites to keep and traded the rest in for a toy. We let her have as much and as often as she wanted, and this morning she realized that she’d eaten the last of her candy yesterday. She just shrugged and moved on to breakfast.

comment form:


Stay in touch

Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


Connect with me at these places too!

On the nightstand

All hail the mighty Twitter