Tricks for Limiting Halloween Treats this Year

It’s almost creepy how much money Americans spend on Halloween each year — $6.8 Billion in 2011, according to the National Retail Federation.


This includes costumes and décor, but rest assured a hefty chunk is spent on candy, much of which will end up in your kids’ Trick-or-Treat bags. And while you can help cull the pile by snatching your own favorites from their bags (Reese’s, yum), there’s still too much left over for even the sweetest of teeth.

Here’s what some North Shore parents do to help limit the sugar consumption on Halloween:

A lot of parents do the paring down to a reasonable amount. Evanston mom Nancy Bennett lets her two kids each select their 10 favorite items to keep. The rest is donated to “the Halloween witch,” who delivers a brand-new book to the kids the day after Halloween in exchange for their loot. As for the bulk of the candy? Bennett brings that to work to be gobbled up by her colleagues.

Roberta Holzmueller, also of Evanston, sticks her kids’ candy in the freezer to keep it fresh for doling out later.

Highland Park mom, Stefanie Gehrig sits with her kids and separates the “good” candy from the “bad” candy, meaning, they save their favorite kinds for moderate consumption by the family over the course of the next few weeks. The rest is donated to a local dentist, who then donates it to a food depository.

Dentists have become a very popular destination for candy dumping and then redistributing, for example to U.S. troops deployed overseas. is the home of Operation Gratitude, which plans to send 60,000 care packages this December to troops containing, among other things, Halloween candy. Simply log on to the website and input your zip code for a list of local participating dentists. In addition to your children knowing they did something to help the troops feel a little closer to home, they will likely receive something in exchange for their candy, such as light-up toothbrushes or coupons. What they receive in return varies by dentist.

Of course if all else fails, there is always the “out of sight, out of mind,” premise and many parents subscribe to this one when it comes to bags of leftover candy. After a day or so, the bags migrate to the top of the fridge, or in a high cupboard, where the kids can’t see or access them. Often, the kids will simply forget about their stash altogether. Unfortunately, sometimes the parents do too, like Evanston mom Vicky Vye, who was prompted to check her secret candy hiding spot after being interviewed for this story.  Surprise!

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