You can survive Halloween with a few strategies.

It’s Halloween… a holiday only a new parent or teacher could love.

It’s ghoul, ghost and troll day all around the nation.  Americans spend $9 billion on Halloween–over $80 a person. Most of that’s candy eaten by your students. If this is your first year teaching or you’re a relatively new teacher, I bet you went all out. If you’ve been around the block a bit and still do Halloween right–good for you.

Our town expanded Halloween so much it’s longer than Hanukkah and more widely celebrated than Christmas. We have Trunk or Treat, a traffic stopping Halloween parade and candy… oh, the candy…

“Mom, someone gave me a pencil,”  Declan said. All the better to do your math with when you come down off your sugar high.

Trunk-or-Treat used to be a bunch of parents tossing candy out of the trunks of their cars in the school parking lot so they didn’t have to walk around past their bedtimes getting hit by cars. Now, those cars are decked out, full theme style.

The Halloween Parade stops commuter traffic traveling between two states. The first car that doesn’t make it through gets to watch five hundred princesses, princes, Iron and Spidermen, and all the other costumes take a lap around the town getting candy from the businesses.

The dentist gives floss. The Lion’s Club sponsors the pizza and Coke. The only people missing is the diabetes specialist and Jenny Craig.

It’s fun to study Halloween costumes.

In elementary school they’re cute and creative–you can pick out the overachieving parents a mile away.

  • The kid’s not just a little homemade box robot. He’s Wall-E complete with recycle and “Save the Earth” flyers.
  • She’s Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz… hand sewn.
  • They’re little business people complete with a designer powersuits, iPhone, and folders full of stock certificates.

You can also pick out the overwhelmed parents, parents of multiples, parents with eight jobs, and parents who forgot about Halloween because they were too busy surviving parenting. They have:

  • No costume kid
  • Kid in pajamas–not because the pajamas are his costume, but because nobody checked to see if that was a PJ shirt
  • Walmart costume
  • Handmade but “What’s that again?” costume.

I’m parent number two. This year, he’s a meme comprised of a skeleton costume and a five-dollar trumpet kazoo. Easy. Done. Out the door. In the rain…

Three basic thoughts on candy in the home…

It’s tough to handle a mountain of candy in your home or classroom. Try these proven Halloween strategies:

The Switch Witch

My friends Hannah* and Alicia* (*most definitely their real names) believe in something called “the Switch Witch.”  This witch lets you keep 10 pieces of candy and takes the rest, replacing it with a toy. These are both really healthy parents who stick to their guns on Halloween. However, there are others who let the witch take the candy (because it’s not good for kids) and they eat it themselves (because it is good for adults).

Eat it all now

There’s a net gain of about a million calories in that bag. Kids can eat it now and it’ll be gone. Kids might puke, have a sugar coma, or fail to sleep for the week, but then it’ll be gone–until Christmas candy comes in the door.  If kids get sick enough they might even learn to eat celery instead.

Ration and reason

I used to be one of these parents–I’d pack a little bit for his snack, let him have a piece here and there, but then the nagging continues forever. “Because I said so” works for little kids, but by middle school you may transition from “ration and reason” to “eat it all now.”

Lie, Lie, Lie

This is a very effective way of dealing with Halloween candy. Many common lies work well into the late teens. When I was a kid, I thought my cotton candy evaporated, because that’s what Dad told me. Truth is, he ate it. Change the story up a bit from year to year, because kids remember everything.

  • “The dog got it.”
  • “I found razor blades in EVERYTHING when I was checking it. This is the only Twix I could save.”
  • “I donated it to a school where they needed it to help inspire them for their testing.”
  • “It expired. Sorry.”
  • “Someone stole it. It was terrible, but he was a skinny thief so I had compassion. You’ll get points in heaven for your generosity.”


Candy in the Classroom

This is highly controversial among adults. Strategies differ widely. But, it’s Halloween and kids have candy. That’s the reality. You’ve got enough to worry about without fighting over a Snickers. For little kids, you can go with the no-peanut, no allergens allowed. Or, drum up a lesson on healthy foods for November 1, and say “Only carrots allowed.”

For high school kids, this never works. You can fight it, but you will probably lose. Choose your policy wisely and come up with a few rules:

  • “Don’t you dare leave garbage in my space. Clean up, or I’ll fail you, your kids, and your grandchildren.”
  • “Please don’t eat things you’re not supposed to.”  Halloween is not a time for illegal gummy bears.
  • Take bribes. “What’s in that bag?” You can get some great stuff around Halloween. Even if you’re eating healthy, there comes a time in the late morning/early afternoon when you’ll accept those gifts.
  • “Do you have enough for everyone?” This isn’t always reasonable, but on Halloween, students do. And they’re usually generous as long as they can eat. And the more they share, the quicker the sugar rush will be over.


Cheers! Here’s to surviving another Halloween… and the day after. With these Halloween strategies, you’ll stay sane–and you may get some extra candy, too.