It’s the most sugary day of the year, and you’re probably up to your googly eyeballs in candy and treats. My kids are setting out to trick-or-treat tonight around our little neighborhood, but I’m not exactly looking forward to all the candy they’ll come lugging home.

Some neighbors will hand out healthy treats, crackers, stickers, or pencils – awesome. Bonus if someone hands out toothbrushes! But I want to strike a deal with them before they set out to assume that they have a secret stash to rot their teeth from now until Christmas.

I want to suggest a few trading games instead. Where you set up a point system of sorts to trade what they earn in sugar, for an alternative treat.

Prize Suggestions

  • Stickers
  • School Supplies
  • Dollar bin toys
  • Books
  • Outdoor toys
  • Markers / Crayons
  • $CASH$ (maybe 5 cents per piece)

Ground Rules:

“No matter how much candy you bring home, you only get to keep ___ pieces.”

You can decide whether 5 or 20+ is sufficient for your child’s health and your sanity.

1. Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of popular candy brands, and have the kids tally how many of each brand they bring home. On a prize sheet, list out how many tallies adds up to certain prizes at certain levels.

2. Switch It Out

A story that might work on younger kids could be much like the tooth fairy: “If you put your candy by your bed, the ____________ (insert mystical Halloween name) will come and replace your candy with a toy!” Or at least an IOU for a toy of their choosing.


Put the loot in a bucket, and draw them like bingo balls. Make a bingo card with types or names of candy and give prizes for the winners. You can play this a few times until they’re over it – yet another way to earn a prize! Download free printable by clicking here or on the image below.

What Other Moms are Doing…

“The candy fairy comes to our house. At bedtime, the lo leaves her entire bag of candy outside her door. In the morning, it’s swapped out for a little toy, and the candy gets shipped off to our military men.” – Shanna

More here about Operation Gratitude and donating candy to the troops!

“We let our kids keep 15 Halloween treats. The rest they sell as a fundraiser (to friends and family), and give 50% of proceeds to charity and get to keep 50% in their bank accounts. Aaron really got excited about donating his money to Red Cross this year for disaster relief.” – Larissa

What are some creative ideas you’ve come up with? Please share in the comments!

BONUS: Save It for Gingerbread Houses

Every year we go to a friends house who pre-bakes gingerbread house pieces with a tasty family gingerbread recipe, complete with their own frosting. They set up tables and everyone contributes candy for the event. We all gather around tables and collect our “kit” and make houses together. Save your excess candy to decorate!

And there you have it. Keep your kids off the cavity highway by exchanging their hard-earned trick or treating lot for things that are more valuable. Avoid candy overload and have fun with your family in a very practical way.

But not before Mommy steals a Kit-Kat… or two…

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