It's the day after Halloween and like most parents we want to have an endgame for the bucket of candy. This is particularly important this year due to a new puppy in the house whose diet includes anything that can fit in his mouth - even if it would kill him.

My wife has suggested we do a candy buy-back program, where we offer our kindergartner something for some or all of her candy.

Is this a common approach and, if so, how best can we do this?

Our overall goals are:

  • Our child still enjoys the experience of Halloween candy without too much pressure to refrain
  • Our child feels appropriately rewarded for the trade-off
  • As parents we are not annoyed by the death of a thousand cuts of a child not wanting any real food because the bucket of candy is an endless source of malnutrition
  • We can feel confident that our new puppy will not find candy or candy wrapper remnants throughout the house
  • So just to be clear, you are wanting to trade something for candy from your child? Example: a new video game for 50 pieces of candy?
    – Bri Han
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 12:40
  • 1
    @BriHan something like that, yes. Some parents use a "switch witch" which is a little less direct of a trade, where the switch witch takes your candy at night and replaces it with something cool like a toy. I like the idea of having the child more actively engaged in the trade.
    – Steve V
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 14:25
  • Question: if your child agrees, what are you going to do with candy you got from them? I have the same issue with piles of candy and don't have a good solution for it.
    – quarague
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 10:55
  • @quarague since its candy and it had no nutritional value, would it be frowned upon to just throw it out? Should the child know where the candy is going? I think a great idea would be to "donate" the candy to a less fortunate child. This could essentially teach our kids two lessons... just a thought.
    – Ilianna
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 0:47
  • 1
    @Ilianna I have thrown out candy but I also have some moral qualms about throwing away food. Do you have suitable less forntunate child recipients in your social circles? As a handful of euros already buys quite a pile of candy the other parents around me all have the same issue (to different degrees) and I can't think of anyone where the parents would actually be happy about a gift of a pound of candy.
    – quarague
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 6:59

1 Answer 1


I am not sure how you would accurately calculate "common". This is not something anyone in my family in the United States grew up doing but I happen to LOVE this idea. I wouldn't make my child "buy back" their whole stash though. They worked for it and walked door to door for every piece. I would leave it up to the kid to decide and give them options for "buybacks". Below are some reasonable ideas that you can offer your child:

  1. Make up your own. Talk it out with your partner and try to understand what behavior you are trying to have your child improve on.

Example 1. Do they need a little push to tidy their rooms? Offer candy to trade with a new comforter that has its favorite cartoon character on it. This could inspire them to start making their bed every morning.

Example 2. Are they having trouble tying their shoes? Offer candy to trade with a new pair of sneakers. This could inspire them to take their time and practice tying their shoes.

  1. Allow your child to give suggestions - Making our children a part of decision processes allows them to feel included and more accountable for their actions.

  2. Donate to our service members - You could send candy to our Troops in place for throwing it out and doing something good with the candy. This can teach your child to give back without necessarily getting something in return for it.

  3. The Ronald McDonald House takes candy donations immediately after Halloween - The candy is donated to sick children and their families. Another great lesson to teach our kids. Giving to the less fortunate.

  4. Trade with your Local Dentist's office - Some offices trade candy for teeth cleaning-related baskets. This allows your child to be mindful of what candy actually does to our teeth and how we can protect ourselves and be responsible for our bodies.

Essentially a buyback program you create is a great idea and one you can have fun with while also teaching important life lessons.

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