Forget The Candy And Buy A Present Instead

If you’re like a lot of moms, you don’t love the over-the-top candy aspect of Halloween. An alternative idea to candy is the Switch Witch. But is this the best solution? We asked real moms to give us their non candy-coated opinions.

What is the Switch Witch?

In case you're not familiar, the Switch Witch is a good witch that visits your home on Halloween night, usually while the children sleep, and takes (not steals, she's an invited guest) all of the children's Halloween candy (or a select amount — more on this in a minute) and leaves a toy(s) in its place. She loves high-fructose corn syrup. She's a huge fan of mouth-watering sugary snacks. In other words, she's a lover of all things candy. And she wants your child's, if he's willing to hand it over...

Why the Switch Witch?

She might be the "Santa Claus" of October — bringing a child his first non-edible goody of the holiday season — in exchange for his candy — and she might be a good witch, but is she really a good idea?

"She might be the 'Santa Claus' of October... "

Many might argue that the Switch Witch is really just a fix for the anti-candy mom. For the mom who can't stomach (literally) the idea of her child consuming candy bars, gummy things and sometimes even pure sugar ad-nauseum. And although most moms would agree that eating candy in excess, especially in one sitting — Halloween or not — is not the best idea for their children's tummies, is it really necessary to talk the kids into this idea of wiping out the candy stash they just collected earlier that evening?

Barbara from Pennsylvania puts it simply. "While trick-or-treating is a fun tradition for kids, I have never thought it particularly healthy to encourage gluttony by bringing home pillow cases and bags overflowing with candy! With my kids, it always seemed as if the more they got, the more they wanted."

Does the Switch Witch take the fun out of Halloween?

It all depends on who you ask. Barbara says, no. "It's a tactful way to teach kids moderation, making choices, trading and currency concepts and it also adds a bit of whimsical fun to a child's holiday. They can participate in trick-or-treating without feeling like they're missing out when the candy gets taken away for their own good, and parents don't have to feel like they are depriving their children of a fun tradition."

Tricks for healthier Halloween treats >>

Not to mention many kids might scream, yes! to the idea of the Switch Witch, far more excited with the prospect of the latest video game than a bag full of mini candy bars. And because the more candy you give the Switch Witch, the better your toy, this might be a motivator to collect more candy in the first place.

But Elizabeth, mother of two from California, disagrees. "That's what Santa Claus is for," she says. "Halloween's not about toys, it's about candy. It's a part of being a kid. They don't have to eat enough candy to get a cavity, but I wouldn't dream of taking any of it from them."

Switch Witch 101

If you want to give the Switch Witch a try this year, here's what you do:

  • Sell your child on the idea. Give her some backstory on who the Switch Witch is.
  • Have your child decide, in advance of trick-or-treating, how much candy she is willing to give to the Switch Witch.
  • Have your child write a note to the Switch Witch asking for the toy(s) she wants.
  • After the trick-or-treating is over, help your child prepare the candy for the Switch Witch.
  • After your child goes to sleep, exchange the candy for the toy(s). Tip: Throw it out immediately so your child doesn't find it and so you don't eat it!

Does the Switch Witch teach a good lesson?

"One year, my then 10-year-old son, decided to sneak into the candy stash while we all were asleep, and made himself extremely sick from the amount of candy he ate. That is why I think that the Switch Witch is a fantastic idea (I wish I had thought of it.)," adds Barbara.

So is it the worst thing to be taught that a sugar high is short lived but a toy can be long-lasting? If a mom doesn't want to venture off her healthy family plan even for this holiday (because let's face it, it's not just candy for one day. It can take months to eat what they collect in a night) the Switch Witch can be a welcome rescue.

"This is especially a good solution for kids with allergies, medical or dietary requirements that may be restricted from having candy, chocolate, nuts, food dyes, etc.," says Barbara.

Plus, the kids can still elect to keep some candy. So they reap the benefits of both a little sugar and a fun toy.

Healthy alternatives to trick-or-treat candy >>

More Halloween tips

Creative ways to cut down on Halloween candy
Choosing age-appropriate Halloween activities
A Pinterest Halloween: Easy DIY decorations


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Comments on "Switch Witch: Good or bad idea?"

Rose November 05, 2013 | 12:14 PM

"For the mom who can't stomach (literally) the idea of her child..." I think you need to look up the definition of literally. Children should be taught healthy eating habits. They should be allowed to make mistakes. People indulge. It helps them to remember why they shouldn't. And manipulation is never a good substitution for proper instruction and the lesson of self-discipline.

Joe November 05, 2013 | 7:10 AM

Seriously? As my kids would say.. this is quite lame.

Corie November 04, 2013 | 1:50 PM

I love the idea of it. I would try it next year when my kids are older. But i would do it differently, i would let my boys chose to keep some of their favorite candies. and then the rest if they would like they could switch, like i would have 10 pieces of candy for a dollar or 30+ pieces for a small toy. and 50+ pieces for a big toy. That way they would have plenty of options and they could still have the fun of having the candy. I also wouldn't throw it away, i would find a place you could donate it.

Liz November 02, 2013 | 11:56 AM

I tried out the switch witch this year and it worked great. she left a few pieces of candy for the kids and a toy and they were happy. I kept the rest of the candy for myself!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ann November 01, 2013 | 2:00 PM

Stupid. Just buy a toy and forget trick or treating. Your kid can dress up any time. Halloween is one day/night around here. Candy must last until Christmas, so it is dished out at discretion after Halloween. But some "Witch" taking the candy for a toy? Not in my house. We don't do that creepy elf at Christmas either, I lie to my child about Santa, and we're fans of Hamburger Helper. I guarantee - he'll be ok.

Missy November 01, 2013 | 11:45 AM

We are huge fans of Halloween and go all out in costumes and decorations every year. I don't mind if my girls gorge themselves on candy that night or giving it out to them in moderation until they get through most of it (this seems to take about 6 months). However, I think the Switch Witch is another fun piece of Halloween, adding a little extra magic and tradition to an already wonderful evening. My girls get excited about the thought of her flying to the house on her broomstick to collect Halloween candy for her potions and spells (Halloween candy has special powers needed for bewing)and have fun tranding and debating which candy's to keep and which will work best for the witch's potions and why. We do Elf on a Shelf too for the same reason...MORE FUN!!!

Susan November 01, 2013 | 10:59 AM

My son cannot eat diary or eggs so the "switch witch" visits to replaces his candy with candy that he can eat.

Eva Burns November 01, 2013 | 10:20 AM

How ridiculous. Take candy from people, who maybe can't afford it, but buy it because kids come knocking on their door, and then to throw it away? Why not go to a few houses and then take the kids to a community event, a parade, or have a small kids party yourself. So teach your kids to beg for candy that they don't want and they can trade it for something they want? Why should they get a reward at all, isn't dressing up fun enough. Or be old fashioned like me and limit the candy my kids collect and don't gather more than they need!

Susan November 01, 2013 | 9:27 AM

We did the Switch Witch this year and my daughter loved the idea. She got to pick out a few pieces of candy to keep and left the rest for the naughty cat. She got two puppets and some crayons from the Witch. Part of the fun of Halloween isn't just gorging on candy, it's getting dressed up and going out with her friends on a fun and special night. And really, it's not just "one day" any more, between snacks, treats, birthdays, holidays, etc.

Mary October 31, 2013 | 10:41 PM

When my kids were younger they were allowed to keep 10 or 15 of their favorite candies. The rest we donated to the children in foster care or the Salvation Army or Union Gospel Mission. There is always somewhere that can put it to use instead of throwing it away. This taught charity and moderation and gave them the chance to regulate how they ate what candy they kept.

Sheena October 31, 2013 | 8:54 PM

I think it's a good idea but I don't think Id use the switch witch character. I think I'll just let my kids have a small amount on Halloween night and take a little bit for school lunches for the week with great healthy snacks as well. The rest I will likely feed to their uncles, aunts and dad or toss. I don't think making up another fake character is the answer but to each their own!

kenbo October 31, 2013 | 4:44 PM

Worst idea ever! Just let the kids have their candy. It's just one day a year for crying out loud.

Krystyna October 31, 2013 | 1:52 PM

Why do other people care so much about what other people choose to do? If you don't like the idea than don't do it. It shouldn't bother you that some families embrace the switch witch idea. For us, it's not about teaching or child healthy moderation and learning limits. Our 3 year old has type 1 diabetes and really can't have any candy (we will save some for when she is low and the occasional dessert). So, this year we are trying out the switch witch idea so that we don't have to say to her " sorry honey, on top of having to do 5 insulin shots a day, you also can't go and do the same fun things that every other kid gets to do"

Anon October 30, 2013 | 7:25 PM

This is a pretty messed up thing to do, hasn't everybody been that kid eating tons of candy in Halloween?

Lori October 30, 2013 | 7:22 PM

I would love to see the Switch Witch bring books! http://readingwithbean/attention-switch-witch/

JAYJAY October 30, 2013 | 7:06 PM

So Glad I dont have Barb as a mom October 30, 2013 | 5:34 PM

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OMG October 30, 2013 | 3:37 PM

Switch witch? OMG What's next? When are these kids just going to be told NO.

Brandon October 30, 2013 | 1:22 PM

Not to simply come up as a nay-sayer, but this legitimately sounds like a corporate ploy to increase sales. Sales of candy, sales of toys, and sales of a new intellectual property of the "Switch Witch." Seriously, if this catches on start expecting to see Switch Witch merchandise going on to the shelves of Wal-mart every August-October.

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