Several years ago, I was chatting with a neighbor about Halloween and the mountain of candy that enters our lives every year. “The Switch Witch comes and takes some of our candy,” she said slyly.
As I came to find out, the Switch Witch is a strange and wonderful enchantress, who arrives on Halloween night after the kids have gone to bed. They set out some of their candy for her. She takes it and deposits something special in its place.
Sometimes the Switch Witch leaves my kids a toy. One year she left them some money. More often than she’d like to admit, she races to Target on Halloween night before it closes because she forgot to plan ahead.
My boys love the Switch Witch. They love the mystery of it. They love waking up the next morning to see what she’s brought. They love dividing their trick-or-treat stash into piles: Keep Pile. Trade Pile. Switch Witch Pile.
I love the Switch Witch because she teaches them an important lesson: How to put a value on what you really like–and not to waste your time on the stuff you don’t.
At our house, the Switch Witch doesn’t steal candy. She doesn’t pilfer what they really love. She only rides off with two things:
- The stuff they feel kind of “meh” about–what they’d probably eat if it was there but don’t prefer (in other words, I imagine the Switch Witch’s broomstick is made largely of Mounds, Good & Plenty, and Necco Wafers).
- The stuff they have in surplus. If they got 15 packets of Skittles, they’ll donate a few to the Switch Witch.
In the end, my kids are still left with a sizable pile, which they’ll eat a little bit at a time over the course of many weeks–or in the case of my older son (who still has candy from LAST Halloween) many months.
I’m not saying the Switch Witch should pay a visit to every family–or that everyone has to do the Switch Witch the same way. If your kids don’t want to give away some of their candy, don’t force the issue. It’s important to trust our kids–and for our kids to feel trusted. Otherwise, you may end up with a child who sneaks candy and other “forbidden” foods and feels shame that she wants it. (Consider these five unintended consequences of restricting Halloween candy.)
But I think the Switch Witch has a life lesson to teach that a lot of grown-ups could use too: Eat what you love. How often have you been handed a big piece of mediocre, store-bought birthday cake and just ate it because it was there? Or scarfed down a second slice of pizza even though it wasn’t very good? Putting a priority on foods we like–and not wasting time on what we don’t–is a skill we need in a world where food is everywhere.
What’s YOUR opinion of the Switch Witch? How do YOU manage that massive trick-or-treat haul?
Find out how I handle Halloween Night at our house: How I Handle Halloween Candy Craziness