Halloween may be a sugar-filled bonanza for youngsters – according to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend an eye-popping $2.2 billion on Halloween candy each year – but an inventive brother-and-sister-in-law duo have created a new way to encourage kids to give up some of their candy stash in favor of treats less likely to lead to a painful visit to the dentist’s chair.

The Switch Witch, created by Massachusetts ice cream shop owner Rob Bouley and his sister-in-law Lara Spear Riley, is a small plush doll that children are invited to host in their homes as a guest throughout October – as the book that accompanies each Switch Witch explains, young Switch Witches say goodbye to their parents at the beginning of the month for an extended sleepover with your child, and if that child is kind to their Switch Witch, on Halloween night they can gift the Switch Witch with part of their stash of candy – and the Switch Witch will magically exchange that candy for a special gift that they know the child will love even more than candy!

Switch witches might exchange candy for books, toys, or as Bouley suggests for his slightly older children, sporting equipment – replacing unhealthy sweets with something healthy and fun, and reducing the time parents spend battling their kids over how much Halloween candy their children can consume and when. Once their job is done, the Switch Witch then flies back to its family – only to return next October, of course.

As a parent to a candy-mad son myself, I think this is a great way to reduce the number of sweets my child gobbles in the days after Halloween and reward him for his healthy choice to “switch” by choosing a gift that will have lasting value for him. If you’re so inclined, you can even tell your children that the Switch Witch is reporting on them (much like one of the inspirations for the doll, that sneaky Christmas-snitch the Elf on the Shelf) and watching them for good behavior in the lead-up to Halloween… hey, why not add some fringe benefits?

The Switch Witch LLC is also an official sponsor of Operation Gratitude, and a portion of their sales go to this national non-profit that sends 150,000+ care packages to US troops deployed overseas each year. The Switch Witch LLC even suggests that parents ship their unwanted candy straight to Operation Gratitude to be included in their next shipments of care packages!

Overall, the Switch Witch is a cute and playful way to cut down on the candy (and calories) your kids demolish over Halloween, and teach them that making healthy choices can have rewards. The inventors – unsurprisingly, both parents of young children themselves – have done a great job developing a product (and an accompanying mythology) that moms and dads can have a lot of fun with in the lead-up to Halloween.

The Switch Witch Gift Set with doll, cauldron and book is available in a limited number of retail stores and on Amazon, where it is eligible for Amazon Prime with free 2 day shipping.

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