By Kristen Chandler
Most everyone either has an Elf on the Shelf or has at least heard of him. You know, he’s that little elf who shows up at your house a few weeks before Christmas and then reports children’s behavior back to Santa nightly. These little mischievous elves also like to leave surprises (or messes) for the children. Well, it turns out there is a Halloween-themed version of the Shelf Elf: the Switch Witch.
However, the Switch Witch has a bit of a different approach than the Shelf Elf—the Switch Witch specializes in “Switchcraft.” Children can leave all, or selected amounts, of their candy (specifically, what they can’t have) out on Halloween night. The Switch Witch will then come in and swap the candy for a non-candy treat such as a book, toy or even clothing.
A New Twist on an Old Idea
Maybe you’ve already heard of the idea of a “good witch” coming in and switching candy for something else. Maybe you’ve already done this in your own home, but without a doll and story book (more about those in a minute).
Neither my brother nor I had any dietary restrictions growing up. We had learned the hard way the misery that came from overindulgence of candy. So as we got older, my parents would always encourage my brother and me to take our candy to school and share with friends who may not have hit the Halloween jackpot like we had (this was the 1980s, when you could still take candy to school). Or, we would donate it to our church or to someone we knew who needed candy for the Christmas parades coming up right around the corner. Candy recycling at its finest. So, until recently, I had not heard about the Switch Witch or candy switching, even though I’m now a mom with food allergic children.
In 2013, Audrey Kinsman had just returned from taking her two sons trick-or-treating. Her youngest suffered from a milk protein allergy, and she told him that she would go through his candy when they got home. However, when they finished trick-or-treating, she realized he couldn’t eat most of his candy because of his allergies. When he became visibly upset, Audrey quickly assured him that the Switch Witch would come that night and replace his candy with a toy or book. As children do, both of Audrey’s sons had several questions. Unfortunately, though, she didn’t have answers.
Not long after that night, she found herself on a delayed flight. With plenty of time and the unanswered questions about the Switch Witch still on her mind, Audrey came up with the idea of a children’s book that would introduce the concept of “switchcraft” and answer questions like the ones her sons had presented her with. Soon, she had come up with the first draft of what would later become “The Switch Witch and the Magic of Switchcraft.” Kinsman now works alongside friends Rachel Gaede and Jess Spore to ensure that everything in Witch World runs smoothly.
“The Switch Witch and the Magic of SwitchCraft” is a story book and, much like the Shelf Elf, it comes with a doll, which your family can adopt as their very own Switch Witch.
Switch Witches can come in only on Halloween night and swap out candy for non-candy treats, or they can show up anytime in October to help reinstate good behavior. The Switch Witch is a helpful idea for kids who have dietary restrictions such as food allergies and diabetes, but it also helps promote healthy eating in all children. While trick-or-treating can be fun, who honestly needs ALL that candy? I normally sit up on Halloween night and go through all my children’s candy, swapping out some of the sugary treats and making sure everyone has the same amount. We usually end up with leftover candy, anyway.
What Happens to the Candy?
We know that the Switch Witch switches out candy and leaves the children with a toy or book. But what do Switch Witches then do with the candy? Give it away? Throw it away? Does Mom hide it and snack on it later when the kids aren’t around?
Well, one version you can tell the children is that Switch Witches rely on the candy as a power source to heat their homes and to fuel their brooms. The candy can actually be taken to designated drop-off stations or mailed in and used for Operation Shoebox. Operation Shoebox makes care packages and sends them to soldiers who are stationed overseas.
Get Your Own Switch Witch and More
You can visit the Switch Witch website or Amazon to order your book and doll set. On the website, you’ll also find a variety of accessories available for purchase and a list of participating retailers that carry “The Switch Witch and the Magic of Switchcraft.” Should you be lucky enough to live close to one of those stores, you can purchase your Switch Witch there. If you follow the Switch Witch Pinterest page, there’s a whole board of ideas you may want to try with your own Switch Witch.
My family doesn’t have a Switch Witch yet, but I am loving the idea. We still have enough time for her to swoop in before Halloween, so I’m optimistic. What do you think about the Switch Witch? Do you have a one? We would love to hear from you!