The Halloween Candy Calculations

With Halloween just around the corner, two questions that seems to be increasingly on our minds are “How many Halloween treats will we need?” and “Is it too early to buy?”

When I was growing up, I don’t recall there being much debate. The number seemed generally stable from year to year. When the neighbourhood’s teens felt they were getting too old to be trick or treating, younger kids were replacing them. And if I remember correctly, 60 to 70 kids seemed to be the norm for many years. When it came to Halloween, it was suburban stability.

Also, back then, Halloween candy didn’t grace our store shelves until after the “Back-to-school” season was over… when kids were back at school. I don’t recall any retail shenanigans of having Halloween candy on the shelves a couple of weeks into the summer break.

In the couple of weeks leading up to Halloween, Mom would buy 60-70 treats. On Halloween night, most (if not all) of the treats would be distributed. The end.

But that hasn’t been the case recently.

When I moved into my own home, as a first-time owner, I took great joy in the preparation and in the decorating. I even dressed up a few times too to greet the kiddies at the door. It’s been a lot of fun.

I enjoyed seeing the thought and creativity that went into the costumes, especially for the toddlers who were out on their first trick or treating journeys.

But in my new home, the fluctuations in the number of kids, year over year, has been like a wild ride on the New York Stock Exchange.

The slightest drizzle seemed to keep them away. On a clear night, the doorbell never stopped ringing, and with kids I have never seen before. Trying to figure out that magic number as a happy medium for both eventualities became an increasingly difficult challenge.

Plus, the early arrival of Halloween candy on store shelves made it even more challenging.

I tried to figure out a fool-proof algorithm to determine how many treats I needed to buy from one year to the next but there are so many variables, it has been hard to get the average number right:
– How many kids came to the door last year? What was the weather like?
– How many kids came to the door the year before? What was the weather like?
– How many kids may have aged out of the trick or treating cohort?
– How many older kids may be returning to the trick or treating cohort?
– How many little ones may be joining the trick or treating cohort for the first time?
– On what night of the week will Halloween night fall (i.e., Fridays and Saturdays are generally busier)
– Are the Halloween treats at such a sweet price that I should buy early?
– How many weeks ahead of Halloween do I plan on buying the treats?
– Will there be another opportunity to get these treats at this price?
– How much discipline do I have this year to just put them away and not dip into the reserve of Halloween candy before the big night?
– Am I watching my waistline?
– Am I watching carbs?
– Am I watching my sugar intake?
– Am I watching my caloric intake?
– Have I been working out enough lately, so that it won’t matter if one “accidentally” fell out of the bag?
– If I do dip into the reserve of Halloween treats, will I have the opportunity to replenish before the big night?
– What is the probability of scooping some up at the last minute at 50% off?
– And closer to the big night… what is the weather forecast for that night?

One year, I contemplated buying treats that contained gluten, because there would be NO WAY I would be eating them, and any leftovers would have to be brought to the office. But then I started feeling guilty and sympathetic toward the poor kids who may have been gluten intolerant as well. That wouldn’t have been fun for them.

Then in the years that I was disciplined enough to not sneak a treat or two before the big night, the weather would turn ugly and then I’d be stuck with all these treats.

I forget how many years ago it was, on one night in particular, I think I had less than 20 trick or treaters, despite really great weather conditions. My algorithm failed me! Sheldon Cooper would have lost it.

After the time I spent that year on the treats calculation, the careful shopping for treats at a good price, the creativity and the decoration, as much as I loved the overall experience, it was a letdown. My inner Martha Stewart felt rejected.

The next year, my hot glue gun was still feeling depressed from the year before and suggested we take a break. I went shopping instead, thinking that maybe this would be a good night to get started on Christmas shopping, especially since Christmas stock had been out before the Back-to-school sales were underway.

What a revelation! The mall was 100% fully functional and absolutely empty. It’s like the mall was entirely mine. It was a perfect opportunity to browse for the perfect gifts.

There were no crowds, no one was pulling tantrums, there was no one walking slowly and staring at their phone while bumping into people, I wasn’t too hot carrying my coat and parcels, and service was impeccable! And the best part, I had no Halloween treats left over to tempt me.

Since then, if I ever was feeling less than spirited about Halloween, Christmas shopping has remained an option. The reality is that without kids of my own, Halloween is what I choose to make it.

Even though I have tried to figure out a ball park estimate of how many treats I needed, I gave up trying to nail the exact number like a gymnast dismounting after a routine and sticking his/her landing perfectly.

There are too many variables to get the perfect number, and the early availability of the treats is a test for anyone’s will power.

As a new homeowner with the best of intentions in having enough treats for everyone, I stressed about it a lot. But that’s not the case anymore. If I run a little short on treats, I shut off the lights and call it a night. If I end the evening with leftovers, I exercise a little discipline and get through them a little at a time.

It may not be efficient from a mathematical perspective, but it’s all about the spirit of Halloween fun.

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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50 Reasons Why I Love Having a Cat in My Life

1. For a cat, life is pretty simple.
2. She doesn’t linger about the past.
3. She doesn’t worry about the future.
4. She lives in the moment.
5. She is a constant reminder about keeping things in perspective.
6. She reminds me not to sweat the small stuff.
7. She doesn’t judge me… or at least, I don’t think she does.
8. Transporting those 33 lb bags of kitty litter keeps me fit.
9. The loud meowing greeting I get when I get home from work is always a treat! It could be that maybe she’s just hungry and wants her food now, but I hear “I missed you” in every meow.
10. When I come home from work and I need to make the immediate transition to cat dad, it helps me to leave the office at the office. Continue reading

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When Did Taking Turns Go Out of Style?

“Could I help the next person in line?” the cashier yelled as she opened her checkout line.

I was the next person in line.

But before I had time to take my three small items off the conveyor belt, the two people behind me had scurried over to the new checkout line like rats running with a slice of pizza in a New York subway.

I had no opportunity to take my rightful place in the line of the new checkout.

Still, I stood there horrified. Compounded by the aggressiveness and determination with which the two people behind me jumped over, I wasn’t sure if I was witnessing a scene at a grocery store or a National Geographic special featuring lions closing in on their prey.

Back when I was a kid, that offence would have been worthy of a time-out and one or two weeks’ allowance. As well, it would have been compounded with a guilt trip started by a long glare with disappointed eyes and a suspiciously calm, “Didn’t I raise you better than that?”

I’ll never forget those times… wonderful childhood memories!

But also, important life lessons.

Yet, on a daily basis, the underlying “Me first, and screw everybody else” self-entitled attitude bewilders me. I see it on the roads, I see it in malls, I see it on vacation… I see it pretty much everywhere. Continue reading

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50 Reasons to Love a Good Book

1. A good book can pick you up when you’re feeling down.
2. A good book can help you relax when you’re feeling wound up.
3. A good book can help you get to sleep, on a sleepless night.
4. A good book can be the perfect diversion when you experience racing thoughts.
5. A good book can help you feel centred and in the moment.
6. A good book can make you laugh, make you cry, everything in between, and all of the above.
7. A good book can be the perfect companion on a rainy or snowy day when you don’t want to go out.
8. A good book can draw out strong emotions.
9. A good book can teach you something you didn’t know.
10. A good book can keep you on the edge of your seat.
11. A good book can make you laugh.
12. A good book can be a guilty pleasure.
13. A good book can be hard to put down.
14. A good book can be so compelling, you can’t wait to pick it up again.
15. A good book can be so compelling, you’re sad when it ends. Continue reading

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Is it Possible to Master More Than One Art Form?

I was recently walking through the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, admiring the work of celebrated impressionist painter, Berthe Morisot. After a few minutes of roaming through the exhibition, I caught myself doing what I usually do at art museums.

Not only do I admire masterpieces from afar to get the big picture on what the artist was trying to convey, but I often zoom in very closely to observe the intricacy of the brush work that was needed to achieve that vision.

In doing so, I often come away feeling inspired, thinking to myself that maybe I should get back into painting to try my hand at that technique.

Similarly, when my camera shutter captures a really amazing picture, some of it is technical knowledge and some of it is luck. I often think that if I had the free time to play with all of the settings, to better master the principles of photography, maybe luck would be less of a factor.

The same thing happens when I’ve surprised myself with something I’ve produced in the kitchen. I say to myself that if I just spent a little more time practicing the technical skills, I could get even better at it.

There is no disputing that I have the soul of an artist and that inspiration comes pretty easily. The question is whether there are enough hours in the day to explore all of the art forms which interest me.

With maybe 50 to 60 years ahead of me, could I ever do it all? Continue reading

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Planning the Best Stay-At-Home Vacation

Regular readers will remember my frustration with myself over my last stay-at-home vacation which seemed jam-packed with projects around the house. As much as I tried to fill my heart with the gratitude of having a nice home and the opportunity to do home improvement projects, I was left very tired and still needed a vacation after my vacation.

The reality is that after a few unusually tough years when mind, body and spirit didn’t have the energy to spare to turn a screwdriver or to declutter a drawer, the to-do list got pretty long. Fortunately, the energy and desire are back and ready to tackle the list, but there are only so many hours in a day to get to everything.

Just the same, when I think ahead to next year’s stay-at-home vacation, I have already committed to myself that every waking moment should not be filled with house projects. I want my vacation to be just that… a vacation!

To get to that point, I have made a commitment to myself that between now and then, I needed to find the time to knock one or two projects off the list each week. They just need to get done in small consistent increments.

When the prize is genuine unstructured play time, not spent with a paint roller in one hand and a drill in the other, I think this should be an easy resolution to keep rather than the old habit of deferring the projects to my vacation time.

So far, the plan seems to be working.

Which leads to the next question… So what do I want to do during the next stay-at-home vacation? Continue reading

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50 Reasons Why I Love Writing

1. It allows me to express myself in ways that I can’t in my day-to-day life.
2. It allows me to use my imagination and to be as whimsical, as dramatic, as light or as dark as I want, when the world would typically frown upon it in my day-to-day dealings.
3. I can make characters say what I wouldn’t dare say in my own conversations.
4. I can infuse my characters with feelings that I wouldn’t necessarily reveal in my day-to-day life, a process which can be very cathartic.
5. It feeds my appetite for creation.
6. I like writing because in the journey of preparing a first draft, it is just me and my thoughts. The creative process of a first draft is not a collaborative effort, which allows the artist in me to bring my vision to fruition on my own.
7. In a manner of speaking, each writing project is “my baby”. It is a joy to see what happens to each one as time goes by.
8. It allows me to put my own particular fingerprint of style and perspective on something that may have been said 1000 times before, but in my voice, it can sound completely different.
9. It enables me to be open and receptive to sources of inspiration around me.
10. Because of writing, I find myself more open to serendipitous moments. Continue reading

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