There's nothing sweeter than sharing a gift of chocolate or candy at the holidays, say the 85 percent of Americans who are likely to do so this year. And those sharing a sweet treat are embracing moderation as it relates to enjoying chocolate, candy, gum and mints this holiday season, according to the results of the National Confectioners Association's (NCA) latest national survey. Nearly 80 percent of parents report that they have a plan in place to help their children make smart decisions when it comes to enjoying gum drops, candy canes and other seasonal treats.

According to NCA's seasonal survey, more than 90 percent of parents discuss or plan to discuss balance and moderation with their children relative to their candy consumption, and while most report having these conversations year-round, many use the holiday as a starting point. About one third, and nearly half of all parents surveyed, will decorate a gingerbread house or man, and 62 percent of respondents will bake with candy or chocolate this year.

More than three-quarters of Americans will include candy in Christmas stockings or gifts, and more than half will decorate their trees or packages with candy canes. NCA projects that retail sales of holiday candy in 2015 will be $1.6 billion, a boost to the U.S. economy that helps support 55,000 manufacturing jobs and hundreds of thousands of jobs in related industries.

"People understand that candy is a treat, and they are choosing to enjoy it in moderation this holiday season and all year long," John Downs, president & CEO of the National Confectioners Association, said. "As a father of four children, I can relate to parents across the country who embrace the unique role that candy plays in family celebrations and traditions, and using the holiday as an opportunity to teach their children about the importance of moderation."

Among all holiday candy selections, 36 percent of Americans prefer to find foil-wrapped chocolates included as part of a holiday gift.  And chocolate Santas (46 percent) are preferred over chocolate snowmen (27 percent) or coins (27 percent).

When it comes to that Christmas classic, the candy cane, about 75 percent of Americans strongly prefer peppermint to other flavors. And, it turns out that there is a right way to eat a candy cane. More than three-quarters of Americans start with the straight end. A traditional candy cane has about 55 calories making it easy to enjoy a few this month and still practice moderation.  Most people in the U.S. enjoy candy about twice per week, averaging less than 50 calories per day from confectionery items.