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What to Do with Leftover Halloween Candy

Six ideas to donate or re-purpose your kids' Halloween candy.

By the time my kids call it quits on Halloween night, we will have more candy than we know what to do with. It’s way too much to eat in one sitting. It’s certainly not healthy. You can’t bring it to work because everyone else brought their extra candy to work. Your waistline doesn’t need to collect on the “Mommy or Daddy Tax” from the candy haul. You don’t want to throw it out but you certainly don’t want to urge your kids to eat more candy, so it doesn’t go to waste. That won’t win you any Mom-of-the-Year awards. So, what should you do with the leftover candy?

1.      Play with it

Use the candy to have some fun. Have your kids build with the candy as if they were building blocks. My kids love to build structures using the jelly, butter and sugar packets on restaurant tables, so why not do the same at home. See who can build the tallest candy tower. Have your toddlers play games sorting the candy into sizes, colors or exact matches. Have them work on counting with the candy making groups of fives or tens.

2.      Craft with it

Store the candy away for a few weeks and then use it to decorate a gingerbread house. Don’t want to wait until Christmas? Make a Halloween or Thanksgiving themed candy house. If you don’t have the gingerbread pieces, just glue the candy onto a shoebox. M&Ms, hard candy, Smarties, and jelly beans make the best gingerbread decorations. Alphamom.com has some cute ideas for crafting with leftover Halloween candy like making an advent calendar or a turkey piñata.

3.      Cook with it

Thekitchn.com created a round-up of cool recipes using leftover Halloween candy. Some recipes are family-friendly like Peppermint Patty Brownies but some sound like fun for Mom and Dad, like Skittles Flavored Vodka.

4.      Exchange it

You don’t want your kids to eat all of the candy they collect but you also don’t want them to feel like you are taking away their hard earned prize. So, have them exchange it. My daughter has Type 1 diabetes so we started the tradition of the Pumpkin Fairy who comes on Halloween night and exchanges the candy for little gifts such as a craft kit, book or toy. We tell her she can eat whatever she wants and trade the rest, but she eats hardly any because she wants a bigger stash to trade in. Read to learn more about the Pumpkin Fairy and how my daughter even built her Fairy a house out of a pumpkin.

5.      Donate it

Get the candy out of the house by donating it. There are quite a few organizations that accept candy donations such as Ronald McDonald House Charities. Find a local branch here. Operation Gratitude sends care packages to the troops overseas. Make sure you have your child include a letter of support to a soldier. According to Operation Gratitude, that’s what the soldiers love most. Otherwise call your local nursing home, woman’s shelter or even children’s hospital ward to see if they accept candy donations.

6.      Or, donate it to science

Older kids will have a blast running experiments with their candy. Check out CandyExperiments.com for some cool science experiments that go beyond exploding Mentos in Coke. Making Lifesavers flash in the dark or running acid tests on your candy look like some serious fun.

What is your favorite Halloween candy? Any other ideas on what to do with your leftover Halloween candy?

Anna M. Sourile October 14, 2011 at 04:44 PM
I heard recently that sending candy to troops has been banned and unwelcome by most military organizations - i can't remember the article and where i have seen it - but it is definitely not something most are doing. I know soft candy will just melt in the transport and heat and never makes it there - so it is a waste - so sending it to Iraq or Afghan just doesn't work. If you play on doing that then only donate hard candy or gum - donate the rest to local organizations or maybe Veteran/Military stateside
Sue Kirchner October 14, 2011 at 05:47 PM
It certainly wouldn't hurt to contact the organization ahead of time to make sure they are accepting candy donations and what kind before you drop off or mail anything out. Thanks for the tip Anna.
Chi-an Chang October 14, 2011 at 06:20 PM
I really like the suggestion of donating it to science, it's fun and educational! I'll be trying it out with my nephew this year!
Donny October 14, 2011 at 11:53 PM
Gather it up and give it to the OWS flea party.
Loralee October 19, 2011 at 01:53 AM
I'm so glad you like the candy experiments idea! Older children will love the scientific experiments, but even little children like "experimenting" on their own. I can give my two-year-old a pile of candy, a bowl of water, and a spoon, and soon she's unwrapping, dunking, and stirring away.

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