After the fun of trick-of-treating and the trading of the candy, we are pretty sure that your kids are still going to have piles of candy leftover that weighs about as much as a toddler.
Now is the time to think of a good plan for what to do with all that extra Halloween candy. Oh, sure, the kids can eat some of their hard-earned snacks. But, instead of throwing the rest of it in the trash, we have a bunch of great ideas that will turn that candy into something more than a messy pile of wrappers.
1. Donate Halloween Candy to a Good Cause
At very young ages, my kids knew that their extra candy was going “to the soldiers” through the Operation Gratitude Halloween candy distribution program. Be sure to click over to check out what they take and what they don’t — and be sure to hit the 11/15 deadline! Though we say, do it earlier so you’re not tempted to eat it yourself.
Operation Shoebox is another great organization that will gladly take your wrapped candy and send it overseas to servicemen and women all over the world. We enclose hand-drawn cards and handwritten letters in our box (the site has great tips for what to write, and how to address them) which the kids enjoy doing almost as much as I imagine their recipients like reading the results.
Also, be sure to check with your local food pantry, house of worship, or nursing home about donating Halloween candy. Some will gladly accept wrapped candy to give out to people celebrating birthdays or other milestones.
2. Trade Halloween Candy for Money or Toys
As my kids get older and more interested in having their own spending money, I appreciate that our dentist participates in the national Halloween Candy Buyback program, and yours might too. Our donated candy is weighed, donated to Operation Gratitude, and exchanged for cash which my kids can then use to buy something special. Hopefully not more candy. Sigh.
Also, check with your local toy stores, like our friends at Boston-area Magic Beans, who exchange candy in-store for a percentage off a new toy and also send it off to the troops.
3. Attempt Candy Art (And Show Off on Instagram)
If your kids really can’t part with their candy, tempt them with fun food art projects. My older kids would flip for Handmade Charlotte’s Candy Bar Puppies food art which is involved for sure, but such a cute way to use up chocolate bars and Tootsie rolls. I imagine they’d try to make an entire pack of dogs of all different shapes and sizes with the bars they collect.
Younger kids can try their hands at this sweet Starburst candy mosaic by Mama Miss. Just be sure to photograph it when you’re done because this is definitely not one you want to save in a drawer somewhere.
Also, impressive but easy: Try making DIY paint using Skittles with the instructions at Mama Papa Bubba. Not only does it look so fun for kids, the result should smell great too.
4. Try Math Lessons with Candy
Give your kids something to do with the candy other than stick it in their mouths by turning their haul into an informal and fun math lesson. Making of a Mom uses candies to teach kids about measurements in a fun way, as shown above. Other resources include Learn Play Imagine where you’ll find how to use colorful candy to practice skip counting. And Julie Kirkwood at the Kiwi Crate blog suggests a Halloween Candy Graphs activity to let kids track which treats were most popular in their neighborhood.
Hey, maybe after doing some of these activities, they will even earn a candy or two.
5. Conduct Science Experiments with Halloween Candy
Your kids can play scientist with candy as shown in a clever post at Housing a Forest, which may turn up some surprising findings. Pass out beakers, safety goggles, and the candy, and let the kids go mad mixing up their own unique potions to see what the results are.
Also, there’s an entire website called Candy Experiments which, not surprisingly, offers lots of really interesting science experiments you can do using everything from Pixy Sticks to Starbucks, Pop Rocks, Nerds, Skittles, and Lifesavers. I cannot wait to try to remove the “M” from some M&Ms!
6. Bake Up Some Candy Treats
While it’s tempting to reach for a fun-size snack to have with your morning coffee (no judgments here), we’ve got 10 amazing recipes using leftover Halloween candy that may tempt you even more. A favorite is this recipe for Reeses Peanut Butter Banana Bread by Shelly of Cookies and Cups. It’s got bananas! It’s healthy! You also have to check out the Halloween chocolate bark recipe that we featured from Just a Taste a while back. We haven’t stopped thinking about it.
You can also save the loot and enjoy it throughout the next few months in some better ways: As a topping on ice cream sundaes; melted to flavor your kids’ hot chocolate on a cold day; crushed up in cookies.
For some more cool ideas, check out Cool Mom Eats. Stacie has really rounded up some amazing recipes that go beyond the obvious. Like a candy bourbon milkshake for us grownups, perhaps?
7. Make Holiday Treats with Halloween Candy
Though we’ve just made it through October, the holidays will be here before you know it. We’re so inspired by the detailed instructions for a gingerbread house made with Halloween candy on the Hallmark blog. Even if ours won’t come out quite so perfect.
If you traditionally countdown to Christmas with an advent calendar that reveals a treat a day, you can reuse your Halloween candy for that as well. In last year’s roundup, we shared this cool DIY advent calendar from A Bubbly Life, and it would be so cute to include one little treat along with the cute painted animal toys.
Also don’t forget Thanksgiving! A lot of Halloween candy could be used up making these adorable, and tasty, DIY edible Thanksgiving turkeys from Our Best Bites. that is, if you happen to have mini Reese’s leftover. (If not, at least they all go on sale this weekend!)
8. Have an adult cocktail
Kristen confessed in the last episode of Spawned that her first “grownup drink” (a debatable term) was Zima and Jolly Ranchers. That may not be our first choice today, but how about a chocolate peanut butter cup martini? All the yummy instructions can be found at I’m Bored Let’s Go. Pop Sugar has some other ideas for Halloween candy cocktails but we admit we might be a few decades overdue for some of them.
Or maybe you want to get some friends together for a leftover Halloween candy wine pairing party? Vivino is pretty genius for coming up with this. Who knew that candy corn would pair so well with a good Viognier?
9. Save it for a Rainy Day
Finally, you may just want to hang on to some extra candy for…well, anything. Hey, I’ve been known to squirrel away fun-size Snickers in the freezer. Or use mason jars or a FoodSaver sealer to keep everything fresh. (This one $119 from our affiliate Amazon and yeah, pricy, but you’ll make up for it with lots of meat and produce you don’t throw out in the future.)
But, even if you just keep it in plastic bags, visit Still Tasty, which lets you search all kinds of treats to see how to best save it, and how long it will last in a pantry, fridge or freezer. There’s also a candy storage chart which conveniently lists the shelf life of the most popular treats, provided they’re fresh to begin with. The good news? Just about everything should be fine until April. Hey, Easter candy will be here by then to replace it anyway.