We’re always happy to offer up parents lots of ideas for what to do with all that leftover Halloween candy you’ll surely end up with. Well, at least after the small gorge-fest that your trick-or-treaters may be entitled to after all their hard work. So I’ve put together some crafts, causes, recipes, and even experiments you can do with leftover Halloween candy that are just as much satisfying as eating it all.
Well, kind of.
Top Photo: Sam Howzit on Flickr via CC license
1. Donate Halloween Candy to a Good Cause
One of our favorite ways to get candy out of the house is to send it to our troops through the Operation Gratitude Halloween candy distribution program. Be sure to click over to check out what they take and what they don’t. The deadline is November 15, but I’d say do it earlier so you’re not tempted to eat all the loot yourself!
Operation Shoebox is another great organization that will happily accept your wrapped candy and send it overseas to service members all over the world. You can even include hand-drawn cards and handwritten letters, and the site has helpful tips for what to write, and how to address them.
Also, be sure to check with other organizations nearby like your local food pantry, house of worship or nursing home which often have resources for making use of leftover Halloween candy, like saving it and handing it out later to celebrate birthdays or other milestones.
2. Trade Halloween Candy for Money or Toys
As kids get older and more interested in having more spending money, they’re may be interested in the national Halloween Candy Buyback program. Candy is weighed, donated to Operation Gratitude, and exchanged for cash — which kids will hopefully not use to buy more candy. Maybe they can put it toward holiday gifts?
Also, check with your own local toy stores for any similar buyback programs — like our friends at Boston-area Magic Beans, who exchange leftover Halloween candy in-store for a percentage off a new toy, and then send what they’ve got to our troops overseas.
3. Attempt Candy Art (And show it off on Instagram)
If your kids are willing, tempt them with fun food art projects. If your kids have chocolate bars and Tootsie Rolls leftover, I think they’d flip for Handmade Charlotte’s Candy Bar Puppies food art. It’s a pretty involved craft for sure, but I can totally see my nieces trying 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 clever Candy Mosaic Art craft, which puts all those bright candy colors to work. Visit Pink Stripey Socks for details. However if you’re looking for a deterrent to candy binging, you can always use Elmer’s instead of frosting to hold it all together.
Also, an impressive but easy Halloween craft for one leftover candy in particular: Try making DIY paint using Skittles with the instructions at Mama Papa Bubba. Not only does it look fun for kids, the result should smell pretty awesome too.
4. Engineer candy structures
We love educational STEM projects of any kind, especially if it happens to involve gummy pumpkins. So grab some toothpicks and try this STEM Challenge: Building with Candy Pumpkins from Lemon Lime Adventures; the hardest part might be seeing whether your kids can resist temptation long enough to build an entire bridge or tower.
5. Try Math Lessons with Candy
Give your kids something to do with their candy other than stick it in their mouths by turning their haul into an informal and fun math lesson. Making of a Mom, as seen above, uses candies to teach kids about measurements in such a colorful way.
You can also check out 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 your future statisticians track which treats were most popular in their neighborhood.
6. Conduct Science Experiments with Halloween Candy
Your kids can play scientist with candy as shown in the clever post we found at Housing a Forest, which features an expermient that may turn up some surprising findings. Pass out beakers, safety goggles (really!), and candy, and let the kids go mad mixing up their own unique potions then logging results.
Also, there’s an entire website called Candy Experiments, which, not surprisingly, offers plenty of interesting science experiments you can do using every kind of leftover Halloween candy from Pixy Sticks and Pop Rocks to Nerds and Skittles. Even I’d like to learn how to remove the “M” from M&Ms!
7. 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, right?
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.
Also consider stashing the candy to use throughout the rest of the year: 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 we’d love to make any time of the year!
8. 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 that you can find at A Bubbly Life, and it would be so fun to include one little treat along with the cute painted animal toys each day.
Put together Turkey Treat Bags with Printable Tags to keep candy out of sight and mind just for a few more weeks, which will definitely slow the pace of leftover Halloween candy consumption. Then, set them out as Thanksgiving decorations or place card holders at the kids’ table by using the free printable tags available at Val Event Gal.
9. Have an adult cocktail
Kristen confessed in an episode of Spawned that her first “grownup drink” (a debatable term) was a combo of 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 — at least if you have any peanut butter cups left. (Ask Liz, and she’ll say no way!)
Pop Sugar has some more ideas for creative Halloween candy cocktails but we admit some definitely require you channel your inner 21-year-old to enjoy them.
Or maybe you want to gather some foodie friends to eat up leftover candy at a beer and candy pairing party using this helpful chart from The Kitchn.
I also found ideas for a wine and Halloween candy pairing party, if that’s more your speed. Who knew that candy corn would pair so well with a good Viognier?
For those of you who are really crafty, check out these Starburst Candy Shot Glasses at The Cookie Writer. These look super fun for an adults-only Halloween party — or any adults only party, really.
10. Save the Candy for a Rainy Day
Of course when it comes down to it, 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 is a whopping $97 from our affiliate Amazon, but you’ll make up for it by throwing out less meat and produce in the future.)
Even if you just stash your leftover Halloween candy in plastic bags, make a quick trip to the Still Tasty website, 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. They also have a candy storage chart that conveniently lists the shelf life of the most popular treats, provided they’re fresh to begin with.
Just about everything should be fine until April if you have that level of self-control. And hey, by then, Passover and Easter candy will arrive to replace whatever may be left.