We’re always happy to offer up parents 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 we’ve put together some ideas with what to do with leftover Halloween candy including donation resources, craft ideas, creative recipes, even educational experiments you can do with the kids.
Are they as satisfying as just eating the candy in the first place? Well, kind of. – Caroline, Lisa + the team
– This post has been updated for 2022 –
What to do with leftover Halloween candy
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1. Donate Halloween candy to the troops or another good cause
Image: © Soldiers Angels
Soldiers’ Angels, above, is a fantastic organization that collects “Treats for Troops” from individuals, meaning 10 pounds or less. Check their website for Candy Collection sites — or if you’re collecting for a school or organization, they have ways to register.One of our favorite ways to get candy out of the house is to send it to our troops.
Operation Shoebox is another great organization that will happily accept your wrapped candy — ideally the stuff that doesn’t melt — 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.
Beyond military orgs, Ronald McDonald House accepts candy donations for kids in need. You can also look into candy donations through your local food pantry, house of worship, or nursing homes, which often save candy and hand it out later to celebrate birthdays or other milestones.
2. Trade Halloween Candy for money or toys
The national Halloween Candy Buyback program is an ongoing tradition that’s particularly great for kids who may want to get a little reward for all that candy. Their haul is weighed, donated to either Move America Forward or Operation Shoebox, 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 parents resource pages, like KidList in Chicago; many will share local programs, dentists’ offices, and schools that you can support with your candy donations.
3. Attempt Halloween candy art (And show it off on Instagram)
If your kids are willing, another cool thing to do with leftover Halloween candy is make some fun food art projects.
Chocolate bars of all kinds coupled with Tootsie Rolls are perfect for Handmade Charlotte’s Candy Bar Puppies food art (above) It’s a pretty involved craft for sure, but we can totally see our older kids trying to make an entire pack of dogs of all different shapes and sizes with the bars they collect.
Related: 8 deliciously decadent ways to use your leftover Halloween candy
An impressive but easy candy craft for one leftover Halloween candy in particular: Try making DIY paint using Skittles with the instructions from Mama Papa Bubba. Not only does it look fun for kids, the result should smell pretty awesome too. Use supplies you already have at home, or use it as an opportunity to upgrade to some new kids paintbrushes — just in time for holiday crafts, too!
Younger kids can try their hands at this clever Candy Mosaic Art craft from Pink Stripey Socks, which puts all those bright candy colors to work. Visit her site for good tips and details. (Note that if you’re looking for a deterrent to candy binging, you can always use Elmer’s Glue instead of frosting to hold it all together.)
Related: The best free Halloween printable coloring pages for kids
4. Bake up some treats using leftover Halloween candy
This recipe for Reeses Peanut Butter Banana Bread by Shelly of Cookies and Cups is a longtime favorite of ours. It’s got bananas! It’s healthy, right? For more ideas, check out these 8 amazing recipes using leftover Halloween candy that may tempt you even more.
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. For some more cool ideas, check out Cool Mom Eats — we are always searching for creative recipes using Halloween candy that honestly, we’d love to make any time of the year.
5. Use leftover Halloween candy for some kitchen table science experiments
Your kids can play scientist with candy and make some magic “potions” as shown in the clever post we found at Housing a Forest. It’s an experiment that may turn up some surprising findings! Just be sure you have beakers or test tubes, kids’ 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 that’s filled with 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!
By the way, we found this affordable set of shatter-proof plastic graduated cylinders and beakers that are safe for kids, because surely you’ll get tons of use out of them, beyond leftover Halloween candy science projects.
6. Use leftover Halloween candy to engineer some 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 using leftover Halloween candy — Lemon Lime Adventures has great ideas for teaching kids to build structures using candy pumpkins. The hardest part might be seeing whether your kids can resist temptation long enough to build an entire bridge or tower.
7. Use leftover Halloween candy for a fun math lesson
Check out Learn Play Imagine and you’ll find a tutorial on how to use Halloween candy to practice skip counting. It just requires colorful candies like M&Ms or skittles.
One more option: Reading Confetti’s creative Candy Corn Counting and Math lesson, using candy to make leaves on trees. Guess it depends whether you’re on team candy corn and they get eaten right away or they become leftover Halloween candy in the first place!
8. Use leftover Halloween candy in an Advent Calendar
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. We are so impressed with 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.
9. Turn leftover Halloween candy into Thanksgiving gift bags
Thanksgiving is on its way, and so we love the idea of using your leftover Halloween candy in fall colors (M&Ms and Reeses Pieces work great) in DIY Thanksgiving turkey candy treat bags with a helpful tutorial from Cleaning Scentsible. You can even set them out as Thanksgiving decorations or place settings at the kids’ table. (Pro tip: If you want to use up Halloween candy that aren’t in the perfect colors, try this tutorial with translucent or opaque wrapping of any kind. )
10. Have a decadent adult cocktail using leftover Halloween candy
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!)
Hey, if you’re really inspired you can even host a wine and Halloween candy pairing party for the adults, the week after Halloween, thanks to these tips from a professional sommelier. Who knew candy corn would pair so well with a good Viognier?
For those of you who are really crafty, we’re impressed with these Starburst Candy Shot Glasses from The Cookie Writer. These look super fun for an adults-only holiday party.
11. Save your leftover Halloween 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, some of us have been known to squirrel away fun-size Snickers in the freezer. You can use mason jars or a FoodSaver sealer to keep everything fresh. (Note: This FoodSaver is a whopping $94 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 for using over MYO sundaes or grabbing a snack out of the pantry, we suggest you make a quick trip to the Still Tasty website, which lets you search all kinds of treats to see how to best keep them fresh as well as how long they will last in a pantry, fridge, or freezer. They also offer a candy storage chart that conveniently lists the shelf life of the most popular treats (provided they’re fresh to begin with).
The good news: Just about all of your leftover Halloween candy should be fine until April, if you have any level of self-control. And hey, by then, Passover and Easter candy will arrive to replace whatever may be left.
Top photos:Taylor Rooney, Amit Lahav, Mary Jane Duford via Unsplash