What to Do With Leftover Halloween Candy (Besides Eat It Yourself)
by Debra Ross
Is the leftover Halloween candy calling you? It's tempting for us parents to sneak just "a few" pieces, with the convenient excuse that it's for the good of the children... fewer calories and cavities. But there’s a better way! Below are some creative suggestions for what you and your kids can do with the leftover candy…without adding anything to your hips!
The most popular suggestion by far that we have received has been to use Halloween candy to create an awesome gingerbread house for the holidays, and Christina over at Spoonfed has a terrific how-to post, Turn Halloween Candy into Gingerbread House Bling.
And here's an extra tip: Invest in an extra gingerbread house kit or two, depending on how many kids you have... it cuts down on the squabbling about how the house should look, plus gets rid of more candy!
One of our editors, Stacy, suggested an even easier way to decorate with Halloween candy: "We know by experience that if you leave it by a window in a child's room it turns into a work of art." (Especially where she lives, in Houston!)
Our second most popular suggestion is to donate the candy to a shelter, a nursing home or to the military.
Here are some web sites that tell you about where and how to donate to the military:
(Note that it is a BAD idea to ship meltable candy overseas.)
(We also note that some of our readers may object to the idea that those who are serving our country or who are less fortunate than others should be given junk food. It's worth thinking about, of course.)
Some dentists have a "buy back" program, and many of them do use the opportunity to donate to troops overseas. Here is a web site that helps you locate dentists with buy-back programs: http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/search-results.html.
Several readers have suggested saving the candy in the freezer in preparation for making holiday cookies. Some of those readers chop up the candy and make the doughnow, and freeze the dough to use during the holidays. And some us just say the heck with waiting, why waste the opportunity, and start baking with the candy right away.
Chopped-up candy also goes great on ice cream and in milk shakes.
Candies lend themselves well to crafts. For example, Skittles or Pixie Sticks are great for glue crafts. Or glue candy on a big posterboard to make hangable art.
I personally love candy wreaths. Get a cheap styrofoam wreath form, a hot glue gun, and you're in business. I personally think wrapped candy works best. But this cool one from Women's Day uses candy corn, and it will give you other ideas.
Consider hot-glue-gunning wrapped candy to a picture frame and putting in the school photo for grandma!
Science & Math
Candy makes great math manipulatives. Our publisher's older kids have been working on statistics lately... counting up and comparing the number of different colored M & M's in various bags, then logging them in Excel, graphing them, and even (when they're spunky) computing the standard deviation. Our clever 13-year-old conned Mom into actually purchasing additional bags of M & M's in various-sized bags so she could round out her discoveries.
For the younger kids, candy is fabulous for counting, sorting, and making simple charts. It's also a great incentive... don't eat the candy until it's counted!
Candy also makes for terrific scientific reasoning! Categorization is a big part of science. First, think up the most reasonable categories (we do chocolate vs. non-chocolate, or "candy we like" vs. "candy we don't like"). Then divide into groups, count them, and write down the tallies. Then think upnewways of categorizing, and see if it changes the size of the groups.
And you can't beat candy for chemistry and physics! CandyExperiments,com has some wonderful suggestions! And Science20.com has the Top 10 Scientific Uses for Leftover Halloween Candy. (I had NO IDEA about the Wint-O-Green Lifesavers!)
Creative Ways to Get the Candy Thrown Out
One of our editors sometimes encourages her kids to create "a giant candy mash-up/salad thing." Everyone has fun concocting it... but then, she reports, they usually don't think it's that good. "They take a couple of bites, and support dumping the rest." What a fun way to get kids on board to toss it!
Another reader suggests dividing the candy right away into piles that are the "good candy" and the candy no one really wants. The candy that no one wants is immediately spirited away so as not to contaminate the good candy, "so everyone really enjoys what they get."
One reader suggests throwing the candy in the freezer--out of sight, out of mind. And then, someday, when you're cleaning out your freezer, you can justify tossing it as too old.
Another clever reader has the elf on a shelf “eat” any remaining candy the first day he arrives, right after Thanksgiving (mommy actually takes it to work). Great idea!
Halloween candy is very useful to save for for goodie bags for birthday parties, or surprises for any occasion.
One reader suggested saving it until next Halloween, but we can't suggest that. That would be irresponsible.
Got some ideas for us to add to this article? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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