The best thing about Halloween for most kids can be summed up in one word: candy.
Every family has its own methods of getting through the post-Halloween mounds of joy. Some let their kids gorge themselves for a day or two. Others dole it out a little at a time. Some parents even ban the candy bars altogether. For some nutritionists (and dentists!), Halloween candy is downright scary.
Whatever candy camp your family falls in –– there’s more to do with candy than eat it. Check out these ideas of what to do with leftovers:
1. Recycle it. Practice instant recycling. Screen the candy your kids bring home. After throwing away any unwrapped goodies, take out any candy your children don’t like or you don’t want them to have and then send that candy back out the door with other trick-or-treaters.
2. Freeze it. Put the chocolate bars right in the freezer to save them for later. Frozen chocolate takes longer to eat, so children can’t wolf it down so quickly.
3. Bake it. You don’t have to freeze the candy to keep it fresh. Kept in an airtight container, it will last long after Halloween. Later, you can bake surprise cupcakes. Push a soft candy into the middle of the batter in each cup before baking. Decorate the icing with more candies. You can also substitute bits of chocolate bars in your favorite chocolate-chip cookie recipe.
4. Melt it. Save chocolate to bring a taste of summer into your home long after you’ve put away the sunscreen. Melt chocolate for s’mores any time of year. Place a chocolate bar and a marshmallow between two graham crackers on top of a paper towel. Microwave for about 20 seconds.
5. Stuff it. Gather the leftover goodies and stuff them into a (homemade or store-bought) piñata. Crack the piñata open at Thanksgiving or wait until your child’s birthday.
6. Create it. Professional artists create sculptures from candy, why not kids? Make mosaics with hard candy. Cover sturdy cardboard with wax paper, aluminum foil or paper. Then instead of tiles, use candy to create a design and “grout” it with stiff icing. To make sculptures, stick soft candy, apples and marshmallows together with toothpicks.
7. House it. After Halloween, kids can’t wait for Christmas. Save Halloween candy for gingerbread houses.
8. Wear it. Make a candy necklace. You’ll need an assortment of lollipops and colorful candies with twist-wrap ends to make this idea from the National Confectioners Association. Cut a 14-inch strand of thin twine or fabric ribbon. Tie one end of a wrapper of candy or lollipop stick tightly to one end of ribbon or twine (leave about two inches of ribbon free for tying at the end). Attach candy by knotting the ribbon around the wrapper ends or lollipop sticks until the necklace is complete. Leave two inches at the end. Tie the ends together and wear the latest in edible jewelry!
9. Decorate it.Create Christmas ornaments from candy. To make a train, take a long pack of gum and glue on round candy for wheels, a square piece for a smokestack, and something round for the bell on top. Attach a loop of gold thread or ribbon for hanging. Look at simple geometric illustrations (such as are in coloring books) for other ideas. Coat your ornament with an acrylic sealer so it won’t deteriorate and you don’t draw bugs.
10. Share it. Take your leftover candy to the office. Even if your co-workers who are parents are sick of the stuff, chances are your younger colleagues will relish childhood memories as they reach for another Mary Jane or Butterfinger.
Or better yet, fill a coffee can with candy and bring it to your local nursing home, homeless shelter or a charity for the staff to enjoy. Add a note that says, “Thanks for all the good work you do.” You can also send leftover candy to soldiers serving overseas through Operation Shoebox, and many dentists across the country participate in similar programs after Halloween.