For health-conscious parents, one of the most frightening parts of the Halloween season is the amount of candy your little ghouls bring home.

What can we do with all those sweets? Besides the obvious answer of Mom and Dad eating it as soon as the kids are asleep, there are some other fun alternatives. Your family can have the sweetest jack-o-lantern on the block by using candy instead of carving to make a smiling face on a pumpkin. And while some candy may be stored away as building supplies for a gingerbread house this Christmas, you can apply many of the same ideas for building a haunted house to decorate your home for Halloween. Wrappers can also become an inspiration for creative costumes. All it takes is a little creativity and some candy and you can use sweets in a way even the dentist will like!


Ages: 3 to adult

Time: 30 to 60 minutes

Skills required: Designing and gluing

Materials: Medium-size pumpkin; assorted candy; thick, white craft glue, a hot glue gun or toothpicks; and miscellaneous household food items.  

Ready, Set, Create!

  1. Wash and dry a medium-size pumpkin.
  1. Choose an area on the pumpkin to make a face (since the pumpkin won’t be carved, there is no need to remove the stem and scoop out the seeds).
  1. Gather an assortment of candy to use as features for the pumpkin’s face.
  1. Use the candy to make eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hair and other accessories such as jewelry, glasses or hats. Attach the candy to the pumpkin using either thick, white craft glue or a hot glue gun (with a parent’s supervision). The candy can also be attached using toothpicks. Break a toothpick in half and push one end of the toothpick into the candy and the other end of the toothpick into the pumpkin. Try using pretzels, cereal, marshmallows, gummy fruit snacks, cookies or other items from around the kitchen for features on the pumpkin.

Note: Make sure young children know that the candy glued onto the pumpkin is just for decoration and is not to be eaten. And be careful about placing the candy-covered pumpkin outside since the sweets may attract birds and bugs. After the pumpkin is fully decorated, it should last several weeks and won’t get soft or rot since it is not carved.

Haunted Houses

Why wait for the Christmas season to bake up some gingerbread and construct a house of sweets? Instead of making a house decked out for the season of Santa, make a scary abode for ghosts and ghouls. A tasty alternative to gingerbread is to make a miniature haunted house using graham crackers, an empty milk carton and frosting “glue.”

Ages: 3 to adult

Time: One hour

Skills required: Designing and gluing

Materials: An empty half-pint milk carton, graham crackers, assorted candies, and chocolate frosting or vanilla frosting dyed orange.


  1. Wash and dry an empty milk carton.
  1. Cut enough pieces of graham cracker to cover all the surfaces.
  1. Glue the crackers to the carton using frosting. Use chocolate frosting to make the house look old and scary, or vanilla frosting tinted orange for a seasonal look.
  1. Also use frosting to “glue” on candy decorations.
  1. Add some spooks to the windows and a graveyard for a frightening finishing touch.

Sweet Costume

Children’s dreams of candy can become life-size reality through creative homemade costumes. It is easy to be a candy corn for Halloween: just wear a white hat (a pointy one if you wish), an orange shirt and yellow pants.

If you prefer candy bars to candy corn, decorate a traditional cardboard sandwich sign to look like any candy bar or candy wrapper. Simply take two pieces of poster board and punch two holes in the top of each piece. Lace ribbon, yarn or string through the holes, attaching the two pieces together so that one will hang in front of your body and one will cover your back. Then, decorate the cardboard to look just like the wrapper from your favorite candy.