Trick-or-treat: What to do with leftover Halloween candy

If you’re a parent, or even if you just live in a neighborhood with lots of children, odds are, you’re about to be surrounded by the temptation to eat those perfect, little, bite-sized versions of your favorite candies that creep up around Halloween each year.

Different families have different ways of dealing with Halloween treats after the big night. Some ban it altogether, some gorge for the day, some choose just one favorite out of the bunch, and others let their children trade their candy in for healthier versions.

Whatever you choose to do with it, chances are you will still have a lot of candy leftover, so here are some ideas on how you can utilize it without over-indulging:

  • Sort through the candy as soon as you get home and hand some of it out to the next trick-or-treaters that come to your door. If it’s not in you’re home you can’t be tempted by it.
  • Save the most colorful, candy-coated pieces for decorating gingerbread houses or use them to create an art collage with younger children by gluing them onto cardstock, homemade ornaments or picture frames.
  • Create science experiments with the candy.  Children love getting hands-on with science and this is a great way to learn while getting rid of unwanted candy. Be creative and let children explore: Which ones will sink or swim, or even, will they dissolve in hot water, or cold?
  • Teach math by letting kids practice their counting, using candy as counters when doing math homework or practice sorting by color, shape or size. And you can even reward them with tasting a few for their hard work.
  • Get together with the neighbors, collect all the leftover candy and make a care-package to send to the troops. There are several organizations, such as Operation Gratitude that will happily accept Halloween candy donations for deployed soldiers.
  • Create a goody bag and visit some local charities that accept candy donations. Check with your local nursing homes, food pantries, veteran’s homes or shelters.
  • Some community centers, health clubs, pediatricians and dentists participate in a Halloween candy buy-back program where they will trade your children’s candy for healthy alternatives or other fun treats.
  • Have your child practice writing skills by writing a letter to “The Candy Fairy” asking her to exchange the candy for a new book, small toy or for an outing of his or her choice.

If you decide to get rid of your Halloween candy, make sure to have a conversation about the health effects of eating too much sugar. Helping children understand why it isn’t good for them can empower them to make the decision to give up the candy on their own, and what to do with it, instead of feeling like it’s being taken away.