Kids everywhere – “Can I have a piece of candy??”
Exasperated parents – “Of course not! You haven’t even had breakfast!”
Halloween is so much fun – dressing up as our favorite characters, enjoying the creativity of our friends’ costumes, and visiting our neighbors for an exciting game of trick or treat. After October 31st, however, we always have a huge mess to clean up and enough candy to feed three pieces to every kid at the local high school. The chaos only requires some elbow grease, but the candy can cause sugar crashes, arguments, and cranky kids for weeks.
This year, if you find the extra candy is causing some strife, here are five creative and fun ideas to use up the candy in a different way!
Store It for Mix-Ins
Most candy packs a ton of sugar into those little packages. Sugar isn’t inherently bad but eating a bunch of it at once is not a good choice. One great way to eat sugar without the sugar crash is eat it with something nutritious. Chop up your candy to mix into a trail mix with nuts. Sprinkle chopped candy bars in a bowl of popcorn. Or my favorite, make fruit and candy bar kabobs. Just slice your snack-size candy bars into one-inch squares and skewer them between your favorite fruit!
Repurpose Candy for Upcoming Holidays
Thanksgiving and Christmas are merely weeks after Halloween. Many of us have birthdays in the weeks after Halloween as well. For birthdays, use the candy to stuff a piñata or gift bags. For Thanksgiving, you can use candy as a delicious centerpiece. Candy can also go well with name plates for the Thanksgiving table, or to go with a note of thankfulness for your family members. And for Christmas, snack-sized candy bars (that don’t have Halloween packaging, of course) make great stocking stuffers. Many smaller sized candies can be used to decorate gingerbread houses, and clear, hard candies can be broken and used to decorate handmade ornament frames to add your child’s photo and give to those on your Christmas list.
Use Candy to Practice Math
I’m always amazed at the different types of candy my kids bring home! It makes excellent material for sorting and arranging in order of quantity. You can also have younger kids count and practice their numbers. Mid-elementary kids can practice math facts by dividing candy into equal groups or multiplying different candies together. While cutting candy bars for your fruit skewers, you can practice fractions with kids of all ages (I mean, fractions are hard). Candy is a fun topic for word problems of all types.
Use Candy for Science Experiments
Candy is fantastic for practicing science. There are many similarities and differences between different candy types that you can use to excite the curious scientific minds of children. I love the “Sink or Float?” and “Will it Melt?” experiments from Playdough to Plato! This roundup of 13 candy experiments from WeAreTeachers.com explains more super cool science fun like dancing gummy worms, building a candy vending machine, and, under adult supervision, Mentos and cola eruptions. Giving your kids experience and a memorable science lesson beats eating the sweet treats any day!
While getting creative with candy is loads of fun, sometimes we just don’t have the time between all the holidays at the end of the year. Instead of storing Halloween candy for the steady supply of sugar for the coming weeks, you can donate it to make others smile!
Operation Gratitude is one of the largest organizations accepting Halloween candy, serving deployed troops, first responders, veterans, military families, and wounded heroes and their caregivers. Check out their website for donation instructions. Your local Ronald McDonald House Charities may accept individually wrapped candies. Many local dentists participate in the Halloween Candy Buy Back program, and you can find a location near you on their website!
While Halloween candy is part of the fun of the holiday, excessive candy is never good to have in the house. This year get creative and use up the candy before it can become an issue. Just don’t forget to stash away your favorites for a sweet parent treat at the end of these long days!