6 Ideas for All That Halloween Candy (That Don’t Include Eating It)

If your kids’ Halloween candy haul was anything like ours, you’re staring at a bucket of snack size M&Ms and orange Peeps right now. My first thought was “how am I going to get rid of all this candy”?

While we definitely focus on healthy and nourishing foods in our house, we don’t have an outright ban on sugar, either. My feeling is that vilifying sweet treats only make them more appealing – the forbidden temptation, if you will. I don’t want my kids hiding candy bars under their bed one day. Instead, we explain to our children the effects of sugar on the body. Then we encourage them to fill up on healthy, nutrient-rich foods first. When they eat well, I don’t stress as much when they have a couple of treats.

Still, there is no way that we’re keeping all of this candy! It’s enough for a small army, plus with my sweet tooth, I just don’t need the temptation. A quick search of the web turned up a ton of recipes for reconstituting the candy into other unhealthy desserts (Butterfinger Brownie’s, anyone?) but that defeats the purpose of what I was trying to do.

However, I did manage to find a few clever ways to get rid of the  Halloween sugar which I’m sharing below.

How to Get Rid of Some of the Candy!

  1. Donate it to a military candy drive. There are a number of organizations that collect donated candy, which they then send to active duty military troops overseas. Try Operation Gratitude or Soldier’s Angels. I found a drop-off location really close to us, but there are instructions for mailing it in too. You can even ask your child if he or she wants to organize a drive so their friends or classmates can donate too.
  2. Help your kids find a local organization that would enjoy it. I would try a nearby shelter or youth group home for starters. If your kids are old enough, allow them to make the call and ask if they can bring in their candy, and even pass it out to residents. Or take it to your local fire station. They’ll appreciate it and you might even get to see a truck up close!
  3. Introduce the “Candy Fairy”. She’s a cousin of the tooth fairy, of course. Have your child leave a bag of candy outside of their room at night. Then, the candy fairy will trade it for a special surprise in the morning. This could be a small toy or a new book – whatever you decide. Better yet, leave a coupon for the kids to have a special experience, like a movie night where they get to pick the movie.
  4. Use it for science experiments. This super-easy one uses only Skittles and water. And this scientist mom blogger has some great ideas here, some of which don’t involve actually eating it!
  5. Make an Advent Calendar. I’m not crafty so I won’t pretend to have a DIY tutorial for you, but Google has loads. If I was going to do this, I’d buy a ready-made pocket calendar like this one. Then, I’d tuck some candy into a few random days throughout the month and fill the rest with cute notes. True, the kids are still eating some of the sugar, but it also teaches self-discipline as they wait for a treat-filled day.
  6. Buy It Back. If you can afford to, offer to buy your kids’ Halloween candy from them. Let them keep the money or use it to help someone in need. Plus, a buy-back program is a fun opportunity to do some math and teach basic negotiation skills.

Ideas for Turning a Buy-back Program into a Learning Experience

  • For younger kids, help them count the total number of pieces, sort it into piles by type or make piles of 5’s and 10’s to practice skip counting. Try trading each piece of candy for a coin so they can witness their barter in a tangible way.
  • With grade schoolers, work on fractions or percentages. For example, set a percentage of candy that you want to buy back. Have them do the math to get to that number. Ask them to sort it – what percentage are chocolates? What percentage are lollipops? What fraction does this represent? Have them create a pie chart or graph the types by volume. Or get tricky and ask them to identify the company that manufactured each piece and sort it that way. Pay for the candy on a per-piece basis, but challenge them do the math to tell you how much you owe.
  • Even a too-cool teenager can get in on the action. Have them negotiate the price at which you’ll buy it. Is it per piece? In bulk? Teach the concepts of retail pricing (how much did it cost at the store?) and discounting (because surely you’re not going to pay full-price for random candy of unknown origin, right?!). You can even drop in some negotiation jargon like BATNA (the Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement – how much candy you’ll allow them to keep if they don’t sell it to you, for example).

Of course, you’ll still end up with candy if you go with a buy-back program, so may I suggest returning to idea #1 or #2 to get rid of it? ☺

What do you do with all of those Halloween treats? Would love to hear in the comments below.

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