That “buy one, get one half-off” sale on Halloween candy always seems like a great idea until you’re faced with giant bags of fun-size sweets in your home on November 1.
Or maybe you purchased appropriately for the holiday and gave everything away — only to wake up to epic stashes of confections brought home by overachieving trick-or-treaters.
You may even be that person at the office staring daggers at Coworker A (who bought too much) and Coworker B (stuck with the kids’ surplus) because they both decided to solve their candy problems by dumping a pile of sweets in front of you.
Obviously, one option is to ignore your doctor and your dentist and just dive head-first into a sugar rush until there’s nothing left but a mountain of wrappers. (And if that’s you, no judgment here.)
But if you’re trying to practice moderation, have allergies to some varieties or you’ve already eaten all of the good stuff and just want the rest to magically disappear, here are a few ideas of what to do with Halloween candy leftovers.
There are several organizations that will take your (still wrapped) extra candy and sprinkle the sweets throughout care packages for US troops and veterans, from Operation Gratitude to Soldiers’ Angels.
You can also check to see if there’s a Halloween candy “buy back” happening in your area, which is when local businesses and dentist offices will take goodies off your hands in exchange for other items.
Consider calling local Ronald McDonald House chapters, shelters, or youth-focused organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America; they may want to have extra treats on hand for kids, too.
Experiment with it
This is one example where it could be useful to play with your food, especially if there are kids around who aren’t quite sold that science can be cool. If you have a ton of excess miniature bags of M&M’s, for example, you could try this popular experiment that causes the tiny “M”s to float off the chocolate candy; or see what happens to the colors in a bag of Skittles when you mix them with a little water on a plate.
If you have gummy candy, see how big it can grow in salt water compared to regular water; or try predicting which snack-size candy bars will sink in a glass of water and which will float.
Extra candy corn or candy pumpkins can be turned into a science experiment by dissolving the sweets in different liquids to see what happens; and if you can head outdoors, grab some soda bottles and those extra Nerds and see how those two ingredients interact with a balloon.
If you dare — and are of legal drinking age, of course — you could try one of these methods for making candy-infused vodka. Jolly Ranchers, Sour Patch Kids and even candy corn are apparently all fair game. (Maybe the trick is to already be drunk first?)
Craft with it
AirHeads and Twizzlers can be cut up and twisted or strung together for impromptu bracelets, but your inner artist isn’t limited to accessories. Try dissolving Nerds, Skittles and Starburst candy to create paint, or melting leftover ghost marshmallows into an edible version of Play-Doh.
Crush it up and make candy apples
If you also have a surplus of other fall food items, try chopping up and crushing your extra candy and using it as a mix-in or sweet topping for another dish.
Slice apples, drizzle them with caramel and then top them off with bits of fun-size Snickers or Mr. Goodbars. Or you could bake pumpkin bread with pieces of miniature Hershey bars mixed in.
And whatever candy crumbs you don’t use can be stored in the freezer for future ice cream sundaes and baking projects.
There’s always Valentine’s Day
Because nothing says “I care about you” like a pumpkin-shaped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup from October.
Besides, unless the Halloween candy you’re trying to get rid of has already been around for years, you’re fine to save this year’s bounty for future sweets-focused holidays for at least another 10 months.