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10 ways to use leftover Halloween candy

Use surplus sweets in frugal, educational or even charitable ways.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 22, 2012 12:23PM
Logo: Chocolate (image100/Corbis)The most frugal way to deal with leftover Halloween candy? Avoid having it in the first place.

Base your purchase on how much you gave away last year, plus one extra bag just in case. Then observe these steps:
  • Save all receipts.
  • Open one bag at a time.
  • Hand the candy out yourself, one or two pieces per child.
  • Return all unopened bags the next day.
But suppose your well-meaning spouse opens all the bags into a giant bowl, the better to let your little neighborhood goblins help themselves? Or suppose you open a bag but only two more kids show up?

Get creative. Put your surplus sweets to work for you in ways that are sensible, charitable or even educational.

Use it up

1. Freeze the sweets.
Chocolate freezes very well, and you'll have several months' worth of desserts for your brown bag lunches stashed. Put hard candies or sweets like Skittles, Starburst and Nerds into tightly sealed bags; they should stay fresh for quite a while.

2. Bake with it.
Chopped or crushed, a chocolate- or peanut-based candy can do lovely things for cookie, brownie or cake batter. Use Skittles et al. to decorate cakes or cupcakes.
3. Ice cream enhancement.
The same crushed/chopped candy makes a tasty topping on frozen yogurt or ice cream. Or whirl those ingredients in the blender with a small splash of milk for a home version of the McFlurry. Even the cheapest store-brand vanilla ice cream or fro-yo will taste good with those sweet add-ins.

4. Doctor your drinks.
Drop a mini chocolate bar into your coffee or a peppermint patty into your cocoa.

5. DIY Advent calendar.
My niece bought a refillable Advent calendar at an after-holiday sale. Each year she fills its little wooden cubbyholes with leftover Halloween sweets. The kids don't seem to notice the candy's provenance.

6. Weird science.
Microwave a Peeps candy to explain the action of gas molecules. Create a "Mentos geyser." Check "10 scientific uses for leftover Halloween candy" on the Science 2.0 blog for other fun experiments. Teachers: I bet a lot of parents would be happy to donate candy to the classroom.

Or give it away

7. Take it to work.
Leaving candy by the office coffee pot is a time-honored tradition. Alternate idea: If your workplace has a candy dish at the front desk, seal your surplus in a plastic bag and give it to the receptionist.

8. Take it to the fire station.
Firefighters need fast energy, right? But seriously: Call and ask if they could use it, then let your kids do the giving. Fire trucks are just exciting. (And if you're single, this might be a chance to strike up a conversation.)

9. Take it to the food bank.
If someone can't afford groceries, he sure can't afford a piece of candy -- and a little treat can make a big difference when money is tight. And speaking of making a difference…

10. Sell it to your dentist.
A program called the Halloween Candy Buy Back encourages dentists to buy sweets from kids; the goodies are then shipped to deployed soldiers. Some dentists pay cash (usually $1 to $2 a pound), and some give small gifts. The website has a search tool to let you find a participating dentist near you.

How do you use leftover Halloween candy?

More on MSN Money:

Oct 22, 2012 4:27PM
One idea I have used is to make flavored vodka.  Google Skittles Vodka.  You can use all sorts of stuff to make fancy vodkas for your next party.
Oct 23, 2012 11:10AM
ok, these are good ideas in theory;  but c'mon 'uses for leftover candy'?  These ideas are just silly.  Who doesn't know to do this?  Besides  'leftover candy' is an oxymoron....
Oct 24, 2012 1:30PM
LOL...what leftover candy???  I have chocaholic spouse and two sons with "sweet teeth" that take care of any leftovers.  If, by a small chance, they miss some, I take it to work.
Oct 22, 2012 7:26PM
Rather than give out candy I figure out what each treat would cost and I give out that amount in money.  If there are few kids I will end up with extra cash for coffee.
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.