What To Do with Leftover Halloween Candy

In our house the Halloween candy typically lasts straight through until Christmas. This is because our children, who are usually so hesitant to walk even a couple blocks, suddenly develop marathon-style walking capacities on Halloween night. It’s a true miracle. Buoyed by the promise of all that candy, they walk for hours.

I love Halloween. It’s a night you get to meet neighbors you never knew. The kids are outside for hours on end without a coach yelling at them to kick a ball or swing a bat. And the adults saunter under a cool autumn sky as a flickering menagerie of colorful fairies, pirates, and goblins dart in and out of them. If all of that weren’t enough, there’s also the candy.

Oh, the candy. The Skittles and Snickers and Milky Way bars. The Butterfingers, Twix, and M&Ms. The Sweet Tarts, the Starbursts, the Reese’s peanut butter cups. The chocolate eyeballs and waxy fangs. One by one, the sweet morsels are plunked into those plastic pumpkins until they are so laden with treats that the kids have to drag them home like dead weights, thumping down the sidewalk. Once inside, in the instinctive habit of children throughout history, they pour it all onto the floor.

If your son is like our son, the candy will be precisely arranged into a bar graph, with each bar representing a type of candy. (Reese’s peanut butter cups always tops the list, closely followed by Snickers.) If your daughter is like our daughter, the Milk Duds will be dumped directly onto the living room rug and eaten in eager bites right off of it. And if you happen to have a toddler who learned baby sign language in daycare, she may well be walking around aimlessly, her tiger costume askew, her mouth and nose smeared in melted chocolate as she desperately presses her fingertips together in the universal sign for “More!”

“All Done!” I say to her, signing the words by waving my hands up on either side of my head. Then I whisk her off to bed. In the morning, we’ll deal with the annual Halloween dilemma: There is way too much candy in our house. But this year I’m prepared. Determined to rid our house of every last piece of candy corn by the end of the week, I went out and dug up three excellent ideas for what to do with the night’s sugar haul:

• Bake with it. Here’s a collection of ten recipes from Real Simple that I saved from last year, and I don’t save recipes, so that’s saying something. Can you really go wrong with Twix Cheesecake Pie? York Miniature Peppermint Patty Brownies? I think not.

• Donate it. Head over to one of the Magic Beans toy stores now through Sunday and fork over that sweet stuff. For every pound of candy you donate, the store will give you 20 percent off the price of one toy, and send your donation to troops overseas. For other links to businesses participating in Halloween Candy Buy Back programs, which works with Operation Gratitude, check out this website.

• Keep handing it out. I set aside an extra plastic pumpkin for miscellaneous candy donations, to be determined by our kids. So far they’ve only come up with two ideas: children in need and their grandfather. Last I’d checked, there were only two items in the donation pumpkin — a tiny pack of Smarties and a Blow Pop. It’s not much, but the fact that they had the wherewithal to do it without me hounding them gives me hope.