I live in a small cul-de-sac off a busy road with no sidewalks. And, because we live in a small cul-de-sac off a busy road with no sidewalks, we are never home on Halloween. We drive to my brother and sister-in-law’s house and trick-or-treat with them. We’ve been doing this for years. So why do I go out every year and buy tons of candy and put it in a huge bowl, sit it on my kitchen table, and head off somewhere else to collect even more candy?
It goes like this: I buy four or five bags of candy (partly based on the fear that the one year I don’t do this, I will have a mob of angry trick-or-treaters at my door). I place it strategically in a handy place, right in the center of my kitchen table. I leave to drive my kids to a gigantic neighborhood where they can easily (and often do) trick-or-treat for three or more hours. Then we come home and the kids dump their over-full bags onto the over-full bowl, where candy cascades over the sides of the bowl and onto the table in an ocean of sugar even Willie Wonka would envy.
If you are also wondering what to do with a truckload of leftover Halloween candy, I have a few ideas. Some of these I’ve done; some I’ve borrowed from other people. But, well, whatever works. I know I still have a kitchen table under all of those Snickers bars.
Trick number one: farm it out to other people. Take it to work, give it to neighbors, donate it to charity – spread your candy around to friends and family. Unfortunately, one of my co-workers already beat me to the punch and brought in a huge bag full of candy. So on to the next idea.
Trick number two: freeze it. This is a trick I picked up from my aunt who lives near Des Moines, Iowa. She has half a dozen kids – and each one of those kids trick-or-treated with pillowcases. Needless to say, six pillowcases of candy can lead to some creativity – she would freeze half the candy and use it to hand out the following year. I don’t do that, but I do often freeze it for use later in the year. I recently found a great recipe for Butterfinger Pie, so I’ll freeze a bag of Butterfingers and make this little number for Thanksgiving. And, if your kids are like mine, there will be some candy left in the bottom of the bag … the unwanted candy. In my house, the Bit O’ Honey candies don’t fare very well. Instead of throwing them out, I plan on freezing them and making this pumpkin cake. And all those bags of candy corn? Imagine the delight on the faces of friends and family when you whip up a batch of homemade candy corn ice cream. Yum!
Trick number three: give it new life. Halloween may be over, but other holidays can benefit from your stash. Take Jolly Ranchers, for example. Last year, I divided up leftover Jolly Ranchers by color and stashed them until Christmastime. I like to make gingerbread houses every year, and these candies are great. I melted the blue Jolly Ranchers on a sheet of wax paper and used it as a crystal-blue pond on the side of my gingerbread house. Then I mixed the reds and yellows and melted them to make stained-glass windows. You can also do this with cookies – place a hard candy in the center and let it melt as the cookie bakes. Other candies are great for decorating gingerbread houses, such as gummy Life Savers, M&Ms, and licorice.
I stumbled upon a great idea for letting the kids make things with leftover candy – from bracelets to toy cars. It’s almost like tinker toys, only instead of wooden dowels you use pretzel sticks — let the kids turn candy bars into race cars. They’ll have so much fun they’ll forget that their works of art are edible. (Well, okay, mine wouldn’t. I’d have half-eaten race cars. But it still sounds like fun!)
Now that the post-Halloween binge has passed, finding ways to use up those leftover treats can be a real trick. Have fun with it – whether you make brownies or share it with others — because, well, you’ll do it all again next year.