My kids are already talking about the stash of Halloween candy they are going to get tomorrow. They're mentally practicing their sorting and addition skills so that they can be sure to get an accurate tally of their loot. Like many parents, I tend to get a little concerned by the amount of candy that comes walking in our door after an evening of trick-or-treating. But over the years, I've come up with a few strategies for weeding and stretching out the loot so my kids don't get gypped and nothing gets wasted. Here's what I do with our leftover Halloween candy.

1. Recycle it: One person's junk is another person's treasure. Never is this more true than when you're discussing candy. My girls are not picky when it comes to sweet stuff, but there are a few things, like caramel, that they don't like. So rather than waste it, or pull out my own fillings eating it, I toss anything with caramel in it back in my own treat-or-treat bowl to hand out that night.

2. Freeze it: Ever heard the saying, "out of sight, out of mind"? That works particularly well when it comes to chocolate. It will last extra long if you tuck some of that chocolate away in the freezer and then you can break it out again in a few weeks when the kids' blood sugar levels have returned to normal.

3. Store it: A lot of the candy that makes its way home from Halloween activities is perfect for decorating and baking over the winter holidays. Hard candies, Smarties, jelly beans, Tootsie Rolls and M&M's make great gingerbread house decorations, so I usually stash these less-popular candies aside while my kids focus on their favorites.

4. Share it: Between school parties and birthday parties (it's my oldest daughter's birthday today!) we really tend to get overrun with sweets this time of year. So I usually try to put together a jar or a basket of candy to give away to friends and family who don't have as much. Nursing homes and women's shelters also typically accept extra candy to hand out over the holidays, but call first to make sure.

5. Test it: I've gotten tons of great science experiment ideas from the website CandyExperiments.com. It was created by a mom of three who decided to let her kids experiment with the candy they didn't want to eat. Over the years they've created a density rainbow with Skittles, examined the oil content of Starburst, and made a room light up with Wintergreen Lifesavers. And they've documented all their experiments on their website. What a great way to get rid of a little candy while teaching your kids a thing or two about science!

Photo: aydeeyai

See also:

Halloween music

Cheap Halloween costume ideas

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