Sweet Ways to Use Up Halloween Candy

Repurpose your Halloween candy with these clever ideas.

By Stephanie Gibson Lepore

October 31: It’s a day for costumes, sugar highs, class parties, trick-or-treating—all the fun stuff that comes with Halloween. But by November 1, you’re probably scheming up ways to toss all the candy out the door. We can relate! But there are plenty of great options for using up the leftover sugary treats, and they don’t all involve eating it. Check out these not-so-scary ideas!

The Halloween Candy Buy Back program encourages kids to exchange their candy for prizes at their local dentist.


Several organizations accept unopened candy. The national Halloween Candy Buy Back began to get some of the excess candy “off the streets” and help reduce overconsumption. Many dentists participate, “buying” candy from kids in exchange for money, nonedible treats, or new toothbrushes! You can find a buyback location at halloweencandybuyback.com.

Many Ronald McDonald House locations will accept unopened Halloween candy to distribute to sick children and their families. Search for your local chapter at rmhc.org/find-a-chapter.

Operation Shoebox volunteers pack practical items of coffee, socks, toothpaste, and sports gear into care packages for soldiers, and they love including candy treats—especially around the holidays. You can mail candy donations to Operation Shoebox, 8360 East Highway 25, Belleview, FL 34420. For more information and other ways to help, visit operationshoebox.com/how-you-can-help.

If you need a clever way to convince younger kids to let go of some loot, introduce them to the Switch Witch! She flies in for a visit when children leave out candy on the porch, exchanging it for a small goodie bag or toy.


In this case, it’s okay to play with your food! Visit candyexperiments.com for wild and wacky ways to learn about science. Test candy for carbon dioxide (Pop Rocks), acid (Nerds), or color separation (M&Ms). For younger kids, experiment with different treats to see what sinks or floats.


Did you know you can store unopened candy in the freezer for up to a year? Simply store like pieces together in a zip-top plastic bag. Thaw out a few pieces for road trip snacks or movie night when you need them. You can also “recycle” non-themed candy in Christmas stockings or birthday piñata. Set aside any brightly colored selections to use on gingerbread houses during the holidays.

Make (or Bake)

Mixing candy into a trail mix or other baked goods is different than just pouring a bag of M&Ms in your mouth, right? We think so! A sweet-and-salty popcorn or trail mix is a fun way to use up leftover Halloween candy. Add M&Ms (plain or peanut!) and pretzels to popcorn, toss in melted white chocolate, and allow to cool slightly before digging in. You can use up leftover cereal, candy, nuts, dried fruit, and anything else from the “almost empty” pantry stash to create a tasty trail mix for lunches and after-school snacks. (You can also add candy to store-bought trail mix.) Leftover candy can also jazz up plain ice cream. Allow ice cream to thaw until soft enough to stir, 10 to 30 minutes. Stir in chopped candies such as Snickers, Reese’s Pieces, Milky Way, and Twix—you get the idea—and return to the freezer until ready to eat. Change up a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe by replacing the signature ingredient with chopped mini candy bars or M&Ms. No-bake pies and cheesecakes are great candidates for leftover candy, too. One of our favorites can be found at lilluna.com/no-bake-snickers-cheesecake. If you’re a fan of chocolate-caramel apples, you have to try this fave “salad,” passed down from a Midwestern friend years ago. The ingredients sound a bit bizarre, but it’s a delicious crowd-pleaser—promise!

Apple-Snicker Salad

5-6 Granny Smith apples

6 Full-size Snickers

1 small package vanilla pudding mix

1 8-ounce container of Cool Whip

Chop apples and Snickers and mix them together. Sprinkle with dry pudding mix and stir to combine. Fold in Cool Whip. Refrigerate until time to serve.


A candy wreath is a creative way to make use of leftover candy. Display and store in a cool, dry place, and it can last for years. It’s the perfect décor for Halloween and birthdays! All you need is a wreath form, a hot glue gun, candy, a bow, and a ribbon for hanging. Carefully glue candy onto wreath form with hot glue, overlapping and stacking as you go. Be careful with chocolate candy; it’s best to apply the glue to the wreath form, let cool for a few seconds, and then secure the candy. Once the wreath is full to your liking, glue the bow to the top center. Attach a ribbon loop to the back for hanging.


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