Once you have a couple of Halloweens under your belt, you start to know the deal. Like which of your neighbors give out oversized chocolate bars and which ones greet you with toothbrushes.
But you also start to realize something else: That even though it's fun to own a mountain of candy, it's probably not the best idea to eat it all.
So this year, after sorting through your favorites, why not find something else to do with the rest? We've got 15 awesome ideas — from selfless to the silly. Give them a try and your teeth (and your dentist!) will thank you.
Participate in a candy exchange. Some dentists and orthodontists (dentists who specialize in braces) offer candy exchanges. You turn in some candy and get healthy treats in exchange. Or you turn in some candy, and they pay you $1 per pound. They donate the candy to soup kitchens or to troops overseas.
Wouldn't it be cool if some of your candy went halfway around the world? Your Halloween candy could be included in care packages that are sent to soldiers serving their country far from home. Here are two organizations that ship packages to the troops. Heat-resistant candy only. Chocolate melts, you know! And don't forget to include a handwritten letter of support to really put a smile on a soldier's face! Operation Gratitude Operation Shoebox
Try reverse trick-or-treating! With a parent, make a trip to one or more local charities that accept candy donations. You'll feel great, and you'll sweeten someone else's day too. Some ideas include your local Ronald McDonald House, nursing homes, food pantries, children's hospitals, veterans' homes, or women's shelters.
Ask your parents if you can exchange your candy for something else — like a book or a toy. Make it fun by using a scale to weigh your stash — for example, maybe you could earn a book for every pound of candy you trade in.
Reduce by recycling. If you have a birthday or other party coming up, offer to use your candy to fill up goodie bags.
Buy fun chocolate molds at a craft store, melt down your extra chocolate bars, pour into the molds, let cool, and voilà — decorative, delicious gifts!
Make a special Halloween version of trail mix by tossing in a handful of candy pieces with your pretzels, nuts, raisins, and dried fruits.
Glue candy pieces to an unfinished wooden picture frame (you can buy them at the craft store). Add a photo, and you've got a really sweet present for someone special.
Did you know you can make jewelry and crafts out of candy wrappers? You can search for how-to instructions on the Internet.
Use the candy to fill a piñata for someone who has a fall or winter birthday.
Give "candy math" a whirl! Use candy corns to practice addition, subtraction, or counting by fives and tens. Hershey bars or KitKats are both great for visualizing fractions. Or, you can sort your candy (chocolate, gum, lollipops, fruit snacks, etc.) and figure out what percentage each group contributed to your total amount.
Donate your candy to...science? Yep, you can do lots of great candy experiments at home using Skittles, Lifesavers, Starbursts, M&Ms, and more. Plus, you just might want to see what happens when you leave a gummy bear in water...
Create a board game using candy as pieces. Or you can use candy in a sweet game of checkers or — dare we say it? — Candyland.
Build a candy city. With some glue (ask a parent for help if using a hot glue gun), some toothpicks, and a whole lot of imagination, you can design and construct a scene that even your Legos will envy. And it's never too early to start planning this year's holiday gingerbread house.
Send it to work with your mom or dad. That'll really make it disappear fast!