Once the trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood have discarded their colorful costumes and gone to bed, you might be left with heaping bowls of Halloween candy this fall. Sure, you can eat the leftovers over time. But there are plenty of creative uses for these treats — from baking them into fun desserts to making crafts or using them to teach science and math. Here's what to do with leftover Halloween candy.
Did you know you can make paint with leftover colored candy like Skittles? Sort about one-quarter cup of candy by color into different cups and top each one with about a cup of water. Let it sit for half an hour, stir it up and you'll have perfect watercolor paint for your next art project. Want your paint to be thicker? Add some corn syrup instead. Bonus: Your DIY art supplies will smell deliciously sweet!
You can also save the wrappers from Halloween candy to decorate gift boxes or use them as stuffing in gift bags so you don't have to buy tissue paper. Or, use candies to garnish the top of a wrapped present for an added treat.
Chocolate and candy work great in many dessert recipes. You can chop up any kind of candy — especially if it's chocolate or caramel-based — and add it to basic cookie dough, fudge or brownie batter. Or, you can crush hard candy or peppermints and use them as toppings to decorate cupcakes, cheesecakes or cookies.
Divide leftover gummies, M&Ms and other candy into small bowls and create a DIY ice cream sundae bar for friends and family. You can also add in chopped candy bars, caramels or Reese's Pieces right into some softened ice cream. Melt leftover chocolate in your microwave for the perfect hot fudge topping. Or, use it as a fondue dip or a glaze for your cookies or cakes.
For a healthier treat, make your own trail mix by adding dried fruit, nuts, whole-grain cereal and pretzels to chocolate-covered candies. Or, mix in leftover candy corn or chocolate-covered candy to make popcorn balls for a sweet-and-salty snack.
Drop a chocolate or two into your morning coffee for a sweet mocha treat. It's also easy to add candy — such as Starburst, Jolly Ranchers or candy corn — to alcohol and create delicious liqueurs and infusions that take on the vibrant color of the candy. Sort candy by color into glass bottles or flasks and then add tequila or vodka. Allow the candy to soak at least a day, and give the bottles a shake a few times.
You can also thread some gummies or other soft candies onto skewers to make pretty drink stirrers for your cocktail or soda.
Pack your leftover Halloween candy into smaller portions in airtight containers and pop them in the freezer, where it will stay fresh for about 10 months. This way, you can take out what you need to add some to smoothies, yogurt or use as toppings for baked goods. Make yummy milkshakes by adding chopped-up candy bars to ice cream or frozen yogurt, along with a banana or some berries.
Leftover Halloween treats are also great to have on hand for other holidays. You can use candy to decorate gingerbread houses and make Christmas tree ornaments, wreaths or garlands.
Or, make an Advent calendar by filling little paper cups or boxes with candy and covering them with tissue paper or candy wrappers. Kids can punch through the paper and enjoy a treat every day. Tuck chocolates into Hanukkah gift bags, too.
Counting wrapped pieces of candy like Hershey's Kisses or Tootsie Rolls can help children with math — and give them a treat for each correct answer. Or, you can do some fun science experiments with candy, such as putting gummy worms into the water and watching how they grow as they absorb water.
If you're throwing a child's birthday party after Halloween, there are lots of ways to use leftover candy. Stuff wrapped candy into a piñata, create DIY candy jewelry or invent a board game using candy as playing pieces. Divide candy into colorful bags to make party favors for guests to take home.
Don't forget to keep some leftover candy for yourself, too. This guide details how long different types of candy stay fresh, but most unopened candy can keep well for at least six months. Jelly beans and hard candy are good for up to a year.
If you don't want to pack on the pounds from eating so many treats, give it away to others who will appreciate it. There are many organizations that take donations of leftover Halloween candy:
Even if you don't want to eat it yourself, there are so many ways to figure out what to do with leftover Halloween candy and keep the holiday spirit going.