“Can we have lollipops for breakfast?” If that’s what your kids ask the week after Halloween, we’ve got some great ideas for weaning your sugar fiends off the treats and putting it to a sweet purpose. Donate it, swap it, switch it or experiment with it; read on to discover how to lose the candy without gaining a tantrum.

photo: James Wilcox via Flickr

Switch Witch It
This is great for your little one’s first few Halloweens, when they might not fully understand the concept of giving to those in need. Make up your own tale to tell your tots, but the gist of it is that if they leave their ‘extra’ Halloween candy outside their bedroom door, the candy hungry Switch Witch will trade it for a new toy.

As parent, you get to determine the definition of “extra candy” (some families leave all the candy, some let the kids pick out a piece or two a day for the upcoming week) and the size of the toy (or prize: movie tickets, a silver dollar, whatever you like).

What do you do with the candy you’ve switched? Secretly send it to one of the charities below.

9322472336_3c88e973e2_zphoto: SurfaceWarriors via Creative Commons

Give It To Our Troops
For big kids who understand the nature of giving when we have so much, and with Veterans Day right around the corner, now is a great time to package up all that spare candy and ship it overseas directly.

Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude sends over 100,000 care packages each year to U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions, to their kids who are left at home and to wounded warriors, veterans and first responders. Your candy goes right into those packages. Check the details before donating your candy as some types are not accepted, and it’s awfully nice if you include a few other goodies from their list, like toothbrushes, toothpaste, beanie babies and handmade hats.

Online: operationgratitude.com

CandyBuyBack4photo: Operation Gratitude

Operation Shoebox
Here’s another great option for simply putting all that candy in a box, slapping a mailing label on it and dropping it off at the post office, knowing it will find its way to our troops. Every year they send tons (literally) of candy to service men and women who are happy to have sweets you don’t want (they like coffee, too, if you’d like to add an extra treat). Note: they ask that you don’t just dump it in a shoebox anymore, but please use gallon zip lock bags and place them in a larger cardboard box.

Don’t forget thank you cards for the troops, too! And kids are welcome to include pre-addressed post cards or notes in the package to start up a correspondence with our troops. (No need to put stamps on these –soldiers can send cards and letters without postage from a war zone.)

Operation Shoebox
8360 E Highway 25
Belleview, Fl 34420

Online: operationshoebox.com/how-you-can-help/candy-donations

EARN MONEY AND RAISE MONEY FOR YOUR SCHOOL BY HELPING US BRING SMILES TO THOSE WHO SERVE! Santa Clarita Advanced Dentistry will be holding its 8th annual Operation Gratitude: Halloween Candy Buyback event on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 @ 3pm to 6pm. We'll buy your Halloween candy and send it to our troops serving overseas! Remember: You don't have to be a patient at our office to participate in this FREE community event. HERE'S HOW YOU CAN JOIN: 1) Bring us your WRAPPED Halloween candy and we'll buy it for $1 per pound! (Kindly separate chocolate from non-chocolate. Pls. also note that we cannot accept Pixy sticks, as they can be messy for our troops.) 2) Students can write letters of gratitude for our troops and meet with our local military soldiers, who will be in attendance. 3) All participants get dental goodies and the chance to win prizes, such as t-shirts and electric toothbrush packages! 4) Schools can also win a $500 cash award even if they do not collect any candy in school premises. We'll be asking all participants which school they go to, and we'll give $500 to the school with the most number of participants that come to our event, PLUS another $500 to the school whose participants bring us the most candy. All of the candy and letters we receive will be sent to our troops serving overseas via Operation Gratitude. Should you have any questions, pls. don't hesitate to call us at (661) 259-4474 or email info(at)yourvalenciadentist.com. We hope to see you there!photo: Operation Gratitude

Swap It with the Dentist
Use the candy swap at your local dentist as a chance to teach why too much candy is bad and dental hygiene is so important. Many dentists and orthodontists, worried about the damage all the candy from Halloween can do to little teeth, will “buy” the candy back from kids with cash, toys, toothbrushes, or prize drawings – each dentist has a different program. To make the candy-buy back process super simple, all you have to do is go to this page, and enter your zip code. They’ll tell you the dentists nearest you who are participating. And while you’re in the office dropping it off, the dentist or hygienist will usually be very happy to show kids pictures of the kinds of damage sugar can do to teeth.

Online at: halloweencandybuyback.com

photo: Melissa Heckscher

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Your Candy at Home
Ok, they won’t part with their hard earned candy for love, toys or money.  But you don’t want them to eat all that sugar.  How about you make like Bill Nye and use it up in the name of science. From melting marshmallows to growing Gummy Bears, make good use your leftover Halloween sweets with these 10 yummy experiments that use up everything from Skittles to Peeps to Gummy Bears and everything else.
Discover our top ten Halloween Candy experiments, here.

photo: peasap via Flickr

What do you do with all your leftover Halloween candy? And which ones do you sneak and eat? (Peanut Butter Cups cannot be denied!)

—Meghan Rose