When I was a kid, Halloween was a one day event. But for my own kids, the candy extravaganza stretches over a full week. They have school parties, neighborhood parties, Halloween carnivals, trunk-or-treats, and the Trick-or-Treating itself. It is, frankly, WAY too much candy. My kids look forward to this period of sugar gluttony all year long, and I don’t want to ban candy from the house or heighten the allure by making sugar a forbidden thing. But what do you do after trick-or-treating when most of the favorites have been eaten and you’re left with a huge collection of not-so-desirable sugar? Here are 4 ways to ditch the candy:

1. Switch Witch

To my kids, the Switch Witch is a cousin of the tooth fairy. She comes in the night in secret, takes all the candy, and leaves a small toy in its place. The kids are happy because there’s a surprise, and they don’t miss the candy. Usually, the Switch Witch’s bounty is donated to a jar in my husband’s office, but some years we just toss it in the trash.

2. Science Experiment One: Make a Potion

There are few things my youngest kid loves more than “making a potion.” The steps are simple: bring a few cups of water to a boil, then remove from heat. Unwrap all the candy and put it into the pot. You can let your child predict in advance what color it might be, whether it will all mix together or if you’ll get some “curds and whey” type of texture. After they’ve had fun stirring it all around and exclaiming over the gooeyness and grossness, you can pour it on a compost pile or down the toilet.

3. Science Experiment Two: Light a Fire

This one is definitely for the campfire, not an indoor fireplace. We unwrap the candy and make several piles of candy on paper plates. Then when we have some good coals glowing in the campfire we place the plates on and watch the candy go up in flames. Starbursts and other syrup candies will sometimes burn with different colors of flame. Some of them expand dramatically and others sludge off the plate and melt. And it’s prompted some fun discussions about energy. (Your body “burns” sugar in much the same way the fire does, producing carbon dioxide in the process, but it happens at a much slower and controlled rate).

4. Science Experiment Three: Candy Chromatography

This one doesn’t work well with the chocolates, but for the hard and gummi candies, you can set them up in a circle on a plate and then pour a little water over them. Wait a while, and beautiful patterns will emerge as the food dyes go into solution. Placing a papertowel above the plate and letting the food dye travel up the towel will separate some of the dyes by size, and you can end up with artistic patterns of color on the towel.

And last, if you’re looking for ideas about candy-free treats to hand out to trick-or-treaters, I made a short video showing you the three things we are giving out this year: 

Featured Photo Courtesy: Jenny Ballif