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Divas on a Dime: Creative uses for leftover Halloween candy

Thursday was Halloween and you know what that means? Today is National Eat Your Kid’s Candy While They’re at School Day! I’m (sort of) kidding. I love all the holidays, but this one can leave us with an overabundance of candy and that’s the very definition of “too much of a good thing.”

This abundance can happen one of four ways. You either:

A. Have kids who royally scored trick or treating.

B. You bought lots of candy for trick or treaters that never showed up.

C. You’re a clever person and buy lots of candy the day after Halloween when everything is 50% off.

D. All of the above.

No matter, it’s a burden we must endure.

During my research for this column, I found most of the advice given to use up leftover candy involves baking chocolate candies into decadent desserts. So, I’ll mention here that you can certainly chop up chocolate candies to add to cupcakes, ice cream, cookies, and brownies. You can even melt leftover chocolate, add it to more chocolate, making different chocolate. Is there such a thing as “leftover chocolate”? Just like leftover wine, what’s that about?

You can certainly save candy for upcoming holidays and celebrations. Save an assortment of small candy to decorate gingerbread houses next month. Hold some candy back to reward good behavior or doing chores. Or bust out the balloons and papier-mâché and use candy to fill a DIY pinata.

The shelf life of candy is lengthy but if you’re concerned you can freeze some. Freezing also makes it harder to absentmindedly nibble away at the stash.

My current favorite method to repurpose Halloween candy is to make Christmas Countdown Garlands (pictured) to help children count down to Christmas Day. First, you need to appropriate 24 pieces of candy for each garland before all the good stuff is eaten. Then you lay out a piece of plastic wrap about six feet long. It’s better to have too much plastic wrap than too little. Arrange the candies along the plastic with enough room in between to tie each candy. Fold the plastic around the candies and tie a ribbon or use pretty washi tape to separate each piece. On the first day of December, give them to children with instructions to untie or cut off one piece of candy each day. When all the candy is gone – it’s Christmas!

You can make edible paint for toddlers by dissolving Skittles in corn syrup. Have the child help you separate the colors and place about 25 candies in small individual containers, top with enough corn syrup to cover. Let sit for a couple of hours, the candy won’t completely dissolve but the syrup will be vibrantly colored. Then grab your little paint brushes and make art! It’s sticky but smells heavenly.

For the grown-ups, you can make candy-infused vodka. This makes for a fun novelty martini if you enjoy your spirits on the sweet side. Using glass jars with lids, place your candy of choice and cover with inexpensive vodka. Shake the jar daily and leave to infuse for 24 hours up or to a week. Hard candies like Skittles, Jolly Ranchers, Lemonheads, Starbursts, and butterscotch work. Separate candies by color or you’ll end out with gray-brown vodka. You may want to strain the vodka depending on how well the candy dissolves.

Last but not least – you can always donate excess candy. Call your local food pantry, homeless shelter or nursing home. Pahrump has several organizations accepting donations for Operation Christmas Child, collecting shoebox gifts for children in third-world countries. I can’t think of a sweeter idea.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com

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