Ahh! It's the week after Halloween. All the pressure of coming up with the perfect costume is behind us. The scary music has ended. And the practical jokes are all cleaned up (hopefully). But before you rush off to prepare for Thanksgiving, take a moment to put Halloween away right.

The CANDY!

If your kids went trick-or-treating they probably came home with enough cavity-inducing treats to send your dentist off on a month-long vacation to the Bahamas. Here’s how to put it away right.

Did they bring home any treats they don’t actually care for? It may not be much, but even kids with an enormous sweet tooth can come up with a few goodies they don’t consider treats. Pick out any of the less desirable ones and set them aside.

Now pick out all the candy you do not want them to eat (and no, it’s not fair to keep it for yourself!) Maybe your kids have braces or medical conditions that prohibit certain varieties. Or, if you have very little ones, this may include weeding out all the choking hazards.

Now, before you start to feel guilty for throwing out all that perfectly sugary candy, here are some simple recycling ideas for how to re-purpose the unwanted stash, as well as the enormous stockpile of treats they do like:

  1. Stash away candy to decorate your holiday gingerbread house. Whether you make one from scratch or decorate a pre-made version, your kids may feel better about losing some of their treats if they know they will re-surface for this seasonal project. Last year, we decorated not only a gingerbread house but also a gingerbread train with leftover Halloween treats. Sure, it makes a one-of-a-kind, rather “interesting” masterpiece (especially when the kids are in charge of the details), but we eliminated the chore and cost of shopping for candy decorations during an already hectic time of the year, and we avoided bringing even more junk into the house.
  2. Turn an average cookie recipe into "Monster Cookies!" This doesn’t work with the candy you and your children don’t want, but you can re-purpose your leftover stash by adding chopped up bits and pieces to a batch of cookie dough. Freeze the cookies for a later date (maybe even as a start to your holiday goodies), since they obviously have enough treats right now. You could even simplify things further by just rolling the dough into logs and sealing them with freezer wrap; now you have slice-and-bake candy cookies whenever you'd like!
  3. Get crafty! Re-furbish a worn picture frame, or splurge on a new one at the dollar store, and adhere either wrapped or unwrapped candy around the outside of the frame. You can even use the discarded wrappers to create a mosaic effect (a much better option if you plan to use the frame from year to year, or if you have curious pets or toddlers who may try to nibble on your creation.) As soon as you develop your Halloween pictures, you will be ready with a unique way to display them.

The DECOR!

Now is the perfect time to purge! 
As you put away your ghostly decorations for next October, take advantage of this opportunity to inspect the quality of your decorations and your true fondness for them. If some of the decorations are dated, worn, or in disrepair, it’s a good time to toss them. If you don’t really love a certain item, it’s not worth your storage space to hold on to it for another season. If some of the decorations did not even make it out of your boxes when you set up your Halloween décor this year, there is no point in hanging on to them any longer.
Once you cull your collection, be sure to pack everything away with care, especially if you have breakable items. If you have been using cardboard boxes, I strongly recommend investing in plastic, lidded totes. They are much better for the life of your decorations. If you keep your eyes open or search the Internet for stores near you, you can even find them in orange and black (a good clue for your hubby when you ask him to pull out the decorations next year).

I hope your Halloween was safe and enjoyable, and I wish you luck with a productive clean up and a creative solution to candy overload.

This has been a guest post by Debbie from York, PA
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