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Top Tricks for Managing Leftover Treats

Yan Krukov

What to Do with Leftover Costumes, Candy, and Pumpkins

Now that Halloween is behind us, what are you going to do with all of that candy? How about those rotting pumpkins on your porch and the costumes your kids are going to outgrow by next season? 

Each year, loads and loads of Halloween leftovers—like costumes, candy, and pumpkins—end up in landfills… or litter your house until you go Marie Kondo on it, and then they end up in landfills.

Here are several simple, sustainable ways to bless others—and the earth—through your Halloween leftovers.

Repurpose Extra Candy as an Advent Calendar

Instead of buying more, save some of that candy as treats you can include in your children’s advent calendar to mark each day leading up to Christmas.

Save for Other Holiday Crafts

Some candy—ahem, candy corn—make better crafts than treats, imho. Keep your excess hard candy for use in holiday decorations, like table decorations at Thanksgiving, or gingerbread houses and ornaments at Christmas.

Give Candy to Your Kids’ Teachers

Teachers often use candy as a reward in class, and elementary teachers have a gazillion holiday parties coming around the bend. Pass on your extra candy for use in the classroom.

Make a Care Package for Grandparents

Send candy to those who love sweets but don’t (often) participate in trick or treat.

Give Away Extra Treats to Troops

There are several organizations that will take your candy donations to bless the troops. Treats for Troops, Operation Gratitude, and Operation Shoebox all accept candy donations. If you’d like to emphasize the need for balance and good dental hygiene choices with your kids, look for a Halloween Candy Buy Back program near you and get toothbrushes and other health-promoting goodies from your dentist, who will then send your excess candy onward.

Create a Costume Exchange

Tell your friends to bring their costumes to your house for storage this year, and a month before next Halloween, invite everyone back to “shop” for this year’s costumes.

Donate Your Costume

Find a Salvation Army thrift store near you to donate your costume and support the good work of the Salvation Army across the globe.

Repurpose Costume Fabric

If you’re particularly crafty, Halloween costumes can make excellent sources of scrap fabric for future projects. Make wreaths, table decorations, placesettings, patchwork quilts, or brand new costumes from last year’s fabrics.

From Grinning Gourd to Bird Feeder

You can bless the birds in your backyard by turning your carved pumpkin into a bird feeder. Just pop off the top of that pumpkin and pour in some native species bird seed. You can even include your (non-seasoned) pumpkin seeds for your flying friends.

Compost Your Pumpkins

If you have your own backyard compost pile, it makes the most sense to benefit from the nutritional elements of your own rotting pumpkins. Make sure you pull the seeds out so they don’t take root in your compost bin.

Donate Your Pumpkins

Local zoos, animal shelters, farms, or community gardens may take your carved pumpkins for use as animal snacks or compost material. Reach out to local organizations, farms, and even local governments that might have a pumpkin collection drive after Halloween. If you can’t find a local outlet, there might be a pumpkin drop-off site sponsored by Scarce or Pumpkins for the People, both of which collect pumpkins for composting to keep them out of landfills.

Feed Backyard Wildlife

Pumpkins are mainly made up of water and decompose quickly, but if you have wildlife in your backyard, they’ll make quick work of this healthy snack. Deer, squirrels, rabbits, and other woodland creatures will take care of your pumpkin pieces, guts, and seeds in no time.

Save Your Seeds for Next Season

You can begin the whole cycle over again—save money and experience the pleasure of starting something from seed. Reserve some pumpkin seeds for next year and plant them in your backyard in the spring.