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Repurposing Your Leftover Halloween Candy

By Brenda Ponnay

What to do with all that Halloween Candy
By Brenda Ponnay



I’ve been thinking about Halloween candy a lot lately. That’s probably because it is on sale everywhere and I keep buying it like the idiot that I am. I know I only need one bag since we hardly ever get any trick-or-treaters at our second-story apartment down a dark alley on the wrong side of town but I keep buying more because it keeps getting eaten! I wonder who is eating it? Hmmmmm….

I can’t even keep myself away from the candy we have before Halloween. What am I going to do with all the Halloween candy that we have AFTER Halloween? I’m sure my little goblin is going to make out like a little bandit on trick-or-treat night. What am I going to do about her mommy who will be gobbling it up all the way to Thanksgiving? This is a problem. A problem that needs to be solved with a little creativity! Something I have more of than willpower!

How can I make the candy fun for my kid and not have it so readily available to me? Putting it in a pretty jar on top of the refrigerator is just not going to cut it. How can I spread it out so that we are not eating it every day all the time? How about an Advent calendar! Why not start counting down to Christmas in November?


To make a calendar like this, buy yourself some small paper cups. You’ll need 30 for the month of November. If you want to make a calendar that goes all the way to Christmas, you’ll need more. I bought a box of 100 at a restaurant supply store for $3. The smaller the cups are the better, but they need to be big enough to hold your favorite kind of candy. We’re partial to peanut butter cups in our house so I made sure these cups could fit a peanut butter cup.


I attached the cups with brads in a grid-like pattern to a piece of decorative paper, then glued the paper to cardboard. I set the board on a table and filled all the cups with candy. Then I carefully sealed each one by painting glue around the rim and gently placing a piece of number-stamped tissue paper on top of each cup. I love these stamps that I bought at a stationery store but I’m sure hand-numbered cups would look swell too.

Once it they were all sealed, I gently hung it up on the wall out of reach of my nimble toddler. We admired it for a few hours and then I let her puncture one of the cups for a picture.


That was the best part. There is something so satisfying about popping a piece of taut tissue. It’s like popping bubble wrap. Kids love it. Even I love it. Getting candy out of the cup was just gravy after that. It does take a lot of work to finish each cup but I can tell you, the reward is worth it! Plus, it works pretty well keeping me out of it. I’m not too keen on doing the whole job over again if I happen to get a craving for a peanut butter cup in the middle of the night. It’s like the candy has its own alarm system.

I see you!

My next idea for hoarding away Halloween candy is what I like to call a “Harvest Tree.” This is actually an idea my friend Bethany told me about. She suggested a mobile made out of tissue-wrapped candy but I decided a harvest centerpiece might suit me better.

How much better is it to look at cute little packages of fall-colored tissue instead of the in-your-face green and yellow wrappers that are the usual Halloween fare? Wrapping something like a present always improves it, I think. Like the advent calendar it slows down the eating process too. Though I don’t think it will slow kids down much. My toddler figured out how to unwrap the candy that was dangling within her reach in two seconds flat.

snagging some treats
You might want to save this idea for Thanksgiving day. It will certainly make a great conversation piece for family to bond over.

gobble gobble
If those ideas don’t float your boat, what about stuffing all your leftover Halloween candy into a good old-fashioned turkey piñata that you break open on Thanksgiving day? How’s that for a festive twist?

I’ve been wanting to make a homemade piñata for years. Once we spent most of a birthday party hacking away at a tissue-covered cardboard box, and it still wouldn’t break until we sawed it open with a hack saw. Since then, I’ve been thinking there has to be a better way.

There is! Paper maché! Paper maché is very easy and fun to do with kids. It’s sloppy and messy and there isn’t really a wrong way to do it. Sure you’ll be filled with doubts as your project seems too soggy or too gritty or just plain wonky but give it time and it will be worth making the mess.

hanging out to dry

To make a turkey piñata like mine, blow up two balloons. Make one big for its body and one small for its head. To make a neck, you can use a toilet paper roll. Use scissors to make a few short cuts around each end. Splay the ends of the toilet paper open so it looks like the petals of a flower and then tape them in between your head and body balloons. It will be a bit top heavy at first but once you fill the turkey with candy, things will even out.

You don’t have to make your bird sculpture like I did. You can use any materials you have on hand. I wanted my turkey to be round and fat so I used balloons but if you want to make it easy on yourself, try a gallon milk jug or a tissue box. Who knows, square turkeys might be all the rage this year.

a good use for the sports pages

After you have your sculpture ready (don’t forget to make a loop for hanging your turkey), then it’s time to mix up some paste. This part is very easy and fun for kids to help with. Dump one cup of flour into two cups of water in a medium sized bowl and then mix out the lumps with a wire whisk. You can also add a tablespoon of salt to keep your project from molding if it’s going to be sitting around for a long time.

Next you’ll need strips of newspaper. You’ll need a lot, so rip up an entire day’s newspaper if you have it. Junk mail works well too. This is a great recycle-reuse project. Some people like to use white paper if they don’t want the newsprint to show through their paint. I personally didn’t mind and thought the smudgy words gave my turkey texture.

Now the fun part: Dip a strip of newspaper into your paste, slide off the excess paste by running it through your fingers and slap that puppy onto your sculpture. You’ll need to do at least two coats of newspaper but I personally wasn’t very methodical about it. As long as it’s covered.

Let it dry for at least a day (this will vary depending on the humidity where you live) and when it is hard and hollow-sounding to the touch, it’s ready to paint! I punctured mine with some wire for feet. Then I added cardboard wings and a cardboard wattle. I painted on its beak and glued some bells on for eyes. I’m sure googlie eyes or buttons would work great too. Construction paper feathers or even real feathers would also work for the tail. Cut a small hole big enough to fit one piece of candy through near the turkey’s behind and fill with candy. Cover the hole with tail feathers and you’re done!

I like his feet

There you have it! A turkey piñata to whack to death with a baseball bat—as if turkeys didn’t already have a complex about violence. Or you could be like me and keep your turkey around as a pet.

Explore Halloween costumes, crafts, decorations and treats from our archives here.


Brenda Ponnay
About the Author

Brenda Ponnay

Brenda Ponnay is a stealthy secret agent who juggles parenthood to her adorable daughter by day and freelance graphic design/illustration by night. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, mak...

Brenda Ponnay is a stealthy secret agent who juggles parenthood to her adorable daughter by day and freelance graphic design/illustration by night. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, making castles out of cardboard boxes or just doing the laundry with flair, Brenda Ponnay has learned that what really makes her happy is being creative every single day.

You can read about all her crazy adventures on her personal blog: Secret Agent Josephine.

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  • cc

    Excellent idea!

  • you are just the most creative person ever. period.

  • These are amazing ideas- love the turkey! I have to get the candy out of my house as soon as possible so I actually take it to my gym that then collects it from all the members and sends it to the troops. There’s something kind of gratifying in walking into the gym on Nov 1st and handing over all of the leftover candy. Then working out. And it goes to people who need it far more than my jiggly tummy does!

  • Dude. If I had HALF your creativity…

  • Wow. Your creativity never ceases to amaze me. I’m thinking I’d better go out and get some tissue paper!

  • I love the Turkey Pinata! Too bad we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK but I think I will utilise your great idea for another holiday. Hmm how about a Christmas pudding pinata?

  • You are a total genius. This is the most inspiring post I’ve read in a long time. Forget Real Simple, Domino, and Martha Stewart Living. Let’s give you your own magazine.

  • Love it!! It’s such a great idea. I’m gonna do it!!

  • When you’re taking orders for turkey pinatas, let me know.

  • This is such a great idea. I stumbled it.

  • SAJ- you really are SO creative. I love these ideas. I’m not a big fan of Halloween or the candy, so I like the thought of dispensing all the candy over time but in a fun way.

  • I think it’s a testament to your creativity that I don’t have any candy in the apartment right now but I want to go buy some, just so I can wrap it in tissue paper and make a center piece out of it.

  • Genius.

  • “It’s like the candy has its own alarm system.”
    Love.It. Except I would totally go in for B&E…where peanut butter cups are concerned, I have astonishingly little shame.

  • Kim

    LOVE the advent calendar!!!! (i guessed the paper mache and feel proud of myself) i too have always wanted ot make a pinata but failed my first try, im not giving up. thanks!

  • I love this idea! My only thing I need to decide, do I make 2 for my girls or put 2 things of candy in each cup? Then who would get to have the joy of breaking the paper. Hmmm…

  • Gorgeous ideas! Thanks so much!

  • Great idea and it looks so wonderful. I usually hide it in the laundry room and dole it out once a day. Will see if that works this year or if we will have to get it out of the house. My will power is at a low point right now.

  • This is Janice from Meal Makeover Moms. As a dietitian, I love your creative ideas for letting kids eat some candy … but not too much. The Advent calendar is brilliant. Your paper mache idea is also another terrific one, though if I tried it, I suspect my bird would end up looking nothing like yours!

  • Oh! Such brilliance!
    I bow.

  • I love all of these ideas! You are seriously one of THE most creative women I “know”! I hope you’re still blogging all your great ideas in a couple of years when my little piglet is old enough to draw and paint and “help.”
    Thanks for ALL the great ideas!

  • MichelleB

    I love the harvest tree idea! I have all this leftover hershey kisses.
    Since My bff is about to have a baby and for the birthying gifts, her hubby is surprising her with a gorgeous diamond ring from And I could surpise her with a harvest tree full of hershey kisses and give that to her as my gift!
    The “birthing gift” idea was from the blog I read here:

  • love it! the advent idea is great, they all are! i’m still listening to the sound of candy-hyper boys in bed, so the ideas are super-appropriate 🙂 thanks!

  • I love the cup calendar. I might have to try and make one of those tomorrow to keep my kid out of her first trick-or-treat winnings…Why can’t she get this excited about salad? Wonderful pictures!

  • Niina

    The calendar is fantastic! I’ve decided to make one for my godchildren. Thanks for the great idea and a tute!

  • Thanks for the ideas! I love the advent idea.

  • Clever and fun- you’re the best. 🙂

  • Excellent ideas, all three, but I love the turkey the most. No Thanksgiving over here in Finland (wasn’t much of a Halloween either), but we Brits have turkey for Christmas so perhaps I can use the idea then. Fab!

  • Love, Love this!!! And so happy to have found your blog, it is my new best thing!!

  • These are all such great ideas but I love the turkey the best.

  • Awesome ideas. The first one could be an excellent advent calendar, too!!

  • That’s so cool! We used to use to only be allowed one candy a day – then early in Dec we used the Halloween candy to decorate a gingerbread house (which was really graham crackers and frosting).

  • That is so awesome and delightfully creative. Heck, I’d carry the advent calendar into December too, if there’s enough left over. The store bought ones aren’t as much fun as this one looks like it is.
    And all I use it for is to nibble on during my Christmas baking so I don’t eat all the cookies. This is so much better.

  • Day

    You’re a genius!

  • So fun. This reminds me of the old punching game on Price is Right! Who doesn’t love to punch and then eat candy?! Great idea.

  • Niki

    Aaaawwwww!! these are so so so sososososo sooooo cute! I’m making a candy advent calendar for my little cousins this year, thanks so much!

  • Oh my gosh…so cute! These are great ideas that I think even I might be able to do! Thanks for the ideas!

  • Brilliant x 30 days!

  • that is so great and I bet I can make it in time for Easter!!!

  • I love the candy advent idea! I’m definately going to be doing this with our kids! We have a load of the teensy cups from another craft project anyway, so that’s perfect! Thank you.

  • I love the Advent calendar for the candy! What a clever way not to eat it all yourself. I use my candy for goody bags for school and home parties, with 2 kids, that’s alot of parties.

  • Kristin Wolter

    I just found this site! I love it. Can not wait to see what you have in store for the next holidays.

  • We made the TURKEY and OMG! it was super fun. AND, not to mention a wonderful conversation piece when people come over. See

  • Thank you for the excellent calendar idea! I was inspired to use your creativity for my own oddball project: Hannukah advent calendar.
    Take a look, if you like:

  • I love your site.

  • Great idea 🙂
    What about advent calendars without sweets. I’m creating computer jigsaw advent calendars since three years:
    Have fun 🙂

  • We had to have a go at the advent calendar. Thank you for a lovely craft project. The kids think it’s great. Have a peek here…

  • hunter

    don’t think i’d like giving my child sweets every day of the month, maybe every saturday..

  • Marisa

    Stumbled you and thumbs up lady jane!!! Awesome projects. I plan on trying my hand at the turkey with my 6yo step son after Halloween!!! Thanks (oh and I LOVE LOVE LOVE your treat tree!!! I’m going to make one out of some old manzanita branch’s I’v had for a while!)

  • Genius! I love the November advent calendar!

  • Hi I’ve stumbled upon this page with great excitement!
    I’ve excess sweets from Halloween yesterday and was wondering when can I ever finish them.
    The calendar idea is awesome and I’m going to blog about it in my blog
    with credits to this site.
    Thank you for being so creative!!

  • I Love the ideas! We have way too much candy in our home!

  • Kristi

    Wow, I love these ideas! But…I just can’t imagine keeping all the candy around until it’s eaten! We keep enough to last about two weeks and throw the rest in the trash. Because soon the Christmas candy is going to start arriving…. 🙂

  • Sarah Ashley

    Awesome ideas! How creative!

  • What great ideas! I love the advent idea. We’ll have to do that one!

  • I love the advent calender idea! We are making our own as well, and your idea is way better than the recycled egg carton idea I had planned. It’s a great way to reinforce numbers and passing of days for home school!

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