Put M&M candies letter side up in a small cup or bowl and gently cover them with warm water. Wait a few moments and the letter will float to the top!. (Photo by Leslie Milby)

Whether it’s a normal Trick-or-Treat this year, a socially-distanced party or a special family night in the home, sweet treats will still be the main attraction for many families on Halloween.
Sure, your child could eat the entire pile in two minutes or you could keep the other varieties they refuse to eat for the foreseeable future, but in the case of candy, it’s way more fun to play with your food!
Rather than gobble it up, there are lots of other things you can bake or make.
Just because you don’t need candy now doesn’t mean you won’t down the road. If you can resist their siren calls, set aside your M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, and other small chocolates to make cookies, brownies, trifles and other treats later. Most chocolate candies are very versatile in recipes, though caramels can melt and burn if near the edge or bottom of cookies so consider saving Twix, Rolos and the like for thicker goods or no-bake projects.
To keep the spooky spirit alive the rest of Halloween weekend, chop up and sprinkle some of your favorite varieties on some melted chocolate and let harden. Add some googly eye balls and you have spooky Halloween bark
Into camping? Set some Reese’s Cups aside for a new s’mores combination. With holiday gingerbread houses and cookie decorating right around the corner, save some fun looking pieces for those occasions. From make-your-own ice cream sundae to movie night, squirrel away your stash in your pantry so you’ll be ready.
Done with sweets for a while? Unwrap, put in a freezer bag and chill until the baking mood strikes. For any of those coveted king size bars, cut them up into bakeable pieces now if you plan on freezing, otherwise they’ll be harder to cut evenly.
Besides the obvious of eating candy Now and Later (pun intended,) there’s lots of fun projects to do.
Candy is purposefully made in fun and attractive colors and textures that you can enjoy without taking a single nibble. Create an abstract art piece using Twizzlers to form shapes or small round Sweet Tarts or Smarties to form patterns and designs. Cardstock or cardboard is a good option to help with the weight and hang up the masterpiece for a little while. For smaller children, create a shape such as a simple heart or circle for them to fill. You could also write their initial or name and have them fill over the lines with candy. Challenge them to make a rainbow and see if they can come up with different colors through candy.
Older kids can go crazy creating their own scenes from people to landscape or even write a Mad Lib using wrapped candy about “Snickering” about somebody’s “Butterfinger.”
There are also a few quick and easy experiments to try out.
Skittles Paint
Candy paint might be more fun than eating the candy. Skittles are the most popular candy for this but you could also experiment with Gobstoppers or other colorfully coated candy if you have plenty of it. Have your kids separate the candies into containers according to color and then pour water until just over the top each color and stir with a paint brush. About six “Fun Size” Skittles bags should be more than enough. After that, paint as you would with watercolor.
Grow Gummies
Worms, bears or rings will work for this gummy experiment. Pour liquids — water, sugar water, salt water, milk, vinegar and others — in different cups and drop in a gummy. Let sit for a few hours and watch what happens. Salt water will cause them to shrink while regular water will cause them to grow. Research the science behind it for a fun learning lesson.
Floating M’s
Did you know that the “m” on M&Ms is made of edible paper? So is the “S” on Skittles! This experiment is also super easy. Simply put candies letter-side-up in a small cup or bowl and gently cover them with warm water. Wait a few moments and the letter will float to the top!
Running Rainbows
Another experiment with M&Ms, Skittles or Sweet Tarts is to create “running rainbows.” To create a rainbow, take a plate with a slightly angled lip and line your candies around the edge. Lightly pour water in the middle of the plate until it touches the bottom rim of candy and wait for the colors to start to run to the center.
Pop Rock Balloons
Pop Rocks and Nerds are bound to be in your stash and are perfect for a cheap thrill explosion. Funnel the candy into an empty balloon and wrap around the mouth of a soda bottle. (Use about one Pop Rock packet or two fun size boxes or two tablespoons of Nerds) When you are ready, have the kids pour the candy from the balloon into the soda and watch the balloon inflate.
Too much candy can be a fun problem to have. If you’ve tried a few of these methods and still have too much, there are several programs to send it to our troops, donate to nursing homes and the like.
With possible COVID-19 limitations, call ahead to make sure your favorite program will be operating this year!
Now you can say, “Trick or Treat, give me something good to — experiment with!”