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1) Save candy for gingerbread house decorating.

Decorating gingerbread houses for the winter holidays (or even for Halloween) is a lovely family tradition. It’s made even lovelier if you don’t have to go out and buy the candy decorations. Set aside some of your child’s stash with the promise that it will be going to a fun, visual group activity.

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2) Make candy into a collage or mosaic

The colors of candy are so vivid and fun. Unwrap a bunch of items in your child’s load of loot and have them create a picture with the different types. Show them examples of famous mosaics or find some ambitious candy mosaics online. It’s also fun for kids to create different patterns, shapes, and faces. Tots can also practice counting and grouping with the candy.

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3) Make science experiments with candy.

There are dozens of sites devoted to experiments involving candy, and most of them are super easy. Fill a bowl with warm water. Add Skittles or M&Ms. The candy shells will dissolve and the letters will float to the top since they are printed with an edible ink that does not dissolve in water. Experiment with other candies that have lettering. Check out this site for more ideas using different types of candy.

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4) Use candy as building materials.

Get creative with your building materials. Kit Kats can become wooden logs or beams, and colorful candies can serve as decorations or gardens. Challenge kids to make the tallest or sturdiest structure.

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5) Trade in candy for one decadent treat.

Most kids have a sweet tooth, but luckily their affections can often be swayed or traded. In return for giving you their candy (or a large portion of it), offer them a trade-in. It’s wonderful if they can pick a board or card game or some other small gift, but if only a sweet treat will do, make a yummy homemade vegan treat. Their sweet tooth will be satisfied (in a healthier, less refined sugar-tastic way)! Click the link below to access the recipe to the delicious dessert in the photo above!

HOW TO: Make Scrumptious, Mini, Vegan and GF Banana Chocolate Cream Pies

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6) Spread out the sweetness.

If you aren’t opposed to a little artificial sweetness in your child’s life, stash away the candy in a place where the kids won’t be reminded of it all the time: the freezer. From there you can parcel it out throughout the year — a little something every once in a while. You can add candy to an otherwise healthy trail mix, bake a few pieces into cookies for a bake sale, or make homemade Blizzard-type treats with vegan, naturally sweetened ice cream or frozen yogurt.

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Image © Sean Locke Photography via Shutterstock

7. Pass Along the Candy (and a Smile) To Others

Numerous organizations send care packages overseas to soldiers and their families living abroad. Whether you use Operation Gratitude, Any Soldier, or any of the other worthy organizations created to support our troops, let your kids know that they are passing the holiday spirit on to people far away from the festivities.

RELATED | HOW TO: Find a Halloween Candy Buy-Back Program

Lead image © Brent Hofacker via Shutterstock