The 4 big candy-centric holidays – Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s and Easter – tend to cause me a bit of stress. Good Heavens, we don’t need THAT much candy in our house, but how do we say no to it without being difficult? Gads. So, we accept it and deal with it later. But, how exactly do we “deal” with it?

Each child has a container to put their candy in. These containers spend their days as decoration on our buffet. Since they have lids, we don’t have to actually see the candy; at least, until they start overflowing.

Occasionally one of the adults in the house will paw through the candy containers and get rid of some pieces. I get rid of the candy by utilizing our garbage, while the other adult uses a combination of garbage and their own gullet for disposal purposes. The candy culling usually happens in earnest right before a holiday (wow – that candy leftover from 3 or 4 holidays ago can probably disappear without anyone noticing) and right after a holiday (wow – that is a crap-load of candy!). Multiples of a type of candy, candy that I don’t like and candy seems way too lab-created are my first selections for the culling.

Yes, our kids do get to eat their candy, just not in a free-for-all fashion. They request a sweet, we tell them how much. While one child would probably eat as much as possible in one sitting if allowed (and we would all have to deal with those repercussions!), the other one has this weird innate ability to know how to limit sugar. It is a very odd trait, and was probably not passed on from my gene pool.

These methods have worked for many years, but our new way to get rid of the candy is my favorite, and I am upset with myself for not thinking of it sooner. It is fun, creative, and can take a lot of time away from things like screens and whining. And that way is – drum roll – MAKE A GINGERBREAD HOUSE!!!

Seriously, this was genius!  Even better, the project does not have to be complicated. I took the inspiration from an activity that my children did in preschool and Kindergarten. Those projects used single-use milk cartons for the base, and required parents bringing in donations of graham crackers, frosting and new candy. Our case just required me remembering to buy the most inexpensive grahams and vanilla frosting I could find.


  • Box of most inexpensive graham crackers you can find. Actually, you could use any kind cheap crackers. Hmmm…now that I think about it, you maybe don’t need crackers at all! We will call those optional.
  • Cardboard or Styrofoam structure(s) of some sort. This can be a cereal box, milk carton, shoe box, food takeout container, whatever. In my book, something that you wouldn’t have been able to recycle would be best, but you do you. Use multiple containers to make a village!  Base the size of this on your knowledge of your child’s patience – it can take a bit of time to cover the box, and if you have a cracker base you will be covering the space twice.
  • Frosting – we got vanilla from a tub. Buy it or make your own, just make sure that it will harden like a glue (a quality I liked about the cheap store-bought kind).
  • Candy, preferably stuff that was given, not stuff you went out and bought. I like the “recyclable” aspect of using stuff I don’t want my kids to actually ingest, but, again, you do you.  We found it easier to have at least some of the candy opened before they started.
  • Cookie sheet or similar for each person/structure/village. This helps keep the mess contained.
  • Butter or plastic knife for applying the glue


Now, let them go for it!

This is a great project to let their imaginations go wild.  There is a great feeling of freedom for kids to know that they can do whatever they want, without being corrected.  Sure, it could be a family or group project, but maybe let everyone have a side of their own – this is meant to be a memory rather than an heirloom-quality masterpiece.  Besides, the fewer boundaries the more candy will be used.  Speaking from experience.


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