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What to do with leftover candy?

If there's one thing worse than running out of candy on Halloween, it's having too much when it's over.

It's bad for your kids' health, their teeth and the teachers who have to calm down candy-crazed kids.

That's the word from Phillip Done, author of "Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind: Thoughts on Teacherhood" (Center Street, $22.99) released in September. A 25-year teaching veteran, his favorite solution for handling the candy loot is the Candy Fairy - which he heard about from his room moms a couple of years ago.

"The Candy Fairy is similar to the Tooth Fairy," he explains. "Instead of taking teeth, she takes Halloween candy and gives it to all the children who cannot go out trick-or-treating. Children leave out most of their candy and write a letter. The Candy Fairy visits at night and leaves a gift."

His other favorite suggestions: bake with it ("then bring them in for the teacher"), create with it ("candy wreaths, pinatas, candy garlands for the Christmas tree") and buy it back ("parents can buy back candy and then match funds to give the money to charities").

You can also bring excess candy to your office, keep it in a "treat box" as an incentive or use (hard) candy to make a gingerbread house for Christmas. Skittles make great rooftops.

WHO WANTS CANDY?

Have children send some of their candy to Operation Gratitude for soldiers.

Operation Gratitude accepts candy for American troops, who use it both for themselves and to give out to the children in communities they patrol, according to Carolyn Blashek with Operation Gratitude. All types of candy are acceptable, including chocolate this time of year. Ship candy by Dec. 5 to Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard, 17330 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys, CA 91406, Attn: Charlie Othold. Details: OperationGratitude.com.

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