Reviewed and Updated Nov. 1, 2019
There are two things that scare me the most each Halloween.
The first one is that we'll run out of candy. That happened one year and hiding in the dark in my own house while young ghouls and goblins kept ringing our doorbell broke my heart.
Just as scary is having too much candy on hand. I already gain a couple of pounds in late October every year in the run-up to the spookiest holiday. No judging please. I used to work for a major food company and know the importance of product quality control testing before going wide in the mass consumer market!
This year, we're dealing with the second Halloween horror. I guess a lot of our neighborhood's youngsters are like me and the unseasonably cold weather prompted them to trade door-to-door trick-or-treating for totally indoor Halloween celebrations.
Whatever the reason, we have a lot of leftover Halloween candy.
So what to do with the surplus sweets?
Here are some ways to pass along the goodies to groups that would appreciate it and not worry about their waistlines!
And your sweet gift might even help you cut your tax bill a bit.
1. Share with the military: There are few better beneficiaries of excess Halloween treats than the men and women who have difficult and too often legitimately scary jobs as members of our armed forces.
Operation Gratitude, a national nonprofit that sends thousands of care packages to U.S. service members deployed overseas, includes candy in every parcel. Care packages — and candy! — also go to first responders, veterans, new recruits, wounded military members and their caregivers and the children of deployed service personnel.
You can drop off your excess Halloween candy at participating locations in your area. Operation Gratitude's collection map can helps you find one. I'm delighted to see there are six in the Austin area.
Or you can send your candy directly to the nonprofit. First fill out and submit an online donation form. You'll get an email confirming your donation along with shipping instructions and a printable barcode to include in your package.
Then ship your candy no later than Nov. 8 to:
Attn: Halloween Candy Program
21100 Lassen Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311-4278
2. Extend Halloween to hospitals: Children who can't participate in the season's tricks still should get some treats. Check with your local hospital. Its children's ward might like to have some extra sweets that can go to the kids and their families who are unable to go door-to-door this year. They might even share with other hospitalized kids of all ages.
The treats also might be welcome at your area's Ronald McDonald House, where the families of children who are being treated at nearby hospitals and medical facilities stay.
3. Feed sweet cravings: Groups that help folks get the food they need also might welcome the extra treats. Nutritional meals are important, but everyone deserves a sweet or two! Check with your local food pantry, soup kitchen and food delivery programs for shut-ins about possible Halloween candy donations.
4. Donate to the displaced: Also touch base with your local homeless shelter and facilities that house victims of domestic abuse, who often are women and their children, to see if they accept Halloween candy. Your religious group of choice also might have ways to put the extra sweets to good use.
Tax treat for you: If you give to any of these groups, chances are your sweet donation could be tax deductible.
As long as the recipient is a qualified charity, which you can confirm by checking the Internal Revenue Service's online tax-exempt organization search tool, you can claim the value of the donated edibles at tax-filing time as an itemized deduction.
If you do that, just make sure you get a receipt. You don't need it to file, but you will if the IRS has questions about your return and hauntingly sweet donation later.
Also note the reference a couple paragraphs earlier about itemizing. Given that the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has almost doubled the standard deduction amounts for taxpayers, most of us won't be filing Schedule A deductible expenses with our Form 1040.
That means you won't get any tax benefit from your Halloween largesse.
But I know most folks don't donate anything just for tax reasons. They do so because they want to help. That applies to your gifts of goodies, which will give you the personal satisfaction, even without a tax break, of helping others enjoy this spooky holiday.
Plus, you'll save yourself from eating way too many Baby Ruth and Snickers candy bars!