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Five Alternative Uses for Candy Canes

During the holiday season I am always inundated with candy canes. Friends, family and co-workers offer them as snacks, affix them to presents and, in the case of my mother, send them to me in the mail.

I can't possibly consume this stockpile, and nor do I wish to, as I always lose interest in the candy's artificial mint flavor a few licks in. So, I resort to these five alternative uses:

5. Ornaments. After purchasing gifts for everyone near and dear to me (plus a few annoying folks I need to impress for professional purposes), I'm usually too broke to buy fancy decorations. Candy canes fit nicely on the branches and add some festive color to the tree.

4. Garnish For Baked Goods. Most candy canes break before you can eat them anyway. Expedite the process and crush them outright to use as toppings for frosted cookies, chocolate bark, and sundaes.

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3. Stocking Hooks. Sure, you could buy these. Or, invert those extra candy canes (those obnoxious extra-thick ones work best) and tape them to the wall or mantle for some handy stocking hooks.

2. Drink Stirrers. Skip the spoon and clamp onto a cane next time you need to stir a steaming beverage. Your hot cocoa (or hot toddy) will be that much more relaxing with a twist of peppermint.

1. Weapons. Yes, the holidays are about peace on earth and good will toward men, but sometimes that can only be achieved via a few well-placed jabs. Suck the straight end of a candy cane until just until it's sharp and have at that pushy shopper who stole the last Zhu Zhu.

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