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By Lori Nawyn
Ever since our children were young, Halloween at our house has been a grand event. My kids love to scare Trick-or-Treaters, and even my husband and some of the neighbors get into the act. With a big “back stage crew” there’s lots of fun to have and lots of mouths to feed. Here are a few quick and easy tips for fast decorating with stuff you’ve got around the house, plus recipes to feed even the pickiest of ghouls!
* Scary Lighting – Got a few bulbs burned out on an old string of Christmas lights? On Halloween it doesn’t matter! String up the lights at haphazard angles around your porch or in trees and bushes.
* Broom Ride Anyone? – Spray paint the handle of an old broom black. Spray on a little glitter and add a creepy orange or black bow. If you have old boots or shoes with pointy toes, spray those black as well. Put the broom outside, next to the front door, and hang a witch’s hat from one of the kids old costumes on the top of the broom handle. Arrange the shoes near the bottom of the broom and presto — bewitching décor!
* Headstones – Before Halloween, save or locate old appliance boxes. Cut the panels into headstone shapes and spray paint black or grey. Have the artist in your family letter them, i.e., “Here’s lies Lester Moore, shot 4 times with a 44. No Les, no more!”
* Spooky Fog – Use an old electric frying pan, set it on low, and add some water and dry ice to create a spooky fog that will waft across your porch. Make sure an adult monitors the pan to ensure the water doesn’t run out and children don’t get burned.
* Tree Ghosts – if you’ve got a few old white sheets to spare, some basketballs or volleyballs, duct tape, and a length of cord you can easily create tree ghosts. Find the middle of the sheet and cut a small (about ½” diameter hole). Tie a knot in one end of the cord. Tape the cord securely to the top of the ball with duct tape, running at least one length of tape around the ball to help hold the weight of the sheet. Run the cord through the hole in the sheet and securely tie the free end to a tree branch. When the wind blows, the sheet will billow like a floating ghost! Add eyes and mouth to your ghost with black craft paint.
* The Leaves are Alive! – Leaves – if you’ve got ’em use ’em! Scatter leaves from your lawn over your porch or sidewalk to help with your haunted house look. Make a huge pile of leaves for one of your crew to hide in. They’ll have great fun emerging from the pile when trick-or-treaters come past!
* Flickering Candles – Most dollar stores now carry tea-light size battery operated candles. Put them on top of your existing candles for an eerie flicker without real flames or scatter them on your windowsills.
* Punch with a Punch – Fill a large punch bowl with apple cider or your favorite Halloween punch and float a hand in the bowl! You’ll need a sterile surgical glove. First, rinse the inside well, fill with water, and tie a knot in the open end of the glove. Freeze. Float in the bowl for a scary touch sure to delight your guests.
* Chilling Drinks – Fill ice cube trays with orange Kool-aid. Freeze, add to glasses, and fill with lemon-lime soda.
*Halloween Floats – Put scoops of pumpkin ice cream in glasses and add lemon-lime soda or add orange soda to scoops of orange sherbet.
* Witch Fingers – Take long pretzels rods and drizzle with melted white chocolate tinted orange, green, or black. Sprinkle with coconut or Halloween colored candies.
*Deviled Eyeballs – Make your favorite deviled egg recipe but color the filling with red, green, or orange food coloring!
*Creepy Jell-O – Pour orange, green, or red Jell-O into a gelatin mold. When the Jell-O is partially set, add a handful of plastic spiders. If you’ve got small children, be sure not to serve them until after extracting the spiders!
* Pumpkin Dinner – First, cut the top of the pumpkin like you would a Jack-O-Lantern. Remove top, scrape the seeds out of the pumpkin, then butter the inside. Cook the rice according to package directions. Stir in a can or two (depending on the size of the pumpkin and amount of rice) of Cream of Mushroom soup, a can of sliced mushrooms, and a cup of slivered almonds. You can also add browned ground beef or cooked pork sausage, and water chestnuts. Fill the pumpkin, leaving about 1 inch air space. Replace the top and put the pumpkin on a baking sheet. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or until the pumpkin is tender. Serve the rice alongside pieces of cooked pumpkin that you scrape from the inside of the pumpkin shell.
- Odds and Ends – If Halloween eve is rainy, I put down a couple of towels by the front door for our many visitors to wipe their feet on.
- Small, child sized pumpkins are a great treat for kids who can’t have sweets.
- If we run out of food, we order take-out pizzas for last minute guests and we always have a scary video going in the family room for those who need a rest from the excitement. Our favorite: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken with Don Knotts!