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HOME & GARDEN ARTICLES

HALLOWEEN PARTY TIPS

FROM HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS, COSTUME PARTIES, TO SERVING HALLOWEEN TREATS AND PARTY FOOD ...


INVITATIONS


Pumpkin Photo Invitations
Paint the party details on a huge pumpkin (or line up three smaller ones, each bearing a different piece of the information, such as date, time, or place). Take a close-up photo of the "invitation" and send copies to guests in bright orange envelopes.



CREATING HALLOWEEN ATMOSPHERE OUTSIDE


This Halloween, don't settle for the usual Jack O' Lantern as your decorative display. Get in the spirit this haunted eve by creating a bewitching experience for the neighborhood goblins and ghouls. Creating a Halloween landscape is a great activity the whole family can enjoy.

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Pumpkin Hollow
WHAT YOU NEED:
• Serrated knife • Spoon (to scoop out the inner pumpkin flesh) • Colored markers • Rocks or flat stones (if you want a walkway) • Cotton balls & a toothpick (if you want a chimney)
Time needed: About 1 Hour

Step 1:
Using a serrated knife, carve a circle around the stem to create a roof complete with a chimney. Angle the knife tip toward the stem, cutting the outside wider than the inside -- this keeps the roof from falling into the pumpkin.
Step 2: Scoop out all the seeds and stringy inner flesh.
Step 3: Have your child use a washable marker to outline a door and windows. He can even draw a pet peering out of a window. Once his design is set, retrace it with a permanent marker.
Step 4: Cut out the window openings. This time, angle the blade away from the opening so that the carved pieces are narrower on the outside and can be pushed into the shell and removed.
Step 5: Carve slits along the top, bottom, and one side of the door for the candlelight to shine through. To create the effect of an open door, carve out a triangle at the top and bottom of the door and a narrow rectangle adjacent to the threshold, as pictured above.
Step 6: Top your pumpkin house with a smoking chimney, if desired, by pulling apart a cotton ball or the strands of a length of wool yarn and gluing the puff around the top of a toothpick. Then insert the bottom of the toothpick into the pumpkin stem.
Step 7: Stack flat rocks or stones for steps to the front door.
Step 8: Turn on the light -- a tea light or votive candle set inside the shell.



Create a Halloween Tree
Strings of lights aren't reserved for just December holidays, begin decorating your tree with lights. Next, add spooky accents by placing groups of Jack O' Lanterns, tombstones and cobwebs around the tree base.

Create Tombstones
To create tombstones, cut different sizes and shapes from cardboard or styrofoam. Spray the stone cutouts with a coat of Fleck-Stone spray paint, allow them to dry, then use acrylic paints to write sayings on the stones such as "R.I.P." or "Dracula lies here". For mood lighting around your Halloween creation, place a small candle in a Jack O' Lantern with a hole in the back. This will create a truly haunted feel. The flicker of the pumpkin light will cast spooky shadows sure to scare.

Monster Footprints
Create a path of Monster Footprints leading treaters to your door. Cut a large monster shaped footprint out of cardboard to use as a stamp. Be sure to flip over the footprint and cut a matching pattern for the opposite foot. Coat each stamp with washable paint and press along your sidewalk. Remember, the larger the space between steps, the larger your "make-believe" monster appears!

Add Some Fog Purchase dry ice and place in a bucket wherever you want extra haunting. Simply add 1-2 pounds of dry ice to every gallon of hot water. Consider using a crock-pot to keep the water warm throughout the evening. Show off the creepy fog with accent lights shining from the ground.

Ghostly Guests Have bobbing ghosts haunt your yard! Cover a helium balloon with a sheet, draw a ghost like face and tie off at the neck. Secure the balloon string to a support (perhaps a rock or tree-branch) and let the ghostly activities begin.

Halloween Candles
Make an artistic front-porch pumpkin display. Hollow out pumpkins of various shapes, sizes, and colors. Drill small holes in them to create spiral or bull's-eye designs. Add votive candles and arrange in a cluster near the door.

Scary Sounds
Hide a boom box on the front porch to play scary Halloween sound effects or horror movie music as the guests arrive.



CREATING HALLOWEEN ATMOSPHERE INSIDE


Light Effects
Cut out bat, ghost, or pumpkin shapes from black construction paper. Tape cutouts to the inside of light-colored lampshades for an eerie shadow effect. Replace the light bulbs with orange ones (available at most hardware stores).


Clip-On Bats
If your belfry is feeling a bit bare this Halloween, scare up a swarm of clip-on bats.
WHAT YOU NEED:
• Craft paper • Scissors • Glue • Pinch-style clothespins Time needed: Under 1 Hour

Step 1: For each bat, cut an extended-wings shape from black craft paper.
Step 2: Next, cut out an oblong body with pointed ears and feet, and glue it onto the wings. Step 3: Add round, beady eyes cut from yellow or red paper. Then glue a clothespin to the back of the bat, and it's ready to hang on a curtain, clip to your shirt, a chair etc.

Spooky Buffet
String fishing wire over the buffet table and hang orange paper lanterns. Scatter Halloween confetti over the tablecloth.

Sizzling Fireplace Clear out your fireplace and fill with orange and black pillar candles in various shapes and sizes.



HALLOWEEN ROOM PARTY THEMES

Consider ages have a room for smaller children --one child's thrilling haunted house is another's chilling nightmare. If you will be hosting a mix of ages (adult to toddlers), be sure to set up the scariest events out of sight of the main party. A mad scientist's lab, for example, can be set up in a spare room so that younger kids can pass on the pleasure of watching others touch "brains" (cold spaghetti), strobe lights, etc.



HALLOWEEN PARTY FOODS


If your party is in lieu of trick-or-treating, you can be more liberal with the sweets, but you still want to get something in your guests' stomachs besides candy. Scary-face pizza , sandwiches (worms on a bun) and tomato soup (with goop)--all easy and irresistible--are standouts.

Scary-face Pizza
You can make these pizza faces in advance and serve them hot, or present each child with a plain pizza and vegetable add-ons so he can create his own masterpiece. Then all you have to do is bake. For a party, multiply this single-serving recipe by the number of guests you are expecting.

Pizza Ingredients:
1 pita pocket round, 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, 1 tsp. grated Parmesan
Topping Options:
Zucchini, cut in small rounds, Onions, green or white, chopped or cut crosswise, Mushroons, sliced, Green and black olives, Red and green peppers, sliced in curves, Fresh or sun-dried tomatoes, chopped or sliced, Pepperoni slices
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position the pita, hole-side facing up, and prick it with a fork. Spread the olive oil evenly across the top and sprinkle with both cheeses. Choose from the topping ingredients to make the pizzas yourself or present your guests with bowls of the toppings as options so they can make their own. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the bread begins to get crispy.


Worms on a Bun
Try this Halloween twist--or should we say wiggle?--on the traditional hot dog and bun.
Ingredients:
Hot dogs, Hamburger rolls, Ketchup

Directions:
Cut the hot dogs into thin slices and score the edges (about three cuts per slice). Boil or microwave until the slices curl like wiggly worms. Serve three or four worms to a bun. For an extra-icky touch, add a few squiggles of ketchup and serve with Putrid Punch.


Putrid Punch
When your crowd gets thirsty this Halloween, serve them the special of the haunted house--putrid punch.
INGREDIENTS:
1 13-oz. package lemon-lime Kool-Aid, 1 cup sugar, 8 cups water, 1 can frozen orange juice concentrate, 4 cups ginger ale, Worm cubes (ice cubes with gummy worms frozen inside), 3 scoops orange sherbert
This sick-colored punch looks disgusting but tastes divine. Empty the Kool-Aid package into a punch bowl. Add the sugar, then the water and stir until dissolved. Stir in the orange juice. Just before serving, add the ginger ale and worm cubes and float the scoops of sherbert on top. Before long, the punch will be green and infested with worms. Serves 14. A perfect drink to compliment Worms on a Bun.
PARTY TIP: Be sure to freeze your worm cubes before the party.


Witches Brew Tomatoe Soup
This creamy concoction with melted blobs of cheese probably isn't helping the already iffy image of a blood-like soup, but it goes over big at Halloween. The soup has to be quite hot to make the cheese melt, so let it cool a little or issue warnings before serving.

Ingredients:
One 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes or 4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped 1 celery stalk chopped, 1/2 large onion chopped, 1 garlic clove diced, 1 tbsp. chopped parsley, 2 tbsp. butter, 1 tbsp. sugar, 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. seasoned salt, 1/2 tsp. white pepper, 2 5-oz packages mozzarella string cheese room temperature, 1 12- to 14-oz package chunk mozzarella room temperature, 3 1/2 cups milk, 1 cup cream, Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
Puree the tomatoes, celery, onion, garlic, and parsley in a food processor or blender until smooth and transfer to a large, nonreactive soup pot. Stir in the butter, sugar, flour, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil. Lower heat. Set out warm bowls and portion out one chunk of mozzarella and one string torn into strips for each bowl. A few minutes before serving, pour the milk and cream into the pot and stir thoroughly. Cook briefly on medium heat but don't boil, or the milk and cream will separate. When the soup is steaming, ladle it into the bowls. Each diner can lift the goop to the surface, play with the blob and the strings, and eat them, too. Before the cheese stage, the soup can be prepared in advance, refrigerated and reheated. Serves 8.


Serve black bean soup in small hollowed-out pumpkins. Use a pastry bag to top each bowl with a ghost-shaped dollop of sour cream just before serving.

Don't just carve and decorate pumpkins - eat them! They're delicious in recipes like Pumpkin Gratin and Roasted Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Salad.



HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS


Pumpkin Decorations
Make a graveyard cake for dessert. Cut sugar cookie dough into tombstone shapes and bake. Use icing to write R.I.P. on the cooled cookies and personalize them with guests' names. Stick the tombstones into a chocolate cake to resemble a graveyard.



HALLOWEEN PARTY GAMES


Plan more events than you think you need (and plan for bad weather, too). In addition to major games such as Zombie Tag and Slime Pit, prepare easy backups: bobbing for apples, painting glow-in-the-dark murals, or marching in a costume parade. Zombie Tag
This game involves the ultimate "It"--a hideous, groaning zombie whose goal is to clutch...er, tag...his victims.
How to play: Step 1: Outside, rope off a circular area, or lay down some sweatshirts in a circle, and be prepared to yell "out-of-bounds!" to your blindfolded zombie. Make sure it's a trip-proof playing area. Inside, you can play in a large rec room.
Step 2: This game follows the classic rules of Marco Polo. "It" wears the rubber mask (with blindfold) and hands. Everyone has to stay within the circle while he wanders around with his arms stretched out in front, zombie style (this also keeps him from crashing). When "It" groans, all the players must groan back and extend their arms. This is how the zombie zeroes in on his victims. When a player gets tagged, she becomes the next "It" and gets to wear the mask. Remember to not make the mask too scary if playing with little children.


Glow-in-the-Dark Murals
Inspire appalling art with this fluorescent on-the-wall Halloween mural.
WHAT YOU NEED:
• Black lights or bulbs • White paint • Fluorescent paints • Paintbrushes • Large piece of brown paper • Newspaper
Step 1: Hang a large sheet of plain brown paper (or, for an even more dramatic effect, spray-paint the paper black) and line the floor with newspaper to catch any drips.
Step 2: To help inspire your artists, you may want to begin the mural ahead of time by outlining a haunted house, pumpkins and other Halloween symbols.
Step 3: Once the kids set to work, they will find that the black lights' eerie glow makes painting a real thrill. The resulting creation, hung next to a black lightbulb in your main party room or on the front porch, adds a fun touch to your haunted house decor.


Slime Pit Relay
On your mark, get set, goo! Kids will like making this shape-shifting slime (it transforms from a solid to a liquid right in your hand) nearly as much as using it in place of a baton for a relay race.
How to play:
Step 1: Prepare the slime by mixing one part water (tinted with a few drops of food coloring) to four parts cornstarch. If you dare, invite the guests to help you make it. Begin by rolling the ingredients around in a bucket; you'll find it easier than stirring the stuff. The slime is ready when it looks like a liquid but has a thick, smooth consistency that changes to ooze when touched. You might have to mix it with your hands for a minute before it's just right (you'll have plenty of volunteers for that assignment) or add a little water if it's too dry. It's best to try out a small batch before the party so you can see how it works and estimate how much you'll need. Pour the slime into a cauldron (a bucket or bowl) for each team. You'll need two additional empty bowls for each team, as well.
Step 2: Definitely an outside game or one for foolhardy parents without wall-to-wall carpeting. Put the cauldron of slime for each team at one end of a yard and the empty bowl for each team at the other. We found 20 feet to be a nice run; the point isn't the distance but hanging on to the slime.
Step 3: The kids form a line behind their team's cauldron of slime. On "Go!" one player after another (in relay style) runs with a sloppy handful of slime to fill the empty bowl. The first team to fill its cauldron wins.
Variations:
Bucket brigade--team members pass the slime from hand to hand to fill their bowl--the game inevitably starts with passing and progresses to hurling.
Tips:
Prizes for each member of the winning team can be a box of cornstarch, some food coloring and a recipe card for slime. There's no neat way to play with slime. Kids should wear old clothes or smocks--the food coloring can stain. The slime hardens to a powdery substance if it sits more than half an hour. To clean the lawn, we drenched it with a hose, and the hard slime dissolved into the ground, leaving the grass unscathed. (Just to be safe, test beforehand whatever surface you will be using for ease of cleanup.)


Monster Mash
Make a tape or CD of spooky songs (think "Thriller", "Werewolves of London", or "Bad Moon Rising") and do the monster mash.



HALLOWEEN COSTUME CONTESTS & MORE


Ask everyone to bring a carved pumpkin to the party (B.Y.O.P.). Set up a special table to display them (this will also enhance your party dιcor!) and provide paper and pens so guests can vote for their favorites. (Use a plastic jack-o-lantern as a ballot box.) At the end of the night, count the votes and award a sack of Halloween treats to the winner.


Have a "Last-Minute Costume Contest". On the invitations, instruct guests NOT to think about their Halloween disguises in advance. One hour before the party begins, guests must throw together costumes using whatever they can find around their homes. (The key is to think creatively. Why not come as your teenage son, a made-up superhero, or the Avon Lady?) Give a bottle of champagne to the guest who comes up with the best last-minute costume.