Food, Decor & Costumes
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Monster Face Pizzas
Spider Web Dip
Pumpkin Cheese Ball
Jack O'Lantern Oranges
Chocolate Witch and Wizard Hats
Gruesome Presentation Ideas
Wizard Themed Recipes
Appliance Box Castle
Paper Bag Lanterns
Ghost in the Window
Quick CostumesCloset Costumes
Paper Bag Princess
Bag of Jellybeans
Monster Face PizzasMake your own monster face pizzas: use a pita as the crusts and supply sauce, grated cheeses, and assorted toppings--we like to add interest with raw hulled pumpkin seeds (make great warts and/or boogers), pine nuts (teeth), raisins (warts, spots, flies etc.), sundried tomatoes (make great monster lips), sprouts or shredded sweet peppers make great hair, broccoli (hair or noses), stuffed green olives (eyes), plus all the regular stuff.
Spider Web DipLayer refried beans, salsa and guacamole on a large shallow pan so that each layer shows. It will look unappealing! Use sour cream or thick yogurt to create a spider web on top (beneath the web is what we call "monster mush"). Supply red or blue corn chips and fresh veggies for dipping.
Pumpkin Cheese BallIngredients:
1 package cream cheese, softened
2 cups grated old cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup finely grated carrot
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 drops hot pepper sauce or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coating: finely crushed orange cheese crackers (be sure to use those without shortening or hydrogenated oils)
Garnish: a broccoli stem
Combine the cheeses, onion, carrot and pepper until well mixed and form into a ball. Roll the ball in the crumbs then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate over night. Before serving, use a large spoon to make a slight indent in the top and add the broccoli stem. Use a butter knife or the edge of a small spoon to score the sides to look like a pumpkin.
"Rotten" ApplesCore an apple for each person leaving 1/2" intact at the base. Fill with boysenberry or other dark jam and 1 tsp. butter. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until soft but not yet mushy. Let cool 10 minutes, then serve with a gummy worm or two coming out the top.
Booger SticksPrepare a mixture of equal parts cream cheese and process cheese spread. Stir in a drop or two of green food colouring and/or pureed spinach. Serve with stick pretzels and/or thin breadsticks for dipping.
Jack O'Lantern Orange:Wash an orange (thicker skinned oranges are best for this one), then use a pencil to lightly trace the face you wish to carve. Use a plastic knife to cut away the orange part, leaving the white part of the skin in place. Depending on the texture of your orange, this may be a bit tough for smaller children. A vegetable peeler or paring knife (adults only!) may be needed. If you wish you can scoop it out and eat the pulp by cutting off the top of the orange.
Witch and Wizard HatsOn a Belgian chocolate wafer (round one) place a large dot of orange icing and top with a Hershey's kiss (works with small chocolate covered cookies as well).
Potion PunchUse two bowls; in the bottom one fill with dry ice and water, the one on top holds the punch.
Mix equal parts cranberry juice or cranberry grape juice and gingerale. Add fly infested ice cubes (use raisins or plastic flies--but warn the guests if you use the plastic flies).
More Gruesome Food IdeasTry serving old favourites in an unusual way. Serve spaghetti in a carved jack'o lantern (looks like brains), or guacamole or refried beans in a puddle on a plate with a clean naked baby doll sitting in it.
Cheese strings can be carved to look like fingers--add a piece of red pepper stuck on with cream cheese for a finger nail.
Yellow or orange gelatin with toy insects or spiders in it looks like amber--but be sure to warn your guests not to eat the plastic toys!
MusicThere is nothing like music to create ambience. You can find sound effects CDs at many stores or your local library. For suspenseful music, try out soundtracks to the latest horror movies, or old classics like Jaws, Harry Potter, Scooby Doo, Ghostbusters etc..
If songs are more your cup of tea, consider some of these standards: The Adamms Family, Twilight Zone theme, Thriller, Werewolf in London, Phantom of the Opera, The Man With the Weird Beard, The Monster Mash, Purple People Eater, and The Skeleton Rattled His Bones. Tom Chapin also has a couple of fun songs--The Ghost of Bleak House and Goosetown Halloween.
Body OutlineDecide where you want your body outline, then have a willing person lie down in that area. Arrange their arms and legs dramatically to reflect the sort of death you wish to portray. Use white sidewalk chalk and draw and outline around his or her body. Some caution tape around the area adds to the effect.
Paper Bag LanternsYou will need:
paper lunch bags
1-2 cups of sand per bag
tealight candles, one per bag; or battery operated tealights if it is windy
Add a scoop of sand to a paper bag, then place a votive candle inside and light. Be sure to keep them out of any shortcut or direct path that the trick or treaters might take.
Bone WindchimesFor this activity, you will need to collect poultry bones ahead of time. If you don't eat meat, try asking for bones at your local grocer or from your neighbours (they may look at you a little strangely with this request!).
Wash the bones well, boil them then let them dry for a day or two. Once dry, drill a small hole through the top of each. Thread a length fishing line or thin beading line through each hole and tie securly. Tie the other end to a rough stick or larger bone so that the dangling bones can bump together. You may find it useful to cut a tiny notch in the top of the hanging stick or bone for each tied line to help keep them in place. Make a wire or fishing line hanger for the hanging stick by fastening one side to each end of the hanging stick. Hang from a tree branch and enjoy.
Black LightBlack light is ultraviolet light. You can get blacklights in flourescent and incandescent bulbs that fit into regular light fixtures, and you can also get flourescent blacklight tubes. The incandescent bulbs tend to provide less of a blacklight effect than the flourescent alternatives. You can find these at party and novelty shops, as well as some hardware stores.
Warning: Never look directly into a black light as this is a concentrated UV source that can cause permanent eye damage. Always point the light source at the decorations and not directly at people or animals.
Things that will glow in black light:
For a black light dinner use a white tablecloth and replace your room lightbulbs with black compact flourescent lights. Add a little dry ice to your punch bowl (it will sink, so just be sure for safety reasons to tell your guests to scoop from the top, or put the dry ice in a tray of water arount the punch bowl). Paint the outside glass of an old picture with clear blacklight reactive paint so it looks like slime, dripping blood, etc. or write a Halloween message on it. Add a few "blood" drips to the tablecloth. You can make cheesecloth ghosts to hang around the room, and they will glow if you first soak the cheesecloth in liquid phosphate laundry detergent (look for a brand that promises to whiten your clothes). Some kinds of artificial spider webs also show up well under black light.
Serve foods that glow, such as very ripe bananas, pureed spinach (don't use the alcohol if it is to be eaten!), milk & tonic water.
To make glowing water: open up a highlighter and carefully remove the felt that holds the ink. Soak this in ~200ml water for a while, until the ink stops bleeding into the water. Gently squeeze it (gloved hands are a good idea!). The liquid left will glow and can be used under black light, or try making glowing silly putty or playdough with it. Do not drink or consume this!
Strange fact: many bodily fluids also glow in the dark. If your pet has an accident and you can't find it on your carpet to clean it, use a black light and it will glow.
Ghost in the WindowFor this you will need a transparent balloon, sheer fabric (about 1-1.5 square metres), fishing line, and a small fan. Inflate the balloon and tie it shut. Tie a length of fishing line to the end of the balloon, and thread that line through the centre of the fabric. Tie a slightly longer length of line to opposite sides of the fabric, about 2-3 hand-widths from the edge of the fabric. These will be the arms of your ghost. Add facial features with markers or paint if desired. Hang the three lines near your desired window from the ceiling or a hanging light fixture, etc. (it is very lightweight, but you should keep it from sources of intense heat or flame). Turn on the fan and experiment with the aim to create your ghostly effect.
Dry IceDry ice is great for making smoky, misty and spooky effects. You can get this from party supply stores, or medical supply companies. It is a bit tricky to handle, so be sure you take all necessary precautions (wear thick, natural fibre gloves, eye protection, etc.) and store it only in containers that can release pressure to avoid explosions.
You can use it in a commercial fog machine, or place it in a bowl under punch. You can also make spoons sing, make "smoke"-filled Dementor bubbles, and do other tricks with it.
Paper Bag PrincessThis idea came from Monica in our local homeschooling group.
For this costume you will need a paper yard waste bag, unused, a toy or paper crown or tiara, and flesh-toned clothing for underneath according to the local climate.
Open the bag and trace a circle for the head opening in the bottom of the bag, and arm openings on either side. Cut out the circles. Wear the bag over the flesh-toned clothing. This costume is a bit fragile, so it probably won't last for multiple wearings, but it is recyclable.
Closet CostumesEveryone has this costume at home, buried deep in a closet or in a family member's dresser. With a little imagination, you can have an original, reusable and inexpensive costume in minutes.
Consider the following: old ties, mismatched socks (argyle, striped, etc.), suspenders, large pants or skirts, a plain or patterned turtleneck sweater or long-sleeved t-shirt, a goofy hat/baseball hat worn backwards or sideways, bandanas, scarves, etc., an old bathing suit, etc.
Ecclectic, mismatched, goofy and dated are the rule for this costume!
If you have sporting equipment, wear it and add a fake injury or two using makeup or bandages, crutches, or any other medical supplies you may have hanging around.
Now is a good time to get some extra wear from those old dance recital costumes.
Do you have a pair of safety glasses? An old hardhat? How about an old workshop apron? Or, take some old gloves and glue or sew them to an old shirt and be a "handy man/woman".
How about a one-man band using kitchen utensils to set it all off (a cheese grater and large serving spoon can be played like a washboard). Ham it up!
Nothing quite working? Try wearing a bathrobe and tying soap, old shampoo bottles, toothpaste tubes etc. to the belt. Add a shower cap and/or cold dream on your face and wear your bedroom slippers. Or dress in summer clothing (layer it to stay warm as necessary). Carry a swimming ring around your waist, a sand bucket (great for collecting treats), add a little sunscreen to your nose. etc.
Go as a camper by doing the same thing, but add a backpack and a sunhat with gimp and friendship bracelets pinned on it. Add a few fake mosquito bites on any exposed parts, and sing camp songs.
For kids, you can use a large men's white dress shirt for a lab coat and be a mad scientist, or make a simple robe from a very large black t-shirt.Click here for directions.
PumpkinYou will need an orange garbage bag (unused), a permanent black marker, stuffing (plastic grocery bags, bunched up newspaper, tissue paper etc. work well), fabric elastic, close-fitting clothing in one of the following colours: white, green, black or orange for underneath, and green crepe paper.
Use the black marker to draw the face on the front of the bag, with the large opening at the top. You can save yourself some work by using a Jack O'Lantern leaf bag instead of a plain bag.
Along the fold of the bag, cut out hoes to fit your legs. Cut out arm holes on either side of the bag.
Dress in your solid-colour clothes, then put the bag on. Stuff the bag, then tie it off around the neck using the fabric elastic, tucking in the extra ends of the bag. Adjust the stuffing as necessary. Cut out leaves and vines from the crepe paper and tie around your neck, or hot glue to a bathing cap or toque if desired.
You can make a quick cap from a paper bag by twisting the bottom into a stem then place the opening on your head and adjust as necessary (a few hairpins might be necessary to secure it). Glue or tie crepe paper leaves etc. to the top.
Haunted HouseNot quite as quick as the others, but great no-sew results if you have 2-3 hours.
You will need:
cardboard box, about shoulder width wide and about neck to just above mid-thigh high
purple or green paint or thin fabric and glue
fibrefill (for chimney smoke)
black fabric elastic or yarn
adult weilding a glue gun
ghost hand puppet
funfoam halloween shapes
google or glow in the dark "eyes"
glow in the dark ghost stickers
craft sticks (to make the fence)
real twigs to create "trees" on the sides
witch or skeleton puppet (not shown in photo)
black pants and turtleneck or long-sleeved t-shirt (not shown in photo)
For body: Cut out a large head hole in the top of the box, and remove the entire bottom side of the box. Glue the fabric over the entire box, or paint the entire box and let dry. Trim the fabric as needed. Optional: dry-brush some black or dark grey apint over top to "age" the building.
To make the costume more flexible: If you are usung paint, you can make the costume more flaxible by cutting a "sitting flap" at the back. Just cut a smal slit up along the back edges and score the cardboard horizontally to allow it to bend. For the fabric option, cut a semi-circle out of the bottom back of the costume, but still cover that part with the fabric. This works especially well if your fabric has some elasticity.
Where the arms will be, cut out an "I" shape, and fold the flaps outwards to form window shutters. Paint those flaps black.
add more windos around the house as desired.
Cut out a door flap in the front and paint it black. Add a funfoam doorknob once the paint is dry. Over the top of the door, you will need a funfoam window (semi-circle with inner wedges trimmed away). We placed a layer of plastic wrap and a glow in the dark ghost sticker behind the window frame before gluing.
Make a fence by gluing crooked rows of craft sticks vertically along two horizontal sticks. Let dry, paint black, then glue beside the door.
On either side, keeping clear of the windows, hot glue a large twig "tree". Add a funfoam owl to each, and add eyes as desired.
Add more funfoam shapes and stickers as desired, such as pumpkins, "beware" signs, black cats, skeletons, glowing ghosts, bats, etc.
For the roof hat: Cut out 2 funfoam rectangles, about "binder paper" sized. Glue or staple these together along a short end with the pointier edge making the "top" of the roof. With this peak on the child's head, measure the bottom length of the back triangle piece., and mark on the peak the bottom edge of where you would like the triangle to end. Use these to trace and cut out the back triangle. Glue or staple this to the back of the peak section. Add a chimney by cutting out funfoam in this shape: Score and fold on the dotted lines, then hot glue together and onto the roof. Glue the fibrefill to the inside of the chimney. Glue a length of yarn or fabric elastic to either side of the inside of the roof, and tie under the wearer's chin.
Dress in the black clothing, slip the house over the wearer's head, then add the roof hat. Put a puppet on each hand so that the ghost and skeleton or witch are coming out the side windows.
Bag of JellybeansCut leg holes in the bottom of a clear plastic yard waste bag, and arm holes in the sides (cut these a bit higher to allow for room for the balloons). Dress the child in black pants or leggings and a white turtleneck or long-sleeved t-shirt. Inflate many smal elongated multi-coloured balloons with air. Have the child step into the bag, then fill the bag with the balloons.Gather the bag around the child's neck and fasten with a large bow. Print out a sticker for the front to describe the contents (Gourmet Jellybeans Ingredients: etc.).
Variation: make fish bowl by using the clear bag in a similar way. Have the child wear a white or light blue top, and wrap a layer of bubble wrap around the shirt, taping it closed with packing tape. Insert transparent balloons (bubbles) and inflatable toy fish in the clear bag. Use flexible plastic tubing around the top (held up by the child's shoulders) for the lip of the bowl. Wrap and tape the bag around the tubing. Have the child collect treats using a fish net.
This costume can get hot and sweaty, so is best worn for shorter durations, or replace the bubble wrap with aquarium backing paper (available at pet stores) or underwater themed clothing or fabric.
Again, this one will take a little longer (but less than 2 hours), but the result is very effective.
You will need:
black turtleneck shirt (layer warmer clothing beneath if needed)
black running or exercise tights or close-fitting black sweat pants
toy swim mask and snorkel
1 package $ store (Coughlan's brand or similar) utility webbing with self-tightening buckle, or about 7' of black webbing plus velcro or self-tightening buckle
1 or 2 2-litre plastic pop bottles
silver spray paint
black, dark grey or clear flexible plastic tubing, or black cord keeper tubing
duct tape and/or electrical tape (yellow and/or silver)
~ 1 metre or 3' reflective tape
6 toilet paper tubes
2 sheets of yellow funfoam
small round jar lid, covered in aluminum foil
optional: stretch black gloves, black belaclava or toque
Make the belt and shoulder strap assembly: Measure around the wearer's waist with the buckle end of the webbing and add about 5 cm or 2"; cut then seal the end of the webbing by carefully burning it (definitely a job for a responsible adult). Measure the distance from the belt and over the shoulder to the belt again; cut 2 lengths of webbing this size and seal the ends as above.
For the weights: cover the toilet tubes completely in duct tape, even over the ends of the tubes. Cut a slit slightly longer than the width of the belt lengthwise along the length of the tube, then another one about 1/4 the way around from it. On the opposite side to the slits, tape a length of reflective tape along the front of the tube. Feed the belt through the slits. Repeat for the other 5 tubes. Sew or use a glue gun to attach the straps to the belt so that the straps are about 10 cm or 3-4" apart at the front and back. If your webbing doesn't have a pre-sewn buckle, add one or use velcro to make the closure.
Spray paint your bottle(s) and let dry completely. Cut a piece of black or silver duct tape or electrical tape that is about 3" or 8 cm long. fold in in half lengthwise with the glue sides together. Remove the lid from the bottle and wrap the tape around the top of the bottle. Use another piece of tape to fasten these ends together and tape the other end inside one end of the tubing. Replace the cap on the bottle. If you are using two bottles, Repeat the taping but fasten the end to the tape on the first bottle rather than to the tubing. Use a glue gun or duct tape to fasten the covered jar lid (respirator) to the other end of the tubing. When worn, the tubing can be tucked under the shoulder strap on one side, or pinned/glued to the shoulder strap at the front.
Decide on your taping pattern on the tank(s). We liked using black yellow and reflective tape (for safety). Fasten your widest tape around the bottle about 1/3 from the bottom of the bottle. Cut a second length and fasten this around the back of the bottle (where the bottle meets the back of the wearer) and around the straps on either side, doubling back on itself to seal all the exposed glue. (You will need the costume wearer to put it on to measure this properly). Finish taping the rest of your pattern as desired.
Flippers: Measure out a triangle of funfoam that is about 1" or 2 cm larger than the shoes to be worn (lace-ups are best for this). Cut out a hole just large enough for the bare foot to slip through at the ankle end. Put the shoe on and measure where the lace holes line up and mark them. Remove shoe and flipper and use a hole punch or scissors to sut the holes for the laces. Repeat for other foot. When worn, the shoe laces will be fed through the holes to keep the flippers in place. Be sure to try these out ahead of time, to ensure that the foam doesn't pose a tripping hazard.
If you are a stickler for accuracy, you can replace the shoulder straps with a simple black (bouyancy compensator) vest and attach the tank to the vest with a length of webbing sewn around the bottle and attached to the vest on either side.