Swarms of costumed kids from ghosts to witches will take to the streets this Halloween, begging for sweet treats from neighbors and friends. Here are tips for everything from the food to the games for Halloween parties without too much fuss:
Make your own invitations
Let the kids help create invitations for the party. Decorate construction paper with colorful cut-outs, add Halloween-themed stickers or use stamps and ink to create clever invitations. Or, send e-mail invitations or online greeting cards.
Create homemade costumes
Work with your children to invent the family’s Halloween attire. This allows their imagination to reach beyond store-bought costumes and gives them a sense of pride when showing off their handiwork at the party. With a little paint and creativity, a cardboard box can become a die, a spaceship or a favorite book. Old clothing boxed-up in the attic is perfect for a retro look. Plus, you can find princess, wizard and farmer accessories in a second-hand shop.
Prepare easy-to-make Halloween-themed treats
While Halloween means candy overload for many kids and parents, hosts are heading to the kitchen to create homemade treats for partygoers. Serve goodies such as Orange Pumpkin Cupcakes (decorate orange frosting-spread cupcakes with brown and green sprinkles to create a pumpkin), Pumpkin Brains (macaroni and cheese served in a hollowed-out pumpkin with a face) and Nutella Spiced Sugar Cookies (recipe following) to add a ghostly touch.
Continue the theme by serving treats on orange and black plastic tableware.
Decorate with style
To get your fright-seeking guests in the Halloween spirit, haunt a room in the house by covering windows with towels and adding cobwebs, jack-o-lanterns, black lights, pictures of witches and goblins and eerie sounds. For younger ones who won’t visit the haunted room, decorate the house with hay bundles, pumpkin lights, streamers and ghosts cut out of construction paper by the kids. Show kid-friendly Halloween-themed movies, such as “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,” “Casper” or “Goosebumps” to add a festive mood to the party.
Play horrifically fun games
Add a Halloween twist to traditional games to keep kids occupied and make your party a hit with adults, too. Do the limbo to “Monster Mash,” conduct Halloween-themed scavenger hunts and have costume contests to add to the hair-raising experience. For even more fun, offer guests rolls of toilet paper and let them transform each other into paper-wrapped mummies or give kids markers, paper and other materials and let them decorate their own pumpkin.
Nutella Spiced Sugar Cookies
- 2/3 cup shortening
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup Nutella
- 2 1/2 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, sifted
In a medium bowl, cream the butter, shortening and sugar with a hand mixer on high speed for two minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for one minute. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients on low speed just until combined. Divide the dough in half and press each piece into a disk. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about one hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Divide the dough in half and roll out each piece on wax paper to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out desired shapes (bats, pumpkins, headstones) and bake on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Cool completely.
Make the Glaze:
Heat Nutella, milk and confectioner’s sugar in a small pot over low heat until combined and slightly warm. Spread each cookie with the glaze and decorate as desired with jimmies, sprinkles, mini chips or Halloween candy. Allow to set on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. Makes 24 cookies
These cookies can be baked ahead of time and frozen, unglazed, for up to 6 weeks, if stored in an airtight container.
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
For additional easy-to-prepare recipes using Nutella, a chocolaty hazelnut spread from Europe, visit www.nutellausa.com.