Trick and Shriek!

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It was dusk, and the house looked empty except for the flickering jack o’lantern at the base of the long walk.  At the top, a severed hand pointed toward the back door that stood ajar.  Black footprints led into the house through the dimly lit kitchen and dining room and into the den, and then disappeared under the door.

    Gingerly opening the door, the hinges squeaked and sent shivers up the little witch’s spine and right out her pointy hat.  Before her was darkness.  It was the door to the cellar.  The cellar of the creepiest, oldest house around!  The ceiling and walls were covered in black sheeting.  At the base was a white hovering face with blood red lips and a candle. “Enter at your own Risk!” she said in a haunted voice.

 The little witch paused, afraid to enter the cave. “Come and join your friends…” she said slowly.  The little witch didn’t move a muscle.
    Just then another brownie popped her head into the candlelight.  “Come on down.  It’s just my mom,” the Wonderwoman said as she stepped up to take hold of her friend’s hand. 

    Again and again, for 16 frightened little girls, Kylie stepped up the staircase to bring her friends down into the lair where pin the fangs on the Dracula, blindfolded searches through spaghetti brains, and apple bobbing had all the girls giggling.

    The brownie troop gathered into a semi-circle for a final ghost story when the girls heard a knocking.  Looking around, they could see the door to the workshop was shaking with each knock.  Everyone could see it was latched shut, and even Kylie looked confused.  As her mom crossed the room to investigate, the door suddenly flung open, the latch tearing from the wall, and into the room stepped a massive Frankenstein, arms outstretched, rumbling a low groan.

    Kylie’s mother screamed, Kylie screamed, 16 little girls screamed and in an instant they stampeded for the stairs, trampling each other as they went up, up into the house, winding through the den and dining room, and filing, shaking and shivering under the kitchen table.

  I can guarantee you that everyone one of those brownies tells her kids the story of Frankenstein aka my dad, who was the guest ghost storyteller mistakenly locked in the workshop and who unwittingly knocked the door down.  Thirty seconds of Halloween Horror provided for thirty years of Spooky Stories.
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                      Frankenstein Brownies
Make your favorite brownie recipe, but prepare the pan in this way:

Grease pan, line in aluminum foil, and re-grease.  Spoon brownie batter into pan & bake according to recipe.  Cool completely.  Then simply lift the brownies out of the pan by lifting the aluminum foil.  This makes it easier to cut to size of playing cards.  Place on a cooling rack.

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Cut fruit roll-ups to size for hair & cut black licorice laces for eyebrows & get candy corn for the nuts/bolts & chocolate morsels for eyes.  

Make frosting:
1/2 lb confectioner’s sugar
1/4 shortening
2 1/2 – 3 T milk/cream
1/2 tsp vanilla (or 1/4 vanilla 1/4 almond extract)
Several drops of green food coloring

 Beat until smooth.  Nuke in microwave at 10 second intervals until it melts slightly; I did 35 seconds total.  Pour over brownies; smooth with offset spatula.

Apply hair, eyebrows, and nuts/bolts.  Add eyes & use decorator’s gel for nose & mouth.  Voila!!

Let dry completely before packing up for the Halloween party!

 
 

BOO!  BOO!  BOO!  BOO!
"Mummy, someone is at the door!" 
A ding/dong on the front doorbell... A note... A sign... A bag of candy and nobody there!

Now what? It's Simple! Just Follow the instructions...

If you know your neighbours, this activity is a lot of fun (if you don't, break the ice with this little Halloween task...)
****A brilliant American tradition****

2nd best- Elf on the Shelf???

You've been ghosted

Late last night, we left you a treat. The tradition is fun, one we hope you'll repeat.

Take the ghost and post it up on your door, to let others know, you need ghosting no more.

Now it's your turn to pass on the surprise, to two or more families, is what we advise.

Gather some treats and deliver them soon, within two nights, by the light of the moon.

Include a ghost with each package you give, along with this poem for the tradition to live.

 6 Steps for BOO'ing success!
1. Select 2  "victims" on your street that you will "Boo" (either individuals or the entire family)
2. Buy or make your goodies: (We made orange playdough & of course Witchy POPS, having gone on candy/lolly strike until Monday!)
3. Buy or make a bag, large enough for your Boo treats
4. Copy or create a "Boo Poem" and a "We've Been Boo'ed Sign" to include in each Boo
5. Deliver your Boo to your neighbors just after dark when no one is looking! Leave your package on the doorstep or porch, ring the doorbell or knock on the door, run and hide! (This is usually the part the kids love most).
6. Watch the fun as "We've Been Boo'ed" signs multiply and appear on doors and windows throughout the neighborhood!
 
 
As Halloween is a time of great sugar consumption, I thought I would add a simple and fun recipe/activity that, bar one of the ingredients, is actually pretty healthy!  This is also a great one for kids parties - and in fact Mum used to make it for all our birthdays. 
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Ingredients



1 bag pitted prunes (the softer the better)
1 bag jellybeans
about 1/2 cup slivered almonds
about 10 licorice straps/lengths, chopped into quarters

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To assemble


Stuff prunes with a jellybean.
Poke slivered almonds into 'head' for ears.
Push licorice strap into end of prune for 'tail'.

 
 
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I love Halloween.  For me it's not about the candy it's about the great decorations and dressing up.  My daughter has had several Halloween parties over the years and these are things we do:

Carve Pumpkins:  The older they get the easier.  I usually buy my pumpkins, huge ones while visiting my sister in law Upstate Emily...they are crazy cheap (like $3-4 each) in Ithaca.  I pre-top all the pumpkins, that is I cut the top off each pumpkin and make a cut around the guts of it.  The rest of the "gutting and cutting" is up to the girls.  It's a fun activity and everyone goes home with a jack-o-lantern and a bag of roasted pumpkin seeds.

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Toilet Paper Mummies
  
I put the girls into teams of 3 and had them draw to see who would be a dresser and who would be the Mummy.  Give each team two rolls of toilet paper and 5 minutes to make their Mummy!
The kids usually dissolve into a toilet paper fight.  In the picture below they are all showing off their party favor matching socks....worked out great because it was a rainy muddy night....shoes off new socks on!  Socks were $1 each at Target!

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Licorice/Marshmallow Race
This game is great any time of year but we always seem to play it only at Halloween!  Just take some strawberry or black licorice laces  and thread a marshmallow on to the middle.  Then have partners race -no hands - to eat the licorice.  The first to the marshmallow is the winner! 

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Spooky or wacky make up
  
When the girls first arrived they could carve their pumpkins and get their make up done by my sister-in-law.  One year we did spider web-like eye make up, one year candy corn (right) was the theme.  Usually glitter and insane color combos abound.  They think they look so glamorous.

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Hands/Face/Narrator
Put the girls in teams of three.  One girl is narrator and reads a story.....in this picture it was about a girl who had bad breath and needed to brush her teeth! One girl supplies the face (via facial expressions) and tries to move her mouth while the narrator talks.  The 'hands girl' sits behind the 'face girl' and uses her hands to do all the actions including things like, brush her teeth, put make up on, paint a picture, make a sandwich.  Insanely goofy and funny.  I usually use a big old shirt of my husband's or my bathrobe to put over the face girl and have the 'arm girl's' arms poke through the holes.

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Cupcake Decorating
If you've got a small enough or old enough group, let them decorate their own cakes or cupcakes.  Is saves you the trouble, they get creative, take a while doing it and they love it!

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Make sure you take lots of silly pictures!  Make them pose sad, surprised, angry, silly!

If it's a sleepover, pick a good Halloween movie like The Addams Family, Hocus Pocus, or Casper.

 
 
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I'm a bit of a nut when it comes to kids parties.  I REALLY get into themes - from the invitation to the party favors...just wait there will be more posts eventually.  But as much as I try and make each party special, 
there are a few games that we play over and over because:
 #1 They are easy 
#2 They are cheap 
#3 The kids love them!

If you are having an outside party these all work...and most can work inside...other than the water and candles!

Squirt the Candle
Like the picture above and as the name suggests...all you have to do is get votive candles, a few squirt guns, a bucket of water and a helper old enough to "run it."  We usually had kids compete 3 at a time.

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Balloon Pop Surprise
Just put a small prize in each balloon before blowing them up, e.g. for a pirate party we had skull rings in each balloon, and one special balloon had a key to a treasure chest, two "stinker" balloons we filled with shaving cream..he, he!  You can store all the blown up balloons in large black garbage bags.  Hand one balloon to each child count to three and watch them try to pop 'em however they can.  Most kids sit on them, some try and hop on them... with hilarious effect.

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Pass the Present
Using different colored tissue paper, wrap a little present then add another present and wrap with another color and so on...the present should have as many layers and prizes as there are kids.   It's kind of like hot potato, sit in a circle, play music, when it stops the kid holding the present gets to peel off a layer, claim their prize...and move out of the circle.  To keep it moving fast the kids should know that the "last" prize is the biggie.  I usually fill mine with crayons, plastic rings, tattoos, silly straws, whatever.

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Water Balloons are awesome.   Use them for several games...the most popular: the water balloon toss.  Like an egg toss, but with water balloons.  Everyone partners up, lines up, and on the count of three, tosses.  If your balloon didn't break you're in.  You take a step backwards and repeat...until there is a winner!

We also use water balloon in relay races; you have to run to the bucket of water balloons, toss a balloon at a tree and hit it before you can run back to the team and tag out the next guy.

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Luckily we have a deep back yard and a water balloon launcher.  We usually end parties with the kids getting to try and launch water balloons at a target (a tree with an X on it.) When it's warm (it was not in this picture...unusually cold for May!) kids often like to try and get hit by the balloons...yikes...not for me!

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When in doubt: Limbo! I don't know why, but they all love it.  Ridiculous and we play even when we're not having a luau theme, they like it so much!

 
 
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School Parties can get a bit crazy, especially when sugar is being added in heavy doses!  Halloween, the holiday that's main focus (other than costumes) is candy, can be tricky!  There's no way to avoid some sugar on that day, but here's my suggestion for a treat plan that worked out well for me:  

  Go with a Black and Orange theme! 




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Orange Food is easy to come up with:
Carrots
Cantalope
Oranges

Cheese Cubes
Pumpkin Muffins
Peach Nectar
Cheese Doodles


Black Food (way trickier):
Raisins (okay they aren't really black)
Black Licorice
Oreos
USE BLACK PLATES! It will help make the orange food stand out!

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If you're a little creative you can limit the amount of junk they eat and still make them feel like they had a ton of crap.  Instead of just putting out a bag of Oreos we added little licorice legs and eyes and made them into spiders....guess how many everyone got? One, instead of a fist full.  

We plated our orange fruits and veggies so they looked cute (see the carrot jack-o-lantern) and let them have as much of the veggie and fruit as they wanted.

Best Plan:  I try and make the food part of a project or craft.  In this case, everyone got a pumpkin muffin, but they needed the raisins to design a jack-o-lantern face.

Click HERE to link to Martha's page and read more about her kitchen adventures!