Category Archives: DIY Parties

Party on with creepy recipes, ghoulish games and devilish decor.

Add an Italian Twist to Your Halloween Recipes

Halloween has in recent years spread across the Atlantic to the boot shaped peninsula known as Italy.   Although the Italians do not celebrate Halloween per se, they do have their own rituals and festivities which are not all too far off.

One of these festive and colorful holidays is All Souls Day.  It comes on the day after All Saints Day which is November 1st and honors the fallen Saints.   However All Souls Day honors all those who have died.  It is an Italian celebration which is not focused on death, as in a morbid fashion, but on honoring loved ones who have passed on.

Although these two holidays are not the same, there is one major similarity – the use of food.  Just as our Halloween involves the practice of handing out food to children as they come knocking on our door, the Italians also incorporate the practice of food giving to children on All Souls Day.   However, in their ritual, the children leave food and lit candles outside to “guide and feed” the souls of those in purgatory who revisit the home during the night.  In some regions the tradition is for children to leave their shoes outside the front door only to find them stuffed with gifts later.

bones of the dead halloween recipeOne popular cookie sold in bakery stores throughout Italy is called, Bones of the Dead.   Every region in Italy seems to have their own unique version of this cookie.

A very simple Tuscan version of this cookie is as follows:

BONES OF THE DEAD

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup hazelnuts chopped

2 cups sugar

2 egg whites

juice of a lemon

Instructions:

Combine the flour, egg whites, sugar and juice in a large bowl.

Next, add in the nuts and mix together until a dough consistency forms.

Roll the dough into the size of 2 inch wide logs and cut in 2-3 inch lengths.

Flatten or shape to resemble bones.

Lay flat on a floured cookie sheet (spray the sheet with cooking spray and then lightly flour)

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes.

Let cool.

For a Chocolate Chip Version:

Ingredients:

2 egg whites at room temperature

2/3 Cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup fine semolina flour (plus more for later)

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped almonds.

Instructions:

Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form.   This can be done with an electric mixer on high speed for about a minute.

Slowly add in half the sugar while beating until whites are stiff.

Fold in the rest of the sugar, flour, chocolate chips and almonds and mix gently.

Line your cookie sheet or pan with parchment paper.  Otherwise grease and lightly flour the surface.

Create bone shaped cookies with the dough, about 3 inches in length and 1 1/2 inches wide.  Place on the cookie sheet.  Remember these will expand so space accordingly.

Bake at 300 degrees F for about 30 minutes until cookies are dry.

Let cool.

Drizzle  with a melted chocolate mixture of chocolate and butter.  Either dip the bottom side in, or drizzle with the chocolate.

Let dry and enjoy!

Other Halloween Ideas Using Italian Food

If you want a more familiar Italian theme food for your Halloween party, try these:

HALLOWEEN CANNOLIS

The easiest way to create cannolis is to buy premade shells.

For the filling:

10 oz. ricotta cheese drained

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup chocolate chips

Orange food coloring

Always fill the cannolis the same day you plan on serving them.  If you make them in advance the shells will become soggy.   You can make your filling the day before, and then simply fill the shells just prior to your party.

Mix all the ingredients except the chips, until it is light and airy.  You can use a mixer or food processor, such as a cuisinart 11 prep or for this.  Or you can just mix it by hand the good old fashioned way.

When finished gently fold in the chips.

Fill the shells with the mixture.  A tip is to pour the mixture into a plastic bag and then snip one of the corners, thus creating a makeshift pastry bag.   Use this to squirt the filling into the shells.

This recipe can also be used during other holidays, such as Christmas and makes a great Italian Christmas gift or contribution for attending parties.  Instead of orange food coloring try green or red.

As with many Italian desserts, remember to serve with coffee or espresso.  Especially dry cookies, like the Bones of the Dead cookies, are great when dipped in a latte.

If you do not make your own espresso using appliances like an Alessi espresso maker, to prepare your espresso, regular coffee should suit your guests just as well.

This article was contributed by Liz T. Krause, publisher of simpleitaliancooking.com.  Although she grew up in an Italian household, it wasn’t until later in her married life with her Italian husband that she began to appreciate the joy of Italian cooking.

Should You Have Your Halloween Party Catered?

 

Image credit: catchmyparty.com

The following inspiration was shared by guest contributor Liz Trementozzi. Thanks, Liz!

Halloween parties are always fun events to attend.  With everyone dressed up in various costumes and makeup, it can be a wild ride even for the more timid among us.

But beyond all the trick-or-treating, costumes, and decorations lies an important aspect of your event: the food and who will provide it.

Choosing to hire a caterer can be an intimidating process for those who are not familiar with the process.  It is always best to do as much research as possible before signing any contracts.  In fact, the more caterers you interview, the more informed you naturally will become.

There are two main advantages to hiring a caterer:

Saves Time

Credit: thehouseofsmiths.com

If you know you have your hands full, and are confident you do not have the time to prepare all the food yourself, then a catering company can help.

Your caterer will give you various options for what kind of foods you want to be served.  All you have to do is select what you want and they take care of the rest.  This greatly reduces anxiety and stress as the pressure is off of you and placed instead on the company you are hiring.

Quality of Food

Assuming the caterer has a positive reputation, you can rest assured at the quality of the food which will be delivered.  For example, many of their featured foods they have made many times before.  These are professionals who know how to get a job done.

However, there is one main disadvantage: cost.

For those who rarely entertain and rejoice at the idea of handing the responsibility to a company, this may not be a road block, but for those who often do their own entertaining, it can be hard to give the job to someone else.

It is easy to save money by providing the food yourself – if you have the right know how and tools.  For example, some people who entertain frequently will buy many of their foods such as meat, in bulk.  They then cut the meat into smaller portions and freeze.  When party time comes, they pull out only what they need.

They also have specific equipment which makes entertaining easier by investing in heavy duty appliances such as home food slicers, or meat grinders.   A food slicer can be used to slice slabs of meat (and other foods) into deli thin slices perfect for sub sandwiches or for deli roll ups.  A kitchen meat grinder can be used to grind large amounts of solid meat chunks for making meatloaf, meatballs or fresh hamburgers.

By purchasing in bulk and with a decent amount of pre-planning, those who fit this level of party enthusiast will undoubtedly save themselves the cost of hiring another company to do what they can very well do themselves.

Therefore, it really depends on where you feel comfortable, and what your priorities are.

Going the Catering Route

If you do choose to work with a caterer, here are some questions you can ask yourself which will help in the planning process.

Credit: http://blog.hwtm.com

1. What style of food presentation do you want to have?

Do you want to prepare an entire event with appetizers, a main dish and then dessert?  Or do you prefer to offer a number of various smaller entrees and finger food?  Perhaps your setting would be better with a nice variety of  desserts.

2. What is the size of your party?

For smaller crowds, a full meal may be a nice choice if you plan on hosting the event yourself.  But for larger crowds where guests will be mingling around showing off their costumes, a more relaxed buffet style meal might be appropriate.

A caterer may have different methods for charging for their services.  They may charge per plate, or per food item – make sure to ask.

3. Do they provide their own servers?  And is this required?

Some caterers will be happy to simply prepare and deliver the food, rather than hassling with finding servers.  On the other hand, if the party is a large formal event, the option to hire some servers may be the more logical decision.

4. Does the caterer offer special food items specific for your event, in this case Halloween?

If they do not, they may be excited at the opportunity to try something new and creative.  This also gives them the ability to add this “new” menu item to their list of experiences.

If they do agree to create a new menu item, make sure to arrange a tasting so you can taste a sampling prior to the party – at least a few weeks so if any alterations are to be made, they have the time to do so.

If they do not make special customizations, request that you have permission to provide some of your own theme specific foods such as cookies, cupcakes, etc…

5. Do they provide chairs?

This is important because it may not cost much to have the caterer bring an extra 10 or 20 folding chairs for your guests.  It is always a good idea to have ample seating at your party.

If concerned you will have too many empty chairs, then simply store some of the chairs in a spare room, and pull them out when needed.

6. Who does cleanup?

In other words, will the caterer be in charge of taking out the trash, cleaning up dirty plates, vacuuming etc, or are you expected to do this yourself?  There may be extra charges for this too, so make sure to ask.

By taking into account these various considerations, you will be closer to making a decision if hiring a caterer for your Halloween party is appropriate – and if so – determining how involved the caterer will be.

Never be afraid to discuss your questions, concerns or thoughts with your caterer.  If they are unwilling to work together, take the time to take a step back and shop around.  It could be the difference between a stressful event and a stress-free event!

This article was contributed by simpleitaliancooking.com, a website devoted to Italian food recipes and kitchenware reviews.

How to Make Your Own Trick or Treat Bags

Your child is dressed up all adorable, proudly ready to go out trick or treating! The Halloween costume is fantastic, scary and cute at the same time. However, something’s not quite right … something ruins the whole ensemble. Perhaps it’s the ugly plastic bag being used to hold the mountains of candy?

Never fear, you won’t have to worry about that, because you’re reading this article and will now make your own gorgeous masterpiece of a trick or treat bag! Or, at least, something better than a grocery bag or pillow case.

trick_or_treat_bag_supplies

Materials

  • At least ½ yard of Halloween themed fabric or pre-made canvas bag
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Fabric glue/needles
  • Interfacing (optional)
  • Decorations to match the fabric
  • Buttons, sequins, foam shapes and beads
  • An iron

Sewing Your Trick or Treat Bag

The Bag

Cut a rectangle of fabric that measures 16.5” x 25”. Fold the 25” side of the fabric in half so that the wrong side is showing. Stitch the bottom first and then the side. Turn the bag right side out and press the seams with an iron. At the opening turn down ¼” and press. Then turn it down again 1-1/2 inches. Press and stitch.

Safety pin placed in the center (Click for larger image)
Safety pin placed in the center (Click for larger image)
inside out handle
inside out handle
placement matching and X seam
placement matching and X seam

The handles

Cut fabric for the handles that measures 3” x 19”. You will need to cut two of these. Fold the fabric in half with the wrong side showing. Put a safety pin in the very center of one end with the head towards the other end. This will make turning it right side out much easier. Take a ¼” seam allowance and stitch the strip of fabric. Turn it inside out by pushing the safety pin through the tube; press under ¼” on each end.

Pin the handles to the bag before stitching to make sure that you like the placement. Use the sewing machine to sew them on with a large ‘X’. This will attach them securely so that no trick or treat candy gets lost.

Now you can turn the bag over to the kids to have fun with. With fabric glue, beads, sequins, plastic confetti, and anything else you can think of, your kids will make and have their own personalized trick or treat bag!

Halloween trick or treat bag Halloween trick or treat bag

Halloween Game Idea – Ghost Hunting!

 

We welcome guest contributions and are pleased to share this game idea. Scare up some fun this Halloween with Ghost Hunting!

As a youngster, I participated in a cool game that I just KNOW would make a great addition to any party, kids or adults – so I’ve decided to share it!

It’s goofy enough to get in some good laughs, and kids will go wild with fun with this awesome idea. I call the game Ghost Hunting, and it involves you, a ghost, and some stomping just for good measure.

On spooky, creepy Halloween night, it’s just you and your ghostly ally against the rest! For best results, have at least five players. The more the merrier!

What You’ll Need

  • String
  • Black marker
  • Glow stick bracelets or necklaces
  • Glow-in-the-dark balloons/white balloons and a black light

How to Play

  1. Each player grabs a balloon and blows it up.
  2. Next, draw the creepiest ghoul face you can muster. The scarier the face, the more likely your opponents will wet themselves, and therefore give you more time for stomping! Also, don’t forget to name him. Something not too out of the ordinary…Dexter, William, Casper, anything you wish.
  3. If by any chance your little friend should fall due to the enemy during combat, you are obligated to call out your ghost’s name and ask why. I shall demonstrate for you… “POP!! No, Dexterrrrrrrrr!Whyyyyyyyyy???!!!!”
  4. Next, tie your scary teammate to your ankle. Don’t have too much string between the two of you, or he will be near impossible to defend. However, you don’t want him right on your heal either, unless you like bleeding heals 🙂
  5. Finally, throw on some glow sticks to avoid crashing into each other, and hit the lights! If using a black light to make the white balloons glow, turn that one on now. If you start feeling something touching you but don’t see any glow sticks nearby, stay calm, you are merely being groped by an actual ghost. So be sure you all decide on a safe word before you hit the lights…tee hee!

Rules

  • No grabbing or holding any opponents.
  • No non-ghost allies.
  • No covering your ghost.
  • Once your ghost has passed on to the next world, you must sit out. Do not attempt to stomp anymore ghosts.
  • The partner of the last ghost standing wins!

Variations

  • Have multiple ghosts attached per game. Three on the same ankle for example.
  • Team ups. Four vs. four for example. (Two Ghosts and Two Humans.)
  • No glow sticks. (This is a more dangerous version, and therefore more awesome!)

Happy ghost hunting, and happy Halloween!

Jack-O-Pizza and Jack-O-Brownie Recipes

Want a special Halloween menu for a simple, scrumptious meal to enjoy after Trick or Treating with your clan? Here’s a simple meal that you can make easily that’s totally in the “spirit” of the season! Get your little ones in the Halloween jammies (my favorites? Check CWD Kids) and Hanna Andersson) and munch away. Of course, you’ll have to keep your kids out of their treat bags so they’ll be monstrously ravenous!!!

Jack-O-Pizza

This special dish will make one and all smile with delight. The crust is made of cooked egg noodles, topped with a savory and hearty meat sauce, and decorated as a happy face.

Ingredients Needed:

  • 8 oz. packaged fine egg noodles
  • 3/4 pound of lean ground beef
  • 16-oz can of tomato puree
  • 1 envelope Onion-Mushroom soup mix
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 eggs, beaten well
  • 10 oz. mozzarella cheese, finely shredded
  • Green and/or red pepper

Method:

Cook the noodles according to the package directions; drain. Reserve 1/2 cup for the “hair” garnish on your pizza.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, brown ground beef and drain. Stir in tomato puree, onion-mushroom soup mix, oregano, and garlic powder. Simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the noodles, eggs, and 2 cups of cheese. Press mixture evenly into a greased 12-inch round pizza pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 or until lightly browned.

Take out the pizza “crust” and spoon the sauce mixture over. Garnish the pizza to form a happy face: use remaining cheese and pepper pieces for eyes, mouth, and nose. Add reserved noodles for hair. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until heated through. Makes 6 servings.

Jack-O-Brownie

This is a super simple idea which makes it an example of how little touches can turn the ordinary into extraordinary! You can make this earlier in the day or the day before so you won’t need two pizza pans of the same size. This is also perfect for parties and school functions.

Ingredients needed:jack-o-brownie

  • Your favorite Fudge brownie mix
  • Brown and green M&M candies
  • White frosting
  • Candy Corn
  • Orange slice candy
  • Green gumdrop, if desired
  • Food coloring

Method:

Mix your brownie mix as directed on the package. Pour batter into a greased 12” round pizza pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely and carefully remove from the pan onto a large platter.

Next, tint the canned frosting orange using red and yellow food colors. Have your kids come on in for the fun of decorating the Jack-O-Brownie. Using brown M&M candies, form triangles for the eyes. Do the same with green ones for a nose. Make a mouth by standing up more of the brown M&M candies to form a smile. Add a row of candy corn above and below, touching the brown candies.

Finally, add candy orange slices for eyebrows and a large green gumdrop for the stem. (I often just improvise by putting some brown candies up there as I don’t want to buy a whole bag of gumdrops when only one is needed).

Voila! A BOO-TIFUL way to serve up some chocolate brownies!

A Halloween Picnic – In a Graveyard!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the Halloween holiday is the preparation for the holiday itself. Driving around neighborhoods to observe and appreciate decorations is one way to get in the Halloween mood, while another is to visit various cemeteries, graveyards, and burial grounds.

Older communities have a wealth of final resting places for the dead, and at least one with appropriate Halloween ambiance can be found. When a cemetery has been chosen for further examination, the cemetery itself can make a wonderful family outing!

Picnicking in a Cemetery – Getting Prepared

When picnicking in a cemetery in preparation for Halloween, a visit to the local library can enhance the overall experience. Parents with or without their children can borrow age appropriate ghost stories, or, for those who are a little more ambitious, they can dig a little into local history. Nearly every community has at least one ghost story or unexplainable incident, and such tales take on added power within the confines of a cemetery.

Thus, equipped for the mental aspect of a picnic with the dead, preparations for the physical aspect need to be made. One must always be mindful of the weather, and children should be dressed appropriately. If a child wishes to wear his or her Halloween costume, extra clothing should be brought along just in case the child changes his or her mind halfway through the picnic, and decides that wearing the costume wasn’t as much fun as anticipated.

A blanket should be brought as well as a trash-bag. The blanket is a wonderful item to both sit on and to keep track of the various picnicking pieces. The trash-bag ensures that nothing is left behind to dirty or defile the cemetery’s sanctity.

graveyard-chompie_100_1513

At the Cemetery

On a pleasant fall day in October, then, a small lunch can be packed and loaded into the car (or carried if the chosen cemetery is close enough). Once at the cemetery it is best to park the car near where you wish to explore, and walk through the cemetery itself.

So long as you and your children are respectful of the cemetery’s permanent residents, it is quite alright to avoid the cemetery’s roads and to walk amongst the headstones. Walking thus allows everyone to see who rests beneath the stones, and to keep their eyes open for a pleasant spot for the picnic.

Eating, drinking, and spending time as a family is a wonderful thing, especially during Halloween, which can make the picnic even more enjoyable. Picnicking in a cemetery, along with telling passing strange tales of the community, can help set the mood for a holiday which goes by entirely too quickly!

Let us know your thoughts, stories and experiences in a cemetery near Halloween. Please comment below!

Play Dough Pumpkins That Taste Fantastic!

Looks like play dough? Check. Smells like candy? Check. Great for Halloween? Check. Tastes great? Yummy! Edible play dough is such a great thing. Kids can play with it and eat all they want (because there is no sugar, and they will get their fill quickly). The recipe is quick and adjustable, and even better it can be used with ‘butters’ other than peanut butter!

Playdough Ingredients

Making home-made play dough is simple:

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 cups powdered milk
  • Optional: Food coloring gel paste (various colors – decrease the honey proportionately when substituting coloring gel.)

Mix these all up until the texture is workable. It takes about 10 minutes total. Plan ahead what you would like to make, and separate into small clumps. Mix the food coloring gel as desired to each clump – orange for pumpkins, green for pumpkin vines and leaves, etc.

home made playdoughIn the pictures below, you can see we made these fun, spooky pumpkins. The kids helped out, and it took about an hour or so. The recipe is easy to double or decrease as needed. We followed the recipe and learned a few things:

  • It makes A LOT.
  • If you want to use gel food coloring like we did, decrease the honey proportionately. We put the gel in after it was mixed up and the pumpkins were all droopy.
  • If you chose to work with something besides peanut butter, start with smaller amounts of powdered milk. We used Nutella for one batch and found that using equal parts was just too much powdered milk. We ended up putting some honey in so that it was a useable mixture.

playdough-03 playdough-04

Since the kids were done for the day and mom had a mess to clean up we wrapped the ‘play dough’ in a cling wrap and set it aside. When we decided to use it again, we rolled it out between sheets of wax paper and used cookie cutters.

playdough-cookies playdough-storage

We used milk chocolate on the peanut butter version and white chocolate on the Nutella batch. A little bit of chocolate seems to go a long way with this play dough. If you use too much, the flavor of the peanut butter gets lost. With the white chocolate and Nutella it didn’t do much at all except to muddy the hazelnut flavor further. But since kids don’t really care about that its not a big deal. The “cookies” turned out pretty good, though. They could be a very nice gift for a neighbor or co-worker during the haunting season!

Play dough pumpkins!
Play dough pumpkins!

Cool Halloween Games for Kids

Halloween is a time for giggles and guffaws. A time for kids and former kids to join together in fun appreciation of the autumnal season. With this in mind, here are some easy games for kids both young and old alike.

Word Search

Universally regarded as one of the most fun puzzles around, word search puzzles are now easy to create on your own. There are a number of educational sites like http://puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com that allow you to input your words and the site generates a word search puzzle for you. Or grab a Halloween word search book for ideas.

Use a little clip art on your page for added festive fun. There are also sites with ready-made word search puzzles in various themes and for different holidays.

Pumpkin Carving Contest

amazing cat pumpkinFor the older set who safely can use knives, a pumpkin carving contest is a natural. If you have many entrants, break up the awards into different categories, such as Funniest, Most Scary, and Most Unique.

Prizes can be simple items such as loaves of homemade pumpkin bread! Here’s my favorite Pumpkin Bread recipe:

*

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3-1/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 15 oz. can pumpkin

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients in order, mixing well after each addition, especially the flour.
  • Divide the batter into two 9×5” loaf pans.
  • Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for approximately 1-1/2 hours. Check doneness with a toothpick.
  • Serve warm, cold, with powdered sugar, ice cream, or just plain. DELICIOUS and (obviously) rich!

Scary Pass-Around

One of my favorite memories from Girl Scouts was a spooky game in which all participants sit on the floor with a large blanket, each person tucking their crossed legs under the blanket and holding the blanket down on their laps with hands. The leader, with all story items under the blanket, starts out with dramatic voice and gestures with a story such as this:

One time, not so long ago, on a stormy, dark Halloween night, two children decided to go along a rarely used path near their home. They did it as a dare to one another and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Neither willing to admit fear, the two proceeded down the path, filled with bushes and spider webs…

(pass fake spider webs under the blanket, person to person, then pass a hairy fake spider)

The two went deeper and deeper in, until it was sheer and total darkness.

(turn off the lights in the room)

Very, very slowly – so slowly that the children weren’t sure they were even hearing anything – a sound started to emerge…

(play a recording you’ve made of “whoooooooo…. Whooooooo” along with rustling leaves)

By now, the children had come to the conclusion that they were too far in and that they’d best turn back. Still refusing to admit that they were scared, the two started walking faster… and faster… and faster still.

BAM!!!!! The children tripped. Feeling around on the ground, both children felt a strange object before them.

(more playing of the scary sound)

What could it be? At the top of the figure on the ground before them, they felt something soft, cool, mushy….

(pass around two peeled grapes, the “eyes)

(Talking faster and more breathlessly)… Oh my heavens! They felt just like EYEBALLS! Ewwwww. Surely it was their imagination. Feeling around further, something even slimier was felt…

(pass around cold, boiled spaghetti, the “guts” of the monster)

YUCK! Could it be? Is it? GUTS?!?!? Oh no! The kids wanted to run but then their hands felt something even worse. Could it be brains????????????

(pass around a handful of cold, squishy gelatin)

Turning now, the kids began to run, run, and run. Back through the bushes, through the spider webs….

(pass more spider webs around, this time even more than before)

RUN, KIDS, RUN! They could hear footsteps behind them!

(pat the floor in rhythmic fashion under the blanket)

They must HURRY! Back they go… until —– finally……. (major, scary pause)…. They reach the comfort of home. Phew!

(pass around a teddy bear)

This activity never fails to create a fun, albeit a loud, time! Happy Halloween!

The Body Part Toss Game

 

Thanks, Screaming Scarecrow Studios, for this gristly and very valuable contribution!

Why do most haunters haunt? Because we have tons of fun doing it!

From building spooky props to putting together creepy Halloween costumes to scaring the pants off trick-or-treaters and rewarding them with candy, we just plain love it. Most Halloween haunters find all aspects of home haunting fun!

With that in mind, and in an effort to provide our Halloween guests with more gruesome entertainment, the lurking lunatics at Screaming Scarecrow Studios have put together the following simple game.

Our Body Part Toss Game, or BPTG, was relatively cheap and simple to build and it should last a good number of years.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • plywood (see below)
  • supporting wood, if desired (see below)
  • nails
  • plastic body parts (buy these BEFORE shaping and cutting your holes so you know how large to make them)
  • jigsaw
  • red paint
  • white paint
  • old clothing
  • expanding foam

SOMETHING TO TOSS BODY PARTS AT:

Start out with a 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood. Plywood may cost a bit more (look for deals),  but it will accept paint better and last longer in the outdoor elements.

We chose cheap, quarter inch thick, spruce plywood (rough not finished). This made the finished product light and portable.

Quarter inch plywood may occasionally be a bit flimsy, so we screwed a 2” x 2” wood frame to the back of the plywood. This not only gave the BPTG rigidity it also gave us a good solid piece of wood to screw a stand to if one was to be used.

OUTLINE YOUR VICTIM:

For this, we simply laid the plywood down on the ground and then positioned a willing victim on it. We then traced the basic sprawled body shape with a pencil.

Once this shape was traced, we cut out the holes for the parts to be tossed into during the game. We made the holes vary a bit in size and shape in order to provide different levels of challenge.

After the holes were cut and all the rough edges sanded down, we painted the plywood white. If you want your reds to pop out under any lighting, you need to put them on white! It’s an amazing (and gruesome) effect.

Once the white paint dried we created body shapes such as chest, arms and legs using stucco wire. We like using stucco wire because it makes for a stronger wire frame form.

After the wire body shapes were created we attached them to the plywood in their proper spots. We used nails for this because the portion of the nails that were sticking out the back of the quarter inch plywood could be bent over flat so they would not be sticking out dangerously.

NOTE: At our haunt, for added insurance that nobody gets poked by any protruding nails, we have an actor dressed up with a fake chainsaw retrieving the tossed body parts for our guests.

DRESSED TO DIE FOR:

After the wire body shapes were all attached to the plywood it was time to dress our victim.

In order to do this we cut the back out of an old used shirt and pair of pants that we had lying around. Next, we cut straight up the back of the legs and the arms of the pants and shirt.

With the clothing opened up in this manner we are able to wrap wire frame with the clothing, stapling the clothing to the plywood along the edges as we went.

DETAILING THE GAME:

Finally we added all the gory details, such as blood on the clothes, blood splatter on the plywood and of course, the steaming pile of entrails!

For the red paint we used high-gloss red spray paint. Painting the clothes and the areas around the holes was easy; we just used as much as we thought looked impressively splattered (see the image for reference).

Creating the blood splatter and drips was a bit tricky with spray paint. We used an ordinary stick and while the game was leaning upright and while holding the stick above the game, we sprayed the paint onto the stick (holding the nozzle close to the stick), letting the excess paint run off the stick. They ran downward. The effect was perfect.

For the final touch, we used expanding foam to make the entrails. After reinforcing the waist with extra stucco wire, we put a small chicken wire basket inside the pants so that there would be something for the expanding foam to sit on. Then we sprayed. Caution: as the name says, this expands. Use just a little, then add on.

Just some extra words of caution here: ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURE’S DIRECTIONS when using expanding foam products.

We always wear protective gear when using this stuff, especially eye safety goggles. This stuff is so sticky the only way you can clean it up is with acetone when it’s wet and a sander when its dry. You DO NOT want to get this in your eyes. We’ll say it again: be careful!

HALLOWEEN FUN WITH YOUR BPTG:

Time to play the game! Assign points depending upon how far away the hole is, whether the correct body part goes into the correct hole, and how irregularly shaped or difficult the hole is.

Thanks for reading and Happy Haunting!

 

Witches Brew on a Broomstick

“Hubble, bubble, a dead man’s stubble, …
A poisoned well became my task,
A fog crowned night in stealth I crept
And in the vacant mouth I poured
A leprous flask of blasted sin.”

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

You will love serving this delightfully cheesy brew instead of the same old Mexican cheese dip. And the crunchy breadsticks for dipping allow your guests to stir at the cauldron and pick up the pieces of flesh and bone in this warm, rich concoction with the distinct flavor of autumn. Serve this in a hallowed out pumpkin for a stunning presentation!

Ingredients to gather for your brew

    • 1 package of chipped beef, chopped
    • 1 can of condensed mushroom soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 1 chopped large onion
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 1/4 pound of shredded cheddar cheese

To make the brew

Sauté the chopped onion and pepper in the melted butter. Add the condensed soup, Worcestershire sauce, chopped chipped beef, and grated cheese. Heat until the cheese is melted and the ingredients are thoroughly combined, stirring constantly.

Pour into a heated dip server, or serve in a hallowed out pumpkin. Serve with crunchy breadsticks or tortilla chips. Yummy!

  

Graveyard Surprise Cake

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out! I dare you to enter this dark, spooky graveyard and dig in the dirt. When you do, you will discover worms and the slimy (but yummy!) layers beneath the dirt.

This gelatin concoction is great for kids’ parties. It is fun and simple for kids to make. The result is a festive, colorful presentation and a combination of flavors and textures that is completely delectable. It looks gross, but isn’t that the point?

Ingredients

  • 1 package orange flavored gelatin
  • 1 small package of whipped topping
  • 1 package of chocolate pudding
  • 1 package of thin chocolate cookies
  • 1 package of rectangle shaped vanilla or shortbread cookies
  • 1 package of gummy worms
  • Tubes of decorator frosting (the kind you write with)- optional
  • 1 glass 13×9 in baking dish

Prepare gelatin according to package instructions (if you are impatient, use the quick set instructions). Pour into the bottom of the glass baking dish. Add some gummy worms and refrigerate until completely congealed.

While waiting for gelatin, crush the chocolate cookies between pieces of wax paper or rind them in the blender or food processor (this will be your dirt). Set aside.

Prepare the pudding according to the package directions and cool in the refrigerator.

Take the rectangle cookies and use the decorator frosting to write graveyard sayings on the top half of the cookie (the short sides being the top and bottom) such as “RIP” and “Here Lies Crazy Joe”. Decorate 12 cookies. Set on cookie sheets to allow the frosting to dry.

Once the gelatin is completely ready, remove from the refrigerator. Add a layer of shipped topping on top of the gelatin neatly scraping the excess of the sides of the pan to create a layer equal in thickness to the gelatin and as even as possible on top. Then add a layer of chocolate pudding the same way.

You should now have 3 layers that look even through the sides of the glass pan. On top of the pudding, sprinkle the crushed cookies to make a layer about 1/4 inch in thickness. Decorate by sticking the gravestones (the cookies you decorated) into the top so that the decorated part sticks out. Starting on the short end of the baking dish, make 4 rows of 3 gravestones, so that when you cut it, each person gets a gravestone on his piece. Sprinkle the top with the remaining gummy worms. If you wish, you may also add other gross candy (like eyeballs) that you find in a novelty or Halloween store.

Serve chilled by cutting into equal squares. Serves 12.

How to Host a Spooktacular Halloween Movie-Themed Party

FrankensteinEveryone loves a scary movie, and Hollywood has brought us plenty of them. From the Wolfman to demonic possession to creatures that creep in the deep or come from outer space, suspenseful, creative Hollywood movies have helped shape what we think of as horror.

Hosting a Halloween movie-themed party celebrates the monsters that keep us on the edge of our seats, year after year. So grab your cape and walk this way to get started on creating what’s sure to be the best party of the season.

Dressed to Kill

One way to get your guests involved in (and excited about!) your party is to invite them to dress as their favorite horror movie characters.

Guests can dress as individual monsters (like vampires or werewolves), horror film good guys (such as one of the two priests in The Exorcist or Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s character in Predator), or even come in groups dressed as entire scenes.

Encourage your invitees to get their creative juices flowing. The results are sure to thrill, chill…and possibly even make you chuckle.

Be sure to buy or make trophies for “Scariest Costume,” “Most Original Costume Idea” and any other category you’d like to see at your party. (Give your guests a heads-up that there will be awards by having the information printed on their invitations.) In addition to a small trophy, you can hand out movie theater tickets, horror DVD or other goodies as awards.

Need some killer ideas? Here are some great horror movie characters and creatures:

  • The aliens from Cloverfield
  • The shark from Jaws
  • Regan, the possessed child from The Exorcist
  • Father Karras or Father Merrin from The Exorcist
  • Freddie Krueger
  • Jason
  • Jason’s mom – wear the mask off your face, dangling on one shoulder
  • Any horror movie victim; these will often be scantily clad girls covered in blood, or football jocks or dorks covered in blood
  • Dr. Loomis or Laurie from Halloween (trench coat for the former; terrible 70s attire and blonde wig for the latter)
  • The Wolfman
  • The Fly
  • Sam from Trick ‘R Treat
  • A bloodied Carrie from the movie Carrie
  • Any vampire, from any vampire movie…ever…you can’t go wrong with this idea!
  • King Kong
  • Kaiju (i.e. Pacific Rim or Godzilla)
  • Alien (from the Alien franchise)
  • Predator
  • The Mummy – male or female; any (wait for it) incarnation
  • Stephen King’s It
  • The “pet” set upon Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  • The Creature From the Black Lagoon
  • Disney creatures, such as Ursula the Sea Witch
  • Fun monsters, such as Sully from Real Monsters

Home Theater

Decorate the party area to imitate an old-fashioned movie or stage theater. Age some movie posters (easy and often very cheap to find; try online auctions or poster companies) by crinkling and then unfolding them, then arrange them on the walls of the party area.

For an added movie theater-like effect, have spotlights across or near your movie posters. These are simple to make; simply cover flashlights with cardboard tubes painted black (leaving the lighted ends exposed). Place colored bulbs in the flashlights and set them up so that the lights cross one another.

A great place to set up your spotlights is near your haunt’s entrance, so that your guests are “in the spotlight” as they enter. Or have them point upward to illuminate your movie posters. Hang artificial spider webs in the corners of your posters and between them for additional spookiness.

Mood Music

Music immediately sets the mood when guests are arriving, so be sure to choose tunes that are all about movies, monsters and magic spells.

Look for background music or musical artists that fit in with your party theme. “Werewolves of London “(Warren Zevon), “Spooky” (The Zombies), “Ghost Busters (Ray Parker, Jr.),“ “Weird Science (Oingo Boingo),” “Witchy Woman“ (The Eagles), “The Time Warp” (from the Rocky Horror Picture Show) and the immediately recognizable themes from Halloween and The Exorcist are all great choices.

Another idea is to have favorite horror movies running in your DVD player as a background mood-setter; keep the sound somewhat down, as movie voices and action tend to be more distracting than music.

Freaky Foods

For monster-and movie-related snacks, try a few creative ideas:

  • Wrap croissant dough strips crosswise over mini cocktail franks for “mummies in a blanket” (The Mummy, 1932, 1959 and 1999).
  • Lady “fingers” with “fingernails” made of slivered almonds are both tasty and creepy; use any cookie dough rolled and elongated to look like a finger (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991).
  • And of course, you’ll want some “blood punch”, made with any red-colored juice, at the center of your table; buy a novelty hospital blood bag online or at a Halloween store and have the “catheter” leading to the bowl (Dracula, 1931 and 1958 and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992).

You can also continue the movie theme with orange colored movie popcorn–add three drops of yellow food coloring and one drop of red food coloring to some oil or butter and toss well, then place in movie theater-style bags.

If you’d rather, just serve regular popcorn, but place it in striped boxes.

Your horror movie theme decorations, treats and background sounds are limited only by your own creativity. Watch a few horror favorites in advance of your party for more ideas, or ask a few friends. They’ll be thrilled to get in on the action – and to receive the credit for their own ideas at your very special Halloween bash.

Haunted Ghost Cake (with real flaming eyes!)

Boo! What is a Halloween party without a little haunting and some magic? This ghost will surprise and delight guests of any age when you turn off the lights and let the flaming eyes dance and dazzle. It will be spooky!

Not only is this cake simple and fun to make but you will find yourself using this very easy chocolate dump cake for all of your recipes. It is almost as simple as a mix, yet it turns out a moist, rich chocolate cake that will have everyone asking for more!

Ingredients

For the Halloween cake

  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1/2 cup softened butter (cut into pieces)
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda dissolved in 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For marshmallow frosting

  • 2 egg whites (reserve shells)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup of light corn syrup

Utensils

  • Pastry brush
  • 1 13x9x2 inch baking pan
  • Large mixer bowl
  • Electric mixer
  • Rubber scraper
  • Toothpicks
  • Wire cooling rack
  • 16×12 inch serving tray or breadboard covered with aluminum foil
  • Ruler
  • Wax paper
  • 2 sugar cubes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Sharp knife
  • Spatula
  • 1 string of black licorice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Prepare baking pan

Rip off a piece of wax paper a few inches greater than the size of the pan. Use a knife or half of your kitchen shears to trace around the bottom of the pan. Cut the wax paper along the traced out line.

Grease the sides and bottom of the pan with shortening. Lay the wax paper on the bottom of the pan.
Grease the wax paper. Sprinkle some cocoa (not what you have measured for the recipe) in the pan and shake the pan until the cocoa covers the bottom and the sides (you may also use flour, but the cocoa is better for chocolate cakes).

Into a mixing bowl, dump boiling water, butter pieces, cocoa, sugar, flour, eggs, salt, baking soda and milk mixture, and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer for 3 minutes. Pour into greased baking pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a knife comes clean and cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Allow cake to cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then completely on the wire rack before frosting.

To make the marshmallow frosting

Beat egg whites and salt with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar, about 1 teaspoon at a time beating until smooth and glossy. Continue beating and add corn syrup a little at a time, beating after each addition until the frosting peaks. Fold in vanilla. This recipe makes enough to cover a large cake.

Assembly

After the cake is cool, measure across one short edge and mark the center with a wooden toothpick. Measure 4 inches down each long edge and mark with picks.

Cut the cake between the center wooden picks in a curve to make a rounded top for the ghost’s head. Slide the cut corners down the sides to about the center of the cake. Turn the corners so the cut sides are up, to make arms that look as if they are reaching out to you. Attach the arms to the sides of the cake using some of the frosting (or royal icing if you have it handy). Frost the cake with the spatula. Use the round end of the spatula to make peaks in the frosting to give the ghost a spookier look.

Place the 2 egg shell halves you reserved round sides down on the cake for the eyes. Place one sugar cube in each shell half. Make a mouth out of licorice string.

Just before serving, pour ½ teaspoon of lemon extract over each sugar cube. Light the eyes.

Remember to turn off the lights- it will be spooky!

Pumpkin Brains (aka Spaghetti in a Pumpkin)

pumpkin spaghettiOne of my favorite family Halloween traditions is eating spaghetti in a pumpkin on Halloween night. Every year, without fail, my dad would hollow out a pumpkin while my mom cooked the spaghetti, and we would feast at the table. It is a bit messy and time consuming if you are not having a party.

However, if you are having a party, or having the neighbors and their kids over for dinner before or after trick-or-treating, it is a pretty spectacular sight! I have never met anyone else who makes this delightful dish for Halloween. It is a true original.

We never called it anything except for spaghetti in a pumpkin; however, Halloween is so fun and dramatic, that I think it deserves another name. If you etch a face into the side of the pumpkin, this dish can definitely be called “Pumpkin Brains.” That is much grosser and Halloween-ish!

Ingredients

  • 1 Large pumpkin (small enough to fit in your oven)
  • 1 lb of spaghetti
  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce

Instructions

Hollow out the pumpkin. Cut a large opening in the top—larger than you usually would cut for jack-o-lanterns. Save the seeds to roast. Use a knife to etch a face into the side of the pumpkin, but do not cut all of the way through, as the spaghetti will fall out!

Cook the spaghetti, drain and stir in the sauce. Pour the spaghetti mixture into the pumpkin, and cook the pumpkin on a cookie sheet with sides in the oven for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. (The pumpkin will get a little bit juicy as it cooks.) Serve with garlic bread carved into the shape of hands!

Save the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin. Clean them as well as you can. Then toss in olive oil and salt and spread on a cooking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for ten minutes or so until brown. They will be VERY HOT when they come out of the oven, so you will want to wait a bit before eating. You can serve these as “Pumpkin Teeth!”

Banana Brain Cake

Your guests will be delightfully disgusted to see you serving a brain on a platter. Easy fondant icing helps you create a brainy surface that looks realistic. The fun begins, though, when you slice into it and banana pudding oozes out! Bring out your inner cannibal with this tasty idea.

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes white cake mix
  • 8 inch diameter stainless steel bowl
  • 8 inch cake pan (if you’d like to make things even easier, use a brain-shaped mold)
  • spray oil, like Crisco or Pam
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 drop red food coloring
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 box instant pudding (banana pictured)

Baking the Brain . . . Cake

Preheat the oven as directed on the cake mix package and mix in a mixing bowl according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Spray the stainless steel bowl and the cake pan with oil.

Pour some batter into the stainless steel bowl, leaving 1-2 inches at the top.

Pour the remaining batter into the cake pan (it’s OK if it’s very thin).

Place the bowl and the pan into the oven and bake until done. You’ll have to check the batter in the stainless steal bowl with a clean knife or toothpick. Insert it in the center and if it comes out clean it’s done. It will take longer to cook than the batter in the cake pan, so check every ten minutes until done.

Cool both cakes completely for at least an hour.

Assembling the Cake

Mix the pudding according to the manufacturer’s instructions and let chill.

Use a bread knife to hollow out the cake that was cooked in the bowl, within 2 inches of the edges of the bowl.

Fill the recessed area with pudding.

Carefully place the flat cake from the pan into the bowl on top of the pudding, sealing up the cake with the pudding.

Invert the entire cake onto a plate and remove from the bowl. You should now have a dome cake.

Making the Fondant

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, corn syrup and vanilla. Use a drop of red food coloring to give it a fleshy peach color. If it looks to pink to you, add just one drop of yellow. Remember, it will lighten a lot when you add the powdered sugar.

Add up to 2 pounds of powdered sugar until it forms a smooth solid ball that stays together.

Roll out and flatten the fondant using powdered sugar to prevent sticking. When it’s 1/4 inch thick, divide in half and lay the first half over the top of the cake (roll further if it doesn’t quite fit).

Take the other half of the fondant and roll several long “snake” rolls by hand and lay them on top of the cake in a squiggly pattern to create brain matter. Be sure to delineate between the two brain halves. If you used a mold, follow the contours.

When the cake is covered, use a wet paintbrush to polish the top surface and give it a sheen

Cake can be served immediately, or store chilled. Mmmm, chilled brains for Halloween!

    

It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night

Editor’s Note: Recently, we were startled by the visitation of a black-caped D.J., ghoulish in nature, and we thought for sure we were finally done for. However, he stood upright, his mouth turning to a wry grin, and he snapped his long fingers. A funky-sounding Halloween song suddenly began to play through a slight, autumn wind that blew from behind his cape. We began bobbing to it, and thought it a great addition for any kid’s Halloween party. Here we share his story with you.

Danceable Halloween Music

Greetings, my fellow party monsters!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Scaryngton. Count Barry Scaryngton. But you can call me Count Barry Scaryngton.

One dark and stormy night, as I lay awake in my cozy coffin, with visions of ghosts and pumpkins dancing around my head, it occurred to me that I did not have very many funky Halloween dance tunes for my upcoming party.

Oh sure, I have the immortal classic “Monster Mash”. What party would be complete without it? All the ghouls and boos love it. There is also Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and the “Theme from Ghostbusters”. Yas, varry funky indeed, but I realized these songs are not really about Halloween itself!

Hip Hop Halloween NightSo, I went deep underground to a secret lair of my haunted castle, where I have my own recording studio. Yas, Count Barry is pretty hip. There, together with my weird-but-talented friend Ripley von Rapperstein, I conjured up a deliciously fun, funky and G-rated Halloween song for Party Monsters of all ages.

This vonderful tune is a magic brew of rap, singing, and funky dance beats. Whether you are young, old, ancient or even undead, “It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night” will make you clap your claws together, beat your leathery wings, and dance the night away! And, most importantly, there is a guest rap by none other than—yes, yours truly—me, Count Barry Scaryngton! Yas, it is hard to believe, I know!

I invite you now, if you dare, to listen to a demo of the song “It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night” – you can download it at iTunesicon or Amazon. You can search by song title, or by the band name, “Halloween Freaks”.

Ripley von Rapperstein, the other Halloween Freaks, and yours truly, are busily brewing up more funky and fun songs for your Halloween pleasure.

In the meantime, ve hope you enjoy “It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night”.

Here’s the lyrics:

(Listen to the song while singing along – link will open in a new window)

It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night

By The Halloween Freaks

Verses 1:
The time is close, yeah the time is near
You can feel it in your bones, Halloween is here
Gonna get dressed up in a cool disguise
You won’t see my face, you’ll just see my eyes

I’ll be wearing a mask with a hideous grin
When I come to your door, don’t be lettin’ me in
Just give me a treat, maybe two or three
Cause my little brother keeps stealing candy from me

I keep telling him not to, I…wait what is that?
Flying over the moon wearing a big pointy hat!
My eyes must be playin’ little tricks on me
But I swear Jack o’ lanterns are winkin’ at me!

Chorus:
It’s a hip-hop Halloween night
Witches fill the air and spirits take flight
To scare the neighbourhood
But it’s all good
Cause it’s a hip-hop Halloween

It’s a hip-hop Halloween night
Everybody get ready for a Halloween fright
Got a Halloween moon
And a Halloween tune
For this hip-hop Halloween night

Verses 2:
I’m the ghost with the most, I’m a monsta man
Shaking up your bones like no other ghoul can
Got a bag o’ tricks and a bag o’ treats
I’m a beast unleashed with my Halloween beats

Check your broom at the door, get on the dance floor
Come and rattle your chains ‘til you can’t take it no more
You can drink witches brew, you can eat my candy
Keep your fangs off my neck and we’ll be just dandy

If ya turn to dust at the break of dawn
I think I better warn ya that ya better be gone
‘Fore the sun comes up, but that ain’t too soon
There’s a party going on, come and howl at the moon

Repeat Chorus

Vampire rap: (Count Barry Scaryngton):

Raise your claws in the air
And wave ‘em like you just got scared
And if you feel insane
I’ll give you a new brain
Now howl like you just don’t care
Everybody say “owwwooooo!”
Everybody say “aowuuhhhh!”
Everybody say “muhahaha!”

That was very good!
Now please excuse me, I must find someone….something!… to drink!

Chorus – out

(Count Barry Scaryngton talking in background during chorus):

Come and dance with me you old bat!
What do you mean, no?
I’m going home to my mummy!
I will take wings and fly if you don’t dance with me!
Well, fine!
How about you? Would you like to dance with me?
Hey get away from that!
That’s my candy!

© Worldstage Music. All Rights Reserved.

I bid you a good e-ven-ing, and a Happy Halloween!

Recipe: Marshmallow Monster Eyes

Credit: http://kimberlystoney.blogspot.com

These sweet, squishy Halloween treats look positively unnerving staring up from a party platter. For the ultimate in gross realism, the eyeballs gush “eyeball jelly” when eaten. Gross… but very tasty!

Kids love these, but they do have a lot of sugar. So, unless you have padded walls, it is probably best to make sure they have an outside activity to do afterwards – trick-or-treating, perhaps?

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of marshmallows
  • 1 jar of strawberry jam or preserves
  • 1 can of cream cheese or vanilla icing
  • Food coloring (either black, or red and green to make black)
  • 20 Gummi Savers (2 packages)

Making Monster Eyes (Here’s Lookin’ at You)

    1. Turn on your CD player and play “Somebody’s Watching Me” from Rockwell 🙂
    2. Grease a cookie sheet.
    3. Cut the very top off of a marshmallow. You can use either a knife or kitchen shears, but kitchen shears are easier to use and make a cleaner cut. Place the bottom piece of the marshmallow on the cookie sheet.
    4. Use your fingers to hollow out the center of the marshmallow.
    5. Fill the center with ½ teaspoon of strawberry jam.
    6. Fit the marshmallow top back onto the marshmallow bottom.
    7. Repeat for remaining marshmallows.
    8. Refrigerate marshmallows for 30-45 minutes. This helps the top and bottom pieces adhere to each other.
    9. Place the cookie sheet in a 250 degrees Fahrenheit oven, and bake for 6-8 minutes. The marshmallows should be puffy and soft, but not brown.
    10. Remove the marshmallows from the oven – they should have flattened out some, as shown in the picture. Don’t worry if they don’t look perfect – the icing will fix that.

Enjoy!

You’ve Got the Right Stuff – An 80s Theme Party

 

LOOK THE PART: It’s easy to find iconic pieces without breaking your Halloween budget. Click to get this costume.

Over thirty years later, you may no longer have to fight for our right to par-taaay, but that doesn’t mean you should stop! Throwing an 80s theme party is a fun way to be nostalgic, whether it was for your teen years or your childhood.

While you may still be reserving judgment on the collective wisdom of mullets and shoulder pads, these iconic fashion statements make for easy to find the perfect 80s costume.

Read on for totally tubular ways to hang with your dudes and dudettes at your very own 80s theme party.

GO NEON: Your party says “80s” the minute you hang something that’s, like, totally blinding. Click for info.

80’s Party Decorations

When it comes to the 80s, you have a few popular directions for your decorations.

  •  80s style is a combination of neon colors and those classic geometrical shapes. Get some neon bulletin board paper and cut it into bold geometrical shapes (triangles, circles, lines) and hang these from the ceiling and around the room.
  • Drape some lace. Do up your living room like a Madonna video with lace and red roses. Totally rad!
  • A third is one we like to call ‘Solid Gold.’ Premiering in the early eighties, Solid Gold was a popular television program that featured dancers breaking out to hit songs. Like a hangover from the 70s, the original set was all about beige carpets and gold and black accents. You can channel that Solid Gold look into your party room with black and gold decorations.
  • Add a touch of authenticity by decorating the walls with posters from bands like Duran Duran and Wham! You can easily make these by printing poster images large-scale at a local print shop.

Like, Totally Don’t Forget the Atmosphere, Dude!

To add to that 80’s flavor, play DVDs of 80s music videos and movies quietly in the background.

Simply throw on a Devo video, start up the dry ice, rent a few inexpensive laser lights and you’ll turn your living room into a certified time machine!

Party Activities

  • 80s Karaoke: Rent a karaoke machine and encourage guests to sing their favorite song from the era of new-wave and glam metal. In minutes, you’ll have guests belting out Depeche Mode, The Clash, and Def Leppard.
  • Guess The Hair: Print off a few pictures of classic 80’s hairdos (Mike
    HAIR’S TO YOU: We totally feel a metal ballad coming on.

    Score from A Flock of Seagulls, David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider, Robert Smith of The Cure, Joan Collins as Alexis Carrington, Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, or Sid Vicious’s mohawk) and blank out the faces. Award a prize to the party-goer who can guess the most mystery hairstyles.

Wall of Shame: If your guests are older, ask them to bring a picture of themselves in the 80s or send one in advance by email. Pin each picture to the wall and offer a prize to whoever can match the most party-goers to their 80s counterparts.

Rubicks Face-Off: Set up a few easy-to-solve Rubick’s Cubes (take a new cube and only shift it a few times). Stage a Rubick’s Cube competition with prizes for the fastest solver.

Drinks and Refreshments

While it’s hard to make a theme menu based on the 80’s, you could set out a few classic drinks that were hugely popular at the time, including wine coolers, Jolt Cola, Fresca and Tab.

While you’re at it, throw some Nerds, Pop Rocks, Big Chew bubble gum and other novelty candies that hit it big in the 80s in bowls around the room.

1980s Costumes

Stop! It’s partytime. Click for this costume.

You can dress up in full 80s garb with items from your own closet! An oversized sweatshirt with the neck cut out, stretch pants, white pumps and leggings will turn you into

Flashdance while a pastel blazer, t-shirt, and pleated khakis will transform you into Miami Vice. A leather jacket, tight jeans, and chains will make you a punk rocker.

Another costume option is to dress as a specific 80’s icon like Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, Pat Benetar, Madonna (circa Like a Virgin), Tammy Faye Baker, or even Magnum P.I.

Whether you base your costume on a famous person or a general 80s style, you can get creative in your own closet or buy costumes from online retailers, including wigs of classic 80s hairstyles and mullets.

Party on, dude. And remember – stay gnarly!

Savory Severed Monster Fingers

 

Severed fingers with rotted black fingernails . . . hungry yet? A twist on the traditional pigs in a blanket, these delicious digits are simple to prepare, yet they look wonderfully gruesome on an appetizer platter.

Dig in to this phreaky phalanges with the fun recipe below.

Monster Finger Ingredients

  • 2 cans of refrigerated crescent roll dough (each can should make 8 crescent rolls)
  • 1 16-oz package of cocktail smokies (cocktail weenies)
  • sliced almonds to use as nails

“Digit”al Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. If you’re not using a nonstick pan, use Pam or olive oil spray in a light mist over entire top surface of pan.
    3. Open one can of crescent rolls and unroll the dough.
    4. Place one triangular piece of crescent roll dough on the cookie sheet.
    5. Put a cocktail weenie in the wide end of the dough triangle. Roll the dough around the sausage. You should have one layer of dough covering it completely with no edges peeking out. This is the base of the finger – you will still have some crescent roll dough left over.
    6. Roll the remaining dough to form the rest of the finger, tapering it at the end and rounding it off so it looks realistic.
    7. Put an almond slice on the end of the finger. Tuck the edges into the dough so that it looks like a fingernail.
    8. Use a knife to score “wrinkles” into the knuckle.
    9. Put the fingers in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown.

Point this platter in the direction of your ghoulish guests, and enjoy!

Throwing a Widow’s Ball

Get it on – and dance ’til you’re dead. Victorian bowknot ballgown, 7 colors, $89.

A Widow’s Ball is the ultimate, gothic-themed night. Don your black and lace attire and get ready for a Halloween dinner party to remember.

The elements that go into planning a successful Widow’s Ball are the same as a regular dinner party –  just darker, spookier, and much creepier (yeah, we love it too!).

Learn how to throw a memorable Widow’s Ball event this Halloween, including invitations, decorations, and menu and gothic costume ideas.

 

 

 

A Gothic Theme Party – The Invitations

Bring your gothic theme into your party at every opportunity, starting with the invitations. To achieve a dark and eerie look, try distressing and aging the invitation paper. To do this, follow these simple steps:

  1. Print off your invitations on a heavy paper stock.
  2. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F.
  3. Crumple up each invitation into a ball and then smooth them out.
  4. Lay the invitations out on a standard baking sheet.
  5. Pour about 1/4 cup of steeped tea over the paper, spreading it around with a sponge.

6. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of instant coffee over the invitations, allowing the crystals to splatter out.

7. After a few minutes, dab up the remaining tea and coffee with a paper towel.

8. Put your invitations in the oven, “baking” them for about five minutes.

Your antiqued paper invitations will have a truly gothic feel and look to them. Put a few strings of fake spider webbing inside the envelope with your invitation to get your guests in a morbid mood.

With your invitation remember to include directions to your house, costume guidelines , the date and time, and your contact information for RSVPs.

Your Own Costume

Don’t forget your own costume. A Widow’s Ball is about gothic glamor.

For women, pick a costume that combines the regal look of a Victorian ball gown with the dark morbidness of blacks, grays, and a splash of zombie make-up. For men, the classic vampire, undertaker’s uniform or simply a ghoulified suit should do the trick.

Add LOADS of Victorian/goth touches. Gloves, chokers and sexy fishnet stockings peeking from the bottom of your gown will add plenty of dark deliciousness to your Widow’s Ball.

For hair and makeup, create an undead appearance with a pale face, dark circles under your eyes, streaks of gray in your hair, maybe a fang or two, and black fingernails. Have fun . . . but not too much fun. This is a morbid affair, after all.

BONUS: Need makeup help? Here’s a GORGEOUS goth makeup tutorial.

Decorating the “Ballroom”

Give your house a spooky and eerie feel by dimming the lights, draping the staircase in black gauze, running fake cobwebs from the ceiling, and covering the tables with tattered lace.

Black roses are always perfect. So are coffin and crypt imagery.

Feel free to add dramatic touches like a fake graveyard on the lawn, creepy music, dry ice cauldrons on the snack table, and Halloween props that are dark and scary, but not cheesy or overdone. Think gothic lace, not fluorescent jack-o-lanterns.

If you’re a DIY carpenter, try making props like a coffin shaped dining table (easily done with inexpensive plywood), or gravestone covers for the stereo. You can also purchase great tombstone props and fake skeletons.

A Morbid Menu

Whether it’s for a full and formal dinner party or a simple snack table, planning a theme menu will help bring your Widow’s Ball theme into the food, but also give you focus.

For simple party snacks, try these fun hors d’oeuvre;

  • Puss and Dried Scabs (melted Brie with dried cranberries)
  • Creepy Cheese and Crackers (use a small Halloween-shaped cookie cutter to cut your sliced cheese into ghostly shapes)
  • Crispy Bat Wings (spicy chicken wings)
  • Gravestone Cookies (use food coloring pens to write your guest’s names on gravestone-shaped cookies)

For a full dining experience, try creating a themed menu. Here’s an example of a morbidly macabre meal:

Appetizer – Witches’ Cauldron Soup

For a broth based soup, put a dime-store miniature broom or witch (wash them first) in each bowl, and sprinkle fake cobwebs or plastic spiders around the plates below the bowls. For a creamy pumpkin soup, you can serve the soup from a hollowed-out pumpkin “cauldron.”

Main Course – Brain on a Plate with Flesh of Man

For the Brain on a Plate, make mashed potatoes that are either set in a mold or will be molded by you. To set your mashed potatoes in a brain mold, chill them overnight and then reheat them in the microwave before serving. For the flesh, serve your roast inside a skeleton (oh, come on, it’s a fake one!). Get a fake skull (or full bucky skeleton) to place at the head of your roast. Surround the roast with rib bones either picked up from your butcher or culled from the rest of your fake skeleton.

Dessert – Coffin Cake

Cut a pound cake into a classic coffin shape. Slice a 1/2 inch top layer off to make your lid and set it aside. Now, scoop out the inside of the cake to make your coffin. Fill the coffin with brownie crumbs, jelly worms, and candied insects and set the lid on top and slightly askew. Serve it on a wooden cutting board surrounded by dirt (chocolate cookie crumbs) and a shovel (a teaspoon).

Be a darkly merry widow and host your own Widow’s Ball. Invite all your undead friends – and it will be a grim and gorgeous affair to remember.