Category Archives: DIY Parties

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

Brain Dip With Bone Breadsticks


Image credit:; (inset)

Mmm . . . brains! The human brain is the preferred food of zombies everywhere, so why not serve it at your next Halloween party?

This recipe is actually a tasty red pepper hummus dip in a bread bowl. It’s easy to make and delicious. This dip is complemented by a simple bone breadstick recipe for dipping.

NOTE: Pressed for time or just don’t feel handy with “making” your own brain? Get an inexpensive brain mold. Follow directions below, place in mold, and chill.

Dig in!

PART ONE: Brain Dip


  • 1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed) paste
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers (in a jar)
  • barbecue sauce
  • red and blue food coloring
  • 1 round loaf of sourdough bread OR bone breadsticks (recipe follows below this recipe)


    1. Place all ingredients (except bread) into a food processor. Process the ingredients for 4-6 minutes, until everything is well-blended. While processing, pause periodically to scrape the sides of the food processor to make sure the spices are included in the mix.
    2. If the hummus appears too orange for brains, add a few drops of blue food coloring and process again. Mix blue and/or red food coloring until you have a nice peachy-pink, brain-like hue.
    3. Chill hummus in the refrigerator for several hours. This will allow the flavors to mingle and the dip to thicken.
    4. While the hummus is chilling, cut the top of off the bread and use a spoon to hollow out the inside of the loaf. Make sure to save the bread pieces – they are great for dipping.
    5. When chilled, spoon the hummus into the bread bowl, smoothing the top to create a rounded mound.
    6. Now, it’s time for a fun anatomy lesson. Using a toothpick, divide the brain into 2 hemispheres – the right and the left.
    7. They say that each time you learn something, a new wrinkle forms in your brain. Use the toothpick to draw squiggly lines in the hummus to create these wrinkles.
    8. Drip a little barbecue sauce for “blood” on your shaped brain.
    9. Serve on a platter with chips, bone breadsticks, or pita crisps for dipping.

PART TWO: Bone Breadsticks

These bone-shaped breadsticks are great for dipping in “brain dip.” This recipe uses refrigerated pizza dough for convenience.

To get the bone shape without having a bone-shaped cookie or biscuit cutter, roll each piece of dough into a tube shape, then push in and twist each end.

This recipe makes about 10 breadsticks, but the number of servings will vary depending on how big the breadsticks are.


  • 1 18 oz roll of refrigerated pizza dough
  • olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence or Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • bone-shaped cookie cutter or stencil


  1. Roll out pizza dough on a cutting board. If you are using a cardboard stencil, brush the dough with olive oil so that it will not stick to the cardboard.
  2. Use either the cookie cutter or a stencil and a knife to cut bone shapes out of the dough. (Or roll each piece into a “snake”/tube shape, push each end inward and twist to get a bone-end shape.)
  3. Place bones on greased cookie sheet.
  4. Sprinkles with herbs, garlic salt and parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-8 minutes, until breadsticks are golden brown.

Now, with your bones dipped with brain matter, gnaw away, making sure to smack your lips a lot while making low groaning noises. After all, a zombie doesn’t ask for much. Just your head!

How To Throw a Black & White Ball

Invoke the glamor of early Hollywood films or simply the stunning graphic effect of a room filled with only black and white, and host a Black & White Ball! Great as a fundraiser or a memorable social event, the premise of a Black & White Ball is that guests are requested to only wear black and white.

One of the most infamous Black & White Balls was hosted by author Truman Capote in 1966. Held at The Plaza Hotel in New York City, it was considered by many to be the social event of the decade, perhaps even the century. Guests like Frank Sinatra, Andy Warhol, and Babe Paley joined 500 others in an event that was seemingly so significant it has its own book and full issues of magazines devoted to it. Though not the first Black & White Ball to ever be held, Capote’s is perhaps the most known.

To recreate that glamor as your Halloween theme party, keep reading to learn how to host a successful Black & White Ball – including tips on decorations, menu, and costumes.

Begin The Mood – Invitations

A Black & White Ball is about glamor and glitz. If you can afford it, emboss your invitations on a heavy card stock. For a less expensive alternative, print them at home using an elegant font and heavy paper. If you’re hosting your Black & White Ball as a fundraiser event, consider having the tickets printed by a professional printer. These will serve as a beautiful keepsake for your generous donors.

For a more casual party, such as a Halloween get together, let your guests know that formal dress isn’t expected, just black and white. You may also want to call your event a Black & White Party, as the term “ball” tends to suggest a formal event.

Invoke The Mood – Decor

Nothing less than black and white will do. Elegant white tablecloths, crisp black napkins, white candles and black carpet. Don’t go too far with it though, or you’ll make the room like a black-and-white checkered diner. Keep it simple and subdued, yet absolutely striking.

If you are looking to recreate a splash of Hollywood glamor, consider having black and white photographs of Hollywood icons like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable and even Charlie Chaplin blown up and printed on poster paper. You can then hang them around the room. Another cute take on the icons idea is to convert photographs of your guest into black and white images (usually easy with most digital photo programs) and have those blown up instead.

The Menu – Food and Drinks

Not absolutely everything has to be in black and white, but a few choice food items should give a nod or two to the theme. Here’s a great Black & White Ball appetizer idea:

Black & White Pizza Hors d’Oeuvre

  • 1 ball of pre-made pizza dough
  • 3 cups of black beans
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 8 ounces of shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups of sliced Kalamata olives
  • 3 cloves of chopped garlic
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Oil a pizza pan or standard rectangular baking pan.
  3. Flatten dough to the edges of pan.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  5. Combine oil, cumin, garlic, and half the beans. Mix WELL until smooth.
  6. Spread bean paste over dough.
  7. Sprinkle cheese, allowing bean paste below to show.
  8. Arrange olives and remaining black beans over the top.
  9. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.
  10. Remove and allow to cool. Sprinkle pepper over the top.
  11. Cut into bite-size pieces, ready to serve.

Many other foods, like chicken, olives, pasta, bean paste, black caviar, white crackers, and Brie can all be used to incorporate the Black & White theme into your event.

For desserts try white truffles, black and white chocolate cake, and white fruits with dark chocolate. To create a signature black and white drink for the night, mix Kahlua or any dark coffee liqueur with vanilla schnapps. Done slowly, the two liquids should remain layered and separate – making a fantastic (and delicious) graphic effect.

Costumes To Wear

Black and white, of course. For a more formal event, men should consider a tuxedo or black suit. Women should wear a black or white (or black and white) cocktail dress or gown. For a more casual night, any piece of clothing that’s black or white should do the trick.

As fancy as it can all sound, a Black & White Ball can be as ritzy or as casual as you want it to be. For a great Halloween twist, have your guests come as a celebrity who actually attended a black & white ball! Whatever you decide, let your guests know the expectations, plan well ahead, and last but not least, remember to enjoy yourself on the big night!

Ghostly Kid-Friendly Party Punch For Halloween

This is a recipe with flair! The presentation is part of the overall recipe, and it makes a great centerpiece your Halloween party.

On your table, hang Halloween plastic streamers (the kind with the ghosts and/or witches and cats) around the edges, about one or two inches down. Place a white or light-colored table cloth over the streamers, covering them completely. You can also get a large table cloth that will hang near to the floor.

Under the table place an electric lantern – these usually take two D batteries and are for camping – they throw off almost no heat. You can even cover it with orange or red film. You will then see the shadows of the ghosts, witches and cats through the table cloth. Spoooky!

For the punch, you need a glass punch bowl with a hollowed-out raised base. Take the base of the punch bowl and put underneath either a small flashing electric light or just a regular one. They are small, about tea-light size, and you get them at dollar stores. Putting the punch bowl on top with liquid is a great effect, especially when you lower the lights. Kids and adults will love it!

The party punch is a combination of severed ice hands, eyes, Jello wigglers and the punch itself. You’ll need:

  • Grape drink crystal mix
  • A package of new, unused white latex gloves (doctor style)
  • Grapes (red and/or green)
  • Two ice cube trays
  • Jello – any colour but orange
  • Orange drink crystal mix
  • 2 litres of either ginger ale or 7up/Sprite – For an alcoholic variation, add Malibu or fruity rum

Severed Hand

Mix up the grape drink mix. Put on and wash the gloves and rinse well. Turn them inside out and fill them with grape drink. Tie off the wrists and put them in the freezer. Freeze entirely.

Eyeball Grapes

Wash and separate the grapes. Fill the ice cube trays 3/4 full and put in the freezer – my friend peels the grapes, I don’t – it’s up to you. Don’t let the water completely freeze! After about 45 minutes – your freezer will be different so check after thirty minutes – take the grapes and pop them into the partially frozen water. Wait another 20 to 30 minutes and then top up any cubes that aren’t filled or any grapes that aren’t fully covered. Freeze entirely.

A variation is to cut the grape in half so that it has not only an ‘eye’ but an ‘eyeball’ with the center part. Have fun with it.

Jello Wigglers

Make your jello in a square tray. While mixing, either increase mix or decrease water as if you’re making Jello Wigglers. Let it set.

Main Punch

Mix 2 litres of orange drink mix into punch bowl, and mix in 2 litres of soda.

Cut up the thick jello or just mangle with a spoon (good for young kids to do) and put it into the punch – this adds the slime factor.

Once the Severed Hands are frozen, carefully peel off the gloves. If a finger breaks off, it just adds to the ghoulish ambiance! Put the Severed Hands in the punch. Now add the grape “eye ball” ice cubes (or save them for other drinks). Done!

The effect is wonderful, as the colors swirl and the punch bowl and table is lit underneath. Makes a great prop and delicious punch for kids!

PS. Use what ever punch recipes you like, just use complementary colours and flavors. Happy Halloween.

How to Host a Phantom of the Opera Masquerade Ball

It’s an enduring tale steeped in uber-dramatic design, longing and love, tragedy and terror – and it’s the PERFECT party theme for Halloween or any time you’re feeling a little bit Goth.

It’s Phantom of the Opera, and once you discover how cool this idea can be for your Halloween party, you’ll wonder why you didn’t get your hands on it sooner.

Here we offer your spookiest (and most darkly romantic) tips on how to plan memorable Phantom of the Opera masquerade ball, from the dark invitations to that gorgeous ballgown. Enjoy!

Invoking The Phantom: Your Party Invitations


Set the mood for your guests by sending out invitations that reflect the theme of the party and the mood you want – for instance, very formal; casual dress but high drama; or whatever your choice is for the evening.

Most masqued balls involve the women being masqued too; if so, add this to your invitations.

One memorable invitation idea is to print your invites on heavy card stock and then cut each invitation into the shape of the infamous Phantom mask. Clip two holes in each mask and run a thin elastic through to act as a band, making your invitation a wearable memory.


Credit: Pinterest, Audra Harmon

Another phantom-themed invitation idea is to print your invite on sheet music paper. Available at most music stores, you can purchase sheet music paper and age it to look old by staining it with tea, crumpling it and burning the edges – after you print your invitation details, of course! Roll each invitation up and seal it with a few drops of crimson red wax.

On your invitations, remember to include the date, time, location, whether or not food and refreshments will be served, and your expectations of how guests should dress. If you want to host a formal masquerade balll, indicate so on the invitation – ladies wear masks too! If you want to create a more casual event, let your guests know so they don’t show up in ball gowns and tuxedos. It’s all up to you!

Creating The Opera – Your Decorations

Credit: Paste Magazine

Create a Gothic and operatic feel with simple but stunning decorations. Start with dim lighting and an emphasis on candle light. From there, try this list of decorating suggestions to set the mood at your Phantom of The Opera Ball:

  • Rent or make dark red velvet curtains. Use these to line the walls of your party area and drape your staircase. When draping fabric, always be careful of candle placement.
  • Purchase fake or real red roses. Separate the roses and use them to decorate the room. For sit-down dinners, don each guest’s plate with a single red rose.
  • Play the soudtrack from the musical in the background as well as any favorite opera pieces. For dark and scary classical music, try Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, Mozart’s Requiem, or Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain/Pictures at an Exhibition. Any of these are sure to get your guests’ hearts pumping.
  • Hang fake cobwebs from the ceiling and around the edges of the table, giving the entire room a haunted and gothic look.
  • Use a sporadic fog machine to create a spooky and haunting ambiance throughout the evening. These are easily rented from most party and event supply vendors.
  • Hang a framed print of the poster for the popular musical, either over the mantel or in a prominent place that’s visible when guests first arrive.

Activities for a Phantom of the Opera Evening

If it fits within your budget, hire an opera singer to perform at the party – including selections from the Phantom of the Opera score and pieces of their choosing. For a less expensive performer alternative, try advertising at the local music school for advanced students who would be interested in performing at an event.

Your guests will most likely be dressed up, so provide a space for dancing and a line-up of music for later in the night. You can begin the evening with operatic and classical selections, but as the night wears on you and your guests may want some selections that are a little more contemporary and danceable.

What To Wear to a Phantom of the Opera Masquerade Ball

The primary criteria is a mask. A number of online retailers sell masks that range from elaborate and feathered to simple and basic, including ones based on the classic Phantom of the Opera mask. The general rule for most masquerade events is that guests must wear their masks until midnight.

Credit: Enigma Wigs

For dress, the host should indicate how formal or casual the event will be. Typically men will wear dark suits or tuxedos and women will wear opera-style ball gowns.

In true opera form, women can also opt for an elaborate updo hair style. Grab a realistic hair piece or extensions for ultra-glam and dance the night away in romance…for a night you’ll never forget.

Quick and Fantastic Halloween Party Favors

Every time I had a party for my daughter, either at school or at home, I would rack my brains trying to come up with some simple yet clever party favors to give the kids. Hundreds, if not thousands of ideas exist on the web, but they were either too costly, too hard to find the supplies, or I had to be a full-time artist to make the items they called “simple and cheap.” Time to improvise!

Skeleton Hand Favors

At my local discount store, I looked at all the typical treat holders, which were cute but nothing out of the ordinary. I stood back and started thinking about what I could do with the first item I saw: a package of twelve mini skeleton hands. I thought about what it should be holding in its hand. I grabbed a bag of foil wrapped candy eyeballs, Tootsie Pops, and spider rings. Look how cute they turned out!

Skeleton Hand Favors
Skeleton Hand Favors

Here are several variations you can do in just a few minutes and with a little imagination. Oh, and no one else will be handing out the same thing as you!

Victorian Style Halloween Candy Cones

When I played around with my graphics program, I saw a pattern for a May Flower Cone. My twisted little mind came up with a great simple candy holder that is so inexpensive and creative that you and your kids can make them in one afternoon!


Victorian Style Halloween Candy Cones
  • Halloween color paper
  • Jumbo pipe cleaners
  • Halloween sticker or Halloween stamps and ink pad
  • Stapler
  • Lace and trims
  • Double stick tape/Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
Victorian Style Halloween Candy Cones

Print out a copy of the pattern and cut out as many cones as you need. Gently start pulling the edges together so that a cone forms. Be careful that the tip of the cone is closed so the candy won’t fall out. Staple the edge and down the sides so the cone is nice and sturdy. You can add double stick tape along the edge of the cone if it starts separating.

Punch two holes on either side of the top of the cone and attach jumbo pipe cleaners to form the handles. Your cone is built!

Decorating the Cone

Now comes the fun part! Add stickers to the cones or stamp them with all kinds of fun ink stamps. Take your lace or ribbons and hot glue them around the top of the cone’s outside. Attention: Either parents or adults need to do the hot gluing on the cones, since kids can get badly burned with glue guns!

There are many ways to decorate the cones, and you can make these for all seasons, too. The kids love to get make them, and their friends feel really special when they get one, too.

Victorian Style Halloween Candy Cones

Silhouette Treat Bags


  • Brown or white bags (the smaller the better)
  • Stamper/Stencils/stickers
  • Thin ribbons (two or three colors)
  • Hole punch
  • Black Sharpie marker/pencil

One day I found out that the mom doing the treat bags for the school class had
dropped out. My daughter’s teacher called me in a panic and asked if I could come up with thirty treat bags for the next day. “Sure,” I calmly answered, hung up the phone, my hand already shaking, and then went into a full panic.

I raced around town and couldn’t find thirty of any one kind of treat container! As I jogged past a craft section in a store, I saw bags of little brown paper sacks. I grabbed thirty-five of them (I always goof up on some of them) and gleefully headed home, ideas racing in my mind. I’d been looking at a child’s stencil book the night before and had thought of what great silhouettes they’d make.

I laid all the bags flat on the table and traced each stencil lightly with a pencil. Then I took a Sharpie marker and filled it in. It looked great! Next, I filled the bags with candy, toys, and a Halloween tongue twister I’d printed off and cut into strips. I folded the bag shut and punched two holes side by side. I ran the three colors of ribbons though and tied them in a bow. Done!

So don’t panic if you get caught short or if you just want to do something special for a party you’re helping with at the last moment. Take a minute to look around at what you have and an idea will come to you that will be totally original and wow everyone. Shoot, I make up different favors for every holiday and pull them out to fill when the day comes. So sit back on the next burning hot July day and make Halloween flavors then and store them.

Check back for other ideas. I’ll be posting more Halloween favors and treats for other holidays. You can never have too many ideas on hand!

by Sarah Briggs

Rat Stew in a Pumpkin

This “Rat Stew” is complete with legs, tails, whiskers, eyes and entrails. This Halloween recipe is actually for a scrumptious Mediterranean stew, baked in a real pumpkin for a stunning presentation.

If anyone thinks they have identified the “rat legs” as chicken, simply give them an evil smile and say, “Well, they say everything tastes like chicken, right?” Even though it may look complicated, this is an easy recipe.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 lb chicken wingettes (mini-drumsticks, for the rat legs)
  • 1/2 lb smoked sausage links
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 of a 6.75 oz package of maifun rice sticks (these are very thin Asian rice noodles, for whiskers. You could also substitute angel hair)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • Black olives, for eyes
  • 1 8-10 lb pumpkin


    1. Open the top of the pumpkin. Scrape out the insides.
    2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
    3. Mix 1/4 cup flour, salt, pepper, paprika and thyme together. Reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons of this mixture for thickening the stew.
    4. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Dredge the chicken wingettes in the remaining flour mixture and brown them in the skillet with the oil.
    5. While the wings brown, slice sausage into tails. To make tails, cut each sausage in half vertically. Then, cut each of these halves in half lengthwise. Cut the sausage halves into thin slices that taper to a point at one end, like rat tails. See the illustration.
    6. Chop bell pepper into long thin strips (think entrails). Also, chop onion and mince garlic.
    7. After chicken has browned, transfer it to the pumpkin.
    8. Heat sausage, garlic, pepper, and onion in skillet until sausage is browned and vegetables are soft.
    9. Put sausage and vegetables into the pumpkin with the chicken.
    10. In a bowl, combine broth, wine, Worcestershire sauce, and herbs. Pour into pumpkin.
    11. Place pumpkin on a strong baking sheet and brush outside with olive oil.
    12. Bake for an hour and 45 minutes at 375 degrees.
    13. Remove pumpkin. Break rice sticks into 3-4 inch long pieces and add to the pumpkin stew. If necessary, mix reserved flour mixture into a paste with a little bit of water and add to stew to thicken it.
    14. Return the pumpkin to oven for another 15 minutes.
    15. Remove the pumpkin from the oven, and season stew with additional salt and pepper if necessary. You can either add the black olive “eyes” directly to the stew or serve them on the side as a garnish. When serving stew, make sure to scrape some of the pumpkin meat off of the side.

Yum! Not too much rat in it. Just five or so. Enjoy!

How to Throw a Pirate Party



Yar going to love these hot costumes from Amazon – or get our fast hacks below.

Avast, matey – so ye be wantin’ to throw a pirate party, eh?

Well then look-ee no furtharrr! Whether you’re celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19), hosting a pirate-themed Halloween party, or throwing a pirate’s birthday bash, we’ll cover it all!

Keep reading for cool tips on pirate invitations, decorations, costumes, and mighty-fine high seas menus – including one kick-A watermelon boat you’re just going to HAVE to have.


Pirate Invitations


Start incorporating your pirate theme right from the very beginning – with your invitations. You can make great invitations at home, like a hidden treasure map or a pirate’s hat.


 Treasure Map Invitations

To make invitations that look like treasure maps, print the directions to your party in rhyme and include a small, hand-drawn map that you can photocopy onto the invitations.

Once that’s done, make the paper look yellowy and old by crumpling it and staining it with tea. Roll up the invitation and either tie it with string or, if you’re hand-delivering the invitations, stuff it in a bottle.

Pirate Hat Invitations

If you’re using a thicker card stock, you can also get away with cutting your invitations out in classic pirate shapes, like a pirate’s hat that attendees can wear. (Tip: Pressed for time? Sketch a quick pirate’s hat, write party information in the white spaces, and copy for guests.)

To make a pirate’s hat invitation, start with black card stock or construction paper. Fold a rectangular piece of paper (8.5 x 11 is fine) in half, bringing together the shorter sides.

Turn the corners down along the crease, lining them up (like you’re making a paper airplane). Then fold up either side’s bottom edge to create your brim.

You can make a chin string by punching holes in each side and running elastic or thread through the holes. Print your invitation details, including date and time, and glue it to the pirate hat.

Pirate Theme Decorations

Raise the skull-and-crossbones flag, because you’re throwing a pirate party!

Decorating for a pirate party can be as simple as throwing down some black and white striped cloth over the tables, or as elaborate as turning your entire living room into the inside of a galleon. Some affordable decorative suggestions:

  • Purchase inexpensive fishing nets from your local hunting or gaming store. Drape these from the staircases and ceilings. For an added touch, wrap a few fake skulls up in the netting before you hang it.
  • Scour your basement or local garage sales for old trunks that could double as treasure chests. Fill these with party favors, or even an ice cooler filled with beers (now that’s a treasure!)
  • You KNOW you need a black flag. Fly it above the party table, in the dance area if you have one, or outside to tell guests, “Yar, the party be in here!”
  • Buy metal buckets from your local hardware store and fill these with snacks or, again, more iced beer.
  • Use an old sheet (you can “age” it by lightly dying it with yellow food dye and carefully burning the edges) and stakes from the hardware store to make a sail and mast for the front lawn or even the front room.

Hearty Eating and Drinking

No party is complete without a full refreshments table. Keep your menu pirate-themed by serving pirate drinks and themed treats that are also tasty. Here are some great snack suggestions:

  • Hollow out half of a watermelon to make a boat shape. Fill it with fruit or dip and plant a little sail and pirate flag in the middle. Alternative HOT idea: try out your artistic skills and carve a watermelon shark instead.
  • Pick up inexpensive pirate topper toothpicks and insert into frothy cupcakes.
  • Serve up roasted chicken and turkey legs or jerk chicken for a real island swashbuckler’s dining experience.

    Fill a metal bucket with chocolate coins and mark it “Treasure,” or gummy worms and mark it “Fish Bait.”

  • Make coconut balls and dip them in black food coloring to make them “cannon balls.”
  • Serve a lot of rum (Captain Morgan anyone?) drinks, beer and, of course, some non-alcoholic Pirate’s Punch for those who don’t imbibe. A classic pirate’s drink is Grog – dark rum, a teaspoon of sugar, cloves, lemon juice, a dash of cinnamon and a splash of hot water. Serving it in a hearty mug completes a true tradition.

Pirate Costume Ideas

Amid the death-defyin’ frenzy of putting together your pirate party, don’t forget your own costume!

If you’re not a tailor or creative in your closet, a number of online retailers sell pre-made pirate’s costumes that include wigs, hooks, boots and all the accessories you need to put together a pirate’s outfit. But if you’re feeling creative, check out Pinterest or Google for quick ideas. Here are ours:

  • Hunt for treasure in your own closet! Or check out Goodwill or your local consignment shop.
  • Cut yoga pants jaggedly across the bottom. Instant pirate pants.
  • If you have a white shirt, cut an old shirt of any alternating color into wide stripes. Glue onto shirt with fabric glue.
  • Take an old leather or vinyl belt you won’t be wearing anymore. Cut off the buckle and tie closed.
  • A bandanna gives you an instant pirate look. Red and black are both traditional.
  • For a pirate wench, any wide “hippie” style skirt will work. hitch it up and pin it on one side to the knee, or go super-saucy and hitch it all the way up to the waist. Wear boyshorts underneath if you’re a bit shy!

Grab a phony parrot, pin it to your shoulder and you’re done! Now, walk the plank!

Black Death Punch



Thirsty for something darkly different for your Halloween party? How about an eerie party punch?  We’re grimly glad to deliver this sweet offering (with a little bite!) from guest contributor Sarah Briggs.

Brew Ingredients

  • 1 two-liter bottle of ginger ale, Sprite, blackberry soda, or your soda of choice
  • 1 packet of black cherry Kool-Aid
  • 12 oz of frozen berries (a mix of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries), thawed
  • 1/2 of a 750-ml bottle of Dekuyper’s Pomegranate liqueur*
  • 5 cups of clear rum or vodka
  • 1 packet of Pop Rocks Candy, for special effects (optional)

*For a non-alcoholic punch, simply leave out the alcoholic ingredients. Your punch will still look – and taste – bloody good!


Grab a black cauldron (or other eerie beverage server) and begin cackling. (This part is important! Got to have ambiance, don’t’cha know.) IMPORTANT: Thoroughly chill all ingredients before beginning.

  1. For the “scabs,” mash berries using a potato masher or process in a blender for 30 seconds.
  2. Combine soda, cherry Kool-Aid, berries and alcohol in the cauldron … sorry, your punch bowl.
  3. When you are ready to serve, wave your hands over the bowl and recite: “Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble…!”
  4. Pour in the Pop Rocks immediately before the party – they’ll make the punch snap, crackle and pop for the next several minutes!

Mmm. The Black Death never tasted so good!

Grave Rot Jell-O

As you can see below, this Halloween dessert looks really gross, just the way kids and kids-at-heart like it! However, it’s actually quite tasty – a perfect mix of sweet and tart. Kids will love digging out the worms and other ghoulish goodies from the Jell-O. If you have a Jell-O Mold, you could also make this in a mold. If not, just use a clear glass bowl.

Grave Rot Jello


  • 1 six oz container of lime gelatin
  • 3/4 cup assorted Halloween themed gummy candies-spiders, worms, body parts, etc.
  • 3/4 cup green grapes, for eyeballs
  • 1/2 envelope black cherry Kool-Aid mix (about 1 tablespoon)


  1. Pour the gelatin mix into a medium bowl.
  2. Boil 2 cups of water, and stir the boiling water into the gelatin until the gelatin has dissolved.
  3. Stir in 2 cups of cold water.
  4. Place the gelatin in the refrigerator to chill for an hour and half.
  5. Grave Rot Jello
  6. Take the gelatin out of the refrigerator. It should have a thick consistency but not be entirely firm yet. Pour 1/2 of the gelatin into a clear glass bowl.
  7. Put 1/2 of the gummy candies and the grapes into the gelatin. They should sink just under the surface but not go all the way to the bottom.
  8. Pour the rest of the gelatin on top, and then add the rest of the gummies and the grapes.
  9. Sprinkle the black cherry Kool-Aid mix on top of the gelatin and use a fork to swirl it around.
  10. Return the gelatin to the refrigerator for 2 more hours, until it is completely firm.
  11. Dip into bowls and serve.

Grave Rot Jello

Demented Dime Toss

How to Make a Demented Dime Toss Game

Supplies Needed:

  • White foam core, about 18 inches by 18 inches – available at any craft or art store (or snag a foam board used as packing if a friend bought a new appliance!)
  • Sharpie markers (several different colors)
  • Pencil
  • Colored Duct Tape
  • Bulletin board border (in fall or Halloween design)
  • A roll or two of dimes
  • Two prize containers (one for candy and one for prizes)
  • A t-square
  • optional: 1/2 inch number stickers (how many depends on how many squares you make and how large the squares are) instead of writing the numbers on the foam.
Demented Dime Toss Halloween game

First, we’re going to create the game board. You’ll be using the piece of white foam core (better to see the dimes at night), different color Sharpie markers, “number” stickers if you wish, a roll of colored duct tape (you know I would find a way to use duct tape with every game!), the bulletin board border and a t-square.

With your white foam, draw a two inch wide border around the top and sides but leave a 4″ to 6″ border on the bottom so you can write the name of the game on the bottom. Using your t-square, measure and draw eight lines across and ten down with a pencil, spaced one inch apart – you can do more or less, depending on the size of your foam board, but this worked well for us.

If you choose this number, you should have a total of ninety-nine squares when you’re done. Write a random #1 or #2 in the center of each square, or use number stickers. Next, line the top left and bottom right of the square with a colored marker. With a different color, draw the upper right and bottom left borders. This will give your game board a colorful and finished antique look.

Take the colored duct tape and tape a border around the foam. On the bottom, write a name for your game. Finally, take the bulletin board border, stand it on end, and tape it standing up around the edges of the foam to create a shallow box. This will keep the dimes from racing off the game board. Use the colored duct tape as reinforcement.

What does the #1 and #2 squares mean? It’s a choice between different types of candy, between candy and a toy, or anything you can think of! At our house, I always give the kids a choice of either a toy (#1) or candy (#2). This way it’s up to chance, and they love seeing what they’ve won. Get a roll or two of dimes because you will need extras dimes between the darkness, the bouncing out of the game board, or if a gargoyle comes your way and eats them. Don’t laugh – all things are possible on Halloween night!

To play the game, hand each child three dimes and have him or her try to aim at the number of the desired prize. The rules are simple – if he or she gets two #1 and a #2, and your rules have #1 as a toy, he or she gets a toy, since there’s more dimes on that number. Kids are wild about getting a choice, and I love to supply that choice!

Time to make: About an hour, when you have all the supplies. Draw the squares, number them however you want (writing is faster and cheaper) and taping the stand up border.

Witch Hat Ring Toss

How to Make a Witch Hat Ring Toss Game

Supplies needed:

  • Three or six tall black witch hats
  • Three or six 2 liter bottles, full of your favorite beverage
  • Decorations for the hats (ribbon, sequins or yarn)
  • Sacks or felt to temporarily cover the bottles
  • Jumbo pipe cleaners (several packs)
  • Halloween vinyl table cloth to set the game up on

Simple black witch hats, full bottles and seasonal trim make this a fast game to make, and the kids love it!

Decorate the hats with different ribbons; use trims or even pipe cleaners so they look festive, but be sure you can take the trim off for storage. Set the hats over the soda bottles and make sure you can’t see the bottles’ logos – if you can – cover them with paper bags or felt. Set the soda bottles/hats in various positions on a vinyl table cloth on the ground or on a table.

Witch Hat Ring Toss

Get a package of super long pipe cleaners to make the rings. Check to see if the pipe cleaner wires are sharp. If they are, take needle nose pliers and curl the metal tips of the pipe cleaners under themselves because they can be sharp enough to poke the person tossing them. Use several pipe cleaners or as many as you need for strength to form the ring. Fashion several rings, some large and some small for different difficulty levels, and you’re done! You can assign different points to some of the hats to make it harder, and make several throw lines so every child can play.

Time to make: One or two hours depending on how fancy you want to decorate the hats, and for making the pipe cleaners. Storage is a breeze–drink the contents of the 2 liter bottles, take the hat trim off, and stack the hats before you lay the pointed crown down. Put the hats, band decorations, and rings in a gift size box (large department store holiday box), and you’ll be ready for next year.

Coffin Toss

How to Make an Easy Coffin Toss Game

Supply list:

  • 1/4 inch sheet of plywood to cut into coffin pieces – top and sides
  • Piece of plywood or Masonite for the bottom
  • bunch of nails, or wood screws
  • Cheap, blow-molded bones – available at party stores
  • A can of black spray paint
  • Two hinges

This is a really easy project and actually pretty fast to put together. You can make a toe pincher coffin at your local home building store. Our Lowe’s is outstanding for helping people like me that hate to use power saws. I just took my drawing with me, and they selected the board I needed. They cut the angles and then found a damaged sheet of Masonite for the bottom. All I had to do was come home and nail it all together. (I had to wrestle the project away from those nice guys at Lowe’s!)

Coffin Toss

If you love power tools, you’ll love to do everything yourself! Simply trace out the shape of the coffin and cut it out of the plywood sheet. Use the top to trace the bottom, and cut that out. Use the leftover pieces to make your sides, about a foot deep. Nail or screw all the pieces together to the bottom, and spray paint the entire coffin black. You can use wood glue on the sides before painting your coffin to increase the sturdiness. Drill the hinges into the inner sides of the coffin, and attach the top to it. Use a piece of wood to keep it propped open when in use. Done!

If this sounds like too much trouble, you can go to a party supply store and buy one of several different kinds of coffins. It’s up to you and your budget. Once you get your coffin arranged, buy a bag of cheap blow-molded bones and set the coffin up at a slight angle in your yard. The kids loved tossing different kinds of bones into the coffin, and the bones store inside for next year.

Time to make: No time at all if you get the hardware guys to do it! Probably a nice, lazy afternoon if you do it yourself. This is just too darn fast and easy. Oh, and cheap, too!

Mystic Fortune Telling for Your Spirited Party


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The following is a fun and fascinating contribution from a guest author who really did her homework. Enjoy!

Once upon a time, telling the future was an integral part of Samhain (in Celtic times), and then Halloween (particularly in the late 1800s, at spooky, ultra-phantasmic parties).

Today, there just isn’t as much emphasis placed on fortune telling on that spookiest of days.

We think it’s time to revive a few fun, fascinating and fortune-filled old customs. Today we talk about all things fortune telling, and how you can make your own Halloween party all the spookier AND more, well, telling this year.


In American Victorian times, fortune telling was one of the most important events at any Halloween gathering.

While “begging” for treats and dressing in costumes was still a few decades in the future, many a 19th to early 20th century maiden could be spotted be sitting in her parlor dropping a hazel nut in the coals of her fire on  All Hallow’s Eve. (She’d have named the nut for the one she loved; if it burned completely, he was sure to always be true.)

The traditions were many, and one or two survived, even to the present day.

Old Spells, Modern-Day Charm

Some old-time charms have disappeared into the mists of history, many have been revived by books and neo-pagan traditions, as well as a general fascination with all things vintage. In their earliest incarnations, these nearly always focused on love, marriage and other coming-of-age areas of interest.

A few of these old traditions are so easy, you can incorporate them into your Halloween party today with just a few simple ingredients. For example, check out these Victorian charms (make them a part of your next spooky gathering!):

A late 19th century marriage-ready girl might peer into a mirror at midnight expecting to see the face of her love. (Remember Bloody Mary, the twisted side to this sort of scrying?)

And “he loves me, he loves me not” with flower petals hearkens to just such love rituals. This is a simple incantation that can be done any time, anywhere but can take on special significance if you sit in a candle-lit dark room on Halloween and take turns slowly pulling the petals.

Charmingly, many of these “spells” are illustrated in antique Halloween postcards, particularly as in the 1910s and 1920s, Halloween parties became the vogue.

Party games were now fashioned with the same goals in mind as the old charms. In the 1912 book Games For Hallow-e’en by Mary E. Blain, one such game is the Dough Test. Here’s how: take water and flour and make dough; write on slips of paper names of several opposite friends; and roll papers into balls of dough and drop them into water. The first names to appear will be the future husband or wife.

The Spirits are Rising: Party “Games” Evolve

Also around the turn of the century, there was great interest in spiritualism, including seances to communicate with those gone on to loftier but perhaps restless pastures.

At this time, although most games were still focused on love and marriage, fortune telling items and games not strictly “Halloween” became popular. Many Halloween party guides of the era, such as the Dennison Bogie Book, suggest having someone perform as a gypsy, or crone, and read the tarot.

Today many Halloween collectors also collect all sorts of fortune telling items. One of the most coveted is the Sybil Fortune Telling Doll, seen here in her original turn of the century composition version and in her 1930s cardboard litho version.


In the 1930s cake charms became popular. You can still buys these at some party or novelty stores today. The idea is that you bake these into a cake, and when a guest finds a particular charm in his piece he checks it against the list of fortunes to see what lie ahead for him.

Other popular party fortune telling games were Halloween “punchboards.” These were cardboard pieces with multiple holes. The holes were filled with tightly rolled scrolls of fortunes and covered by a decorative paper front and a paper back. A metal peg was provided so you could punch the fortune through the paper. (This can be a VERY fun craft to make for your next Halloween party.)

Spinner fortune games in which one would use a spinner to point to one’s fortune were also popular. In one version the spinner may point to a symbol that would correspond to an accompanying chart or directly to the fortune.

In other versions the player may be required to do a stunt in order to get his fortune, thereby making the game more entertaining. Some of these spinner type games were Fortune By the Luminous Cat, Whirl-O, and Spin-O-Rama.

Two other interesting versions are a metal spinning fortune top and a metal disc that spins to reveal a window with a fortune underneath. This Halloween fortune game was called “What the Stars Say.” (You can make your own simple version of any of these games by drawing a circle pie-wedge divided, with fortunes written on each wedge; and a pendulum on a chain or dice to land on a pie wedge.)

Most of these games remained popular through the early 1950s and then seemed to lose favor, bowing to a more sanitized Halloween. The new era of Halloween party played more musical chairs and telephone, listened to a spooky story, or played the Grand Prize game.

A Fortunate Revival

Today’s Halloween party goers are once again enjoying the fun and mysticism of fortune telling. They bring their Ouija boards out, bring along a deck of tarot cards, perhaps the hostess bakes a cake with the charms in it or invites a psychic to foretell the future. And of course, tarot cards are more popular than ever.

Halloween collectors eagerly seek fortune telling items and Halloween games for their collections, some antique fortune telling games are extremely valuable. An antique McLoughlin Brothers lithographed fortune telling game, The Mystic Wanderer, recently sold on eBay for $820.

Perhaps you will be wooed to the mystic side of our favorite holiday. What is in the cards for you?

Halloween Trivia Game – Music Pop Quiz

Music and games: this classically chilling combo really sets the mood at your Halloween party. So just for you, we’ve pulled together this easy, awesomesauce  Halloween music  trivia game!

Quiz yourself or a creepy friend with these 13 creepy classics. They span nearly six decades so everyone can get in on the freaky fun. Enjoy!

1) According to the song “Werewolves of London,” what was the werewolf at Trader Vic’s drinking?

a) a gin and tonic

b) a pina colada

c) a sex on the beach

d) a sloe gin fizz

(Answer: b)

2) According to the Charlie Daniels Band, what fiddle-player did the devil encounter when he went down to Georgia?

a) Billy Ray

b) Cotton-Eyed Joe

c) Trevor

d) Johnny

(Answer: d)

3) In the Disney classic children’s Halloween song, what do the Grim Grinning Ghosts come out to do?

a) socialize

b) haunt the mansion

c) awaken the dead

d) dance

(Answer: a)

4) What Australian rock band wrote “Hell’s Bells” in an album released Oct. 31, 1980?

a) Black Sabbath

b) White Zombie

c) Alice Cooper

d) AC/DC

(Answer: d)

5) What spooky television theme song was nominated for a Grammy in 1965?

a) The Addams Family Theme

b) The Twilight Zone Theme

c) The Munsters Theme

d) The Outer Limits Theme

(Answer: c)

6) The Spanish-influenced classic “Black Magic Woman” by the band Santana has an alternate name. What is it?

a) Gypsy Queen

b) Witchy Woman

c) Borderlands

d) The Spell

(Answer: a)

7) What world-famous bad boy did the Rolling Stones have sympathy for in 1968?

a) Pilate

b) the devil

c) Vlad the Impaler

d) Joseph Stalin

(Answer: b)

8) Who wrote the song “Spooky” (“…Love is kind of crazy with a spooky little girl like you”…)?

a) Mike Sharpe

b) Dennis Yost

c) The Classics IV

d) Atlanta Rhythm Section

(Answer: c)

9) How many horns did the Flying Purple People Eater have?

a) one

b) two

c) three

d) four

(Answer: a)

10) What must you leave at the door if you wish to enter the Dead Man’s Party?

a) your weapons

b) beer

c) your body

d) your inhibitions

(Answer: c)

11) According to the rock band Eagles (bonus trivia: it’s just “Eagles,” not “the Eagles” – yup, really!), she’s been sleeping in the devil’s bed. Who is she?

a) Melania Trump

b) the Enchantress

c) the Witchy Woman

d) money (it’s symbolic)

12) His jarring “Cupid Carries a Gun” was used as the theme song for the short-lived TV series Salem. Who is he?

a) Marilyn Manson

b) Rob Zombie

c) Dannie Elfman

d) Thomas Dolby

(Answer: a)

13) Apparently, this group LOVED trick-or-treating in the 1980s! Who performed “I Want Candy”?

a) Bow Wow Wow

b) The Bangles

c) Cindy Lauper

d) The B-52s

(Answer: a)

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Black Kettle Treat Buckets

Need to add some lights to your steps or room? Grab one of the black plastic kettle treat buckets and cut an ‘X’ in the bottom. Grab a string of colored outdoor mini lights and lay them in the bottom of the kettle. Pull the cord through the bottom of the kettle, and ta da! You now have an indoor/outdoor, eerie-looking light fixture for little or no cost.

You can really dress this idea up is you have a drill and an old pumpkin carving template. Tape the template on the side of the kettle and get a pencil. Make a dot where you want to drill your holes and get started. Practice with your template on a piece of cardboard first before you tackle the kettle. You can line your walkway or steps with these and have them for next year too.

Jack-O-Lantern Treat Buckets

My daughter is only eight, and she seems to have collected ten or more jack-o-lantern treat buckets! I was desperately searching the Halloween odds and ends box for anything I could use when I casually knocked into a stack of jack-o-lantern treat buckets. I started to push them back into the closet when I got an idea. This was just too perfect!

I grabbed five of the treat buckets that were different sizes and colors and headed to my costume trunk that is filled with hats, glasses, wigs and costume props. I put a plastic safari hat, funky wig and glasses on one treat bucket, and it looked great. I put a child’s witch hat with hair, one with a bat hat and one with a fez. In less than ten minutes, I had five inexpensive, great looking decorations! Kids and adults alike could knock them over or carry them around, and these decorations would withstand the test of time and toddlers. I couldn’t believe I didn’t have to buy a thing! This was just the kind of idea I needed! It was just the beginning once I realized that there were other decorations I could make from this box of junk.

Don’t forget to add some of your old Christmas lights inside the Jack-O-Lanterns for a really eerie look! Put a string of orange, green or amber lights in your decorated treat buckets, add a funny wig or hat and wow! Put that decoration in a dark corner and watch it come to life! If you have the space, why not put several different sizes in one grouping? I even use them for heads for my scarecrow family. I now pick up all the buckets I can find at yard sales and flea markets. Funny, people almost give them to you. The jack-o-lanterns decorations were the hit of my party and survived my big and little guests much better than some of the things I had made or spent big bucks on. I wish I could have said the same for the twenty dollar prop I bought because I just had to have it.