Want to make your own Halloween shivers?
Here are a handful of frighteningly easy food and decor treats to make for a party, your child's classmates or just your own family's enjoyment. Except for the cake pan, the materials are cheap, and everything is available locally at craft stores and baking-supply shops.
Carving a jack-o'-lantern should wait until just days before Halloween because in the unseasonably warm weather we're experiencing this year, the cut pumpkin flesh quickly will start to wither and attract bugs. In the meantime, kids can have fun painting spooky or silly faces and designs on mini pumpkins. The three pictured here were created by 10-year-old Connor Farrow. For the white and black pumpkins, a coat of spray paint first was applied. The stems were protected with aluminum foil. The faces were sketched on paper, then on the pumpkins, using pen so that mistakes could be removed with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Connor used acrylic craft paints and a black paint pen to make the designs.
For a few dollars more than a mini pumpkin, a child can create a lasting piece of decor by painting the foam craft pumpkins that are popping up at more and more stores, from Target to Hobby Lobby to Michaels and others. (Some of these foam pumpkins, like Funkins, are carvable, too.)
Note: Remind kids to be patient with their painting. It's harder to paint on a curved surface than on a sheet of paper, and they'll need to let one color dry before applying another atop it or adjacent to it.
Mmmm, crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside -- just like a real spider! These candy critters could not be easier. Start with a round lollipop, such as a Tootsie Roll Pop or a Charms Blow Pop. Wrap it in a small square of black tissue paper or, as used here, squares cut from black paper napkins. Secure the paper to the lollipop stick by twisting three or four pipe cleaners around it. Bend the pipe cleaners into "M" shapes to create legs; if you bend them just so, they'll lift your spider's body a bit so that it wiggles when lightly tapped. Glue on some googly eyes and you're done.
Kids eat this stuff up! (Well, not literally, but the good news is that if a child does consume some, it's nontoxic.) We've packaged this slime in zip-seal snack-size bags to give to kids at birthday and Halloween parties, and it's always a hit. It's easy to make and -- if you ensure kids use it only on tabletops and other solid surfaces -- easy to clean up. Even if dropped on fabric or carpet, it's easily picked up if you do it immediately. Note, though, that if you color it heavily and let it lie on a surface, it may stain. It's best to have kids play with it on a tray or wax paper.
One batch should make enough to be divided among 10 snack bags. Here's how to make it:
1. In one mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of water, 1 cup of white glue and six drops of food coloring. (We used Elmer's Glue-All and, to get a richer color, Wilton Icing Colors. These come in 1-ounce bottles and the dye is a gel, which I extracted from the bottle with a toothpick, then stirred into the water/glue mix.)
2. In a second mixing bowl, stir 4 teaspoons of borax into 1 cups of warm water until it's dissolved.
3. Pour the contents of the first bowl into the second. Knead it by hand to ensure the dye is evenly distributed among the goo. Drain off the excess water.
To divide the goo into portions, we've found it easiest to lay it on a rimmed cookie sheet. It will spread into a pool, which you can apportion as you like.
Note: If kids keep their hands and play surface clean, and return the goo to its bag after use, it should provide many hours of play.
Like the mini pumpkins, this was painted by Connor Farrow with acrylic craft paint. Start by painting a rounded river rock the color of your choice. Paint the "hole" and shell cracks black (you may want to use a paint pen for the cracks), then paint any creepy eyes you like. It doesn't matter whether you use flat or gloss paint, because you'll want to spray the egg with a protective coat of glossy clear lacquer.
Check out some other cute Halloween rock-painting ideas at www.multiplesandmore.com/crafting-with-kids/crafting-with-kids-halloween-rock-painting .
Want to do something simple but eye-catching for a Halloween celebration cake walk or bake sale? This will put you "a head" of the game.
With this Dimensions 3-D Skull Pan, even a simple white cake dusted with powdered sugar will have kids -- boys, at least -- oohing and aahing.
A plastic spider and some eyeballs from Dollar Tree dressed it up a little, but to see what true cake-decorating artists can do with the skull cake as a starting point, check out www.wilton.com/ shapedpan/Dimensions-3-D-Skull-Pan. There, you will see images of, and instructions for, mummy, monster and Day of the Dead cakes that use the pan.
The pan's retail price is $34.99, but you are likely to find a sale or store coupon that will save you some money.
If you search "sweet bones" on marthastewart.com, where we got this particular recipe, you will see picture-perfect meringue bones.
I'm no Martha Stewart, but with a bit of practice, I was able to pipe shapes that clearly looked like bones. And my kids were happy to gobble up my mistakes.
For a party, these bones are fun to display on a bed of crushed chocolate graham crackers, either on a plate or tray. Gummy worms are a nice accent.
I have baked these bones before and they came out great -- crisp and dry to the touch.
This year, they stayed a little sticky on the surface, but I remedied the problem by rolling the bones in powdered sugar.