Spooky Halloween Party
By Kathy Ross for Real Families, Real Fun

If you need some easy ideas for creating a Halloween party with atmosphere that is fun for older children and not "too much" for the little ones, read on! Whether you need ideas for a school or community party, or you want to invite others to have Halloween "out" at your house, here are some cool decorations and games to play. (And don't forget the meringue ghosts in What's Cookin' for treats--and doll costumes at Get Crafty!) With these few simple ideas, you can convert your party place into a delightfully spooky place suitable for all ages.


Ghostly Centerpiece
For a unique table centerpiece, place an inflated round balloon on a small, square carton (like a FedEx box) with an opening that is small enough to support the balloon on top of it. Cover the table, balloon and all, with a white sheet or paper tablecloth. Add two large black construction-paper eyes to the cloth where the balloon is. It will look like a ghost is rising up from the center of the table. "I can't believe that something this easy to do could look so great! The kids love this idea and won't let me take it off the table. We now share dinner with a ghost!" said an Iowa mom.

Floating Eyeballs
Hang pairs of free-floating eyeballs around the room to peer at your guests. Hang sets of eyes from the ceiling, and set them on the table and around the room. Make the eyeballs from pairs of two round balloons held together with a sticky-side-out loop of masking tape. Tape black pupils to the knotted end of each balloon. "We have a pair of white eyes hanging from a plant with fishing twine. Ryan (12) said it was "cool," Peggy LaClair reported.

Batty Bags
If you want to have "goodie" bags, try this sock-bat idea. For each bat, fill the foot of the sock with candies and small toys. If you need to fill out the foot, add some crushed tissue paper. Close the foot with a piece of thin ribbon tied around it near the heel. Tie the two ends of the ribbon together to make a hanger for the bat. The excess cuff on the sock can be trimmed off. Glue black construction paper or felt wings to the back of the bat. Add paper or wiggly eyes and some pointy white rick-rack teeth to the front top for a face. Hang the bats on a line strung over the table for decorations until it's time for the guests to take them home. When the bats have been emptied of their bounty, they can be used for puppets.

An Ice-Face Cooler
Make an ice face to float in the punch using a plastic or rubber facemask for the mold. Close off any openings, such as eyeholes, with plastic packing tape. Place the mask in a dish (because the tape is not totally leak-proof!). Fill the mask with water colored with food coloring, and freeze it. When you are ready to use the ice face, release it from the mask by running it briefly under warm water. "We do something similar to this using a rubber glove to make an ice hand," said our Iowa mom.

Doughnut Owls
Turn plain doughnuts into owls by adding gummy LifeSaver eyes and a candy corn beak to one side with a dab of store-bought tube frosting. Stand a bare branch in a can of children's play dough in the center of the doughnut tray. Perch a doughnut owl or two on the branch for display. To make a serving container for the doughnuts or for cookies, cut the top third off of a pumpkin. Clean out the pumpkin, and line it with foil. Prepare several pumpkin containers to use on the table. "This is a cute and easy food craft to do with a large group! I can do this one with my class!" said a N.Y. teacher.

Bats in the Bathroom
For a nifty bathroom bat soap dispenser, use a rubber band to hold two pump soap dispensers together side by side. Cover them with an old black sock to look like a bat. Cut a tiny hole in the sock so that the white spouts of the two soap containers can poke through the sock to look like the two teeth of a vampire bat. Glue on two paper or wiggle eyes above the teeth. Glue a strip of white rick-rack between the teeth for the mouth. Cut paper bat wings to glue on the back of the bat. Your guests will be clamoring to wash their hands before snacks with the bat soap dispenser.

1) Sprinkle plastic spider rings over your party table. Later, the children can take a spider ring home with them. 2) Light your pumpkins with light sticks or flashlights for your party. 3) Store-bought cobwebs and a tape of spooky music are both wonderful additions to the Halloween atmosphere.

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