Halloween's a great time to be a kid - or an adult ready to revisit childhood. Here's a compilation of Halloween tips to make your holiday fun.
Dressing up in costume - whether to scare away evil spirits or just for the fun of it - is an age-old Halloween custom. You can find costumes for sale everywhere - or with a bit of do-it-yourself creativity, you can make one that's even better.
"All it takes is a little imagination and a few supplies to transform your child's identity for Halloween," said Penny Warner, author of "Quality Time Anytime" (Meadowbrook Press; $9).
Making a Halloween costume instead of buying one has its advantages. Creating a "custom costume" provides an outlet for creativity and reduces the likelihood of duplicates at a party. Furthermore, the choices are endless. And best of all, custom costumes are cheap.
"My daughter wanted to be Peter Pan, and we could not find a costume anywhere. So we put our heads together and found nearly everything we needed at home or in grandma's closet," said Beth Hoebelheinrich, mother of two. "The costume turned out great, and we had a lot of fun making it together."
Warner offers some great tips on making your own Halloween costumes in her book "Quality Time Anytime":
¢ Gather old clothes and accessories such as skirts, dresses, shirts, shorts, vests, gloves, hats, shoes, costume jewelry, ties and scarves from your closet or a thrift shop.
¢ Let your child choose and assemble various articles of clothing to create different costumes. Pick the costume you both like the most.
¢ Encourage your child to create a story to go along with the costume.
¢ When Halloween is over, put the dress-up clothes in a box and let your child choose items to create different costumes all year round. Your child can put on a fashion show or act out a story using the different costumes.
Once you have a collection of dress-up clothes, your child will be creating and dramatizing new characters on a regular basis. Your child might even use his or her costumes in a future school play or musical.
Fun for older kids
Enticing as a harvest of Halloween candy can be, some kids may feel too old to trick-or-treat. Instead of missing out on the fun, try some alternative activities with your kids.
Host a slumber party
Ninety seven percent of kids in America have been to a sleepover or slumber party at least once. Try making this favorite activity into a night of Halloween fun. Penny Warner, author of "Slumber Parties: 25 Fun-Filled Party Themes" (Meadowbrook Press, $4 at www.meadowbrookpress.com) recommends playing host to a party with a fun and frightening theme.
Sorcerer's Magic Party
¢ Send invitations written in invisible ink along with a decoder pen so guests can figure it out.
¢ Create a sorcerer's stage by hanging up a sheet and decorating the area with glow-in-the-dark shapes.
¢ Have the guests perform magic tricks on the stage. Provide capes, top hats and magic wands. Have the guests reveal their secrets and take turns teaching one another magic tricks.
Midnight Mystery Party
¢ Send invitations in the form of a ransom note. Using letters cut out of magazines, tell your guests, "We're holding your party favor for ransom. Here's how to collect it :"
¢ Make your home a mystery mansion by dimming the lights and hanging spooky cobwebs.
¢ Play mystery games like "Clue."
Create a haunted house
Along with friends, let your child create a haunted house in the basement or living room. Working in advance, they can create creepy costumes. Choose one teenager to lead neighborhood families through the house. "Instant Parties" (Meadowbrook Press) coauthor Luann Grosscup knows how to frighten the socks off of unwitting guests. Write, "Believe in Bloody Mary," on a mirror in red lipstick. Just be sure that your guests aren't too young to handle the scare.
Hand out treats or escort younger children
Put your older children in charge of distributing treats to neighborhood kids. Or have them help make Halloween safe for others by supervising neighbors or younger siblings. Every child should be escorted while trick-or-treating. According to Vicky Lansky, author of "Practical Parenting Tips" (Meadowbrook Press), a flashlight and reflective tape will also keep kids visible and safe.
Play host to a scary movie night
On a blustery Halloween night, nothing hits the spot like a spooky movie. If your child is too young for horror flicks, try some of these mildly creepy films:
¢ "Hocus Pocus": This film starring Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker depicts three old-fashioned witches stuck in the present day. This funny flick is rated PG.
¢ "Freaky Friday": The 1976 version of this film is rated G. It tells the tale of a mother and daughter who fall under a magic spell and switch places for the day.
Instead of letting your kids get bored or even mischievous this Halloween, try some of these alternatives to trick-or-treating. You're sure to have a frighteningly fun night.
Having a monster Halloween bash? Parties are times for celebration, but all too often drunk driving turns these happy occasions into tragedies. By providing nonalcoholic drinks for designated drivers and those who don't want alcohol, you can help friends and family stay safe this Halloween.
"The Mocktail Bar Guide" (Meadowbrook Press, $10) written by Frank Thomas and Karen L. Brown, contains more than 200 recipes for alcohol-free drinks.
Combine 1 12-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate, 1 12-ounce can frozen white grape juice concentrate and a 2-liter bottle of chilled lemon-lime soda. Stir until blended. Then float scoops of orange and lime sherbet on top. Makes 20 8-ounce servings.
Mix 1/2 gallon lime sherbet and 1 2-liter bottle of chilled ginger ale in a large punch bowl until blended. If desired, pour punch into large, cleaned-out pumpkin. Using a melon baller, float orange sherbet scoops on top. Makes 20 6-ounce servings.
Pour 4 ounces of chilled, fresh orange juice into a collins glass, and then add 4 ounces chilled seltzer. Float an orange sherbet scoop on top. Garnish rim with orange slice. Makes one serving.
Blend at high speed in a blender 1 large sliced, seeded, and chilled mango with the juice from 1/3 lime and 1/3 cup crushed ice until thoroughly mixed. Add 1 cup seltzer and blend briefly. Pour into balloon glass and garnish rim with lime slice. Makes one serving.