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Planning a Halloween Party to Perfection

Columnist Kellyanne Koemp is hosting a Halloween party for a playgroup and shares her spooky suggestions.

One of my favorite holidays is Halloween. It’s the one holiday when we can be someone we're not, which is something usually only actors get to indulge in.

Costumes with make-up to make us look angelic or hideous? Your choice!

A Halloween party can be a yearly occurrence, but in my opinion parents should throw one for their children at least once in their childhood.

Of course, you have to be sure that the parties are age appropriate. This year, I'm hosting a Halloween party for our playgroup, which is comprised mainly of preschool children.

So the party can't be too scary, but as my kids get older we’ll be able to make the party scarier and scarier.

Ghoulish Games

Kid-friendly party games aren't always an easy task, but I found a terrific website with some great ideas for Halloween party games.

The best idea was their Halloween Game of the Week. You place a small pumpkin pail on the floor a distance from the participants, appropriate for how old the kids are. For tweens, you may want to put it a far distance away.

One by one, each player tries to toss pieces of candy into the Halloween pumpkin pail one at a time. When every player has taken their turn, all of the scores are tallied up and the player who successfully tossed in the most pieces of candy wins the entire plastic pumpkin filled with the candy.

A mini pumpkin hunt is another child-friendly game. Have the kids find all the hidden pumpkins and the person who gets the highest amount of pumpkins wins.

You could also have different points for different pumpkins, either based upon how difficult they were to find or just with random values.

As always, be sure you have enough prizes for the younger kids, so that all go home with prizes. In my opinion, for older kids, the competitiveness of the games is OK.

Creepy Cooking

As far as Halloween-themed recipes, the Internet is a good resource for this, as well as memories from past Halloweens.

From my own family treasury, Halloweenies were always a hit. This dish has three simple ingredients: Crescent rolls tubes, hot dogs and processed cheese slices.

  • Cut the hotdog almost in half, stuff it with the cheese slices and roll up in the crescent dough.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until brown, and then serve.

We ate these every Halloween. It works as a nice party food too.

To snack on, in addition to chips and dip, consider freshly made pumpkin seeds. They are easy to make.

  • After scooping out your pumpkin, place the seeds into a bowl and clean the seeds as well as you can using cold water.
  • Let the seeds soak in salted water for 30 minutes and then drain.
  • Dry the seeds and place them on a sprayed cookie sheet in a layer.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes.

This is something you can do at the party if you decide to carve pumpkins there, depending upon the age of the kids.

Deliciously Daring Dessert

For a creepy but cool dessert idea, follow these simple steps.

  • Buy some donut holes and dip them into melted white chocolate.
  • Stick a brown or blue candy coated chocolate in the center and make red streaks across.

Bloodshot eyeballs anyone? For added creepiness -- and for older kiddies -- stick a few on a wooden skewer.

Halloween crafts and party supplies can be found at Michaels or AC Moore and also online from places like Oriental Trading Company. A goody bag idea is a trick or treat bag with a starter amount of candy.

Haunting decorations and contents for a goody bag can be found from local party stores, but you can also find some at local craft stores, online stores or dollar stores.

Dollar stores are helpful stores in this economy and I was able to find adorable plastic pumpkins and skulls which I plan on floating in the punch bowl or placing in the glasses.

If you use this idea, be sure that whatever you place in a drink are large enough so that nobody accidentally chokes.

Frightening Photos

Another fun idea, especially for the teen set, is to make a spooky backdrop scene and take photos of your guests.

They will feel like the celebrities they are dressing up to resemble. You can get the backdrops on eBay or at a party shop.

Ones found on eBay can get expensive, but if you are planning on using them again in the future it may be a worthwhile investment.

Of course, you can set up a camera in front of a specially-decorated area or your house, indoor or outdoor, using decorations that you already have or ones that are easy and inexpensive to make.

A fantastic Halloween party doesn’t have to coast an arm and a leg. You just need to think outside the box a bit and have fun!

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