Halloween is a holiday that has captured the hearts of children as well as adults. It is celebrated in a much more relaxed manner today than in past centuries, when people carried out traditional customs protecting themselves and their families from evil spirits. Today, Halloween has become a wonderful family holiday with time well-spent engaging in numerous projects—carving pumpkins, creating costumes, decorations, parties and experiencing trick-or-treat adventures. Mostly, it’s a time of fantasy to escape today and become something or someone else—even for a short amount of time. Spend the month of October exploring the many facets of this fun holiday. Create and enjoy with some of these “together time” activities.

1. Make A Halloween Tablecloth—Have the kids deck the family table with a homemade covering that will bring everyone into the Halloween spirit. Roll out a giant sheet of brown butcher paper. Gather your children and their friends to engage in mural making. Using crayons and markers, the kids can draw such characters as ghosts, pumpkins, bats, cats, skeletons and so on. Have each child autograph their drawing, making this a festive conversation piece at the dinner table.

2. Two-Faced Jack-o’-lanterns—This jack-o-lantern changes his mood from Mr. Smiley to Mr. Scary when he twirls around. Cut a large pumpkin shape from orange construction paper. Invite the children to use black crayons or markers to make facial features of a smiling jack-o-lantern and then on the flip side, have them create a scary face. Punch a hole at the top, adding yarn or ribbon to hang this decoration. Watch his personality change as he twirls around in the breeze.

3. Lolli-Lanterns—A “lolli-lantern” is a jack-o-lantern lollipop placed in a setting—a pumpkin patch. To make the lolli-lantern, cut large squares of orange tissue paper and gather this paper around the lollipop. The round kinds work best. Twist a black pipe cleaner securely around the pop, to fasten the paper and make it look like a “bow-tie”. Invite the kids to draw faces on each pop using a black marker.

Make the pumpkin patch with a piece of Styrofoam that can be placed inside a plastic berry basket. Paint the foam green. When dry, insert the lollipop sticks into the foam and arrange the “lolli-lanterns” as if they were proudly standing in the pumpkin patch on Halloween. This makes a nice centerpiece for your table and when the appropriate time comes—a “yummy” treat for the kids.

4. Ghoul Gloves—Give each child a pair of disposable latex gloves. With colorful makers (the permanent ones work best), have the kids decorate the gloves as they desire. Think about ghoulish things like, green fingernails, fake scars, rings on each finger, a cobweb, the list is endless. When finished, the children can slip on these special gloves and feel festive.

5. Make a Halloween Brew—Combine one quart of apple cider with a couple of cinnamon sticks and cloves. Bring this to a boil and simmer the brew for about ten minutes. Cool. Add one quart ginger ale soda and served chilled in Halloween cups.

6. Boo Prints—Find some discarded bubble wrap and cut out several ghost shapes. Tape these onto several layers of newspaper laying flat on a table surface. Invite the children to paint these shapes with white poster paint. They can then lay a sheet of black construction paper over the ghosts—press. Carefully lift the paper to reveal the ghost prints. When finished, have fun popping the bubble wrap—kids can’t resist the sounds.

7. Create a Halloween Wreath—Use a paper plate with the center circle cut out. Paint this wreath with poster paint. Have the children cut out Halloween figures—jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, bats, black cats, candy shapes and so on—from construction paper or felt. Tracing around cookie cutters makes great shapes. Also, think about coloring books and clip art on the Internet. Glue these around the paper plate circle. Tape a paper clip or piece of looped string onto the back to act as a hanger. If you wish, you could tie yarn or ribbons around the circle and let the ends blow in the wind. This project makes a festive decoration for your home or child’s room.

8. Play Musical Brooms—Your children will love this game to play with the family and/or friends. Have everyone stand in a circle. As you play music, have the players pass a broom around the circle. When the music stops, the player holding the broom is out and takes a seat outside the circle. Continue playing until only one player is left.

9. Shave “Old Jack”—Inflate and tie the end of an orange balloon. Use a black permanent marker to draw on a jack-o-lantern face. Cover the balloon with shaving cream. One child holds the balloon, while another child shaves “old Jack” with a Popsicle stick “razor”. Take turns and repeat the process. Be careful not to break the balloon!

10. Halloween Sandwich—Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese onto an English muffin half. Make a jack-o-lantern face using black olives and pepper strips (green or red). Heat the sandwich in the oven until the cheese melts.

11. Create a Face Cookie—Buy or bake oatmeal cookies. Invite the children to frost the cookies with peanut butter or chocolate icing. Give them a plastic knife to do the frosting (nothing sharp). Provide decorations such as: chocolate chips, candy corn, gumdrops, shoestring licorice, tiny marshmallows and fruit-flavored round cereal. Your kids will enjoy making and eating these funny faces!

12. Harvest Moon Decoration—You can create a “Harvest Moon” using aluminum foil and orange tissue paper. Cut two large circles, one from foil and one from tissue paper. Fasten the two together with a stapler. Paint over the tissue paper with liquid starch. This will make it bright, shiny, and somewhat crinkled. Cut out a black bat from construction paper and attach it in the middle of the harvest moon. Have these decorations around the house for a howling Halloween!

Halloween parties are a wonderful way for children to mingle with their peers and an alternative to on-the-street “trick-or-treating.” Use these dozen ideas as a beginning to your party planning and then add creations of your own to make it personalized.

A Dozen EASY Ways to Celebrate Halloween