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Creepy Crafts and Creations


© Eric Cote | Dreamstime.com

Halloween marks a busy time of year, with students just settling into a new school year, and families preparing for a change of seasons and the holidays ahead. Grown-ups might moan and wail like ghosts at the thought of buying costumes and managing trick-or-treat mayhem, but who can blame kids for wanting to dress up, knock on neighbors’ doors, and beg for candy and treats?

This year, don’t let the holiday scare you. Start early on making your child’s Halloween experience healthy and simple.
For costume ideas, think outside the box and craft a unique disguise at home.

• Love animals? How about dressing up as this little piggy: a pink sleeper or sweat suit with pink felt bonnet and ears, painted-on nose and white whiskers. Or a frisky frog: a green sweat suit with headband covered in green felt with large wiggle eyes. Use your imagination and create your own zoo of animals!

• Be innovative! Make a royal throne for kids in wheelchairs. Just cut cardboard to fit profile of the chair, paint and decorate the sides to look like a throne, then dress up in royal robes and a cardboard crown with fake jewels. Or be a popcorn box: Choose a cardboard box to fit the body, cut holes for arms and head, cut the bottom open, decorate in bright red paint and glue popped corn to the top of the box.

• Go back in time. Choose a costume with historic significance, whether it be a 1960s flower child or a medieval princess, a 1950s greaser or a Roman soldier. With some inexpensive fabric, cardboard, hot glue, cloth-reinforced carpet tape and tempera paints, you can create whatever your imagination dreams up.

• Role play. Be a firefighter (solid color raincoat with fire department logos drawn on fabric and applied with double-stick tape, plastic firefighter hat, galoshes), a farmer (overalls, plaid shirt, straw hat, bandana, stuffed toy farm animals and a red wagon), or a nurse (white skirt and tights or pants, white sneakers, stethoscope, clip board with fake chart, name tag label), or maybe a construction worker (old shirt, tool belt with hand tools, hard hat, work gloves, toy walkie-talkie).

• Short of ideas? Hit up local thrift stores for costume basics or for that extra flair! You’re recycling, and saving money, too.

Whether the costume is purchased or created, make sure it is fire-retardant. Avoid use of flammable substances, like spray paint, on costumes. Always stay away from flame sources. Use covered candles in jack-o’-lanterns or electric candle substitutes.

Costumes should be well-fitting—not so snug that they restrict movement but not so loose that they snag on things. Have your child try on the costume before Halloween to see if it is too long or needs any adjustments. Costumes that drag present a trip hazard—the leading cause of trick-or-treat night accidents. Shoes should also fit and be easy to walk in. Mark the front and back of costumes with strips of reflective tape to help cars and drivers see your child during twilight hours.

Face painting is preferable to masks, which can impair vision and be difficult to breathe through, especially for younger trick-or-treaters. Choose non-toxic face paint, but some people have skin irritation from petroleum-based paints so try this homemade recipe that will be less irritating to sensitive skin.

Face Paint
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon water
½ teaspoon cold cream
2 drops food coloring as desired
Mix ingredients and apply.

Keeping an eye on fun while watching out for safety will make your child’s Halloween memorable.                    ■

Sami Arseculeratne Martinez is the mother of two grown children. She and her husband live in Hamilton with their dog, three cats and assorted backyard wildlife. Send comments to editorial@familytimes.biz.

Party Snacks

Spooky Trail Mix
Combine crunchy and salty with a touch of sweet for this easy and munching-good treat

5 cups corn, rice or wheat cereal squares
2 cups oyster crackers
2 cups mini pretzels
1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups salted cashew halves
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (1.2 ounce) package Caesar or Italian dry salad dressing mix

Heat oven to 250 degrees. Combine cereal squares, oyster crackers, pretzels, cranberries and cashews in large roaster pan. Stir together butter and salad dressing mix in small bowl. Pour over cereal mixture; toss well to coat. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes divided between two 13-by-9-inch pans, stirring twice, until lightly browned. Cool completely, then store in airtight containers.

Slimy Swamp Dip

Get the kids to eat spinach! Ewww…

1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed
4 ounces (½ package) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
½ cup sour cream
1/3 cup mild salsa
2 green onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Drain spinach and squeeze water out. In a food processor, puree spinach, cream cheese, sour cream, salsa, onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for two hours or until slightly thickened. Let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes, then serve with whole grain crackers, vegetable crudités (bite-size pieces of carrot, celery, mushroom, cauliflower, broccoli and lightly-steamed green beans) or blue corn tortilla chips to dip.

Chocolate Covered “Ants”
No, they’re not really ants… but they are delicious.

1 bag miniature marshmallows
1 stick butter
½ package (about 6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
6 cups crispy rice cereal

Lightly grease a cookie sheet with butter. Measure rice cereal in a large bowl. Heat marshmallows, chocolate morsels and butter in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Pour chocolate-marshmallow mixture over cereal and stir until all are coated. Make small, bite-size “ant hills” by dropping coated cereal onto cookie sheet with teaspoon. Place pan in freezer for about 10 minutes until the “hills” are chilled. Store in airtight container with wax paper between layers.


Feed the Monster Game
Make a fun beanbag toss game by filling five colored ankle socks with dry beans and tying the end tightly closed with a ribbon or string. Using a large piece of cardboard, draw and paint a scary monster face, then cut a large hole where its mouth would be. Prop the cardboard against a chair or wall and have kids stand a distance away and toss the bean bags into the mouth. See who can make the most accurate tosses. Then, take a step or two back.

Homemade Slime

Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup cornstarch in a medium bowl. Using hands, mix together well until mixture is gooey and doughy. Sprinkle more cornstarch if too runny, or add a few drops of water if too stiff. Once thick and smooth, add a few drops of green food coloring to achieve desired slimy greenness. Store in plastic zip-top bag for later play.

© Family Times: The Parenting Guide of Central New York