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Mummies and witches and goblins, oh my! The best Halloween party ever

Kerri Buckley is a certified chef and food columnist. She has worked for Westin and Omni Hotels and other fine establishments in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Virginia and Kansas City, and has also taught cooking for programs sponsored by t...

Halloween party

Halloween is creeping upon us! Here are some ideas to help make this year's Halloween bash the best yet!

Halloween Placesetting

Halloween history

Folks have celebrated a form of Halloween for several thousand years, beginning with the druids. It was part of the annual harvest, hence the scarecrows, corn, straw and pumpkins, and occurred on the eve of All Saints Day, which is why we have ghosts and mummies as Halloween symbols.

Why not throw a party this year? It can be as simple as a family dinner party, or as elaborate as you wish and invite the whole neighborhood. The formula for a party is simple -- choose a theme, make or buy invitations, decorations, games and costumes to match that theme and offer great, ghoulish food! Your party will make memories for decades!

When choosing a theme, remember the age of the kids. You want silly and fun for the smaller kids and scarier parties for the older ones. Some ideas are wizards, black cats, witches, bats, pumpkins, scarecrows, trolls, ghosts or green-faced goblins. Your invitations can complement the theme. Make them out of construction paper -- huge full moons with silhouettes, mummies, bats, black cats or ghosts. Use gel pens on black paper to mark the date, time and location of the party.

Decorations

Decorations can be a simple string of orange lights and a carved pumpkin, or you can create a Halloween Hall! Make signs and tombstones out of cardboard and put them everywhere. The signs can point to a haunted pumpkin patch, graveyard or mummy cafe. Blinking lights and strobes combined with mirrors and aluminum foil taped to the walls (with signs and masks) add great effects.

Have a dozen white balloons filled with helium and place a square of cheesecloth (from the fabric store) in the center of the top with a dab of glue. Draw black circles for eyes and a mouth, and you'll have little bobbing ghosts floating around your house! Carve faces into peppers and paint faces onto pumpkins with reflective paint and place them on trays arranged with strings of lights.

Games

Be creative with games, but keep it simple. Award prizes for the best costume or a pumpkin carving contest for the scariest, the silliest, the happiest, etc. Let younger kids use markers on their pumpkins. Musical chairs or a cupcake walk to the "Monster Mash" are fun ideas. Fishing games are good with younger children. Their "fishing poles" can snag a prize or treat behind a cutout cardboard window decorated like a pond. Enlist some artistic talent for a pin-the-face on the jack-o-lantern game out of foam-core board. You'll just need to add a blindfold.

The grand-finale is the food! Use the food as decoration, too, placing veggies and dip on trays with carved pumpkins. Add apples wherever you can, as a game, decoration and as food. Popcorn balls are great to make and eat and caramel apples are traditional. Another fun idea is a "dirt cake" with a cardboard and foil covered tombstone stuck in it. Pumpkin seeds, nuts and little white chocolate peanut clusters that look like ghosts are also great ideas. Below are some recipes to make your Halloween memorable. Trick or Treat!

Up next: Halloween party recipes >>

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