It's that house - the one all the kids talk about. The one all the adults envy. The house that truly embodies Halloween. It has the décor, the music and of course the best candy. Every neighborhood has at least one. And this year your home can be that house. Here are but just of few of my favorite ideas.
The Great Pumpkin:
Pumpkins are the key to any Halloween celebration. You can carve, paint and even drill pumpkins, but this year why not add gourds to the mix. The "Crown of Thorns" gourd screams Halloween with its thorn-like protrusions. They can be a bit tricky to find, but check your farmer's market or specialty food retailers. With a coat of white paint they can take on the look of whimsical ghosts. Laid on their side, they take on a spookier appearance. Smaller than most pumpkins, they're a bit tricky to carve, but it can be done.
A Headhunters Hoard:
Made from dried apples, these shrunken heads can be used as place cards for a Halloween dinner, suspended over a doorway or skewered on dirty dowel rods in the front yard.
You will need:
Several Granny Smith apples
Handful of dry rice
1/2 cup of lemon juice
2 tsp. salt
Snips of wig hair
Small paring knife or potato peeler
Newspaper stuffed dummies are a tried and true Halloween tradition. This year recreate the dummy, transforming it into a mummy with layers of gauze, muslin or cheesecloth. Wrap the material around stuffed dummy. For maximum effect dust the finished mummy with gray spray paint and place on top of a fabric covered rectangular table.
Blanket the home in horror with table cloths, curtains and sheets:
Tea-dyed and shredded tablecloths, white sheets, and curtains can blanket any home in horror. Color lightly-colored cloth in a tea bath, by filling a large basin with several teabags and enough hot water to cover material. Dry material and use scissors to shred. Place material in desired locations and continue to shred sections in need of a touch up.
A well-stocked Halloween experiment table placed in your entry way informs trick-or-treaters you mean business. Incorporate items like piles of rusty chains, old mirrors, aged wooden shelves and other interesting items you uncover in the garage. Don't hesitate to add your own special touch.
You will need:
Various glass jars and vases
1 large white pillar candle
Several packages of Top Ramen noodles
Food coloring (blue, red, yellow and green)
Candle lit lanterns
Glasse cheese and cake domes
Dead flower bouquets in blackened vases
Cover table with tattered tablecloth. To create pasta experiments, place cooked unseasoned noodles into various jars, add cold water and food coloring. To create lab specimens fill large jars with red food color and cold water. Burn a pillar candle for about 15 - 20 minutes. Pour candle wax into jars of cold water, wax cools instantly forming various specimens. Place Shrunken Heads around table, on top of books under cake domes. Arrange a variety of dead flowers, branches or sticks in blackened vases. Candles should be place in sealed lanterns.
Bone Cookies in Oreo Dirt:
To create great resting place for a batch of free form bone cookies, finely ground the chocolate wafer portion of Oreos with a food processor.
To make bone cookies you'll need:
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside. Use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Stir in vanilla. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Preheat oven to 325°. On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 inch thick. Using a small knife, pizza and biscuit cutters create free form bone shapes - no need to be perfect. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets; refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and bake until edges begin to brown around 8 to 10 minutes.
Carefully remove cookies and cool on wire racks. After cookies have cooled completely apply a layer of white royal icing and allow to dry before placing in dirt. Fill a shallow wooden box with a layer of Oreo crumbs and place bones throughout. Makes around 15 - 30 cookies.
To make royal icing you'll need:
3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
4 cups of confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons warm water
Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a kitchen mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer). Recipe makes 3 cups.