I love Halloween! I have to say, before having kids, Halloween was an afterthought. But now, our entire month is spent planning and doing crafts. I spent this last weekend making treats with my kids and their eight friends (yes, that would make 10 kids making messes!). Before you think I’m crazy, I will admit: All of the crafts are super-easy and have limited destruction powers in the way of messes, so in the end it was nothing but fun!
1. Haunted Pizza: Start by getting readymade dough. The best part is it can be any shape; actually, the more organic-looking the better. Use fresh mozzarella and cut it into long pieces for the body and smaller pieces for the arms. Once they melt, it’ll all be good. Cut up olives for the eyes, but wait until they are out of the oven to put them on so they don’t disappear into the melted cheese. The olive spiders could not be easier to make; char spaghetti in the toaster oven and just break off little pieces for the legs. It’s best to not burn the cheese so they stay nice and white. Use the oven function where the heat only comes from the bottom.
2. Mummy Dogs: Get readymade crescent rolls, slice them into strips and then let the kids wrap them however they please. The more the better, otherwise the strips may fall off during baking. Make sure to grease the pan so they don’t stick. You can choose to cut the hot dogs to make legs and arms; either way, they turn out great. If you decide to cut them, make sure you get jumbo dogs.
3. Dracula’s Dentures: These turned out so spectacularly! And they were a cinch. Bake any cookies you please, as long as they turn out round. Cut them in half. Use red frosting, or I recommend using cream cheese frosting and dying it red. Add mini-marshmallows and almond slivers for fangs, and voila, you have a delicious treat that looks shockingly like gross dentures.
4. Monster Sandwich: The best thing about this is that you can use anything you want! You can replace pickles with cucumbers (if you’re like me and hate pickles), and mustard eyes help increase the creep factor.
5. Dracula Donuts: You can have so much fun with this one or if you aren’t feeling crafty, all you need are the teeth and chocolate-chip eyes. If you’re transporting them, I suggest melting the tip of the chocolate chips to ensure they don’t fall off. For the more ambitious, you can pipe in the hair with chocolate frosting, add strawberry jam for blood, and get candy eyeballs for a touch of realism.
6. Pretzel Spider Webs: This one might get too messy for kids to do, but for seasoned bakers who can handle piping frosting with ease, you can make a ton of these very quickly. The trick is to get the melted chocolate in the middle first to stabilize the web. Otherwise, the whole thing will quickly fall apart.
7. Meatloaf Hand: This is a great meatloaf recipe to use that allows you to shape your meat into a hand. Use pearl onions to get the nails looking perfectly un-manicured! This doesn’t call for tomato sauce, but it won’t hurt the flavor and a messy, bloody hand certainly adds to the charm.
8. Pumpkin Ice Bucket: The hard part is carving the pumpkin and, of course, getting the right size bowl to fit it. Think about which bowls you have when picking out the pumpkin, and if you find that your bowl is too small, covering it with ice will fix that problem.
9. Dead Fall Tree: Perfect for those with smaller children. You need to get good-quality, thick paper bags, but don’t fret if you don’t. I doubled up the bags and it actually worked out great because you get more branches. If you use origami paper you will reduce the cutting (thereby reducing the number of shreds to clean up). Just bunch them up and they look fantastic; plus they are easier to glue (less glue, less mess!!). I made a whole grove of trees for display in the house.
Origami paper, $10 on Amazon.
10. Spider Lantern: This one involves minimum effort and creates a maximum effect. All you need are mason jars (green ones make the result extra-creepy and cool), some LED tea lights (or you can use glow sticks in a pinch), a bunch of cotton balls, and some fake spiders. Freeze the extra spiders in ice cubes to serve during your party. The blood curdling scream when your guests find them in their drinks will make everything you’ve done all worthwhile.
11. Creepy Florals: This artfully unsettling floral arrangement requires more time than any of the others, but it’s totally worth it. Do this and the Spider Lantern, since you’ll already have the spiders. I suggest using thin vases if you already have them, but if you’re doing this as a craft for kids use plastic champagne flutes and fill the bottoms with marbles. Don’t try to paint the nails; I made that mistake and I’m still in acetone hell trying to clean all the nail polish up. Instead, get black acrylic nails.
Party Essentials set of 10 hard plastic champagne flutes, $10.50, and set of 100 black acrylic French-style nails, $3, both available on Amazon.
12. Cheesy Ghost: This one is not as easy as it looks, but with these tips, it can be done with limited frustration and mess. Do not use the soaking method; you’ll get too much starch, it won’t dry, and it will drip everywhere. Definitely without question, spray on the undiluted starch and do this outdoors. Getting starch everywhere makes for a sticky mess that lasts for days. Keep in mind, wherever you do this: you need to keep it there until it dries.
The real trick is to find the right size ball and container on which to prop the head. I found that a tennis ball is too small, while a softball is too heavy to balance on the soda bottle. You’ll need to search around your house for something around 5″ across. The arms were also a bit tricky. Do not use a dry cleaning hanger as I did because it’s too hard to work with. Use a thinner wire, and make sure you loop the ends so it doesn’t poke through the cheesecloth. I added a piece of Styrofoam to prevent that from happening but when it dried, I had a hard time un-sticking that foam from the hardened cheesecloth. Once you have everything set up, spray the starch very liberally, making sure you get the pool of cheesecloth on the bottom to fully saturate. Otherwise, you won’t have a stable base and it won’t stand. The head, arm, and bottom are the most important areas so really saturate them. Once it’s dry, using a thick Sharpie is the best way to draw in the eyes.
For actual cooking, you want unbleached cheesecloth, but for this craft, the whiter the better.
Dritz cheesecloth, $7 on Amazon.
13. Pumpkin Spider Votive: All it takes is a baby-sized pumpkin and some black pipe cleaner to turn boring old votive candles into Halloween-worthy decorations.
Richland tea light candles, $14 on Amazon.
Failed Crafts (do not attempt):
You must have seen many posts on Jell-O worms. Do not even attempt this craft. I tried and it was a disastrous mess. It requires way too much time and effort, and results in actual muscle soreness. By the time you add enough gelatin to make them stiff enough to not disintegrate, they’re inedible. And the only way to get the worms out of each straw is by using a rolling pin to push each out. ONE AT A TIME. And you have to push really, really hard, which means kids can’t do it, so you’re sitting there by yourself doing 100 of them. Most of them break and you end up with a small bowl of good ones. And then what? You can’t eat them.
Nutter Butter Mummies
This also makes for a huge mess, and the mummies don’t stay together. The video that I’m sure you’ve seen shows cookies easily dipping in the chocolate. Well, that doesn’t happen; they fall apart, drift into the chocolate, and then break in half. You have to freeze them so the chocolate will harden, but the chocolate will pool under the cookie and you end up with a blob. Skip this one. There are better ways to make mummies. Although I have to say: they are incredibly yummy. Just dip and eat on the spot. That’s what we ended up doing.
Photo Credits: Pinterest, Flickr, One Little Project at a Time, Bitz & Giggles, Country Living, Today’s Parent