As the owner of Queen City Ghostwalk, the month leading up to Halloween is my busiest season. But guiding haunted tours of Burlington doesn’t give me a pass on celebrating with my family.
With two grown kids, three teenagers and three grandkids, I’ve carved, dyed, drizzled and stitched my way through dozens of costumes, favors and decorations. I’ve worshipped at the alter of the skeleton crudité and made peace with the delicious — but calorie-laden — hot dog mummy.
This year, with time at a premium, I’m initiating only the easiest eerie decorations and quickest creepy treats. Here’s what I’ll do:
DEVILISHLY FAST DECORATING TIPS
Milk Jug Ghoulies
Save or collect a number of clear gallon milk jugs for this display. Cut a two-inch hole in the bottom of each. With a black permanent marker, draw a ghostly or funny face on each one. Gather up your strings of holiday twinkle lights — white, orange, green or purple work great — and stuff some lights in the hole of each jug. Plug in and let the oohs and ahhs begin.
Candy Corn Cones
Pick up three florist cones at your local craft or dollar store. Buy yarn, ribbon or binding tape in white, yellow and orange. Wrap the cones one color at a time, using yellow at the bottom, orange in the middle and white at the tip.
Gather clear glasses or mason jars in a variety of sizes. Wind rolls of gauze or strips of cheesecloth around each, leaving a little space here and there, and secure with a drop of hot glue. Also glue down a pair of googly eyes, then light a real or electric candle in the jar. Group the jars together on a shelf or tabletop.
All-Dressed-Up Pumpkin Babies
Buy a bunch of small orange gourds. Wrap seasonal ribbon in black-and-white plaid or polkadots around the middle of each and secure with a drop of glue. Pile them in a large bowl or onto a cake stand; these make a great centerpiece for parties.
Press children’s hands into black fingerpaint. Then press their hands — with fingers extended — onto heavy paper or a paper plate, first facing left; then facing right with the palms overlapping. Let dry. Glue on some googly eyes in the center and trim or frame as desired.
FEARSOME DINNER FAVORITES
Vampire’s Blood Tomato Soup
Prepare your favorite tomato soup and pour it into bowls. Thin some sour cream with a bit of milk and swirl it into the center of each bowl. Draw a toothpick through the swirl from the center outward to create a spider’s web. Top with a clean plastic spider.
Gruesome Grinning Apple Wedges
Cut a red apple into wedges. Sandwich together two wedges with a bit of peanut butter and, in the center, mini marshmallows for “teeth.”
Frightful Cheese Fingers
Cut a piece of string cheese in half horizontally. Use the flat side of a knife to make knuckle marks. Use the knife blade to carve a small angle at one end and insert a slivered-almond “fingernail.”
Witch’s Hat Cookies
Buy fudge-stripe cookies, milk-chocolate Hershey’s Kisses and a tube of orange cake icing. Turn a cookie upside-down. Pipe icing onto the bottom of an unwrapped Kiss, then stick it in the center of the cookie, letting the orange icing ooze outward.
Thea Lewis is the creator of Queen City Ghostwalk and author of several books, including one for kids titled There's a Witch in My Sock Drawer! She lives in Burlington with her husband, Roger, and their three teens, Sam, Kylie and Josie.