More ways to guarantee a great Halloween tonight

This story originally appeared in the Sunday, October 31, 2004edition of The Kansas City Star

Quick, a costume It's Halloween today. Do you know where your costume is?

If not, said Erin Anadon of Dottie Mae's Collectible Clothing and Mannequins in Kansas City, don't panic. Last-minute costumes won't be the most elaborate, perhaps, but they can still be fun.

Start by digging in the backs of closets, the bottoms of drawers and in the kids' dress-up clothes basket in the basement. This will spark ideas and make you familiar with what's readily available.

Go online and Google some broad categories - clown, cowboy - for photos and drawings. This will help you determine pieces you need to pull the costume together.

Stay focused. Pick one theme and go with it. Once you concentrate your efforts, you'll discover creative ways to use raw materials.

Anadon suggested several costume categories to use as a starting point. And most people can find items around the house to make them work. (If not, she noted, Dottie Mae's is open 11 a.m. to about 6 p.m. today.)


Just think silly. Loud prints. Mismatched everything. Wear a bigger person's shoes. Mom's makeup does the trick for face paint.

Princess, fairy, fairy princess

An old prom or bridesmaid's dress works, cinched for the size of the wearer. Fairy wings can be created by stretching pantyhose over clothes hangers.

Old frump

Hair in curlers, fluffy robe and slippers, the bigger and sillier the better. Use makeup to create a mudpack mask. This is not just for girls and women.

Biker dude

Gather up everything black and leather and think tough. Wear boots. A do rag bandanna over the head is a nice touch.


A bedsheet and safety pins are the diaper, a knit cap is the beanie. A rattle or baby bottle completes the ensemble. Hairy-chested males can have fun with this.

Snacks and games

Waiting for daylight to wane could get tedious today, so throw an impromptu party with snacks and games.

First, make the house look haunted. Cover the furniture with white sheets. Tilt the pictures on the walls. Sprinkle plastic spiders around.

Stuff a pair of pants and a shirt, and set this headless dummy on the sofa. Paint a face on a pumpkin, put a hat or wig on top and place this head on the dummy's lap. Play spooky music or let the kids make a tape of their own wolf howls.

Now, make some snacks.


Melt 15 marshmallows and a tablespoon of butter in the microwave. Toss the mixture with 6 cups of popped popcorn. Butter up your hands and form the popcorn into oblong shapes, like ghosts. Use mini-chocolate chips to make dark eyes. Allow the ghosts to dry on waxed paper for two hours. Makes about 20 edible decorations.

Fruit dip

Beat 8 ounces of cream cheese until smooth then combine with 8 ounces of vanilla yogurt, 5 tablespoons of honey, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and pinches of nutmeg and allspice. Refrigerate for about three hours. Use this to lure your kids to the apple slices.

Tastes like a candy bar

Mix equal parts candy corn and dry roasted salted peanuts (shelled). That's it. People who don't like candy corn seem to like this.

And play some games. Doughnut munch

Pick up some doughnuts this morning and get out the string. Cut the string in various lengths. Tie one end of each string around a doughnut and attach the other end to the ceiling (or to a tree branch for an outside game). Players must hold their hands behind their backs while trying to remove the doughnuts with their mouths. It only sounds easy.

Spider web game

Everybody sits in a circle. One person, holding a big ball of black yarn, ties the yarn around his or her waist, then gives the ball a heave-ho across the circle. Whoever catches the yarn does the same, until a giant spider web takes shape. Oh, be sure someone has a scissors handy for extraction.

Carve some pumpkins. FUN FACTS ABOUT THE HOLIDAY

More than 93 percent of children go trick-or-treating each year.

Ninety percent of parents admit to sneaking treats from the kids' Halloween take. (The other 10 percent must be allergic or lying.)

Bite-size is in. Bite-sized chocolate candies are the most popular candy at Halloween activities. Bite-sized non-chocolate candies are second.

Americans eat an estimated 20 million pounds of candy corn a year.

About $2 billion a year is spent on Halloween candy in the United States.

The world record for the biggest pumpkin is held by a 1,446-pounder from Port Elgin, Ontario.

Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A.

In the Old World, the Irish carved turnips and put coals or candles inside. In the New World, pumpkins took the place of turnips.

Samhain (say "sow-in"), the ancient Celtic festival marking the end of summer, is one of Halloween's precursors.

Sources: National Confectioners Association, Brach's,

www.historychannel.com What's for supper?

One way supper can become Halloween-y, said Laura O'Rourke at the Culinary Center of Kansas City in Overland Park, is to make scary menus to place at each table setting. Give ordinary menu items spooky names and descriptions. The kids can help create these on the computer or with markers or crayons.

If you want supper to be spooky-looking, too, O'Rourke recommends these easy and fun-for-kids suggestions:

Witches fingers

Shape refrigerated breadstick dough or biscuit dough into fingers. Paint almond slices red with watered-down food coloring and place on ends of fingers as nails. Serve with Italian red sauce and salad.

Choice of grilled cheese jack-o'-lanterns, devilish pizzas or mummy dogs

For grilled cheese, use a small, sharp knife to cut triangle shapes for a jack-o'-lantern-style shape in one of the bread slices per sandwich. Grill as usual with "orange" cheese.

For pizzas, top English muffin halves with tomato sauce, cheese and meat toppings, as desired. Cut olives for eyes, strips of red peppers for mouths and triangles of red peppers for horns.

For hotdogs, wrap the dogs in refrigerated dough, leaving one end exposed as the "head." After baking, dot the "head" with mustard to make eyes.

Spider web sundaes

Put melted chocolate chips in a small freezer bag. Adding a little shortening (not too much!) can make the chocolate easier to handle. Cut off the corner and drizzle chocolate onto wax paper placed on a baking sheet. Drizzle three or four concentric circles, then draw four lines across the circles for a spider web shape. Make a bunch and refrigerate. Put the spider webs on top of orange sherbet or vanilla ice cream.