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641  Halloween / Halloween Decor and Parties / Re: 7 yr olds bday/halloween party on: September 26, 2008 03:32:25 PM
My son's second birthday is the day before Halloween so we're throwing a combo party too.  I'm not sure how much will apply for you, but we'd differ in the focus on kids (for mine parents would equally want to come).  You should definitely have the parents come trick-or-treating with you if you choose to do it on actual Halloween, but for games and costume contests and cake and presents, you shouldn't need more than 2 adults (depending on how many kids you have of course).  If you have a costume contest you should also have a prize for each kid (funniest, scariest, most realistic, most original, wildest, craziest, silliest, etc.).  Bobbing for apples is always fun, but kids tend to spit...a lot.  You can do a version called Dangling for Donuts where you tie donuts up on a string, and that's almost as fun.  You probably don't have a cider press, but if you do, it's super fun.  You should definitely do a Frankenstein's Lab (the grossout game).  I'm using the following for that:
•   Dried apricots – pieces of a tongue
•   Peeled grapes – eyeballs  (with cooked spaghetti noodles – worms)
•   Pumpkin guts - guts (with twisted pipe cleaners – spiders)
•   Peeled tomato – heart 
•   Oily cabbage leaves – skin (with overcooked rice in olive oil – maggots) 
•   Fresh green beans – knobby monster fingers
•   Candy corn – teeth 
And as I discovered just this past year, everybody loves a 3-legged race and pinata.  You can definitely do that, although again for fairness I would recommend putting all the pinata toys/candy into individual baggies for each kid.

Here's all my info about my party:

Timeline:
•   5:30 pm – trick or treating, start carving/decorating pumpkins, set out pizza
•   6:30 pm – bobbing for apples, continue decorating pumpkins, play games, answer door for trick-or-treaters, vote for costume contest
•   7:15 pm – cider pressing, cake and presents
•   7:45 pm – costume contest results
•   8:00 pm – everyone watches movies

Activities:
•   trick-or-treating
•   carving/decorating pumpkins (back porch)
•   bobbing for apples (carport)
•   cider pressing (carport)
•   hay rides (backyard)
•   Frankenstein’s lab game (garage)
•   cake and presents (living room/dining room)
•   costume & pumpkin contest (Best Kid’s – cat animal, Best Pumpkin – cat animal, Funniest – Groucho nose, Scariest – fake scars, Most Creative – magic wand)
•   watching movies (Great Pumpkin for babies in our bed, Hocus Pocus for kids on main level, Shaun of the Dead for adults on screen downstairs)

Food:
•   pizza
•   deviled eggs (deviled eggs with ketchup bloodshot)
•   mummy dogs (hot dog in crescent rolls)
•   bug juice (red punch with raisin ice cubes)
•   pumpkin patch cake (Oreo crust with gummi worms and marshmallow pumpkins with green icing for pumpkin vine words)
•   bake pumpkin seeds

Decorations:
•   apothecary jars in living room & dining room
•   creepy mice at baseboards (I got this from Martha Stewart)
•   spider webs
•   black lights
•   black & orange string lights in windows
•   window marker eyes
•   eyeball spiderweb “wreath”
•   spooky cat candelabra
•   face painting area
642  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Can anyone help me with popcorn balls please??? on: September 24, 2008 03:53:04 PM
Oh dear, I didn't notice your age - sorry.  Kahlua is an alcoholic liqueur with a coffee flavor.  If you take half an hour to boil your candy mixture, then about 65% of the alcohol should boil off.  You should definitely check with your parents before making it, and if you are making it for your friends, then scrap my recipe altogether and just use good ol' marshmallows which hold popcorn balls remarkably well together.  Those last forever too, and although I don't have a recipe on hand, I'm sure any marshmallow popcorn ball recipe will work.  Sorry again.
643  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Sugar-spiced walnuts recipe on: September 24, 2008 12:09:04 PM
I just wanted to share this incredible recipe that my mom passed down to me, and you are guaranteed to love them.  I make them for Christmas gifts every year, but I was in a baking mood last night and I made them early.  When you cook them your house smells soooo good too.

Ingredients:
5 C nuts
1 C of sugar
6 T milk (a little over 1/3 C - I've used whole, 2%, and nonfat and never noticed a difference)
1 t cinammon
1/4 t nutmeg
1 t vanilla (use real vanilla here - imitation is much less tasty)

Roast nuts at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring once.
Put all other ingredients in a saucepan and cook on low until they reach firm-ball temperature (about 250 degrees - it takes about 25 minutes), stirring constantly.
Pour over nuts on pan and stir to coat completely.

I put the nuts in old chocolate boxes, cheap tins, cellophane bags, jars...anything, really, then I decorate the container to make it nice for each person. Everyone who has ever received them adores them, and it will only cost you like $7 for the batch, which makes multiple gifts or one huge bunch for yourself.  A serious warning, though: you will eat too many if you don't set aside a handful (and a handful only) for yourself.  I bet you could eat the whole batch, in fact.
644  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Can anyone help me with popcorn balls please??? on: September 24, 2008 11:56:10 AM
I can't help you with your old recipe, but I made some killer Kahlua Caramel balls for Christmas last year that you might like.

2 qts. popped corn
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Kahlua
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. butter

In a shallow pan, keep popped corn warm in low oven. (I didn't do this at all, but it didn't seem to matter.)
Bring sugar, Kahlua and vinegar to a boil; stirring until sugar dissolves. Add butter. Insert candy thermometer; bring to hard crack stage (300 degrees F.).
Pour over warm popped corn; stir to coat evenly.
Form into balls while still tacky, but not quite cooled.

I sealed mine up in Saran Wrap after making the balls, then decorated them to look like ornaments, but you could decorate them to look like pumpkins or whatever if you added some food coloring and nuts or candies.  Maybe the cling wrap helped keep the ball shape, or maybe it's just that the caramel was much stickier with Kahlua instead of corn syrup.  Good luck!
645  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Re: Costume ideas! Need Help! on: September 19, 2008 08:20:59 AM
My friend was Madonna for our party a few weeks ago.  She bought everything at the thrift store.  The best parts were the fingerless gloves, the constant reapplication of red lipstick in her compact mirror, and the mole (which she'd wiped off accidentally with her napkin by the time this photo was taken).  I wish she'd also used her eyeliner to paint a gap between her teeth, but I still think she looked great.  Just keep in mind that if you wear torn lace and crimp your hair, you'll look like '80s Madonna. 
646  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Re: Tinkerbell costume/wings ideas. on: September 19, 2008 08:14:19 AM
When I made my Tinkerbell costume I used heavy gauge wire and a clear shower curtain for wings, then decorated it with lots of glitter and made wire arm holes.  I just cut the zig-zags into my dress and sewed a hem on them.  For pom-poms on the shoes I just made massive ones out of sparkly white yarn using the donut-shaped cardboard pom-pom method.  It looked really good.
647  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Party Planning / Re: Our index of "Completed Parties" (w/Pictures)! on: September 16, 2008 12:44:22 PM
I don't have any photos here, but I threw a Forrest Gump in Eat-o-Vision party for my 25th birthday and it went perfectly.  I had seen a few things in the news about Smell-o-Vision making a comeback and I thought how fun Eat-o-Vision would be, so I picked a movie with a lot of food to watch at the party, then whenever that food popped up on screen I served it in real life to my guests.  Please please copy my idea!  Everyone loves Forrest Gump and food, and a lot of people said it was their favorite party ever.  Here's what I served and when:
  1. at the bus stop and when the mother is talking to young Forrest – box of chocolates
  2. with Jenny in the corn field – bowls of popcorn with different toppings
  3. when Bubba tells about all the shrimp varieties – shrimp platters and teriyaki chicken (we called it "Chicken without shrimp" to make it apply)
  4. meeting President Kennedy – Dr. Pepper (and Diet for the sissies!)
  5. when Forrest brings Lieutenant Dan ice cream – ice cream with toppings (sprinkles, chocolate syrup, brandied cherries)
  6. at the hippie rally when he meets Jenny again – snap peas and carrot sticks with ranch dip
  7. when he finds out Lt. Dan invested in "some kind of fruit company" – apple slices and caramel & chocolate dip
  8. at the wedding – birthday cake (I made a merengue park bench and little suitcase)
I toyed with serving chocolate pudding when he's running and steps in poop, but thought that was too distateful, and serving coffee while Jenny is at the restaurant, but that scene was too brief.  Anyway, it came out perfectly and everyone had a great time.
648  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Party Planning / Re: Shrek and the swamp karaoke dance party!! on: September 16, 2008 12:04:23 PM
The mugboard photo ops (what you called a photo booth) have always been a huge hit when I do them at my parties.  I just use cardboard and paint and they've come out perfectly.  Here's an example from my son's first birthday (astronaut party).  http://www.craftster.org/pictures/showphoto.php?photo=175528&cat=500

I think your invitation would be cute in the shape of the castle or gingerbread house or the onion carriage at the end.  And you should definitely incorporate Donkey and Puss in Boots into your planning (pin-the-tail on Donkey while being blindfolded with Puss's mask, being the most obvious idea).  I think it'd be cute if you decorated with the accessories of the characters - like use crepe paper fire for the dragon, fairy wands for the godmother, plastic swords for Puss, shields for Farquaad, sunglasses for the 3 blind mice, etc.
649  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Party Planning / Re: Monty Python's Flying Birthday! on: September 16, 2008 11:47:30 AM
I would have a pin-the-tail game with eyeballs on monsters or a giant foot on the words Happy Birthday or something like that with the weird animations.  Then do a 3-legged race for the silly walks.  You should definitely have a lumberjack game - maybe a take on the clothing obstacle course race where one teammate has to dress up really quickly (in high heels, suspenders, and a bra, of course), then run to the other end while carrying a something fragile (a fake dead parrot hanging on a perch by just its talons?), strip down, and the second person has to go, all while racing another team.  That would be super amusing.
650  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Party Planning / Re: Wine Tasting Fundraising Favor Ideas? on: September 16, 2008 11:32:42 AM
I strung together jingle bells of various sizes to make little bunches of festive grapes last year.  It was just a decoration for a wine bottle, but you could put yours on a key ring or something.  You could include little cork ornaments (http://www.allthingschristmas.com/crafts/corkornaments.html). You can make thank-you cards out of wine labels (or print them to look like wine labels).  You can also get cheese-related items since they are so often hand-in-hand.  It would be very handy of you to print little wine aroma wheels and laminate them (http://www.americanwinesociety.com/web/downloads/Wine%20Evaluation%20Chart.pdf).  That's a good idea for a fundraiser.
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