Double, double toil and trouble. Halloween is almost here and, if you’re anything like me, you’re most likely bubbling with excitement. It’s the time of year to go over-the-top with DIY delights, ranging from creepy crafts to spooky and sweet Halloween treats. Whether you’re planning a big Halloween bash or looking to add some extra spook to your haunted house, these easy ideas will make yours the most frighteningly festive house on the block.
1. Ghoulish Gummies
This jiggling Jell-O candy may be frightening to some, but one bite and you’ll realize it’s totally sweet. Here’s how to make it: Combine unflavored gelatin with limeade, following the package’s instructions. Pour the mix into an ice cube tray. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until the gelatin is soft. Place Halloween-shaped candy (think: gummy eyeballs, sour worms or vampire teeth) into each mold. Return to the refrigerator and cool until firm.
2. Painted Pumpkins
Decorate your fresh-picked pumpkins without breaking out the carving set. Paint adds a dash of color and doesn’t cause as much of a mess! Use masking tape to create a pretty design, then spray-paint the pumpkin out in the yard. Your finished piece will look just as great indoors as it does on your doorstep. One caveat: You’re missing out on the deliciousness that is roasted pumpkin seeds.
Pro tip: If you’re using tape as a stencil, remove it while the paint is still tacky. This will prevent the design from chipping.
3. Monster Spray
Finally, a surefire way to confront those monsters hiding under the bed. Team up with your youngest to turn an empty spray bottle into “monster spray.” Decorate using bright stickers, pom-poms and craft paper, then fill it up with water and get spraying. Kids will have fun warding off goblins and ghosts around the house. Heads up: Junior may want to keep this by his nightstand long after the holiday is over!
Speaking of monsters, this easy appetizer offers a fun take on Mary Shelley’s classic tale. The recipe comes together in minutes-especially if you use already-made guacamole! Bring Frankenstien’s monster to life using small dollops of sour cream for eyes, black olives for the nose and bolts, and refried beans for the mouth, pupils and stitches. A few evil laughs are definitely encouraged. For the full recipe, click here.
Pro tip: This recipe really comes together when you add detail, but you don’t need a decorating kit to do so. Make those fine lines using a DIY piping bag. Scoop the refried beans into a plastic sandwich bag then use scissors to snip off a small section of the corner.
5. Candy Cauldrons
Friends will be completely spellbound when they receive this tiny treat. You can find the miniature cauldrons at most craft stores around Halloween time. Grab one for each person in your crew and decorate with ribbon. Write the recipient’s name on the front in your spookiest script. Fill it with candy or this sweet-and-salty Halloween Snack Mix.
Pro tip: These personalized cauldrons make excellent classroom (or office) treats, adorable goodie bags and creative placeholders.
6. Dazzling Pumpkin
Who said ghoulish can’t be glamorous? Make your pumpkin extra-pretty this year using glitter and glue. Spread a thin coat of tacky glue over your pumpkin, then sprinkle glitter over top. (Be sure to have a plate underneath to collect the leftover glitter.) Soon you’ll have a pumpkin that’s almost as shiny as the robot costume you wore last year.
Pro tip: Want Halloween decor that’ll last a lifetime? Use this idea to decorate an artificial pumpkin.
7. Caramel Apples
Nothing says “fall” quite like a caramel apple. Buy them pre-made or follow our easy caramel apple recipe. Wrangle some friends to help decorate with melted chocolate, sprinkles and crushed candy. Make it a competition by seeing who can come up with the best design. Everyone ends up winning with a sweet treat. And if that isn’t enough, we have more caramel apple-inspired desserts waiting for you.
8. Monster Buckets
Take your tablescape up a notch with this fun-and-funky decor. Wrap old soup cans in colorful felt and secure with hot glue. Cut vertical slits or a zig-zag pattern across the top and decorate with googly eyes, pom-poms or whatever else is hiding in your craft box. Fill these not-so-scary cans with treats like Scary Eyeballs and Creepy Candied Corn.
9. Spooky Stuffed Peppers
Carving isn’t just for pumpkins anymore. Use a small pairing knife to carve a jack-o’-lantern face into a hollow bell pepper. Then follow our Vegetarian Stuffed Pepper recipe to fill with a savory mix of rice, beans, tomatoes and cheese. I love this trick because it’s an easy way to add a spooky twist to family dinner.
10. Mad Scientist Station
Got a children’s party to host? They’ll go crazy over a mad scientist theme. Serve punch from beakers and fill test tubes with sprinkles, rock candy or nonpareils. Set up room at the table for kids to create their own supersized molecules using gum drops and toothpicks. For the grand finale, whip up a Brainy Cake and decorate with swirled frosting.
11. Ghastly Garnish
Whether you’re reaching for a mocktail or a boozy libation, these fruity swizzle sticks add a ton of fun. To get the look, quarter an apple and press a small Halloween-themed cookie cutter through the fruit pieces. Skewer, adding orange slices and cranberries. Alternatively, you can skip the drink and gather the fruit kabobs in a vase to make an edible bouquet.
12. Martian Marshmallows
Whip up a batch of too-cute desserts for your spooky soiree. (View full recipe, here.) Worried about the mess? A mix of candy coating and shortening helps decorations like colored sugar, nonpareils and licorice slices stick to the marshmallows.
13. Power-Tool Jack-o-Lantern
With proper supervision, power tools are plain fun. Use an electric screwdriver to create your jack-o-lantern this year. First, design a dotted pattern on your pumpkin using pushpins. Then drill holes using an electric screwdriver fitted with a bit. Keep the holes an inch or two apart from each other so that the pumpkin doesn’t collapse.
Pro tip: Keep the bit perpendicular to the pumpkin for a clean hole. This also helps the light shine through.
14. Mini Maple Pumpkin Pies
Handheld treats are ideal for parties, and a Halloween bash is no different. Try our recipe for Mini Maple Pumpkin Pies for a compact spin on the classic fall dessert. A pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter helps the treat take form, and a paring knife will allow you to slice up a ghoulish design.
15. Spooky Luminaries
Got a few mason jars handy? Turn them into haunting luminaries with orange and black tissue paper. Spread a thin layer of decoupage glue around the glass, then layer on the paper. Once dry, stick a candle (electric is a safe option) inside. Arrange on your doorstep for trick-or-treaters or decorate your dinner table. If you’re feeling fancy, apply designs like spiderwebs, cats, witches and ghosts.
Howling for more? Try our top 10 Halloween recipes. They’re so delicious, they just might scare you.