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Friday, October 28, 2005

Make Your Home Halloween Ready

Trick or treaters will soon be beating a path to your door, so its time to get your home ready for these Halloween visitors. While creating a fun atmosphere is a major goal, don’t forget that safety should always be your first priority. On the approach to your home, make sure your doorway is well lit and your front walk and porch are clear of toys, bikes or other obstructions. Remember that some of your visitors are wearing masks or hoods that can make seeing difficult.

When choosing the treats you’ll pass out at the door, it’s a good idea to read the labels and avoid any product that’s made with peanuts – the number one food allergy for children. If you’re making your own homemade treats, include a label with your family’s name and address and list the ingredients to reassure neighbourhood parents that your treats are safe for their children to eat. And remember to have a small dish of loose change beside the treats, so you’re ready for trick-or-treaters with UNICEF boxes.

One of the easiest ways to quickly add some Halloween atmosphere to your home’s interior or exterior is with lighting. Change your white light bulbs to gold or orange hued bulbs, or just use the amber “bug light” bulbs available from any hardware or lighting store. You can add to the effect by applying bat-shaped “cut-outs” to the outside of lampshades, and on glass doors, front windows and mirrors. If you have kids, you can even build the anticipation by having them cut out the shapes from black construction paper a week or two before October 31st. And if you don’t want the hassle and mess of cutting up a real pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern, you can still complete your lighting effects with a plastic or ceramic version that’s available from many retail stores that supply Halloween goodies.

Of course, sound can also play a part in setting your Halloween scene. Don’t forget to have a “boom box” close to the front door, ready to play a spooky sound effects tape (these can be found in most specialty record stores or party stores).

If you’re throwing a Halloween party, you can create a fast and easy centerpiece that conjures up thoughts of “bobbing for apples”. Start with a large but shallow bowl, fill it with water, add some apples, and finish with a few floating candles. Give your table some dazzle. Scatter small foil stars or glitter on the top of your tablecloth, add a couple of sequined or feathered masks and perhaps a few brightly wrapped Halloween candy kisses. You could also tie orange and black ribbon around the stem of your glassware or as napkin rings with a tied-on treat.

A special dessert can be a highlight of a party table or a gathering of friends at the end of the evening. You can create your own jack-o-lantern cake, by baking any recipe of yellow or orange cake in a round pan. Start with a batch of white icing and add yellow and red food colouring to make it orange. Use chocolate icing to add ‘triangle’ eyes and nose and a smiling mouth. Add kids and enjoy!

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