a_haunting_dreamHalloween has always been a special time of year for me. My grandfather was born on Halloween in 1900 and we celebrated his birthday with trick-or-treat night. It was a huge affair with hundreds of candles, adults dressed in crazy costumes, and children running wild!

It’s still like that for my family. We get ready for the occasion all month. There’s the special food (everyone tries to outdo each other with deadly treats), the costumes (ditto here), and the games. We play Mummy Wrap to see what team can wrap their ‘mummy’ with toilet paper the fastest. We pin the spider in the web and bob for apples on a string. We also look for buried coins and plastic skeleton parts in the Haunted Maze.

Food always includes Swamp Punch in a big, black cauldron. We joyce_lavene1make it greenish-brown with orange pop, green food dye and Coke. We put a big hunk of dry ice in it for special foggy effects. Usually someone molds a frozen hand in a plastic glove, although last year, there were icy spiders too. My daughter makes witch’s fingers out of peanut butter cookies with almond sliver nails. We eat deviled eggs and make cemeteries out of cupcakes and cookies.

Once we had a whole body laid out on the table with various edible parts. That one was hard to beat!

joyce_lavene2Costumes? Everyone dresses up. Some of the younger kids aren’t spooky. They are Batman or a princess. I always encourage them to think outside the box—be a princess vampire or a zombie Batman. My daughters are ice ghosts, evil puppets or red demons. Their husbands complement them with their costumes. We do a lot of characters from books. My son was the Ghost of Christmas Past a few years ago. Last year, I was Death from Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death”.

All of this takes time and preparation. You have to think of suitable prizes for winning costumes and for games. The music has to be right—we have several CDs of creepy music. We usually choose a scary movie to watch at the end of the joyce_lavene3evening. We love Sleepy Hollow, Beetle Juice, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Bride of Frankenstein. This Halloween, it will be Hotel Transylvania, before the festivities begin.

Halloween is my time of the year. With the red and gold leaves flying everywhere and costumed characters filling the streets, I can’t imagine anything better.

Free candy doesn’t hurt either! Happy Halloween!

Joyce Lavene