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Making the Best of Halloween

paintedpumpkinsCan’t think of a costume? Afraid you’ll eat all the Halloween candy before the kids show up at your door (assuming kids show up at your door)? Not into scary movies? Guilty that the pumpkin you finally decided to buy is going to go to waste? Tired of another commercialized holiday?

We hear you. There are a lot of reasons to dislike Halloween. That's exactly why we decided it was time to share some creative ways to enjoy the holiday. Here are some of the things we’ll be doing on Halloween.

Pumpkin pancakes. We can’t think of a better way to enjoy breakfast for dinner than with pumpkin pancakes. All you need to do is pick up a can of pumpkin puree. Here’s a basic recipe from Martha Stewart and one from the New York Times that includes sticky maple pecans. If you want to get a little fancier, Two Peas and Their Pod offers up this one for Pumpkin Cinnamon Streusel Pancakes

If you don’t have kids and are going to be alone on Halloween, why not invite some friends over for a pancake potluck?

Rethinking pumpkin carving. You don’t need to carve a pumpkin to get into the spirit of the thing. Splash it with paint (non-flammable if you’re going to light it!) Or just write out a phrase to show what scares you. What comes to mind? “File not found,” “Your payment is overdue,” or even the dreaded, “A customer service representative will be with you shortly.”   

If you have little kids, try pumpkin push-in kits. The pieces are very similar to the ones you would get in a Mr. Potato head kit. All you have to do is stab them into the pumpkin, et voila! We can't vouch for this web site, but here is one example: http://www.halloweencostumes.com/22-piece-pumpkin-push-in-kit.html. They also come in, er, themes. Think Mr. Potato head, Yoda, Darth Vader, Angry Birds, etc.

Roasted pumpkin seeds. Roasting pumpkin seeds is a little messy and takes some effort (you have to separate the seeds from the pumpkin guts, wash them and then leave them overnight to dry). But it’s worth it. If you’ve got the pumpkin, make the time. After you’ve washed and dried them, coat them in a little olive oil, sprinkle with a bit of salt, spread on a cookie sheet and then roast for 20 to 30 minutes at 300 degrees. Times vary depending on how many you've got and how hot your oven gets. Just check them to make sure they’re not burning and toss them a bit as you go to get them golden brown all around.  

Halloween movies. We’re not big fans of horror movies, basically because we want to sleep at night. (And if we wanted something really spooky, we’d just keep looking at the weather reports for the East Coast. There’s a reason they called that thing Frankenstorm). But funny horror movies? We’re all over that. A favorite: Young Frankenstein, Mel Brook’s black-and-white classic with Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr, Peter Boyle and, of course, Marty Feldman as Igor. But there are plenty Monster's Inc.of others to choose from. Check out this list, which includes Shaun of the DeadGhostbusters and, of course, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you’re looking for kid-friendly suggestions, you can find them here and here. They include Monsters, Inc.The Goonies and Caspar.   

Costumes for adults. Trying to think up a costume is just one more thing we don’t have time for. So when possible, think minimalist: There are always fangs or little horns you can wear with your regular clothes. Waldo, as in Where’s Waldo?, requires jeans, a striped shirt, glasses and hat. Zombies are simple -- just go do some gardening and wear those clothes. Still too much? Then slap on a name tag that says “Hi, my name is “character of your choice.” Fans of The Office can find Dundler Mifflin name tags here

As for costumes for kids, we’re not even going to pretend that figuring out what your kid should be for Halloween is an easy task. But here’s one suggestion: ask friends to lend you one of their kids’ old costumes.

The Great Pumpkin Candy Trade-In. This is especially good if your kid has allergies and can't eat the candy they collect. Have the kids leave the candy out, and in the middle of the night, the Great Pumpkin will come and switch out all that sugar for a toy they really want. 

Have a drink. It’s amazing how many recipes for Halloween-inspired cocktails you can find on the Web, with alcohol or without. Spicy mulled cider is fairly easy – you heat up some apple cider on the stovetop and add in orange juice and zest, cinnamon and a few other spices. Here’s an easy recipe from chef Bobby Flay. If you want your mulled cider with an extra punch, this recipe incorporates rum. We also came across this intriguing old recipe for “Green Fizz” from the folks at Esquire

Have fun. Play nice. Be safe! Stay dry. -- CG and KW

If you liked this story, you might also like:
Dancing In September
Living Large in a Power Failure
16 Guaranteed Stress Busters. Tested, Unfortunately.
 
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Pumpkin image courtesy of flickr user Mirza Asad Baig. Sully and Mike Wazowski of Monsters, Inc. courtesy of Walt Disney Co.



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