With this house-to-house party, a great holiday is made even better by extending the fun, varying the menu and bringing families and neighbors together. Don't be scared. The point here isn't for one family to throw a monstrous bash. Three families split up the work, each hosting a part of the party at their haunts. And the kids will love it: They'll get to gobble some creepy cuisine, play wickedly fun games and take home a memory that will last far longer than their candy hoard. Here are three party suggestions:
Children meet the Ghost Host, who welcomes kids into a world of white, fright and pure delight. A few days before the party, make Giggly Gravestones and Ghost Wind Socks to decorate the entrance of your eerie estate and round up old sheets, lace and craft-store cobwebs to dress the windows and cover the furniture. Make as much food as you can in advance so you can focus on setting the mood on the day of the party.
Host Dr. Frank N. Beans (a playful parent with a mad glint in his eyes) has a problem. His grumpy green giant needs a head-to-toe checkup. The job's too big for one madman, and that's where the children enter. They squish and squeeze the monster's guts until he has a clean bill of horrible health. Prior to the party, set up the doctor's lab: Post clocks set to the wrong time, line windows with spooky Jack-O-Lanterns, round up wacky lights (from lava lamps to strobe lights) and make a party tape of dripping sounds. Plan everything in advance so you can have fun too.
On their third and final stop, trick or treaters are off to see the wizard--Magic Wanda, a crazy clairvoyant (played by an adventurous mom) who'll tempt kids with tantalizing treats and predict their futures (she has, of course, a crystal ball, but one unlike any we've ever seen). To add celestial seasoning to your abode, string cookies across the ceiling, drape your furniture with silk and velvet cloth, attach stick-on glow-in-the-dark moons and stars to the walls, and make a homemade tape of songs with lyrics focusing on magic, such as "Magic Bus" and "Magical Mystery Tour." Once under Magic Wanda's power, kids may not want to come back to earth. Return them to the present with a take-home treat and the promise of more magic to come next year.