Saturday, October 30, 2010

Online Halloween ideas for the whole family


Holidays are a great time to surf the Internet for new decorating ideas and recipes. Halloween is no exception with so many specialty websites out there to keep parents and kids entertained with unique ideas.

Here are a few that may interest readers:

  • Halloweenkitchen.com offers a variety of themed recipes that the entire family can enjoy, including vampire punch, bloody popcorn, candied apples, marshmallow ghosts, old-fashioned pumpkin pie and roasted pumpkin seeds, among others.
  • Pumpkincarving101.com provides advice, tips and ideas on carving innovative designs into pumpkins. Sections include pumpkin-carving history, choosing the best pumpkin to carve, tools required, carving instructions, as well as tips on lighting your pumpkin, making it last as long as possible and disposing of your pumpkin after Halloween. The website even tells you how to photograph your pumpkin for the best results!
  • Speaking of pumpkin carving, Spookmaster.com is your all-inclusive online source for free and purchased patterns for carving your pumpkin this Halloween. There are a number of free stencils available for download online, as well as stencils available for purchase. The website also offers recipes and Halloween-themed games.
  • Kaboose.com offers a wide variety of family-friendly Halloween ideas if you're more comfortable skipping the really scary stuff. Just click on the Halloween tab when you visit the homepage. Sections include crafts (coffee filter vampire bats!), costume ideas for kids and their pets, recipes (orange hot chocolate!), party games, free colouring pages and safety information.
  • Fearfulfilms.com offers a list of horror movies in categories such as new releases, Halloween favourites, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, zombies, sci-fi and witches.
  • And, of course, there's the mother of all Halloween websites, Halloween.com. The site offers greeting cards, pumpkin carving stencils, and an extensive Halloween safety tips section that even offers advice on the ever-growing popularity of using specialty contact lenses as part of a costume. Another unique section of Halloween.com offers suggestions on costume ideas for the physically challenged. For example, if you're in a wheelchair, you could dress up as Fred Flintsone and have the wheelchair decorated as his car. An additional idea would be to wrap your foot in a bandage, put on winter clothes including a tuque and ski goggles and go as an injured skier.

Annoying Orange: Frankenfruit

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween popcorn: like getting socks for Christmas

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Welcome to my annual contradictory rant against Halloween. While I'm no fan of door-to-door trick-or-treating, on the other hand my public relations background forces me to want the kids who come knocking at my door to experience the 'wow' factor.

I considered giving them $20 bills (the good public relations experience) and then yelling at them to get off my lawn (the subsequent old curmudgeon experience) but decided that may just get my house egged. Instead, I give out full-size treats (no mini bars or pitifully small bags of chips at my door!) and console the curmudgeon part of myself by giving them the evil eye when I'm out of their range of sight. A person can never be too careful. Dried egg is difficult to clean off vinyl siding.

I asked my Facebook friends what I should give out this year. I've given out Smarties for the past couple of years, but thought maybe I'd change it up this year, despite the joyful delirium it caused in some of the kids at my door. You just can't get that from some bite-sized no-name candy picked from the discount bin at the store.

But then again, I get fewer than 30 kids at my door every Halloween, so I can afford to splurge a bit. I've talked to some friends who get upwards of 200 kids at their door every year! Unbelievable!

The smart kids, however, go to neighbourhoods that don't get the big crowds. At those doors - especially if you go a bit later - people are giving out candy by the handful just to get rid of it. I remember dumping about a dozen full-size boxes of Smarties in a kid's goodie bag a few years ago, much to his delight.

It was just good candy-collecting strategy on his part. Instead of trolling through neighbourhoods that got hundreds of trick-or-treaters getting one bite-size morsel at a time, you need to visit the neighbourhoods that look quiet.

And let's face it, no one wants to run out of candy at Halloween, so we all buy way more than we need - and give it away by the handful by the end of the evening so we force ourselves to run out!

I've had between 20 and 27 kids at my door for each of the nine years I've owned my house and I still plan for at least 50 - just in case. This pretty much means that if you show up at my house at around 8 p.m., you're bound to get a boatload of loot in that pillow case you've been dragging around town all night. No one wants to run out of candy, but no one wants to be left with a bunch of leftovers, either.

Well, at least I don't. I'm no longer a candy eater, but I wouldn't want to tempt fate by having a whole whack of it around the house waiting to be eaten and calling my name. And you just know there's nothing sadder than candy that hasn't been given out at Halloween. It's like a doll left in the store at closing time on Christmas Eve.

Halloween candy should be eaten by kids who let it ruin their meals for a few days after the holiday... until the parents get sick and tired of the sugar-induced hissy fits that inevitably follow and put limits on how much candy can be consumed each day. Orphan candy - candy not given away on Halloween - ends up being taken to the office to share with co-workers (who bring in their candy, too), donated to the food bank with good intentions, eaten quickly with a ton of guilt and regret... or simply thrown out.

I've done all three options. Of course, I've also bought Halloween candy a bit too early only to see myself having to buy more after eating the entire stash. Been there, done that - and have the dental fillings to prove it. Halloween candy deserves to be eaten by excited kids, not by adults who feel guilty afterwards.

My Facebook friends chimed in with some great ideas should I choose not to give out Smarties this year. My other thought was Kit Kat bars. Kids like those, right?

I searched online for the most popular Halloween candy and to my great surprise Tootsie Rolls came out on top.

I write 'surprised' because the few that I got in my goodie bag as a kid were left until the end because they weren't a favourite. Then again, Tootsie Rolls ended up on the worst Halloween candy list, too. Maybe they're the CĂ©line Dion of Halloween candy: beloved by many, despised by many, too.

One friend told me that giving out full-size cans of Pepsi at my door would make me the "rock star of the neighbourhood."

If all the neighbourhoods got together and handed out pop, that would end the evening pretty quickly for the kids since the weight of their goodie bags would most certainly slow them down. I'm sure a few enterprising tots would start using wagons to carry around their sugar-laden loot, though. Why must they be so intelligent and resourceful?

I also heard that packages of hot chocolate mix and microwave popcorn are popular. Actually, that makes a lot of sense, since most kids like that stuff. But it seems to me that those items make up part of a many families' regular grocery orders, don't they? Isn't that like getting socks and underwear for Christmas?

I think I'll stick with a full-size treat of some sort. That's what kids like to get for Halloween. I would have been happy to receive popcorn and hot chocolate as a kid, but the neighbours who made an impression were the rare ones who gave the full-size treats.

Healthier treats are great from the parents' perspective, but Halloween is for kids; they deserve sugar and lots of it! Besides, I own a bunch of shares in a company that manufactures dentures and there's nothing like planning for the future!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about choosing Halloween candy that will impress the trick-or-treaters. But what does a person who hates Halloween (like me) do?

To read this week's column, pick up a copy of today's Moncton Times & Transcript or return here tomorrow when it will be posted online.

Remember, if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Uke3543's cover of Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours"

If you're not already diabetic, the cuteness of this video will most certainly send you over the edge. He's five... he's Japanese... he plays the ukulele... and this is his cover of Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours". It's been viewed 28.5 MILLION times (so far) on YouTube. Wow!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Two months to go 'til Ho! Ho! Ho!

Two months from today, it's Christmas! I've started my holiday gift shopping. Have you?

Graphic courtesy of pumpking08.

Sunday, October 24, 2010