This year I’ll be hopping on a commercial broomstick to Florida to celebrate with some old friends, and their new baby boy for a much needed mini-holiday break.

Tigress Tatjana Rhodes
I confess, I had a little “baby clothes addiction” slip, but it IS his first Halloween! It’s my duty as his “Auntie Jewels” to teach him that it doesn’t matter if you’re an itty-bitty baby, a twenty-four month old toddler…
Two year old Tatjana Rhodes
… or a twenty-four year old adult, Halloween is synonymous with dressing up and party time,
Primrose Milvain, The Mummy, Tatjana Rhodes, and Elizabeth Scott
Hoping all of your Halloween celebrations will be as much fun as I plan to have, but please be extra vigilant in keeping your children safe. Halloween is a magical day for children and overgrown kids like myself. It’s also a time when kids get so excited (and filled to the gills with sugar) that they don’t make the best decisions – making it prime time for accidents to happen, and predators to pounce. Here are five ways you can help keep your children safe, while enhancing the fun, and eliminating the need to scare them half to death with lectures.

1). Think of safety when buying or making a costume for your kids. For instance, I don’t like the idea of highly flammable fabrics (often in unwieldy costumes much bigger than your child) brushing up against a burning jack-o-lantern, or accessories that might cause serious injury to a child if they were to trip and fall.

Tatjana and friend Christian

2). Halloween parties are a great way to keep the majority of the creepy fun within the safety of your own home. Invite the moms and dads too – you want plenty of eyes on your mob when the trick-or-treating begins.

3). I know preteens may they think they are too old to have mom tagging along, but maybe not if mom is in Halloween mode too. Have some fun and let your inner kid out – dress up, let them see “fun mom,” and they will want you to join in. I was lucky to be close enough to grab my eight-year-old daughter, and pull her back just in the nick of time when she went racing out into a street (without looking) to get to the next treasure trove of candy. The car wouldn’t have had time to stop. She knew better, but excitement and sugar greed impaired her better judgment.

4). Make a special spooky meal to fill them up, and they will be much more obliging to the rule “no treats until we get home.” Inspect everything before your kids dig in. Any homemade goodies that aren’t from people you know well should be tossed out, along with any candy in wrappers that aren’t intact.

I always did love Casper the friendly ghost

5). Make it family tradition to read ghost stories together, play games, or watch a scary movie while waiting for the next ghost or goblin to ring the bell. You should be at the door to supervise whom they open it to. Call me paranoid, but what better time for disguised beasts of prey to wage a home invasion, or grab a little one and run? I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Clare Crespo’s Tarantula Cookies, photo by Eric Staudenmaier

As if your little devils won’t already have enough sugar going on – I couldn’t resist sharing Clare Crespo‘s recipe for Tarantula Cookies. They make a great table decoration as well us a creepy crawly treat that is perfect for any Halloween celebration.

Servings: Makes 25-30 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 bag (8 ounces) thin, short pretzel sticks
  • 1 large bag (11 1/2 ounces) milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • chocolate sprinkles
  • small red candies

Directions:

1). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2). In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

3). In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.

4). Gradually add the flour mixture and cocoa powder. Beat to form a smooth dough.

5). Roll a tablespoon-size ball, and place it on a baking sheet. Arrange 8 pretzel sticks around the ball like spokes on a wheel. Press the tips of the pretzel sticks firmly into the dough ball. Continue with the rest of the pretzels and dough.

6). Bake until the cookies brown around the edges, about 7 – 10 minutes.

7). Lift the cookies from the baking sheet with a spatula, and place on wire cooling racks. Let cool completely. Place the racks on aluminum foil or wax paper.

8). In a double boiler (or the microwave), melt the chocolate chips with the vegetable oil.

9). Pour the melted chocolate over each cookie. Coat with chocolate sprinkles. Press in two red candy eyes at the front of each head. Eeek!

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