The world is about to get much scarier, spookier, sillier and sweeter as Halloween is creeping up on us. If you are gearing up for festivities of your own, helping out with a school Halloween party or are planning a community celebration, the Nation has come up with some top-notch ideas for the most ghoulish day of the year and we have kept your health in mind.
It’s about what you do, not what you eat
As health concerns are on our minds these days, coping with diabetes or trying to keep one’s weight down as a means of preventing its onset can be difficult on a day when sweets and treats are front and centre. Rather than depriving the little ones of the festive little delicacies, the American Diabetes Association recommends that moderation be exercised for foods high in carbohydrates, including sweets and starches. Even diabetic children can have a treat once in a while so long as the carbs are compensated for in their meal planning and the child gets sufficient exercise. We have provided a few spooky treat ideas at the end of this article and a lot of Halloween themed active fun to burn off those treats.
Haunted Halloween Games and Spooky Fun Activities
For this activity you will need several small, round pumpkins, three to six empty soda bottles with the caps for pins and either sand or kitty litter to weigh the bottles down. Carefully cut the stems off of the pumpkins so that they can roll efficiently. How many small pumpkins to buy will depend on how many kids will be playing the game as the pumpkins can break. Try and plan for two to three kids per pumpkin with a few spares should they break. Next, carefully place the sand or litter in the bottles and seal them and place them in a row several feet away from the starting point. The number of bottle-pins you use should depend on the age group of the children. Three pins is sufficient for kids under five; add more pins for older kids to add difficulty to the game. Keep a tally on the score and reward the kids for the points the get by hitting the bottles.
Pumpkin Ring Toss
This is another fun game for the little ones that can also be modified for bigger kids. All you need are a few pumpkins, carved or not, and rings wide enough to fit over the pumpkins. If you do not have something ring-like available, visit the local hardware store and either pick up rope to tie into a ring or small quantities of plastic-covered wiring that can be taped together with duct tape. Simply place your pumpkins at a distance and toss away the rings, reward the winners.
Pinatas are fun for any kid’s party but it’s even more fun when the tykes get to make them themselves. This activity should be started a few days before Halloween as they can take some time to dry. To make a simple, round pinata that a child can decorate, you will need 2 cups flour, 3 cups water, 1 balloon, 1-inch strips of newspaper, paint, crayons, or markers, coloured crepe paper and string.
Inflate your balloon to the desired size and tie off the end. Next, mix the flower and water to create a paste. Dip the strips of newspaper into the bowl of paste and place them on the balloon until it is covered, leaving a hole in the top to insert the goodies and allow the pinata to dry, repeat this step three times. When pinata is completely dry, pop the balloon and remove it as it is now time for the kids to decorate their pinata with their favourite Halloween imagery. Fill the pinata with toys, candy and surprises and extra newspaper so that not all of the surprises fall out at the same time. Pierce two holes in the top near the hole so that string can be strung through it to hang the pinata, seal the creation with some remaining newspaper strips and paste and allow for drying. You can also stuff enough newspaper into the top of the pinata over the surprises so that none fall out. Hang and hit!Black vs orange balloon battle
For this activity you need orange and black balloons, string or ribbon and sufficient room to let the kids run around. Divide the players into two teams, black or orange and then tie a corresponding, inflated balloon around the ankle of each player. When the game starts the object is to burst the balloon of the opposing team members. When all of one team’s balloons are popped, a team wins.
Guess how much the pumpkin weighs
This is an easy one and it’s great to help kids learn weights and measurements. The party planner should weigh out a pumpkin prior to the party and record the weight. Take guesses from all of the kids and award the closest guesser a prize.
This game idea came from the about.com website and it’s really quite simple. Print out the PDF available on the site from the link below and cut out the bones or if you can find them, purchase cut out or plastic skeletons. When the game organizer says go, each child or pair of children have to race to put their skeleton together and whoever puts all of the right bones in their proper spots first, wins. http://childparenting.about.com/od/halloween-parties/ss/halloweengames_3.html
Eyeball relay race
To play this game you will need ping-pong balls or eggs with eyes drawn on them, a spoon for each team and kids divided into teams. Set up a relay course around the room that each team member must run around; team members must complete the course without dropping the eyeball on the spoon and pass it off to the next player. If the team member drops the eyeball they must start over. First team to get all of the players through the course wins.
For this activity you will need a plastic jack-o-lantern, a chalkboard or large drawing board and strips of paper. Fill the jack-o-lantern with Halloween words on the strips of paper – witch, ghost, black cat and so forth. For this game, divide the group of kids into two teams. One team sends a person up to a board, draws a name out of the plastic jack-o-lantern and then attempts to draw a word in a picture. The team must guess what it is. A two-minute time limit should be set as this game can go on for a long time. Keep rotating until everyone has a chance to draw. Whichever team guesses the most correct answers wins!Halloween Treats
What is Halloween without something fun to eat? Though the temptation to go wild on all of the high-sugar, high-fat treats seems hard to resist at Halloween, planning out smart treats is a good way to curb the madness, especially if weight control and blood sugar is an issue for partygoers. One good way to take the emphasis off overindulgence is to give out non-edible treats such as stickers, small toys like little rubber balls, plastic spiders and other toys. But if you are hosting an event, something must be served. Here are some suggestions for spooky snacks and scary treats that are not as bad, but try to remember that moderation is key.
Healthy chewy candy drops
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup granola
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut
Blend together the peanut butter and honey in a bowl with a wooden spoon and then add the granola and raisins. Stir until the mixture is well blended. Cover the mixture with wax or parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to one hour as it will make the mixture easier to deal with.
Take the chilled mixture out of the fridge and ball a spoonful of the candy mixture in your hand, creating a small ball. Drop the candy ball into the coconut and roll until covered. Place the candy ball on a plate and continue the process until all of the mixture is used up. Return the candy balls to the refrigerator for one hour to chill or until just before serving. Recipe should yield about 12 candy balls.
Per one candy ball serving: 77 calories; 3 g fat; 12 g carbohydrates; 15 mg Sodium; 2 g protein, 7 mg calcium; 0 cholesterol. Exchanges: 1 carbohydrate; 1 fat.
Cold chocolate munchy snacks
1/2 pkg sugar-free chocolate pudding mix I cup skim milk 1-1/2 cups peanut butter 36 graham cracker squares
1 envelope reduced-calorie whipped topping mix
Follow the package instructions for the pudding mix. If you can find it, it’s ideal to use the kind of pudding here that requires cooking. Allow to cool thoroughly. Mix in the peanut butter with the pudding and then drop two tablespoons of the mixture onto each graham cracker square. Top the mixture with the whipped topping and then cover with another graham cracker. Place all cracker sandwiches on a plate and put into the freezer until serving time. If you wrap these cracker sandwiches individually, they can stay in the freezer for weeks at a time. The recipe should yield approximately 18 servings.
Per one sandwich serving: 200 calories; 12 g total fat; 17 g carbohydrate; 8 g protein; 142 mg sodium. Exchanges: 1 starch/bread; 1 medium-fat meat; 1 fat.
One or two packages of sugar free strawberry Jello or other sugar-free gelatine
One or two packages of sugar free grape Jello or other sugar-free gelatine
Two adult-sized latex or vinyl gloves, washed and rinsed out
2 cups hot water
1 to 2 cups cold water
Two or three packages of your favourite sugar-free punch
Dissolve the Jello or sugar-free gelatine products in the hot water and add the one to two cups of cold water. You can use one or two packages depending on how dark you want the hands to be, the more gelatine you use, the darker the colour. Pour the mixture into the gloves, tie ends tightly, place in freezer. Mix your sugar-free punch in a punch bowl. Just prior to serving, add the thoroughly frozen hands to the punch, serve and scare!Should you be hosting or planning a Halloween party forthose who are concerned about their diet or blood sugar, it’s never a bad idea to have other things on hand like fruit and cheese platters, with low-fat whole grain crackers, vegetables and low fat dip. By decorating the plates with plastic spiders and other Halloween-themed decorations, just about anything healthy can take on a spooky theme and still be fun to eat. The American Diabetes Association recommends that for kids who are suffering from diabetes, it’s always better to take the focus off of the foods and instead put more effort into other aspects of Halloween. Put the focus on the costumes and activities like visiting a haunted house or community party. If they are going to have candy, to make sure they get a little extra exercise in the days around Halloween. A Halloween-themed dance party is always a great way for people to come together, get some exercise and have fun.