One of the spookiest things about Halloween is how it gives me and a lot of other moms a giant case of the guilts. In the part of my mind where memories of Beaver Cleaver's house still exist, I picture myself sitting at the sewing machine making my little Andrew a pony costume with a yarn mane. Andrew's long out of the costume phase -- he was married earlier this month -- and I never did find the time.
On the other hand, no matter how busy we are, it's fun to find little ways to celebrate a holiday. Here are some quick and easy ways to create some Halloween magic:
Here are some simple ways to spice up everyday foods:
1. Put a licorice straw into the breakfast orange juice, and pack an orange-dyed hard-boiled egg in the lunch box.
2. Make American cheese the sandwich of the day, and cut a pumpkin shape onto the top slice of bread.
3. Poke cloves into an orange to make a smiling pumpkin face -- or just draw one on with a marking pen.
4. Dress your youngster as Robin Hood with a green plastic garbage bag belted in the middle, tights, and a V-shaped hat made of brown paper. Staple real or construction-paper leaves to pajamas, tights, an old shirt or another garbage bag, so Robin's companion(s) can come as Sherwood Forest.
5. Alternatively, use the leaves and attach red, yellow or orange balloons to the costume. Presto: you're an apple, lemon or orange tree. (Leaves can be stuck to a headband as an extra touch.)
6. Blow up a multicolored group of balloons. Dress child in black turtleneck and tights, then make leg holes in a clear plastic dry-cleaner's bag. Slip legs through, then fill the bag with balloons. (Bag should reach from shoulders to thighs). Seal top and reinforce sides and bottom "seams" with clear wrapping tape. Your child is now a bag of jellybeans.
7. To get that jack-o'-lantern cleaned out fast, use an ice cream scoop.
8. Line the bottom with aluminum foil and put a set of coiled miniature Christmas lights inside, making a little hole in the back to draw the cord through. It's safer, lasts longer, doesn't smell, and looks just as good. But if you must have the candle, cut the hole in the bottom of the pumpkin and use the stem end to pick it up. It's easier to position the candle without having to reach down inside the shell.
9. Don't forget to put the pumpkin on a mat, because as it decays, it can ruin the finish on a wooden table or shelf. Of course, instead of carving, you can simply draw a face on the pumpkin, having fun with magic markers, stickers or whatever, and it will last much longer.
10. Use a virtual pumpkin: cover a glass fishbowl or punch bowl with strips of orange crepe paper (or cover with watered-down tempera paint), add construction paper features, and put a candle or a flashlight inside.
11. Don't let the goblins spoil your holiday mood. If your house is ''egged,'' apply a protein stain remover to make cleanup quick. Any product designed to remove food stains, such as Spray 'N Wash, will do the job.