Holidays can be stressful times and it all starts with Halloween. Just when you get the kids back in the routine of school – wabam! You have to coordinate parties, decorations and the dreaded costumes. Of course Halloween is a lot of fun and it can bring out the kid in all of us. Yet, the holiday means a lot of extra work.
So how do you manage to swing it all without breaking down? Follow these simple tips to save time, money and your sanity.
1. Streamline your decorations – Halloween is quickly becoming the second most decorated holiday next to Christmas. As soon as the binders and crayons are cleared from the store aisle, they are filled with pumpkins and ghosts. Decide it you want to go sweet and cute for your decor (what I did when my kids were young) or a bit more terrifying. We are going a bit darker with our decor this year, but I still don’t like the gore of severed limbs or hatchets. So, black crows, spiders and skulls will do it. I really like the punches of color too, so I went for the lime green and purple accents…with the occasional orange pumpkin, of course. I got almost all of our decorations from the dollar store (yep, not bad!) and JoAnn or Michael’s craft stores. The craft stores are a perfect place to get reusable pumpkins and fabric or ribbon. Look for the store coupons or I’ve found the apps awesome when you remember in line that you forgot your coupon at home!
By adding a few crows (dollar store) on Spanish moss (craft store) and a few other Halloween decorations, the mantel is transformed in a few minutes. The skeleton garland was another a dollar store purchase. I had to string together 3 smaller garlands, but still a deal. Be willing to thin out some of your regular decorative items to make room for holiday decorations without making your house look too cluttered. Focus on areas of your house that are visual focal points – the entry way, console tables, bookcases. Center decorations around a theme for continuity.
Don’t forget about the ease of using printables. The internet is full of printables these days. Search for any occasion and you can find the most adorably designed printables – some for free and some for a small fee. Here is one I found for Halloween from Fancy Designs that is free and is perfect in a simple black frame. Next to one of those reusable pumpkins from the craft store with some Spanish moss on a pillar, it is a super simple way to decorate a console table.
2. Go healthy with the food – I’ve said it before that I am a firm believer on feeding kids a healthy dinner before they head out the door for a night of sugar-rushed trick-or-treating. If you are hosting a party, these appetizer ideas are easy and delicious. I wanted to keep with the theme of purple and green but offer some healthy and quick options.
Making Eggplant pizzas involves little more than slicing eggplant, topping the slices with a drizzle of olive oil, a good marinara (from a jar is perfectly fine), shredded cheese and some dried basil and oregano. Put in the oven until the cheese melts and serve.
For the Wonton Taco Bites, I use a lean ground turkey and Wildtree Taco Seasoning. This keeps the dish lean and gives awesome flavor without all of the unnatural ingredients of some other commercial taco seasoning mixes (high fructose corn syrup and excess sodium). Just add the seasoning as you are browning the meat.
To make the wonton shells, I actually cut an eggroll wrapper in 4 squares or you can use the smaller wonton wrappers as they are sold. I used some foil to make a “U”-shaped form to lay the wrappers in and sprayed with a little cooking spray before popping in the oven for a quick browning. After a few minutes you have a crunchy shell that is only a few calories.
Fill the shells with the seasoned, cooked turkey meat and top with lettuce, cheese, or in this case, and avocado sour cream which is perfect with the green theme. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro is you like.
The Witches’ Fingers are just the ends of carrots cut and stuck in a bowl of dip. Simple! The more crooked the carrots, the better. Just wash the carrots well, but don’t peel. The beet chips and guacamole are store bought, so just serve in festive containers.
The Avocado Risotto is made with Aborrio rice, just as you would make any risotto. Once cooked, add some mashed avocado and stir to combine. I like to add a mound of this creamy goodness on a crunchy leaf of endive lettuce with some chopped pistachio nuts, but variations are welcome. You can even add avocado to regular white rice. The rice can be made ahead of time to make life easier. Served along side a bowl of braised red cabbage, it is a perfect part of my purple and green Halloween fare!
3. Supplement your candy bowl with toys and trinkets – If you do ONE thing this Halloween to promote health, it should be to supplement your candy bowl with toys and trinkets. This will not only save you calories from eating the candy from your trick-or-treat bowl, but it will save you money, since leftover toys and trinkets can be packed away with your decorations and handed out again next year. Kids really love the option of toys and trinkets that they don’t get at every other house on the block.
So Halloween really can be easy, healthy and simplified with these 3 basic tips. I hope you enjoy the treat of Halloween and share your tips for staying healthy below. Happy Halloween!