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Ideas for an affordable, spooktacular, family friendly Halloween party

COURTESY PARTYPINCHING.COMComprised of items you can get at any grocery store, the sundae bar is a buffet of tasty items presented as less-than-desirable one. Strawberry sauce for blood, caramel sauce for earwax and crushed pineapple with a bit of red food coloring for brains are a few examples.
COURTESY PARTYPINCHING.COMComprised of items you can get at any grocery store, the sundae bar is a buffet of tasty items presented as less-than-desirable one. Strawberry sauce for blood, caramel sauce for earwax and crushed pineapple with a bit of red food coloring for brains are a few examples. TNS

For little ghosts and goblins who love all things spooky and scary, a Halloween party can be a great tradition that extends the magic of the season.

"With my kids, there was always so much excitement leading up to trick-or-treating, and then it would be over so fast," says Anna Luther, a mother of three young children and creator of the lifestyle blog My Life and Kids. "I decided to start having a Halloween party to keep the spirit going and give them more time to enjoy it."

Not wanting to "spend a million dollars" on premade craft kits, Luther decided to get creative. "Kids really love the simple things," she explains, like using mini marshmallows to build spooky structures or creating a ring-toss game with a glow stick and paper towel holder. "It's about letting them be creative and have fun."

Here are a few fun ideas that won't break the bank:

1. Toilet paper mummies.

All you need are a few rolls of single-ply toilet paper and a group of energetic kids for this game, which is one of Luther's favorites. The aim is simple: have them pair up to see who can wrap their partner the fastest or the tightest. "Kids love the competition of it," Luther says.

2. Halloween ring toss.

Grab some glow stick necklaces to use for the rings, and use a paper towel holder as the post. Luther likes to play this game with her kids on Halloween night for the extra fun factor. Bonus: Your little ones can wear the necklaces once you're done, which will help keep them safe and visible as they trick or treat.

3. Make scary sundaes.

"As kids get older, they tend to like the grosser stuff on Halloween," says creator of the entertaining site Party Pinching and author of the book "Sweet Treats for the Holidays" Norene Cox, whose party ideas have been featured on shows such as "Martha" and in magazines such as Family Fun.

You can easily appeal to a child's morbid side with Cox's scary sundae idea. Comprised of items you can get at any grocery store, the sundae bar is a buffet of tasty items presented as less-than-desirable ones: strawberry sauce for blood, caramel sauce for earwax and crushed pineapple with a bit of red food coloring for brains are a few examples.

4. Serve spooky cat pudding cups.

An easy-to-make treat that works well for classrooms that prohibit homemade desserts, this cute project requires only four packaged items: Peeps marshmallow cats, lemon sandwich cookies, leaf-shaped sprinkles and premade pudding cups. Just open the pudding cup, add sprinkles on top, insert a Peeps cat and add half of a sandwich cookie to the background for a fun little Halloween scene.

5. Use household craft items for decor.

Luther's secret weapon for Halloween decor is craft paper -- anything from construction paper to poster board. "It's so cheap, and it gives the kids something to do each year," she says.

Her kids' creativity is the limit. They make cutout bats to hang from the porch, goofy masks to wear around the house and even Frankenstein's monster for the front door.

Another easy decor idea from Luther: If you have extra mason jars around the house, fill them with cotton balls and add a glow stick and plastic spiders. Let the kids help for an extra activity.

Whatever games you play or projects you make, Cox suggests letting kids put their own spin on it. "This is an opportunity for them to be really creative, to create memories they won't forget."

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