8 Truly Last-Minute Halloween Hacks

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Did Halloween sneak up on you? Fear not: Here are a handful of hacks to create costumes, decorations and treats.

Halloween has a way of sneaking up, leaving us without costumes, decorations and holiday-friendly treats. But fear not! Consider these savvy Halloween hacks for procrastinators.

1. Make last-minute jack-o’-lanterns

One of the best ways to make a stylish pumpkin in a hurry is to use your electric drill and several different-sized drill bits.

First cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin and scrape out the contents. From there, you can make random polka dots by drilling through the pumpkin, or lines of holes, or holes in a zig-zag pattern. Whatever you like. Then, just add a candle or battery-operated votive.

You can get fancier about it by following directions from HGTV. The network recommends using strips of tape as a guide while you drill. Switch out drill bits of different sizes to create patterns.

Alternatively, if you don’t even have time to hollow out a pumpkin, you can always paint them — or draw on them with markers.

2. Preserve your pumpkins

Did you carve the pumpkins a bit early and now are worried they will fade? Just use a dab of petroleum jelly or hairspray to make that Halloween decoration last. Shelley Carella, brand director at Yummly.com, says:

That will help keep the cut edges of your pumpkin from softening too quickly and keep the rest of it plump, too. Hairspray also works to seal in the moisture of your pumpkin. A light coating of hairspray around all the cut, exposed parts of your pumpkin can go a long way in keeping it looking good.

Hairspray isn’t flammable when dry, she says. But it’s always a good idea to use battery-operated candles instead of the real ones.

3. Create speedy spiders

Conscript your kids to help you make giant spiders. Have them rake leaves into heavy black trash bags, which they can then turn into giant outdoor spider decorations. No leaves to rake? Grab some old newspapers to stuff the spider bodies. Then cut and tape extra trash bags into lots of creepy legs (eight’s the right amount). Drape the giant arachnids over a wall, from a tree or on your porch. Hefty offers directions at its website.

4. Bring in the blooms

Janet Lawatsch, florist on the delivery site BloomNation and owner of Studio One Twenty Three West in Braintree, Massachusetts, suggests saving a few empty beer and wine bottles in advance and spray painting them black:

Pick up a dozen or so fresh colorful blooms and arrange in bottles creating varying heights. Be sure to get some curly willow or birch sticks, as well, and stretch some spider web netting (purchased at a local grocery/craft store) across the branches. Arrange your bottles in a cluster and add some candles for a more dramatic effect.

If you want to use fresh flowers to decorate, be sure to buy from a reputable vendor so they don’t die before the big day, says Lawatsch.

5. Bust out the face paint

Maybe you don’t have the time, cash or energy to dive into costume-shopping madness. Face paints can turn you or the kids into a Minion, Winter Princess, Sugar Skull or other characters. Adriana Saurini, creative director at PartyPaint.com, says:

The special connection that happens during the process of face painting adds magic to a child’s experience.

There are lots of remarkable examples of face paint on Pinterest. If you’re an artist, by all means, try them out. But for something last-minute, take a look at these simple examples on Parents.com.

Use face paints or makeup specifically designed for this purpose. Do not apply household paint or craft paint to the skin.

6. Raid your closet

Dress in white or black clothing. Then grab eyeliner or an eyebrow pencil, draw on whiskers, and you’re a cat or bunny. For the complete look, pick up a long kitty tail or a puffy cottontail at a costume shop.

Not into the animal look? Recycle a formal gown, add a costume tiara and fake chains, and you become the rock band Alice in Chains. Or skip the chains and you’re a prom queen.

7. Create food spider webs

Put a topping like frosting or cream cheese (for dessert) or sour cream (for dip) in a plastic storage bag and cut the end to help with the decorating. You can buy orange frosting, too, to keep with the holiday colors. Whichever hue you choose, draw a few straight lines and then connect the lines in between to create a simple spider web design. You should have a spooky meal in minutes, said Yummly’s Carella.

For more ideas, go to the Peeps website. Turns out, they are not just for Easter anymore.

8. Make fast, festive cookies

Libby’s has a 100 percent pure pumpkin cookie dough you slice and bake. Don’t want to deal with the mess that baking even refrigerated cookies can create? Jenny Harper, senior baking specialist with Nestle, says:

One cleaning time saver I use all the time is to line my countertop with wax or parchment paper when I measure ingredients, mix or decorate. Also, I use parchment paper to line my baking sheets for less cleanup and for an easier transfer of cookies to the cooling rack.

What do you recommend for last-minute Halloween tricks? Share with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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