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Halloween hints: It's not too late to scare up some haunts

| Friday, Oct. 28, 2011

Deadly decor

Lifestyle expert Kelley Moore, who has appeared with her decorating and entertaining ideas on the "Today Show" and "The Nate Berkus Show," offers easy ways transform your space from everyday living into a Halloween extravaganza.

• Mummify chairs across your home. Using tea bags and warm water, stain several rolls of white gauze to make it look like they've been buried underground for years. Simply, wrap the chairs with the gauze and secure it in place using poster strips.

• Create inexpensive Halloween table centerpieces by stacking scary old books, such as "The Alfred Hitchcock Collection," "Frankenstein" and "Dracula," on tables and benches in the home. Add a few candles on top of the stack to help add height and dimension.

• Give house guests goosebumps by creating giant cobwebs on walls and over furniture to make the house look like it was abandoned years ago. Stretch out thin layers of cotton and secure it place using Command mini hooks. Then, add spiders, bats and other creepy crawlers as finishing touches.

• Create eerie lighting throughout the home. Simply, cut Halloween shapes, such as cats and bats, out of black construction paper. Then, adhere them to the inside of an inexpensive lampshade using poster strips. When the lamp is turned on, spooky shadows will illuminate the room.

• Create a costume for your refrigerator by showcasing Halloween photos, greeting cards and party invitations using Command picture clips.

Dark Shadows

If a haunted house look is what you're after, consider this:

• Drape Spanish moss, found at many nurseries and craft stores, along your railings. Spirit Halloween sells it by the boxful. The retailer also stocks realistic-looking cemetery fence sections, and well-stocked graveyard kits with elements like skulls, tombstones, spiders and rats. Use burlap or cheesecloth to wrap posts and railings.

• Change out your porch light for a dramatic orange or red bulb, and frame the doorway with spider webs or crime-scene tape. Greet intrepid trick-or-treaters with an audio loop of spectral moans, crunching footsteps, thunder and howling wolves.

• Feeling crafty• Go to for instructions on how to make your own tombstones, lawn spiders and ghosts. Many of the projects are simple enough to involve even the younger family members.

Scared of germs?

This glittery skull full of Anti-Bacterial PocketBac Sanitizing Hand Gel from Bath & Bodyworks is perfect for carrying from house to house. Its natural ingredients and powerful germ killers leave hands clean and lightly scented with four flavors -- Gumball, Sour Drop, Black Cherry and Monster Mint. And it kills germs without water. Price: $1.50 each at Bath & Bodyworks.

No fright, just facts

Some goofy -- not ghoulish -- fun facts about Halloween:

• There are about 36 million kids ages 5-13 in the United States, and more than 93 percent of them report going trick-or-treating.

• Beware the thieving mom or dad: 90 percent of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids' trick-or-treat bags.

• More than 35 million pounds of candy corn are produced each year. That equates to almost 9 billion pieces, enough to circle the moon nearly 21 times if laid end to end.

• The nation produced 931 million pounds of pumpkins in 2009. Illinois is the leading pumpkin-producing state.

• Frightful places to spend Halloween: Transylvania County, N.C.; Tombstone, Ariz.; Pumpkin Bend, Ark.; Skull Creek, Neb.

• Are you scared of Halloween• Then, you suffer from samhainophobia. (Samhain was a harvest celebration that predated Halloween.)

Candy faves & raves

Percentage of kids saying these were their favorite treats:

Chocolate: 68 percent

Lollipops: 9 percent

Gummy candy: 7 percent

Gum: 6 percent

First thing you do with your candy

Sort it: 30 percent

Savor it: 20 percent

Share it: 16 percent

Stash it: 14 percent (Just don't forget where you hid it.)

Swap it: 7 percent (I'll take those Butterfingers.)

Eat candy and avoid tooth decay

Sugar-laden candy provides the perfect environment for breeding bacteria that cause tooth decay. Of course, brushing right after candy consumption minimizes the impact. But if brushing soon isn't possible, Dr. Margaret Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Dental Spa in Chicago, offers these tips:

• Consume the candy with a meal. The increased saliva production while eating will help wash the sweet off the teeth.

• Rinse the mouth with water.

• Chew a sugarless gum (especially those containing xylitol) after snacking on candy. The increased saliva from chewing will help wash the sugar off the teeth and xylitol gums help control the bacteria that cause tooth decay.

• Eat the candy quickly in one sitting to decrease the amount of time it is in contact with the teeth. Recent studies have shown that length of time eating a sweet can be more harmful than the amount of sweet consumed. This means longlasting hard candies and breath mints can be worse for your teeth than a quickly eaten chocolate bar.

• Avoid sticky candy such as taffy, gummy bears and caramel, which adheres to teeth and leads to decay.

If you want to cut down on the candy and do a good deed too, several dentists are involved in the Halloween Candy Buy Back program. Dentists will offer cash or other non-candy treats in exchange for Halloween candy and then, donate the candy to U.S. troops overseas. Find a dentist near you at .

Pumpkin spa treatments

Your skin needn't look quite so scary this season. Beauty guru Erika Katz, author of "Bonding Over Beauty," created a face mask and body scrub that is full of exfoliating enzymes that brighten the skin. The secret ingredient is pumpkin, which is rich in vitamin A that's healing to the skin and essential to maintain and repair skin tissue. It also helps reduce lines and wrinkles.

Pumpkin Face Mask

  • 2 teaspoon canned pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon heavy whipping cream

Mix ingredients, and apply to face. Leave on for 10 minutes, and rinse

Pumpkin Scrub

  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Mix ingredients, and rub on wet skin to exfoliate. Rinse.

Avoid petrified pets

Halloween night can be particularly scary for pets that don't like doorbells, strangers and people passing the yard. Here's how to minimize the fear:

• Keep outdoor cats and dogs inside, minimizing their exposure to lots of people.

• If you take your dog with you trick-or-treating, keep them on leash and watch for signs of stress. These can include panting, pacing, drooling or barking reactively at the environment. Trick-or-treating isn't for everyone, so if your dog is stressed, take it home.

• Put candy away in a pet-safe container. Chocolate is toxic for pets, and eating candy with wrappers can cause choking or obstruction of the digestive system.

• Don't have pets come with you to the door when you answer it. There is a risk they could escape in the confusion. And children who don't have experience with dogs and might be frightened.

Stop safety scares

Just because Halloween celebrates things scary doesn't mean you want any safety scares of your own this year. Use these tips from to make sure you and your family have a fun and safe holiday.

Pick visible costumes. Encourage your kids to pick brightly colored costumes. That way it will be easier for cars to see them on dark roads. If they insist on wearing dark colors, stick reflective tape on the costumes to help them be more noticeable. Also, put reflective tape on their candy bags and give your children flashlights to carry.

Use face paint instead of a mask . Face paint might work better than a mask when it comes to visibility. If you decide to paint designs on your kids' faces, follow the directions on the face paint packaging closely. Test the face paint before Halloween to make sure it doesn't irritate your children's skin. Avoid their eyes when you apply it.

Don't snack while trick-or-treating. Wait until you get home so that you have a chance to inspect your children's candy. To prevent snacking, give your kids a small meal before they head out. When they get home, toss out any candy with opened or damaged wrappers and homemade treats, unless you know the giver personally.

Consider using a glow stick or battery-powered lights instead of candles in luminaries or in jack-o-lanterns, especially around little kids who could get burned or drapery that could catch fire. Make sure your kids Halloween costumes are flame resistant in case a cape or other part of the costume comes near an open flame.

Sources: Trib reporting, Census Bureau, National Confectioners Association, , The Washington Post, Associated Press, Gannett News Service

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