Idea No.


Mad Scientist's Lab - Chili Con Carnivore



January 2009


Dawn in Marysville, WA, USA

Runner Up

Halloween Party

After months of planning, and the craziness of pulling it all together, my first Halloween party was a huge success! My plan was a open house, people coming and going, a few here and there, alas, that was not the case, as the bulk of people came at the same time and more trickled in, but not a lot left. But because it was a school night, it wound down right on time. I had an army of teen helpers which was amazing, because I'm learning to delegate and not do it all myself.  

INVITES  I cheated this year and purchased cute invitations; I always make them myself, but I had too much going on. I just asked everyone to come dressed in costume.

DECORATIONS - Ok, so I had a lot of stuff going on. In my front living room, I envisioned a black-light dance room.  I had plastic spiders puttied up on the walls, and spider webs everywhere.  In one corner, I set up a fog machine, and covered it with black paper and Caution tape corner. I emptied most of the toys and furniture and hung two black light fixtures, and white balloons with glow sticks in them for an eerie effect. The remaining furniture had white sheets on them, and Halloween music was playing. In the front living room, we traced about 60 bats from construction paper, using a cookie cutter as a template, and we hung them in the TV room from fishing line, and all over the walls. We created a great paper chain across the ceiling as well. I have a built-in display wall, that was full of creepy jars and blood-stained cheesecloth (a few drops of red food coloring makes them looked cool).  On a few loaves of plastic bread, I sponged grey-green acrylic paint, and tiny plastic flies puttied all over the display, so it looked like the food was rotting. 

I found these amazing drink labels at the dollar store, so all the different bottles I saved up had new cool potion labels like Embalming Juice and Truth serum. I borrowed every table and folding chair I could for enough places to sit and eat.  My kitchen table had a great centerpiece of Martha's glitter skulls, plastic bones, creepy crawlies and crows on a black cake stand I made from gluing together a black melamine plate to the bottom of a matching bowl.  The tablecloth was an old, stained cloth that I ripped up.  Lots of black votive holders, cool skull ones I scored at Walmart, on the table and everywhere I could think of.  I wrapped some tall cylinder candleholders in black tulle, others in vellum paper with glued-on bugs.  I changed out the bathroom lights for black light bulbs, and candles up on shelves for spooky shadows in the bathroom.  I also changed the kitchen ones to orange bulbs as well. I hate my kitchen light fixture, so I draped more bloody cheesecloth and black branches on it, just to do something with it.   The garage would be where the experiments would be conducted.  I covered one side with black plastic panels, to hide all of our stuff, the other side has gray butcher paper painted like stone, to give that mad lab feel. Cobwebs were strung up and dim lighting due to a few lamps.   I set up the stations, but more on that in the ACTIVITIES section.

PARTY SNACKS - I loved my food labels, I think renaming stuff makes food more interesting. I had to counteract all the sweets so the main dish was Chili Con Carnivore (turkey chili with crackers) which I hear was really good never got to have any. I created "Lime Jello with gummy worms and candy spores" in petri dishes I ordered from Home Science Tools. I piped frosting through a large tip for "Monster Brains" cupcakes and a great brain mold with gummy worms floated in "Dead Man's Punch". The "Boocakes" were Peeps ghosts poked through with a toothpick sitting on chocolate cupcakes rolled in crushed chocolate graham crackers to look like they were in a graveyard. In a capote was "Ghoul Fuel"; Chex Mix with gummy eyeballs added. And of course we had to have "Devil's Eggs". The "Monster Bites" were a huge hit apple wedges filled with peanut butter and candy corn teeth. They went too fast. So did the Ghost Eyeballs white mini powdered donuts with a gummy Lifesaver and a chocolate chip as the iris sitting in the donut hole and red frosting piped along the outside of the donut to look like it was blood-shot.

ACTIVITIES - In the TV room (with the spiders and paper chains) we were playing Monster House with no sound and yet the kids were mesmerized. I like to have something playing in the background so kids can take a moment from the insanity. In the black light room the kids were dancing around but soon it became a dance/beating each other with balloons/popping the balloons then fighting with the glow sticks room. My husband was not pleased. There were 4 stations: "Bubbling Blood" a demo of what happens when you mix Vampire's Blood (vinegar colored red) and Garlic Powder (baking soda); a cool fizzy explosion.  "Build a Molecule" with colored marshmallows and toothpicks; "Pick Your Poison"; kids tested different solutions like lemon juice etc. with pH paper (also from Home Science Tools) and had to match up what color they changed to. I renamed the solutions with names like "Essence of Wolfsbane" "Zombie Venom" etc. 

By far every one's favorite was "Slime Time". It's a really cool recipe I found online. It's the type that when you play with it it becomes a solid and then becomes an ooze when you stop playing. I premixed the borax solution then the kids added the glue and water and their choice of concentrated coloring to a paper cup stirring with a Popsicle stick then slowly adding the borax solution. Then they have to put their hands in to pull the slime out and knead it for awhile. All the kids loved it it was squishy and yucky. They put their creations in plastic baggies that had instructions on it to keep refrigerated when not in play and wash your hands.  The hit with the older kids (and a few adults) was the wax hands. There is this amazing wax called FlexWax I purchased from Oriental Trading. It's a low temp wax that can be used to cast on the body because it doesn't need a lot of heat to melt and won't burn the skin. With an rice cooker I found at Value Village (you have to heat the wax in a double boiler) the victim slathers up their hand in Vaseline then dips into the wax and cools it in cold water. Repeat a few times and you get a really cool effect. The fun part is pulling the mold off. They also went home in gallon bags.

FAVORS - I made the cutest Frankenbags. They are small green paper lunch bags that I embellished to look like a Frakenstein face.  I cut out strips of black cardstock with pinking shears for the hair glued on large google eyes and drew on a zigzag mouth and a scar or too.  They were full of gummy and chocolate body parts and other candy. The little ones' bags had stickers and pencils. I also gave my teen helpers small wooden Halloween totes that had a bag of candy tied to them and they all had made wax hands and slime. And all the kids had their slime and some took their molecules home too.

P.S.  I was looking for a lab coat but I kept putting it off and could only find scrubs at the thrift stores. I was going for a undead scientist but turned into a ghoulish 2nd year med student.

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