Friday, October 15, 2010

Time to Start the Halloween Countdown!

    There are now officially 16 more days until Halloween.  And here in the Little House, we are amping up for our favorite holiday.  Every day, I will be posting a new recipe, decorating idea, craft idea or book to share for all you  little ghosts and goblins out there.  Enjoy!

   Today's post features some cute ideas for Halloween party favors.

Owl cookies by Social Couture the Blog

     Edible favors are always an easy gift to pull-off. Not only can you be cost-efficient (one large cookie wrapped beautifully per person = low-cost), you can hand out a favor that will be appreciated by all ages.
    Here's a recipe for some cute owl cookies from Social Couture the Blog. I love the simplicity of the design and the fact that they are not overwhelmed with frosting and candy.

Prep and Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours, plus at least 45 minutes to chill. Notes: Trace an owl-shaped pattern (for a template, see on heavy paper or lightweight cardboard, or use cookie cutters in any shape. You can make the cookies up to 2 days ahead; store airtight.
Yield: Makes about 33 cookies (serving size: 1 cookie)
1 1/3  cups  butter, at room temperature
3/4  cup  granulated sugar
3/4  cup  firmly packed brown sugar
2  large egg
2  teaspoons  vanilla
3 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour
2  teaspoons  baking powder
1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
1/2  teaspoon  salt
Icing (recipe follows)
Candy corn
Miniature chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350° (325° if using convection heat).
2. In a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until blended, then beat on high speed until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; beat on low speed until combined, then on medium speed until well blended. Divide dough into three portions.
3. Place each portion between two sheets of floured plastic wrap. Roll dough evenly into flat rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Stack rounds on a baking sheet and chill until firm, at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 days.
4. Working with one portion of dough at a time (keep remaining chilled), peel off top sheet of plastic wrap. Set floured pattern (see notes) on dough and cut around edges. Or with floured round cookie cutters (3-in. diameter), cut out cookies, placing cutters as close together as possible. Transfer to cooking parchment-lined or ungreased baking sheets, placing cookies about 1 inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough rounds. Gather up scraps and press together into a ball. If dough is still cold, roll and cut out remaining cookies. If it's soft and sticky, repeat step 3.
5. Bake cookies until firm to touch and slightly darker brown around edges, 8 or 9 minutes; if baking more than one sheet at a time in one oven, switch positions halfway through baking. Slide parchment with cookies off sheets onto racks or counter to cool, then remove from parchment. Or cool on pans about 1 minute and then transfer to racks to cool completely. If not using cooking parchment, wipe off baking sheets after each batch. Cool sheets before filling with more cookies.
6. Spread icing over cookies and decorate with candies, using candy corn for a beak and chocolate chips for eyes. Let stand until icing is firm, about 5 minutes.
Icing: In a small bowl, stir together 2 cups powdered sugar and just enough milk (about 3 tablespoons) to make a spreadable icing. If desired, tint with food coloring. If icing thickens as it stands, stir in a few more drops of milk.

  Although cookies are a hit for young and old, if you are hosting a more adult party, you might want to offer a more adult favor. One idea would be to decorate some inexpensive wine glasses with paint pens and stick-on rhinestones. You can add a little black silk ribbon tied around the stem with a tag that has your guest's name. (You could also personalize each glass with the person's name in paint as part of the decoration.) Not only could you serve your guests a drink in their favor glasses, you could also place them on a table with a wrapped pumpkin scented votive in each. I love the candles from Yankee Candle, and they even have scented black candles this time of year.

Here are some classy personalized wine charms you can purchase on Etsy from  YaYa DIY Club

  For my Halloween parties, I always feature a pumpkin carving activity. Not only will the wheelbarrow full of pumpkins you purchase for the event make a great party decoration, they can later, after carved, be taken home as a party favor that can then decorate your guests' homes.

   I've found that adults love carving pumpkins just as much as children do. And it is an easy activity that can bring all party-goers together, even if they don't know one another. Just make sure to provide a large table covered with a plastic tablecloth, lots of newspapers, plastic bags for trash, and several sets of carving implements. (The plastic "kid-safe" ones are best if children are present.) I also make sure to set out a basket of small tea lights or votives and matches. And don't forget the pictures afterward!

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