Chelle Doll
What's Halloween without the spooktacular atmosphere? (Chelle Doll)

A few quick knife cuts leave you with a ghoulish "finger" hot dog any kid is sure to love this Halloween. (Chelle Doll)

A plastic skull wrapped in panchetta is a grisly centerpiece for any meat and cheese tray. (Chelle Doll)

A pumpkin makes the perfect centerpiece to your guacamole spread... If you have the stomach for it. (Chelle Doll)

Fall is my favorite time of the year. The turning leaves and the smell in the air mean that my favorite holiday, Halloween, will soon be here. I am not sure where my obsession started but I am sure that I enjoy it more than most adults should. I start getting the first bag of bones out earlier every year; and once I do, it isn't long until we're living in a haunted house.

This year I decided to go with a new idea: a haunted laboratory theme. My inspiration was an old microscope I found at a thrift store, an awesome vintage Sulfur apothecary jar and a rubber rat. Suddenly I had the start of scary laboratory. Decorating for Halloween doesn't have to be expensive. A lot of my decorations are items I repurpose for each holiday. The final touch is always spider webs for an untouched and haunting feel. I always want my grandchildren to remember how fun it was to go to Grandma's on Halloween.

It wouldn't be trick or treat time without fun foods and I just giggle at some of the things people come up with. I wanted to share a few of my favorites that are quick and easy. For the kids, start off Halloween morning with breakfast in bed with easy monster donuts. Simply insert a set of fangs, add two candy eyes and you're done. (Don't use a cake donut, as they fall apart under the pressure of the fangs.) For lunch, you can give them a chilling severed finger hot dog. Just use a fully cooked hot dog and heat up in water. Make a few cuts (one to make the fingernail, and a few for the wrinkles in the finger) throw it on a bun and add some "blood" (ketchup). So realistic you'll have to make sure the kids know they can't eat real fingers.

Adults are a little harder to fool. Throwing a party is a great way to showcase some of the fun foods out there, but you don't have to worry about slaving in the kitchen all day. Here are some simple creations you can whip up in no time:


* Band aid Cookies- Take a wafer cookie or graham cracker (the small thin ones) and add a square of cream cheese in the center, with a little red jelly on top. It looks like a used band aid. For a special effect, lay band aids in the wrapper on the plate with them.

* Make a yummy dill dip. To display, take five baby carrots and add an almond slice at the top front of each to make a finger nail. Insert the five to look like fingers sticking out of your dip.

* Avocados are great for Halloween. Not only can you carve them out to look like a ghoul or a Frankenstein, but you can also make guacamole and display it coming out of a pumpkin. Be sure to make some spiders to go in it -- mine are made from olives.

* Use olive spiders to top your deviled eggs for a ghoulish, delish touch.

* Make eyes for any display easily with Oreo cookies. Pull them both apart; on the sides with icing, use a dab of white cake icing to hold a dark brown M & M in place to create your "eyes". These make especially great owl eyes; making a meat and cheese tray in the pattern of an owl body is always a hit.

* Take a plastic skull and place pancetta around it to create a haunting look. Slicing green peppers to look like ribs is a really fun touch; or, add cheese and crackers. Be sure to add more of the pancetta on the plate so guests don't disassemble your skull right away.

I could write for hours on this subject but I just scratched the surface here. Head to Pinterest or to YouTube (for how-to videos) to make this Halloween the best one ever. The sky's the limit, so get your childish wonder out and explore the holiday like never before. Most importantly, have fun this Halloween season!

Chelle Doll has been crafting for over 42 years. The original owner of Urban Girl, Chelle does sculpting, sewing, beading, stained glass, quilling and paints with acrylic, watercolor and her new favorite, alcohol ink. Her motto? "Craft until your fingers fall off, then hot glue them back on and keep on creating".