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Sunday, October 25, 2015

I love Halloween.

I love haunted houses. I love creative costumes. I love taking the kids to Halloween parties and trick-or-treating and all the seasonal events, spooky and not so spooky. I love seeing houses all bedecked in orange and purple lights with Halloween decorations in the yard.

There’s just one little problem with this.

I stink at just about all of it.

This year, again, the boys will wear store-bought costumes for their Halloween parties and trick-or-treating. I can’t help but feel just a little bit wanting in the mommy departure.

Friends share photos of their wonderfully hand-crafted, creative costumes -- I just make sure to remove the tags.

But it’s not just the sewing skills (I can mend a tear and sew on a button; that’s about it), it’s the creativity. So you threw a white button-down shirt over your kid’s Superman T-shirt and handed him some glasses and a reporter’s notebook for an impromptu Clark Kent? Awesome, but it never would have occurred to me. (You can bet I’ll borrow the idea, though.) Decorated an inflatable pool toy so your kid could be a giant doughnut? Don’t look at me.

The same goes with the decorations. You carved a pumpkin to look like the Death Star? Awesome. Turned chicken wire into ghostly dancers on your front lawn? Cool. Made gigantic spider webs from garbage bags? Neat.

We have pumpkins on our front steps. Maybe they’ll eventually be jack o’lanterns. Maybe.

And then there are Halloween parties, which I love. There are so many awesome ideas out there for food. Glow-in-the-dark punch? Elaborate candy apples? Hot dogs done up to look like mummies? OK, then.

With a hobby background in cake- and cookie-decorating, I’ve actually managed to pull some of these off. (The broken glass cupcakes were particularly awesome.) But the party itself? Just never seems to happens.

It’s enough to make any mom feel inadequate. I distinctly remember my own mom constructing an elaborate paper mache Raggedy Anne head for me one year. I just haunt clearance sales.

But I also remember the years I talked her into just letting me get one of those (now old-fashioned) costumes that came in a box at the department store, the ones with the vinyl jumpsuit and the plastic mask with elastic ‘round the back. (Remember those things, stacked up to the ceiling in the store, and hunting through them to find your favorite character? I loved them. I bet many children of the ’70s and’80s feel the same.) And I don’t feel the lack of Halloween memories from the times I wore a storebought costume as a child, or the lack of elaborate Halloween decorations or fancy foods.

So I guess I should let it go.

To those of you who make Halloween costumes for your kids: More power to you. You’re awesome. I’ll applaud you from the sidewalk, as my kids join yours on the race to the next front door and fistful of candy.

Happy Halloween.


As a Halloween bonus, here’s my recipe for sugar “glass.” You can break it into shards for use as garnish for your favorite cupcake recipe (I suggest red velvet) and drizzle with corn syrup/cornstarch “blood.”

Sugar glass


  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 ½ cups sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan (preferably a reasonably heavy one). Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it, stirring constantly, until the temperature reaches 300 degrees. (Use a candy thermometer.) Pour it immediately onto a baking sheet and cool until it’s completely hardened.

Make sugar you take the mixture off the heat as soon as it hits the right temperature, or it might start to darken and you won’t have clear “glass.”


+Jill Keppeler  still loves Halloween, even though she feels inadequate at it. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler or email her at

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