Countdown to Halloween | Midwest Living
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Countdown to Halloween

To prepare for October 31, we've "scared" up our favorite Halloween party ideas, including painted pumpkins and delicious Halloween treats. Plus, Halloween festivals and crafts to get you into the haunted holiday spirit.

1) Break a record.
The most pumpkins ever carved and lit at once? 30,851. October 6-8 this year, the Highwood Pumpkin Fest in Highwood, Illinois will try to break that record. BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin) to donate and get a free ticket in for carnival rides, treats and more. All proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Highwood Pumpkin Fest in Illinois
A line of potential record-breakers at the Highwood Pumpkin Festival.

2) Check out a pumpkin fest.
Can't make it to Highwood? We're big fans of the giant cornmaze and pumpkin-themed games at Vala's Pumpkin Patch in Gretna, Nebraska. Also on our list is the Circleville Pumpkin Show in Circleville, Ohio, on October 18-21. Four words: Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest.

3) Dress up that pumpkin.
If you came home from a festival or pumpkin patch with a giant orange gourd, and now you don't know what to do with it, fear not. Avoid the pumpkin guts with no-carve pumpkin decorating, or use pretty fall plants for a blooming pumpkin display. Plus, 50 more pumpkin decorating projects (we know, we have a lot).

Pumpkin crafts
A floral pumpkin display or group of string-wrapped pumpkins are unexpected yet adorable.

4) Eat pumpkin.
Not sure how to use an entire can of pumpkin? Midwest Living editor Hannah Agran has five clever ideas. And if your cravings just won't go away, try one of these pumpkin recipes we absolutely love. Hint: the Chocolate Pumpkin Cake is sublime.

5) Go apple picking.
Apple harvesting season peaks in October. Visit your local orchard or an apple fest like the Bayfield Apple Festival in Wisconsin (October 6-8 this year) to pick a bushel. After all, what's a Halloween or fall-themed party without bobbing for apples?

6) Bake an apple treat.
Apple isn't strictly a Halloween dessert, but no one will complain if one of these irresistible apple treats appear on a spooky party's dessert table.

Apple Desserts

Use your just-picked apples in Danish Pastry Apple Bars or Apple-Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread (or both).

7) Get a little scared...
Plan a weekend getaway to Galena, a reportedly haunted town in Illinois, or go on a frightfully entertaining Midwest ghost tour. Also creepy: Manistee's Ghost Ship, a Michigan steamship crossed with a haunted house.

8) ...or a little silly.
Not every Halloween celebration has to cause nightmares. Sample spirits (no, not the spooky kind) at a costume party in the Missouri Botanical Gardens, or attend the Halloween Frolic in Hiawatha, Kansas, which has been held each year since 1914.

9) Decorate your home.
Make a clothespin wreath in candy corn colors, dress up your mantel or try one of our other ideas for Halloween decorating.

Halloween Decorations

This vintage-inspired mantel will give your home a haunted feel!

10) Throw a party.
We've been hinting at a party throughout this story, so now it's time to pull those ideas together. Make some easy Halloween party snacks like these fun cupcakes. And remember, Halloween isn't just for the kids: throw a grown-up party inspired by Edgar Allen Poe.

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