Posts tagged Halloween
Halloween Games and Crafts

'Tis the season for ghoulish delights and ghastly scares. But sometimes children (and adults) enjoy the light-hearted festivties rather than the fear-inducing elements of Halloween. We celebrated my 5-year old son's birthday, and I put together a few hours of crafts and games that are easy and sure to delight! The beauty of all of these is that they are simple, use mostly what you have around the house, and your kids can even help to create them.


A twist on a classic - Halloween Bingo! Try using candy corn to mark off the Halloween objects and characters. Even the children that don't shout Bingo when with their extra treats on the board! My favorite Halloween printable board is from The Artsy Fartsy Mama. It has beautiful illustrations, and it's easy enough for our 5 and under crowd to understand!

How about a retake on the classic ring toss? Sometimes Creative had the best idea to use witch's hats! Since this was an afternoon celebration, the room was dark enough to show off our glowstick rings that made the tossing even more fun (and not dangerous for any by-standers). This would be really fun using glow in the dark (sorry, we are all about it these days) paint or tape on the hats, too, and playing it as a night-time game with the older set!

The easiest jack o'lantern treat bags can be made with an orange sack, a hole punch, some black paper, and a green pipe cleaner for the curly stem. We stuffed ours with candy, Halloween stickers, and a special ghostly flashlight! I used the same face shapes for all of the bags so it was a quick assembly line of glue to get them all in order.


An easy craft for little hands to master? Bat sitters. These are construction paper, paint, pipe cleaners, and a tp tube. Buggy and Buddy made these adorable hanging bats, and we used the same process! To make the creation go easier for the children, I painted the tubes beforehand. I also glued on the eyes and cut out the wings. So, it was their job to attach the wings, and thread through the bat legs for a final winged character.

Talk about using items found around your house... how about a little pumpkin and ghost bowling with toilet paper? I saw these all over Pinterest and had to give it a try. Helpful hint here: have a real pumpkin with some weight to it to toss at the ghosts because that solid three-wide stack of toilet paper is a pretty solid force to knock down. We changed the game to a throw rather than a bowl so we could watch the the tower come down.


Hanging ghosts and jack o'lantern clementines and cuties are fun to have around (party or not). I've found myself drawing on our oranges even days after the party as a fun way to add the joy of the Halloween to the kids' lunches. In fact, I even got this from my 5-year old:

"Mommy, are you really going to draw on everything?"

"Yes. Yes, I am."


And why should the fun stop when the party ends? We needed some fun thank you cards after the celebration, and I thought these black cats from Parents Magazine were so clever. We made one the way the free printable (!) shows you and the other, we turned its head so that it could easily fit into an envelope. These are so fun to sit around on tables and shelves. If you run out of googly eyes (like we did) use foam stickers to make your cat have glowing eyes!


We loved having our friends over to create and play! It's a wonderful way to celebrate Halloween. You can put all this together for a playdate this weekend!

Our costumes are ready. We have a ninja turtle, a Harry Potter character, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and lucky me is Glenda the good witch this year. How will you be celebrating Halloween this year?

xoxo, MJ

Halloween Hanging Ghosts

Ready for a really easy Halloween decor with high impact? Let's make some Halloween Hanging Ghosts. These are an awesome addition to your party and interior decorations for the season.

Inspired by these twirling spiral ghosts, I created these ghoulish creatures that are now hanging from chandeliers and pendants all over our house.

I love how simple they are to create from cardstock, scrapbook paper, or posterboard. You need something that will give you extra weight so that gravity can do its thing.


You can cut the design with scissors or upload this ghost file on to your Cricut Explore. I mass produced these ghosts so that we could have some hanging from the chandelier in the dining room and the kitchen pendants. These were created from 12" x 12" white scrapbook paper.

This swirl can be transformed into candy corn stripes or the twirly stem of a pumpkin, too! The best part about hanging ghosts is that they catch the wind easily and spin in the air. I attached ours to the ceiling lights with invisible beading string for a fun "magic" appearance.

Have you decked out your home for Halloween yet?


The Great Pumpkin Round-Up and a Glow-in-the-Dark Pumpkin

Pumpkin decoration has become a hobby unto itself. Between painting and carving and dyeing and covering, the pumpkin shape is quite the autumnal muse.

This year we purchased our pumpkins early, and before we carve them, we're having some glow-in-the-dark fun with sllly expressions. These faces have the jack-o-lantern charm. I love how they add the festive fun of Halloween during the daylight and some of the freaky during the dark.

I'm over at Classic Play showing you how to make these glowing faces as well as giving you only the best of the best for The Great Pumpking Round-Up.

How are you decorating your pumpkin this year?


Simple lessons: Jack O'Lantern feelings

Happy Friday, friends! Every now and again I'll be featuring a new series on Pars Caeli called Simple Lessons. These are not projects as much as they are easy ways to connect and to teach your children. Many of them might not be Pinterest beautiful, but they are quick, approachable ways that you can use what's going on around you or in your home to enhance your role as a parent.

We were eating dinner the other night, my husband was away for work, and the topic of war came up. As a family, we haven't really delved into war, figuring that our children (9,7,4) aren't quite ready for that kind of catastrophic topic. They, especially the 4- and 7-year old, had clear and tough questions.

  • "Why would anyone go to war?"
  • "How do you know who wins a war?"
  • "Do we know anyone who has fought in a war?"

We talked about these issues for about 10 minutes when one of them asked if we knew anyone who had been killed in a war. And then they all got a little anxious. Death, killing, violence are not our usual conversation topics. They all became a little unsure that we should be saying these things out loud.

I assured them that we should never be afraid to talk about any of this...even the things that upset us, worry us, and scare us.

And it made me think, that especially with my youngest, I should spend some more time talking about emotions and HOW TO talk about emotions. He had recently drawn a sad face in one of his pictures and felt the need to draw over it with a happy face... he didn't like seeing the sadness.

Enter Halloween and all the ghosts and ghouls and jack o'lanterns. Halloween can serve as a great entrance into tough topics of death and the afterlife. I decided that pumpkin art might be an easy way to open the topic.

I gave him a stack of small pumpkins and asked that he draw all sorts of emotions on their faces.

  • What does happy look like?
  • How about sad?
  • Can you draw surprised?
  • And frustrated?
  • How about angry?

He made patterns with the various faces and enjoyed lacing them together with twine, and I was able to sneak in some good conversation about his feelings. I wanted to help him understand that it's good to feel all of these. Sadness is good. Anger is good. Happiness is good.

It's all a part of being human. We want to express our emotions.

How we express our emotions is really important. We never want to harm anyone with our words or our bodies - that's where the trouble comes in. But it's right to feel sad when something bad happens to us. And it's good to get angry when someone has upset you. Feelings of all varieties have meaning.

And I wanted him to know that no matter how I might express my feelings, I always love him. Even if my face might show something different, my love is stronger than a feeling. He seemed to get it, likely telling me he didn't need this lesson in the first place...

but maybe I did.

Consider taking advantage of the fearful and haunted of Halloween to talk to your kids about how they're feeling.

Have a bright weekend!

xoxo, MJ

After Halloween: Hammer the Pumpkin

Happy Halloween, my friends!! It is raining and cold here which means it must be the day I send my children out in a thinner layer than ever to run through puddles and eat sugar! Whatever the weather may be by trick or treating, we are going to live it up.

Did you go carve or no carve on the pumpkins this year? Our crew wanted carved and painted. The beauty of painting is that it can be done weeks in advance and enjoyed for a long time. Our carving happened just a few days ago, but the impact is awesome of seeing the glow through my little's designs.

As the costumes get put away and the candy remains, what will you do with all of these pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns? Likely pitch them quickly... but here's something fun for your toddlers, preschoolers, and small ones.

Play Hammer the Pumpkin, borrowed right from the lessons of great preschool teachers Grab a few golf tees, a play hammer, and a pumpkin!

We used one of the smaller decorative pumpkins that was never carved or painted, but ripened pumpkins, gourds and even cut jack-o-lanterns work really well (especially for the smallest of hands).

For the first few holes, I got my preschooler, L, ready by starting the tees. And then he got really into it and for at least 30 minutes hammered away happily.

Beware, big sisters often want to get in on the fun, too.

I loved the final look of our hole-y pumpkin. I've tucked this process in my mental file as an easy way to make a polka dot pumpkin for next year, but until then, I decided to add some pizzazz to the final drilled pumpkin. The end effect reminded me of a PUNK in...something like metal washers scattered all around.

So save those pumpkins for just a bit so that your little ones can enjoy some hammering fun!

Happy Halloween, friends, and happy fall!

xoxo, MJ

Be Happy: Windows of Joy

Wishing all of our friends affected by Hurricane Sandy a hopeful start to November in the midst of challenges ahead. I felt a pang last night reading messages of delayed and canceled Halloweens (and much worse, of course).

Our evening was a full one. Temperatures here dipped into the forties and it rained a steady drizzle all day and night long. I dressed the kiddos in layers but the chill was still very much a part of the experience of Trick or Treat this year. We doled out 10 bags of candy for two hours, and my daughters had so much fun being the ones charged with giving out candy to our costumed neighbors from our front porch.

We ran through leaves, costumes covered by ski coats and fleeces, to every house in our neighborhood. It's funny how this silly holiday bring you eye-to-eye with people you haven't seen in ages or seasons and who live just a few steps away.

Honesty here, friends? Life is filled with stressors. Around us we've had a few major ones pop up in the last year, but those are not my stories to share. These stresses add weight to our shoulders and our hearts. Some moments are heavy.

I thrive on the windows of joy. They (and a great husband, kids, and my faith) get me through it. My children were so excited to see each open door last night and get another piece of candy for their bags and buckets. They giggled with our neighborhood children as to who would be brave enough to go up to that extra scary house.

I saw them work together, and bubble over with childhood joy, and soak up all that I've wished their childhoods to be.

For my part, I added a little silly. Mary Poppins has long been my favorite movie, and my kiddos now love it, too. Being silly with my little ones was a great way to spend the evening, and they loved that Mommy got into it WITH them.

Life can't always be filled with happiness. We have struggles that will challenge. We also have the gift of windows of joy, opened to us to reveal the Goodness that abounds.

It's the feast of All Saints today for Catholics, and we're grateful for the wonderful men and women who have come before us to show us what it means to live a good and holy life. They offer peeks into those windows, too.

Wishing you moments of joy for this November!


Happy Kiddos: Wordless(ish) Wednesday

Happy Halloween. We'll be battling the chilly temps and rain this evening with the same great neighbors with whom we've trick-or-treated for the last few years. It's a tradition now. For just one day I get to be practically perfect in every way. Can you guess my costume?

Are you dressing up today? Celebrating the festiveness of it all?

Last image, before the storm. Fabulous photos courtesy of my new guest photographer, my talented husband (taken specifically for blog purposes, so sweet).


Make It Monday: Not Making It

Happy Monday, friends! Did you know that Halloween is this week? If you live in our house, you could not NOT know because my younger daughter, C, has been announcing the countdown every morning. Yeah, she's excited to don her Belle costume with tiara and all.

Today's Make It Monday is a little different. First, I'd like to high five, hug, and congratulate all the mommas out there (and grandmas, aunts, and friends) who have worked and designed some beautiful costumes for their littles. Louise has made some gorgeous looks for her girls, and I know Sandra will be revealing her unicorn costume for the girl this week, too.

I'm the daughter of a momma who sewed my costumes all the way through middle school, and I was that child that always put forth a challenging idea. She put together Miss Piggy, Rudolph, a bunny rabbit, a mouse, a Hershey's kiss.. and many more. Part of the fun was thinking up something I didn't think I could find, and having it fit right to me by my very own mother. She's a talented lady.

When I became the momma, I took it as a personal challenge and a near-necessity that I sew my children's Halloween costumes. To many this is very normal, fairly easy, and happens like clockwork every fall.

For me, this was a process, over two months of work, and nothing close to easy. You see the first costumes I made for my girls. M was a dalmation pup her first trick or treat season, and C was the pumkin bunting I'd always wanted to sew.

For the first four years of motherhood, I sewed costumes. In fact, much of any free time in the Augusts, Septembers, and Octobers was found with me sitting on the couch, hand sewing each piece. My mom, in an effort to simplify my life, bought me a Singer sewing machine, but I always returned to the handstitch because I loved the feel of needle-and-thread creations.

When my oldest daughter turned five, she quickly turned into a young version of me, ready to challenge her momma with some creative costuming ideas. Eeps. So we hit Joanne's in August.

By September, she had changed her mind and wanted something different. Two weeks after that she changed again.

October came, and she had still not decided for sure what she wanted to be. I was stressed, I was making her stressed (why does Mommy keep asking me about Halloween?), and I was dreading Halloween.

I read this post from Meg last week, and it got me thinking. Go check out point 2.

And I'd like to send all of you very talented mothers out there who are NOT making costumes this year (or any year) a big smooch.

I gave it up. Or at least for now. Why, say you? Because frankly, my daughters wanted to be princesses with all the Disney, glitter, and plastic high heels that I could find for them. My son wanted to be Elmo with the big googly eyes and red furry paws. M wanted to change her mind four times and then change it again once she saw the Halloween costume catalog that arrived at our house.

And, more than I wanted to be the mother I had preconceived notions of being, I want my little goblins to be happy.

I want Halloween to be a fun day, filled with candy and neighborhood greetings. I'm done with the stressed fall season and trying to box in my children's creativity and indecisive natures.

And - honest here - Halloween is not an important holiday in our family, at least when you compare it to the real and made-up ones we treasure (eg: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Sisters Day, Yes Day, Easter). And I was spending months dedicated to something that would come and go for a day or less.

This year I'll be walking the 'hood with a goddess, Belle, and Elmo. They are so excited to break into costume.

And I'm delighted not to have trick or treat bags under my eyes any more.


PS. Where do you fall? To buy or to sew? Or somewhere in the middles?

Make It Monday: Herringbone Tray

Happy Monday, friends!! How was the weekend? We hung around and raked leaves, watched some football, and handled some crafting, too. As y'all know, I'm a great adorer of autumn (yo, Instagram friends are you tired of my leaf photos yet?), and I've been looking for ways to get my indoor spaces decked in color, too, as the leaves now begin to shed their brilliance and Halloween is coming right around the corner.

I don't do spooky or the darkness of Halloween, but I was inspired by the shapes and lines of Landee See, Landee Do's holiday post. And I thought it'd be fun to transform a great tray that I've had for a while and DIY it up.


Here's what I used. This great tray was a DIY present from a dear friend for our wedding. Chris converted a large frame into tray through handles and paint. I added some great colored cardstock in complimentary Halloween shades of orange, black, white, and gray. And pulled out the paper cutter and some glue!


Herringbone has been on the brain lately as I see fall fashions appearing in stores and catalogs. It's a simple geometric pattern that my daughters loved putting together with me.


I love the great graphic quality, and it's the perfect perch for the growing mounds of mini pumpkins and gourds we're accumulating.

I'm also planning on mounding it up with candy (way more than pictured here) for our adorable Trick or Treaters next week!


How do you deck your house for Halloween? 


A tri- to try

How is it Friday already? We are painting, painting, painting in our house with all three children's bedrooms getting fresh coats. The nursery will now transform into the "nook" where all three kiddos can go to read and draw and just hang. The wall murals that I painted when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter are now covered over with a fresh coat of Palladian Blue. No lying, I was more than a bit melancholy about the transition.

But good things await so let's get on with the living!

Spend some time today crafting and consider yourself particularly talented. It's not too late to craft something awesome for our DIY date. Remember what this month's project is? For you extra special, busy people, I'm extending the deadline to Saturday. Just send over a photo and explanation of your work to my email ( If you're a blogger, all posts should go live on Monday am, and I'll link right to them!

While you're creating, grab yourself a handful of Hershey's kisses and Hershey's chocolate bars and offer a big shout out to Milton Hershey who died on October 13, 1945. But keep some extra chocolate on hand for Sunday because the world is celebrating National Dessert Day, and you do not want to be caught without the best course of every meal.

Here's a Tri- for you to Try this weekend, friends:



Mini mummies? Oh, yes. Click over and see what Jen has set up with these posable creatures. So cute and so fun. Jen always has the best ideas. Check out some other mini Halloween decorations that will make you wish you had eaten Alice's candy and fallen down the rabbit hole to this tiny goodness. And while you're over at Classic Play, please take a gander at Caroline's adorable Halloween Straw Toppers.


Mariah from Playful Learning has three great tips for how to host a great playdate. I loved her practical, generous, and child-centered approach to a day of fun with friends. Click over to read and see her great set up, her menu for fun and healthy, and a little something extra she keeps in her back pocket.


Not only are pumpkins all over the patches these days, but every food blogger and crafting Pinterest lover has been sharing amazing ideas with pumpkins. I'm getting in on the action on Monday with a something special I have planned with Miss Gina, and I hope you'll tune in.

In the meantime, we have to make this delectable and savory Pumpkin Fettucine. Camille (via contributor Jess Simpson) brings another great dish straight to our kitchens with this combination of pumpkin puree and sage. Best part: very few ingredients and super simple instructions (and did you see that intro photo? yummmm).

I have a lot of crafting and tailgating ahead of me for the weekend, friends! I must be off. See you here on Monday to show off some great DIY projects, many of which involve amazing free prints for you!!


A tri- to try

Happy, happy Friday! The colors around here, my friends! Oh, they captivate me. We're headed to Michigan to pick some apples this weekend, and my oldest is going to a friend's house for her first sleepover. Nothing fancy, just down home fall fun!!

I have a varied tri- for you to try this weekend! But before we break that down, let's go Do Something Nice (because today is the official holiday to celebrate such gestures). Saturday pull out your best hats and get all kinds of silly and celebrate Mad Hatter's Day. And maybe leave it on for Sunday, too, because that one's Bald and Free Day.



So many scary, fantastical Halloween crafts and treats are around the interwebs! My eye was caught by a more classic approach to the festivity. Landee See, Landee Do had a great idea to put large black and white photos of her children from previous Halloweens and pair them with orange and white stripes and some other objects of the season. The result is really personal, interesting, and perfectly attuned to the trick-or-treat celebrations.


You know that I love to post projects and possible items for your to do lists in a Tri to Try. This one is just joy for your eyes. I came across these fabulous pieces of art that combine paper, whimsy, typography, quilling, and color. Way to go Erin Cansen.


This one is for the parents reading (or those of you who will be or know people who are parents). And it's a little bit of the passive and a whole lot of the active. Brene Brown, who I've been reading lately, has all sorts of inspiration surrounding vulnerability and daring, two very intriguing topics for me.

She shared portions of the chapter on parenting taken from her book Daring Greatly over at Huffington Post, and I was drawn in to her Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto.

Let me share with you some of the waterfall of goodness, parent to child:

 I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.

We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.


I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.


A special thank you to all of your lovely people who keep coming back to Pars Caeli and in particular those of you who click over between 7-8 am (the most popular click time) to start your day off with a little piece of Heaven. Cheers to a bright weekend!




A tri- to try

Wonder where I live? Right here in the midst of changing corn and soybean fields. And come this time of year they produce the most amazing shade of yellow orange brown (saffron?) that amplifies sunlight from the ground up. It's heavenly.

Happy Friday to you. Are we ready to kick back this weekend?? We're beginning the 3-year old celebrations tomorrow with a visit from the grandparents. My son's birthday is next Thursday, but just like his sisters, he'll likely have at least three (small family) parties along the way. Time to bake some cakes!

In addition to the gratitude I feel for the most amazing son in the world, let us also celebrate Native American Day today. Tomorrow look for wisdom and humor around you as you ring in Confucius Day, honoring the great philosopher. Sunday marks the end of September and National Mulled Cider Day so grab a mug and snuggle up cozy next to those you love!

Here's this week's Tri- to Try. Don't forget that I'd love you to be a part of the DIY date for October, which I'm hosting, and craft something with typography!! If you'd like to post the invite on your blog, please feel welcome to steal the poster jpg that I created for the date!!



Have you ever been over to the Artful Parent site? Click on over and enter into a myriad of amazing projects for children and adults alike. I've been a fan of Jean's for a while, and I'm excited to show you some of the loveliness she's put together for fall. If you live in a part of the world that has leaves changing colors right now, go out and grab an armful and follow along!


Nerd alert here. I loved learning the periodic table. My dad is a chemical engineer, and I was fascinated with his knowledge of these boxes and their abbreviated meanings. I suppose the graphic designer in me liked the sense of geometry, order, and balance, too. Gabrielle over at Design Mom posted this nerd-rrific print of a Periodic Table for kids. Check it out over on Etsy...each column means something different for adults and children, and it's really a great teaching tool and a beautiful reminder. Perfect new baby gift for the geeks that you love. :)


Kelly over at Studio DIY is working up all sorts of Halloween and holiday decor and party ideas. I saw her step-by-step tut on how to make paper spider webs, and I knew we had to try this one at home! It's like all the fun of paper snowflakes without the chill of the impending winter. She posted the instructions over at Amy's blog This HeArt of Mine. Grab your scissors and head over!!

That's all from here, friends! Wishing you a bright weekend.