If you’ve got school-age ghosts and goblins in your home, you should know these basics of Halloween parties.
Edible fake blood: Mix light corn syrup with enough red food dye to get the color you want. Sprinkle in a little unsweetened cocoa powder to darken it. Too thick? Thin with water. Too thin? Thicken with flour or cornstarch, mixed in slowly.
Dry ice vapors: Handle dry ice with care; it can cause frostbite. To make a steaming cauldron of vapor, place the dry ice in a container and add water. This works great outdoors on Halloween. (A bird bath works well outside as the container.) The liquid will bubble crazily initially, in addition to the smoke, but you'll need to replenish it with more dry ice to keep it going.
If you want the vapor coming out of a pumpkin, place a tall container with dry ice inside a carved jack-o-lantern, then add some water.
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To create vapors in a punch bowl, place a smaller bowl of punch inside a large bowl to hold the dry ice and water. It will look like the steam is coming from the punch bowl, without the risk that anyone will accidentally sip on dry ice.
Icy hand in the punch bowl: Using a clean rubber glove (turning it inside out if it has a cloth interior), fill with water (leaving a little airspace), tie off at the wrist and freeze overnight. When ready to use, dip glove in warm water briefly, then peel off – or cut off – carefully (the fingers are delicate). For a colorful hand, add food coloring to the water before you add it to the glove. But be careful, because the color will come off on your hands as you remove the rubber glove.
Gelatin hand: Prepare the gelatin with less water than usual so that it is very firm (1 1/4 cups water for a 6-ounce package will fill an average glove). Cool slightly. Using a clean rubber glove (inside out if there’s a cloth interior), fill with prepared gelatin and refrigerate until set. Carefully peel off the glove and serve.
Wiggly worms: Cut Gummi worms with kitchen shears into thinner long strips. Soak them in a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 cup water for about 15 minutes. Take the worms out of the solution and drop them in a container of vinegar. A chemical reaction will cause the worms to wiggle. (From Liz Heinecke, author of “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids.”)
Goblin goo: In a medium-size bowl, mix 1 cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup water with a little food coloring (purple, green or red would be Halloween-oriented). Use your fingers or a spoon to combine them into a goo the consistency of syrup. (Note: This is messy.)
When you roll the mixture into a ball, it will act like a solid. When you run it through your fingers, it will act like a liquid. (From “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids.”)