I love Halloween. I love to decorate for it. I love to make costumes for it. I love to steal trick-or-treat candy from my kids once they are in bed. Halloween is another excuse for me to express my creativity. Plus, I love to surprise my boys with spooky treats and special parties. This year I put together a spooky celebration complete with witches brew and pumpkin pizza.
I decorate for Halloween like some people decorate for Christmas. I focused my decorating on the dining room and kitchen this year to add even more pazzazz to the party. Across the patio door I suspended a giant bendable spider that I secured to the wall with a tea cup hook. Draped over the doorway were two strands of black and candy corn garland. I added a few spider webs to tie the decorations to the nearby wine cabinet. The wine cabinet was decorated with a webbed candelabra and a simple white skeleton.
The tablescape was my favorite part of the party. I used a spiderweb table runner that was topped with two medium, white pumpkins and three small, orange pumpkins. The idea for the fabric covered bats was found here. It was easy to create and added just the right amount of whimsy to the table. Place settings were created using orange and black buffalo plaid placements, black and white buffalo plaid dinner plates and polka dot and spider salad plates. A simple punch of green Gatorade and Sprite filled Belgian beer glasses. I added sour gummy worms to the glasses and told my boys it was a special witches brew.
I covered the kitchen island with a cheap plastic table cloth and used two black and orange buffalo plaid placements as a runner. The island centerpiece was a white metal scale from a home interior store. I found the pumpkins at Target, they were actually the inspiration for the centerpiece. I’ve had my eye on the scale for a couple months and once I found the pumpkins, I knew just how I’d use it. I plan to incorporate the scale into my kitchen decor after Halloween. The banner hung above the island was also found at Target.
Party Supply List
Spooktacular Supply List
Giant bendable spider
2 strands of black and orange garland from JoAnn Fabrics
Webbed candelabra with glitter candles from Michael’s
Our family recently moseyed down a dimly lit trail, cradling warm beverages, surrounded by over 5,000 intricately carved pumpkins at the Minnesota Zoo’s 2nd Annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. The 1/4 mile trail of glowing pumpkins features dizzying details and creatively carved designs. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular runs through November 3rd. Tickets are sold online for specific entry times. I suggest purchasing in advance as times will sell out. We arrived about 45 prior to our ticketed time allowing a few minutes to use the restrooms, grab a warm beverage (they come with or without Schnapps, you decide) and play a quick game of pumpkin tic-tac-toe. The zoo’s Central Plaza also has various snacks for purchase, a small straw maze and pumpkin bowling and bean bags.
The queue to the trail may look lengthy, but moves quickly and once to the trailhead people fan out for a more comfortable meander through the display. The 2019 theme is Around the World and features scenes from across the globe, each set to music. The pathways and even trees were decorated with carved creations, no duplicates. The Asian scene featured a pagoda, the English scene a castle and a Leaning Tower of Pisa accompanied the Italian scene.
We spent about 40 minutes on the trail. Along the way each of us pointing out details not to be missed or questioning how carvers were able to put such precise detail on a pumpkin. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular runs for 33 nights and carvers will create around 20,000 pumpkins during that time, swapping out wilting designs for fresh illuminated faces throughout the event. The video below from the Travel Channel gives a behind the scenes glimpse into how a similar trail was constructed.
Come prepared to wait and to walk. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is along the zoo’s Northern Trail, which is a 10 minute walk from the main entrance. The pumpkin trail is another 1/4 mile. Wheelchairs/strollers/wagons are a must have if your group includes young ones or those with difficulty walking. We went on a weeknight when crowds were fewer and lines were shorter. Organizers say that on weekends, guests can expect to wait up to 2 hours in line. Yikes. This is probably why they serve those beverages mentioned above. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular was a great experience for our family. Our boys loved the displays and the morning after their faces are still lit up.
My favorite color is fall. Sipping cider, rustling leaves, bushels of mums and rusty wagons overloaded with pumpkins are my ideas of fall perfection. Every year, our family seeks out those sweet fall moments at a pumpkin patch. Hayrides, corn mazes and a chance to snag the perfect pumpkin were at the top of our agenda when we decided to try out Pinehaven Farm in Wyoming, MN. I’d recently come across an article in Reader’s Digest listing Pinehaven as the best pumpkin patch in Minnesota. We went to see for ourselves.
activities for everyone
We arrived on a Friday in the early afternoon (took advantage of an early out day at school), hoping to beat the crowds. We basically had the whole place to ourselves. Admission at Pinehaven Farm ranges between $9-$14 per person, depending on the day you go. There are so many activities to do for the price, it’s worth it. We spent about three hours at the farm feeding goats, zipping down the slide, climbing haystacks and bouncing on the giant pillow. There are dozens of other activities to try at Pinehaven including a corn pit, a pumpkin eating dragon and a trolley that shuttles guests to and from the pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
My favorite part of the farm was the corn maze. I may be a bit directional challenged, but the maze was a chance for the boys to work together as we attempted to navigate the maze and earn punches on our corn maze card. We tried our best to find all the checkpoints, but eventually tired of the process and went to find a snack. On weekdays, Pinehaven offers cookies, caramel apples, mini donuts and a variety of sodas and drinks. Weekend snack seekers have more selection with roasted corn-on-the-cob, nachos, hot dogs, funnel cakes, cheese curds and a beer garden. Next year we’ll plan to come back on a weekend, for food reasons alone.
Twice daily a train whistle sounds, summoning guests to gather at the pumpkin cannon for a launch. Using about as much pressure as a car tire, the cannon hurls a pumpkin at about 250 miles per hour for a distance of about 1/3 of a mile. The boys were impressed.
I’d do that again
Due to the wet conditions in the pumpkin patch, we chose to pick our pumpkins from the pre-picked patch. The boys painstakingly pawed through the pumpkins trying to choose just the right one. We had a great time at Pinehaven and are already making plans to go back next year.