Halloween party foods your kids will love

When Halloween rolls around, you know it's time to pull out all the stops. From crazy costumes and mini chocolate bars to bloody punch and lit jack-o'-lanterns, this autumn celebration is all about good fun and a little spook. Even if you're the type to shut off the lights to avoid trick-or-treaters, these fun, creative, and creepy foods will get you into a festive mood by the time October 31 arrives. When you're entertaining kids on Halloween, the good times are exponentially multiplied.

This year, show your Halloween spirit when you and the kids serve up some of the spookiest goodies out there. Here's a list of delightful creations that are as scary as they are tasty, as innovative as they are easy.

Meringue ghosts

Your kids will concur that no Halloween celebration would be complete without some spooky energy. Ghostly vibes to be precise. Spirits from the dead lend any gathering a chilly air of frightfulness. Boo! That said, possessing the right mix of otherworldly mystery and sugar is key to success on this special autumn day. Your solution for party time success? Meringue ghosts are the way to go. They require few pantry ingredients, are easy to make, and please children and adults alike.

This expert recipe from Joy of Baking makes it easy for you to whip up enough meringue ghosts to satisfy even the pickiest group of children. Using only a few egg whites, a pinch of cream of tartar, superfine sugar, and a dash of vanilla extract, you end up with a tray of delightful treats. These glossy confections are light and airy, crisp on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth good on the inside. I love the way these little guys are all unique looking depending on the way you pipe them. Add scary (candy) eyes or dots of melted chocolate to bring the whole look together. Pro tip: let your egg whites come to room temperature before starting. Doing so will help them to whip up faster and with more volume.

Severed hot dog fingers

The point during a horror flick when I really lose it? The moment bloody body parts enter the scene. So it comes as no surprise that severed fingers should make an appearance at any awesome Halloween celebration. Thankfully this effect can be achieved with yummy hot dogs and ketchup. Phew! Give the kids a little fright and then let them gobble up this ballpark favorite.

This recipe from SheKnows is everything. It's surprisingly scary and will change the way you think about hot dogs forever. With just a paring knife, you can turn conventional franks into horrifyingly realistic-looking fingers. Boiled onion pieces replicate human fingernails, and sweet, tangy ketchup makes for a bloody mess. Your kids will love these!

Spooky sugar cookies

From vampires and mummies to pumpkins and spiders, you can't let Halloween go by without showcasing all the scary fun characters of the season. In addition to your house decorations, don't forget to include everyone's favorite bakery pick: sugar cookies. These sweet and universally pleasing treats are staples of kid-friendly holidays for good reason. They are simple, hard to mess up, and always a hoot to decorate with colorful icing. With the added bonus of being easy enough to make with your children, I can't think of a better way to spend time together and eat delicious cookies. Win-Win.

This streamlined recipe from Family Fresh Meals makes about two dozen very big cookies. While there are countless recipes out there for basic sugar cookies, I appreciate that this one yields soft and chewy ones. There's a time for thin and crispy, but this isn't one of them. Sweet and pillowy, these delectable treats provide plenty of surface area for wild, messy decorating — cue the kiddies. Be sure to allow your cookies to cool completely before decorating. You don't want melt your scary clown face icing — or do you?

Spider cupcakes

Sure, you can tell yourself that Halloween is just for the kids, but some treats are so adorable they'll make you just as happy. I'm talking about ridiculously cute little cupcakes decorated like spiders. While these eight-legged creatures may give some of us the creeps, they are much more manageable when they're made of butter and sugar. Creepy enough for a killer Halloween spread and sweet enough for the scaredy-cat at heart, these charming cupcakes are a must for any spooky celebration.

These cupcakes from Damn Delicious are delightful to behold. The cake portion is soft, tender, and crumbly. The chocolate glaze is sweet and rich in cocoa flavor. Your decorating ingredients? Sprinkles for the spider bodies, candy eyeballs, and licorice legs. This baking project is as easy as it is fun, making it the perfect kid-friendly afternoon activity. If you're planning on getting some little hands to help you, be sure to have all the ingredients and tools set up. Doing so will make the whole process go smoothly, leaving you lots of time to enjoy your creations and your company.

Slimy Jell-O treats

Trust me. Your Halloween party needs some slimy treats. If you're looking for a scary-looking (but sweet-tasting) dessert to help get your little guests in the mood for Halloween spookiness, say hello to Jell-O. This versatile concoction is quick and easy to prepare, and the color options are boundless. When it comes to creating fake, multicolored slime, Jell-O has little competition in its way. Let the good times roll.

This recipe from Parenting magazine will help bring out the kid in all of us. Different colors of Jell-O are layered together in cute little glass jars and accented with a rainbow assortment of gummy worms to up the gross factor. Your kids will get a kick out of finding creepy crawlers strewn all over their gelatinous snacks. Don't forget to let some of the "worms" set inside the Jell-O while it cooks. Authenticity is everything, right?

Veggie skeleton

I fully admit to loving sugar as much as any 10-year-old. That said, between candy collecting and sugary snacks, Halloween can quickly turn into an epic case of sugar overload. If you want to sneak in some healthy treats without sacrificing the scary vibes, try arranging different veggies on a platter to form a colorful skeleton. Your kids will enjoy the bony creation as much as they appreciate your effort to feed them vegetables on Halloween.

This creative idea from The Kitchn is beyond cool. Carrots, red bell peppers, celery sticks, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and broccoli florets are artfully arranged to look like the cutest skeleton in the world. And get this, the head is a small bowl of creamy dip. Healthy, delicious, and infinitely customizable, you can take this idea and run with it. Swap in veggies you know your kids will love and pair them with the family-favorite dip for maximum enjoyment.

Slime-ade

Kids love slime. It's inarguable. In case the tykes get thirsty, plan to feed them some spooky juice concoction that just so happens to resemble green slime! Pick cute little goblets fit for a vampire to serve this fizzy, sweet beverage and you'll find yourself unofficially crowned the hero of Halloween. With all the other snacks around, these thirst-quenching drinks are guaranteed crowd-pleasers.

The mixologists at Parenting magazine have come up with this gruesome formula to help you win over your kids on the scariest night of the year. A mixture of apple and grape juices gets a little extra fizz from seltzer, while the neon-colored slime artfully rims the glasses. I especially love the garnish of gummy worms. If the idea of using light corn syrup doesn't sit well with you, feel free to swap in honey instead. You'll still be able to achieve that coveted slimy texture.

Ice cream witches

Bring even more joy to your Halloween festivities when you and the kids get together to make wicked ice cream witches. These frozen treats are super fun to decorate and even more delightful to devour. They will bring big smiles to the faces of even the pickiest eaters. Who doesn't love ice cream? Your witch creations are only limited by your imagination, meaning you should absolutely go wild stocking up on possible adornments for these frightful ladies.

This easy-breezy recipe from Surf and Sunshine is a must for Halloween season. My favorite part is customizing everything to suit your children's preferences. You can provide any number of ice cream flavors, while also laying out different options for hair, eyes, nose, and mouth. The frozen scoops are topped by witch hat cones. These are basically the best upside-down ice cream cones ever. Super spooky stuff.

Halloween marshmallow pops

As you're probably aware, cake pops are all the rage. It's hard to keep up with these dessert trends sometimes, but I try. While these bakery treats are adorable, they take time and effort. If you like the idea but want to cut back on prep and make them with the kids, try using marshmallows instead. You get all the satisfaction of eating food on a stick without breaking a sweat. They are colored with melted chocolate and decorated with all sorts of things. From Oreo cookies and hard candies to sprinkles and icing, your crew will be able to create all the usual scary suspects and more.

This how-to guide from I Wash You Dry is Halloween genius. Easy and unfussy, these pops let you use what you have to make sweet, pillowy marshmallow zombies, skulls, and Frankenstein monsters that are all charmingly unique. For anyone with children, ease and adaptability are qualities to be thankful for. (If you're just doing it for yourself, it's still nice.) These spooky treats allow your kids to exercise their creativity without too much worry about logistics — very little cooking and a lot of decorating fun.

Rice Krispie snakes

A bake sale staple takes a spooky Halloween turn. Sweet, chewy, and crunchy, Rice Krispie treats are classic fundraising goodies, but who knew they could be so frighteningly slithery? Formed into colorful snakes, these hissing crawlers make for ideal Halloween table toppers.

This recipe from Parenting magazine turns regular Rice Krispie treats into chilling desserts to please everyone in the room. Snake-shaped and loaded with peanut butter, these creatures are extra scary when you add a dash of food coloring, fruit leather tongues, and raisin eyes. You and your kids will get a kick out of these easy-to-make creepers.

Happy Halloween!