Snacks every normal Halloween party needs to have

Let's face it; you have to be in your forties or fifties to remember when Halloween night meant dressing up in a homemade costume and racing from house to house or apartment in search of cookies, apples, and candy. The simpler days of Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin are long gone, and even the '80s seem like a glimpse of a bygone era.

Today, we consume even more candy and don more expensive costumes or put our kids or pets in one. Halloween is now an annualized round of elaborate parties, spooky-themed menus, haunted houses, and costume contests. This celebration has become the perfect excuse to throw a monster bash and cut loose, no matter what age or species you are. But what snacks should you serve? These ones.

Healthy haunted treats anyone can make

Are you culinarily challenged or can't pipe a cupcake to save your life? Not to worry. You can still throw a Halloween party that's a monster bash and impress your guests with these adorable and healthy banana ghosts and tangerine pumpkins. They require no advanced skills or special tools, take just a few minutes to make, and look great on a table surrounded by spooky trimmings and decorations. All you need is a few bananas, chocolate chips, some clementines or tangerines, and a stalk or two of celery.

To keep the bananas from turning brown while you work, prepare the clementine pumpkins first by peeling the clementines and placing them on a plate. Cut tiny tabs of celery into pumpkin stems (keeping the size proportionate to the size of the clementine) and insert the stems into the clementines. Cover the plate with plastic wrap to keep the clementines from drying out while they wait in the refrigerator.

For the ghosts, peel the bananas, cut them in half with the cut edge at an angle to prevent them from tipping over and then with a toothpick, scoop out divots for eyes and a mouth. Place mini chocolate chips in the eye sockets and larger chocolate chips in the mouth cavity, then serve on a Halloween-themed platter.

America's favorite Halloween candy is chocolate

You don't have to be a mad genius like Dr. Frankenstein to know that any Halloween party would be incomplete without candy. It's at the top of everyone's list. I called the National Confectioners Association, and they told me that America's 2015 sweet tooth translated to $2.63 billion in retail sales of candy and that 2016 sales were projected to reach nearly $2.7 billion. That's a lot of sugar. But the most popular type of candy? Chocolate. A 2013 NCA survey found that 72 percent of people preferred receiving chocolate over sugary candies on Halloween. Chocolate products typically dominate candy sales around Halloween, particularly the big names like Reese's, M&Ms, Snickers, Hershey's, and Kit Kats. Reese's can be used for a variety of decorated Halloween treats and desserts your guests will love. And frankly, if you don't have time to make cutesy, themed treats with candy, just throw them in a bowl. Your guests will probably love them regardless.

Candy corn: the candy America loves to hate

Although candy corn is a ubiquitous symbol of Halloween, it still manages to completely polarize people. You love it or you hate it, and there's probably no middle ground. No matter which side you're on, plenty of people are still buying it. According to the NCA, nearly 35 million pounds (or nine billion little kernels) of candy corn are produced each year, and most of that is sold around Halloween.

This 130-year-old nugget has a big footprint that's a classic tale of American commerce. It began when George Renninger, a candymaker at the Wunderlee Candy Company, created the first candy corn in Philadelphia in the 1880s. It was popular enough that it continues today as a common Halloween treat, like it or not. At the end of the 1900s, Wunderlee and its closely guarded original recipe were sold to the Goelitz Candy Company (now Jelly Belly Candy Company), and Jelly Belly continues to produce candy corn today.

According to NCA research, slightly more people (46.8 percent) eat candy corn in one bite while 42.7 percent start with the narrow end. Around 10 percent of people eat the large end first. We'll let you judge for yourself. Either way, it's definitely a normal snack to have at any Halloween party. Even if you hate it, some of your guests will love it.

Do the monster mouth

You have to have a cold heart and no funny bone if you can resist the goofy grin of a healthy monster mouth. This recipe is so straightforward and easy that it's silly to call it a recipe. Even little kids can whip it up in a few minutes. To make the monster mouths, slice green or red apples, spread one side of two apple slices with natural, creamy peanut butter. Then sandwich both slices together and line up whole, unsalted peanuts for teeth in the opening. Give these to your kids or your adults for a quick energy boost and a relatively healthy break from all the candy they'll be eating on the big day. These toothsome snacks will bring a smile to your monster's face.

Spidery deviled eggs

Even if you don't like eggs, you might like deviled eggs. Something about the tang of the mustard, the creamy yolk mixture, and the texture of the boiled white just gets to many of us. Busy cooks don't have time to fuss in the kitchen or prepare last-minute dishes, so deviled eggs are a godsend. And when they're as cute as these spidery eggs (or these other scary deviled egg ideas), you know your guests will scarf them down in seconds. Plus, they're a refreshing break from all the sweet stuff. To make them, start with your favorite deviled egg recipe. Once they're done, you need decorations. To decorate with spiders, open a can of whole, ripe, black olives. Slice some olives in half vertically, and place one half face down on a deviled egg. For legs, slice up the remaining olive halves and arrange them around the spider body. Put in the fridge on a fun platter, and serve when ready.

Jalapeno popper mummies

Sometimes you just have to give in to your need for cheesy, gooey, spicy foods that appeal to your inner carb demons — and these little jalapeno mummy poppers do the trick. They're made with fresh jalapenos filled with oodles of Monterey Jack and cream cheese, then wrapped strips of refrigerator crescent dough and baked until they come out of the oven piping hot and melt-in-your-mouth soft. You can buy edible eyes for decoration, and once you set these out at your holiday party, they'll disappear like a spirit in the night. Be sure to mix things up with the filling, and consider adding some salsa or maybe taco-style ground beef.

Decorated cookies

Across Wales, Cornwall, Ireland, and Scotland, it has been a tradition to recite a centuries-old Cornish litany to children before bedtime, and it's now a familiar poem at Halloween.

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-legged beasties,
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Our fear of the things that go bump in the night is still strong, but now we can turn scary things into delicious edible works of art. Decorated cookies are a good place to start. Depending on your skills as a baker and decorator, cookies can be colorful reminders that we're all kids at heart. For decorated Halloween cookies with style, Martha Stewart is a perpetual source of recipes, decorating tips, and supply suggestions. Having a reliable recipe is essential. Martha's classic recipes for sugar cookies and royal icing are great, but also consider her chocolate bat and cat cookies. The rich, chocolatey dough is a break from the more traditional iced style of cookie that's so sweet it will make your teeth hurt.

Burger monsters

Nothing is as American as a juicy burger served with cheese and all the fixings, and now you can make monster burgers part of your Halloween bash. Give your vampires, superheroes, and princesses a basic burger set up (the burger and the bun). They bring the creativity. You'll get them to do the work for you, and it will be a blast to see what everyone comes up with for their burger.

Just set out small bowls filled with decorating options like edible eyes, dill pickle slices, dragon tongues of cheese, mustard, ketchup, whole black and green olives, and other creepy ingredients. Set up one monster burger as an example to get their creative juices flowing and then set them loose.

RIP cupcakes

Unlike cakes, which can require more advanced skills sets, anyone can bake a cupcake, from scratch or a box mix, and go to town with a piping bag, edible cupcake toppers, sprinkles, and other decorations. The only limits are your imagination and your wallet. For an easy headstone decoration, place a Milano or oval cookie snugly into your frosted chocolate cupcake and pipe "RIP" toward the top of the cookie with melted chocolate chips. Break up a few Oreo cookies and line them around the bottom of the headstone, and you're done.

Witch cake pops

When cake pops first got started, they were a smart way to use up leftover cake pieces, but they became a favorite with creative bakers and cake decorators because they could become almost anything. These witchy cake pops will cast a spell on the guests at your next Halloween party, and you'll love how easy they are to make. Cake pops can help control portion size (assuming you can resist gorging yourself) if you want to cut back on the sweets, and they can use a range of color combinations, cakes, and frostings.

Once you break up the baked cake into crumbs, mix it with frosting, roll it into a ball, and freeze. Then you can begin the fun part: decorating. Different colors of candy melts are the secret to coating the cake pops properly, and once that's done you can make the hair, hat, and other decorations and pipe on the faces.

Halloweeny macarons

Just like any other holiday celebration, you sometimes want to go more upscale for Halloween. Nothing says "posh" quite like a beautifully baked and filled French macaron. While they may look simple, looks can be deceiving.

These are not for beginners and require a lot of practice and skill, but if you're up to the challenge, you'll be rewarded with fine, mouth-watering treats that will be the envy of everyone at your party. I spent my childhood in the northeastern French region of Lorraine, France, about two hours drive from Nancy, where legend says macarons were invented during the French Revolution by two nuns. Seeing these colorful pastries as a child inspired me to become a French-trained pastry chef later, and learning how to make them consistently was an essential part of my early training. I encourage every aspiring baker to try these recipes. Practice makes perfect, and macarons (even if they aren't perfect!) are always a welcome sight on a pastry tray.