'Hand it' to your guests this Halloween

If you were ever a kid, you can’t help but like Halloween (and especially if you are still one at heart).If you’re throwing a party this year for Halloween, don’t just rely on the old standby beverages. Give your party some, well … punch.

One of my favorite tricks is to make a hand-shaped piece of ice to throw in your grog. All you have to do is fill a non-powdered, non-latex surgical glove with water and freeze it. Important note: Make sure the glove is not latex; some people have latex allergies — that would really make your party scary. You can get them at local pharmacies and drug stores.

The best way to make an eerie, icy floating hand is to fill the clean glove with water, tie the open end with a rubber band and place on a baking sheet in the freezer. When it’s fully frozen, just “unglove” the hand, and plop it in your punch. You can also use juice instead of water — just make sure to use a color that contrasts with the color of your punch but compliments the flavors. Or you can add some food coloring to your water before freezing. Green, purple or black are ultra-icky!

Another way to chill the punch while sending a chill down your guests’ spines is to add “floaters” to ice cubes. Some people suggest adding cleaned plastic toy bugs and spiders to either water or one of the juices you will be using in the punch into your ice-cube trays. It’s a great effect, but I have a major fear of someone getting choked on those little plastic pieces. Having to perform the Heimlich maneuver at a party takes away from the festivities.

What I like to do instead is add Gummi candies into the punch. Besides Gummi worms, which are icky-looking enough, you can usually find other Gummi bugs, rats, mice, etc., at most candy stores. Hey, at least you can eat them — and they’re more pliable than their plastic cousins. It is a good idea to freeze the Gummi candies first, then freeze them again in the ice. Otherwise, you might wind up with Gummi sugar water. For an extra-gory effect, cut the bigger Gummi candies into pieces. There’s nothing like a severed rat’s head to add some “eww” to your brew.

If you don’t have enough ice-cube trays to make enough ice for your punch, you can use other household items to make larger pieces of ice while still adding the creepy crawlers. A Bundt or Angel Food cake pan filled with water and your Gummi “goodies” makes a spooky Halloween “ring” for your punch bowl.

Oh, and as for the punch? Well, there is a batload of Halloween punch recipes on the Internet. They come in a rainbow of colors — from acid green to alien orange — that will coordinate with any spooky theme and quench the thirsts of even the most wicked witches.

Here’s one I’ve enjoyed before to get you started. I like it because it’s red, which goes with just about any Halloween theme:

Bloody Red Halloween Punch

10 c. cranberry cocktail
3 c. orange juice
1 c. lime juice
Sugar to taste (optional)
Vodka, tequila or rum to taste (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients in a large punch bowl, hollowed-out pumpkin or kettle. Serve chilled (make ice cubes from one of the juices or apple juice.)

Most of all, have a ghoulishly grand time!

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