Crafts add zing to Halloween, even at last minute

Has Halloween crept up on you?

Maybe you’ve already bought the candy and figured out the kids’ costumes, but have you put an iota of thought into your own costume, or how to decorate ? at least a little ? for the holiday?

Fortunately, some magazine editors work throughout the year to add fright and fantasy to our spookiest holiday, including ideas that can be done on the fly.

(Want to go as a fly? That probably can be figured out, too.)

What’s most important? The costume. For adults, that means coming up with something witty and easy to pull together. Thank you, “Real Simple” magazine. The October issue includes 13 costumes that play on puns.

“These are for the trick or treaters who are up for a quick costume, and for the adults who want to join in on the fun,” says Mary Kate McGrath, a “Real Simple” senior editor.

A few of the ideas: Wear a white chef’s hat and apron, and carry an iron (real or toy). What are you? An iron chef.

Tape a $1 bill to each ear to be a buccaneer.

On a black T-shirt and pants, make a line of dashes with white duct tape, starting at a bottom pant leg and ending at the shirt neckline, to simulate highway-lane dividing lines. Fasten a plastic fork across the dashes on the shirt to be a “fork in the road.”

For children, attach small stuffed cats and dogs to the outside of an open umbrella for it to “rain cats and dogs.” Or dress the entire family in athletic clothes and sneakers and hand everyone a musical instrument to become a “band on the run.”

“I like that one because you get to stay cozy,” says McGrath.

For more elaborate but still quick-to-make costuming, turn to the pages of “Martha Stewart Halloween,” which this year features Stewart decked out as a giant moth. Hers and other costumes, such as The Vanishing Man and a Teen Werewolf, pay tribute to classic B movies.

While each costume comes with instructions, Marci McGoldrick, editorial director of Holiday & Crafts for “Martha Stewart Living,” says details can be used separately or for inspiration. For example, the werewolf’s claws are press-on nails that have been trimmed pointy and painted black ? you also could use them for a vampire’s or witch’s costume.

These costumes use clip art and templates downloaded from the “Martha Stewart Living” website.

“I think a lot of adults don’t like to do the full costume,” McGoldrick acknowledges.

The website also has ideas for Halloween decorations, games, treats and candy bags, including a brown-bag broom for candy favors.

For trick-or-treat bag ideas, the October issue of “Better Homes & Gardens” includes a decorated paint can and plastic beach pail. Its most functional idea: Glue a ghost cut from a sheet of white foam to a reusable grocery bag, preferably black.

“It’s all about inspiration,” says Bridget Sandquist, “Better Homes & Gardens” editorial director for Holiday & Celebrations. “Hopefully, our ideas will trigger something (for our readers), and they can make it their own.”

If decorating for Halloween seems overwhelming, focus on the front door and the fireplace mantle, says Sandquist. She recommends decorating with what’s already at hand to create focal points on the mantle and throughout the home ? candlesticks with white or black tapers, vases filled with autumn color, and glass jars teeming with Halloween candy. Throw in a few paper bats hung by lightweight fishing line.

For a quick holiday lift to the front door, hang butcher paper and let kids decorate it with colored markers, says McGrath. That also works as a table runner, and keeps children busy. A step further: Fill white balloons with helium and draw ghostly faces on them. Attach the balloons to the butcher paper, or add string and hang them from outdoor lights and the door handle.

For some, it’s not Halloween without a carved pumpkin, but McGrath suggests sticking silver bulletin-board tacks into a pumpkin to design a face, house numbers or any abstract shape.

“It’s very glisten-y and fancy,” say McGrath. “And it takes about three minutes.”

Her other pumpkin-decorating ideas: Cover real or craft-store pumpkins with chalkboard or metallic paint, which come in spray cans.

Dina Manzo, a former cast member of the TV show “Real Housewives of New Jersey” and host of HGTV’s new “Dina’s Party,” likes her pumpkins to sparkle. She combines real pumpkins with faux, decorating them similarly with crafting rhinestones, studs and spikes. Crafting stores sell these supplies in kits; for example, you can find rhinestone spider stickers.

“You don’t have to carve anymore,” says Manzo. Plus, if using hard-foam craft pumpkins, “you can add to your collection every year.”

As for the fly costume, it can be bought, but just as easily made. There are lots of ideas posted online, and most include dressing in black from head to toe and bending wire ? in some cases, a clothes hanger ? into the shape of fly wings. Cover them with black pantyhose, then attach them like a backpack with black ribbon.

“Family Fun” magazine’s website posts excellent images on how to do this for a “fanged fly” costume.