So good, it's Scary

It's spooky just how fun it can be to shop for Halloween.

Focus On Halloween

October 24, 2004|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Staff

Halloween has become such a wickedly important holiday that you practically need black magic to find your way through all the items available in the stores for terrifying trick-or-treating, demonic decorating, ghoulish get-togethers and shadowy soirees. In lieu of a witch's spell, or even a Magic 8 Ball, we offer this short guide to the best of Halloween 2004.

Best example that decorating for Halloween can be tasteful as well as ghoulish: Hand-blown glass pumpkin candleholders. The open stems serve as chimneys. $10-$28. Smith & Hawken (www.smithandhawken. com, 800-940-1170; so popular that they sold out at the Baltimore store)

Best new decoration that's probably older than you are: This hep cat centerpiece, 13 by 7 inches, was first released in 1949. Party Partners has an exclusive collection of vintage reproductions from the Beistle Co., the oldest manufacturer of party goods in the U.S. Hometown Girl, Hampden (410-662-4438)

Best proof that pets are being treated too much like members of the family: This four-piece Batman costume for your pooch comes in two sizes, medium and large, and includes bat ears, chest piece, cape and belt. What's next? A Robin costume for your cat? $9.98. Lillian Vernon (, 800-901-9291)

Best costume for a newborn: Sweet Peas in a Pod bunting. Just remember, this may be the last time you get to decide what they'll wear for Halloween. The polyester bunting has a front zipper and three peas that Velcro on. Machine washable. $20. Babystyle (, 877-378-9537)

Best trick-or-treat bag: A brown paper bag or a plastic pumpkin is no longer good enough. The chic treat-or- treater will carry something like this fashion- forward fabric bag with a sheer spider-web overlay accented with sparkles. $12.95. Stebbins Anderson, Towson (410-823-6600)

Best Halloween candy for grown-ups who come trick-or-treating: Let the kids have the Hershey's Kisses; these milk chocolate truffles with pumpkin faces are for adults only. $6.99 for 25; Lindt Chocolate Shop, Towson (410-339-7152) and Annapolis (410-571-0733)

Best creature of the night: We considered the crazed cats, the rats, the lurking vultures, the ominous owls and the ravens that are in stores this Halloween. But we finally settled on the vampire bats from Martha Stewart: The Catalog for Living. They are definitely not your usual Martha Stewart decoration, and they're not for the faint of heart. Medium bats, set of 3, $24; large, set of 3, $28 (, 800-950-7130)

Best hat to wear to cocktails with someone you're selling your soul to: You'll look devilishly good in red and black feathers, gold braid and, of course, devil's horns. $20, Hometown Girl, Hampden (410-662-4438)

Best pairing of two tacky trends: Eyeball Lights. Outdoor decor is the big news for Halloween this year, and eyeballs are the decoration most in demand. Ghastly but happening. $3.99. Party City, Baltimore and Columbia locations

Best alternative to orange Kool-Aid for a spooky grown-up party drink: Witches' Brew. Fill glass with ice. Add 1 ounce vodka and 1 ounce Chambord raspberry liqueur. Add a splash of cranberry juice and a splash of sour mix. Strain into a martini glass and enjoy.

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