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Neighborhood Halloween Hoopla

Organize a friendly neighborhood Halloween contest, with everything from ghostly goodies to petrifying pumpkins.

Are you looking for some fun new ways to celebrate Halloween with your kids this year? How about a neighborhood contest? Costume contests are just one of the many options to get everyone in the spirit. Read on to see if one of these wicked ideas grabs you.

Craziest costume – Pass out fliers inviting all the neighborhood kids to meet at your house an hour before trick-or-treating begins. Give everyone a name tag when they arrive. Then each child and adult can fill out a voting slip. Include categories like best costume, scariest, funniest, most creative and more. Hand out a special prize to the winners of each category. And don't forget a small consolation prize for all children who participate.

Most ghoulish yard – Invite everyone in the neighborhood to join in a decorating contest. You could have a few categories, such as scariest, cutest, silliest and best overall. Set a decorating deadline (Oct. 21, for example) and provide delivery instructions on the flier so every house in the neighborhood can vote for the addresses they like best. Also, mention that neighbors should view all the homes after Oct. 21 and deliver their votes to you by a specified date. Ask some of the participating neighbors to help you make up fun 'Scariest House' and other signs. Then post them in the yards of the winning homes.

Funniest carved pumpkin – Ask the neighborhood to join you in a carved pumpkin contest. You can schedule a date and time when everyone will meet with their pumpkins at your home or a neighborhood park. Suggest everyone who participates pitch in $2 per pumpkin for a jackpot. To keep it fair, allow only one pumpkin per child. Prepare numbered cards in advance so each pumpkin will have its own number. Then have everyone fill out a voting slip. The carver of the winning pumpkin gets the jackpot. You could also pass out small goody bags for all the kids who participate.

Funnest Halloween game – Hand out fliers to everyone in the neighborhood or on your street to hold a Halloween game day. Ask each participating house to set up a Halloween kid's game in their front yard. Participating homes can give out small prizes such as stickers or treats to each kid who plays their game. Kids can wander the neighborhood playing the games for the afternoon. When they're done, have each child fill out a ballot for the most fun Halloween game. Then post a chilling homemade sign in the yard of the winner.

Scariest scarecrow – Ask your neighbors to participate in the scariest scarecrow contest. To keep the scarecrows safe until voting, set a specific day when the scarecrows should be displayed in everyone's yards. Have everyone in the neighborhood, whether they participate by making a scarecrow or not, hand-deliver their vote to you by the end of the day that the scarecrows are set out. Then deliver a fun Halloweenish homemade yard sign to the winning home.

Creepiest food – Hold a simple neighborhood potluck Halloween party. Each participating family should be instructed to bring a Halloween-themed food or dessert. Place a numbered card next to each dish. Then have everyone fill out a ballot for the cutest, grossest, funniest and scariest food. Once the winners are announced, take photos of the families next to their creepy food. Then everyone can dig in and eat the yummy dishes and treats.