Free printable gingerbread house patterns, Christmas craft stencils

Making holiday gingerbread houses is a favorite family traditions. Not being very artistic, I'd cheat and get the gingerbread house kit. But I've found a better way: free printable gingerbread house patterns, recipes and templates. Now, people approach gingerbread house making in one of two ways. The first is by painstakingly designing a work of art--not to be eaten, let alone touched. Then there's our youngest son's method: slap together a ramshackle gingerbread shed, lather in two inches of frosting, cover every inch in candy and devour immediately. Whichever school you subscribe to, you'll want these free printable gingerbread recipes, templates and patterns.
Ultimate Gingerbread is dedicated to the tradition of gingerbread house making. The site has dozens of free printable gingerbread patterns, recipes tips, ideas, suggestions, pictures. They even host an annual gingerbread house making competition. You'll need to register and create a free account. The website has a support forum as well, which would have really come in handy a few years ago when our gingerbread house's retaining wall gave way.
Tipnut list 12 free printable gingerbread house templates. There are several different styles from Hansel and Gretel cottage, manor house with dormers, frosted roof, etc. There are instructions and tips, too. King Arthur Flour offers a free printable gingerbread house recipe and instruction booklet with cake and icing recipes, tips and patterns. 
Mein Lila Park is a blog that links to free printable craft projects. This page lists printable paper houses to use for gingerbread templates. There are gnome, manor, town and farm houses. Many are already designed to be gingerbread houses. Botanical Paperworks has a free printable gingerbread house stencil with recipes. Sweetopia has another free gingerbread template to print. Patternsge has a detailed house pattern printout. Stefan Jansson at Flickr offers another printable gingerbread house
Sugar Craft has a free printable old-fashioned gingerbread house pattern. I've linked to the recipe page. Click the word PATTERNS on the right under the image of the house. Gingerbread Heaven offers two free gingerbread template printouts. Be sure to follow the instructions listed with the gingerbread house patterns for best results. 
I encourage family gingerbread house making for a bonding experience, but recommend that each person make his own gingerbread house. This spares debates/arguments over design that can end with the whole house on the floor! Not that my angels would ever do that! May your holiday season be as sweet as a gingerbread house. 

Free printable Halloween masks for kids to color and make

Trick-or-treat is all about dressing up in Halloween costumes, right? So how about free printable Halloween masks for kids to color, cut and paste? Perfect for preschool, special education and school Halloween parties. For families who don't do Halloween, I included links for generic masks so kids can still enjoy craft fun. Masks are grouped by theme.
* Various: Colorbook Masks free printable Halloween masks in dozens of themes and styles. There are tribal masks from Africa, Bali, Native American, Aztec, Mayan, Inuit, Asian and more. Print animal, Mardi Gras, Harlequin, Tiki, calavera (skull) masks for Day of the Dead. To find the masks, you have to create a free account and log in. Click each mask image to get to different mask design pages.
* Animals: Activity Village has lots of free printable animals masks.
* Disney: Check Disney Family for free printable Disney Halloween masks. Print 3D masks of Winnie the Pooh, Ironman, Disney princesses, Hulk, Captain America, Frankenweenie and more.
* Famous people: Forbes publishes free printable masks of trending famous people, politicians and world leaders.
* Scary: Check Ravensblight for free printable monster masks. The Hannibal Lector iron jaw mask is downright horrifying.
* Samhain and fantasy: Phee Mcfaddel has free printable fairy masks plus other Wiccan-inspired designs. Some are rather eerie and some quite pretty and floral.
* Monsters, ghouls and zombies: Paper Marcos Front has free printable creepy monster masks and 3D paper toys.
* Doctor Who: Visit BBC for free printable Doctor Who villains masks. Dress as Ood, a Silurian, one of the Doppelganger twins, a Peg doll, a Weeping Angel or (creepiest of all) a monster baby cherub.
* Day of the Dead: How about free printable calavera masks? Happy Thoughts will email you free 3D skull mask printables if you submit your email. Here's another printable skull mask pattern from Instructables.

Many of the masks print in black and white so children can color them. Making homemade Halloween costume crafts means you keep antsy kids occupied productively as they await trick-or-treat.

Calavera sugar skull cookies for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) - Grand Rapids Holidays |

 Looking to scare up some spooky-good Halloween treats? Or maybe you're throwing Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) shindig and need calavera (skull) cookies. Now you could do the (kind of boring and overdone) sugar cookies shaped like skulls. There are some hilarious Pinterest Skeleton fail cookie images to illustrate how not to do it! And let that be a lesson, too, that complicated isn't always better. Sometimes, you can improvise, like I did and make something better. Here's my scary-easy, wickedly yummy skull cookies. Scary-easy calavera skull cookies for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) - Grand Rapids Holidays |

Ghoulishly Gross Halloween Party Foods and Spooky Snacks for Trick-or-Treat

Hosting a Halloween party? Want to scare up ghoulishly gruesome (but spooky-licious) snacks your little hob-goblins? These spooky snack recipes guaranteed will gross out the bravest guest. We'll organize them by Halloween creature. Play a blindfold touch and feel game. Have guests guess what foods are. Set out labels so guests know what creepy confections they ate.
--flesh: marshmallows
--guts: marshmallow fluff or vanilla frosting
--ghost guts cookies: pinwheel cookies
--blood: milk
--brains dipped in ghost blood: raw cauliflower dipped in ranch dressing
--teeth: red apple wedges dipped in Hershey's Strawberry Syrup (blood)
--bloody fingers : hot dogs with ketchup
Haunted Jack-o-Lantern
--pumpkin blood: orange juice
--teeth: black and orange candy corn
--wings: grape fruit leather or prunes
--brains: popcorn (being dried out, mummy brains are shrively and crumbled.
--people mummies brains: make popcorn balls with marshmallows and red M&Ms.
--cat mummy brains: popcorn and red M&Ms (Egyptians loved their cats and mummified them).
--zombie Barbie brains: whole walnuts
--wrappings: cotton candy
--guts: assorted dried fruit
--hearts and ears: pretzels
--fingers: mozzarella cheese sticks or pretzel rods
--faces: yogurt-covered pretzels
--brains: broccoli
--blood: milk and green food coloring, limeade
--guts: pistachio pudding or guacamole (serve with tortilla chips called dragon scales)
--eyes: green grapes or sliced kiwi
--Witches' brew: mulled spiced apple cider. Have children watch as you describe and prepare. Heat monster blood (apple cide) with eye of newt (whole cloves), dragon claws (cinnamon bark), Slenderman eyes (lemon slices), toad eyes (raisins), dash of skeleton paste (butter) and ground scorpion (nutmeg).
--Witch blood slushies: frozen honey dew melon or kiwi, blended with Greek yogurt and lemonade.
--Frankenstein --Nuts and Bolts: Chex Mix or Cheerios Trail Mix
--zombie sandwiches (as in for, not made of): Sliced lunchmeat (brain cross-section) sandwiches with guts and blood (mustard and ketchup).
--eye slices: sliced kiwi or cucumber
--werewolf gut and blood sandwiches: PBJ sandwiches
--toasted spider legs: chow mien noodles
Serve these monstrously healthy snacks before trick-or-treat, to prevent tummy crummies from candy 

Free Printable Catholic Saints and Christian Bible Coloring Pages for All Saints Day

Catholic and Christian parents--are you looking for an alternative Halloween event for your children? Maybe you don't believe in all the spooky associations with the celebration? Maybe you want a more Bible based family activity? Well, you need look no further. The Catholic holy day of All Saints Day is celebrated on November 1 and November 2 is All Souls Day. Actually, All Hallows Eve (Hallowe'en) was a pagan lollapalooza that preceded the holy day. You could do All Saints themed activities to replace Halloween activities you're uncomfortable with. When our children were young, would dress as saints, go to mass and host All Saints Eve parties afterwards. Free Printable Catholic Saints and Christian Bible Coloring Pages for your All Saints Day festivities.

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Free Printable Halloween Pumpkin Carving Stencils, Trick-or-Treat Jack-o-Lantern Patterns

What would autumn be without carving the traditional Halloween pumpkin? Making a jack-o-lantern for trick-or-treat is one of my favorite family activities. Looking for creative pumpkin carving stencils for your jack-o-lantern? Here are free printable pumpkin patterns for whatever theme you want: spooky, cartoon, artistic, fantasy, religious, animals, gobs more.  Free Printable Halloween Pumpkin Carving Stencils, Trick-or-Treat Jack-o-Lantern Patterns 

Scary Story Starters and Horror Writing Prompts for Paranormal Prose

Do you love scary stories? Halloween is a great time to explore horror fiction. But you don't just have to read it. You could try your hand at writing it. Maybe you have to write a spooky tale for school, a writers workshop, a Halloween flash fiction contest. What fun!

Wait, what's that? You're too afraid to try? If you can stand reading horror, you shouldn't fear a little ole' writing activity! I know what you mean, though. I taught creative writing for years and believe it or not, writing scares some students more than a bogeyman in the closet!

But trust me, it's not that bad. Who knows? You might even write the next Frankenstein. Mary Shelley wrote her famous horror work during a weekend house party game!

Maybe what you need is a little help in the form of some horror writing prompts and mystery story starters? I've compiled a few. Go hole up in a dark attic garret in a creepy Gothic mansion on a lonesome, windswept moor (or just imagine yourself there--for atmosphere) Read 'em over. Chew on them. Let the specter muses inspire. Off with you! Write us that new Edgar Allen Poe! Scary Story Starters and Horror Writing Prompts for Paranormal Prose - Bubblews

Creative Homemade Halloween or All Saints Day Party Invitation Ideas

Planning a Halloween party? Or maybe a Halloween alternative harvest party at church? Maybe you're Catholic and are throwing an All Saints Day party instead of Halloween. However you celebrate, skip boring paper invitations and try these creative unique ways to announce your party? Here are alternative party invitation and announcement ideas.

  Balloon: Purchase larger latex balloons. Inflate balloon. Write invitation message and party details in marker (silver for dark colors). Deflate and mail. Don't explain. Let guests figure out what to do.

  Jigsaw puzzle: purchase blank jigsaw puzzles or make your own. Write party message and details on assembled jigsaw puzzle. Take puzzle apart and mail pieces. Make your own jigsaw puzzle. Print a Halloween or party themed coloring page (lots of links on this blog). Cut out sides of cereal box. Glue to picture to colored side. Write message on plain side. Cut into pieces. Guests can use picture on the front to assemble message.

  Code Message Invitations: Write invitation in code. A simple code might for children's' parties is to represent letters with numbers 1-26. (A-1, B-2). For older kids use math problems with the letter number code.

  Treasure Map: Make a map of the party location. Write directions in code or clues. For example, we live on Columbus Ave. I might say, "You'll find the party on the street named for the guy who discovered our country."

  Edible invitations: Kids love these. Write the invitation message and details on sticks of chewing gum with food grade marker (found in cake decorating supplies section). Fruit Leather or Fruit Roll Ups work well too.

  Beaded bracelet: Buy cheap plastic letter and number beads. Compose invitation message and string on piece of yarn. Or write the details on a piece of paper and put words on the bracelet--Happy Halloween! Blessed All Saints Day! Or put saints medals on ribbon.

  For more awesome party ideas, visit me at and

Homemade Animal Costumes, Habitats for Halloween

 Dramatic play develops preschool social, emotional, artistic, creative and communication skills. Plays lend themselves to all content. Here are homemade costumes, props and settings for life science theater. I call it bio-drama. Using recycled materials teaches real-life environmental science! These costumes and habitiats would be perfect for Halloween costumes. Make a spider in her web, bats, mammals, reptiles, insects and more.   Homemade Preschool Dramatic Play Animal Costumes, Habitats

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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