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Ghoulish treats can be devilishly delicious

It's nearly time for little goblins to dash off to collect Halloween treats. But as your costumed kids eagerly await a door-to-door search for sweet treats, you may have other ideas. If you plan to invite other children over, you'll want to have your own set of snacks available. And if you're trying to coax your kids to eat a real meal before trick-or-treating, a few fun touches may help keep their interest.

Excitement reigns in those few hours before it's time to embark on the doorbell-ringing expedition. Last-minute costume changes, maybe even carving the pumpkin, vie for young children's attention.

For cooks, who probably double as costume makers and perhaps pumpkin-carvers, here are some quick tricks to add frivolity to Halloween meals:

Fix kebabs of apple wedges dipped in lemon juice to prevent browning. Cut oranges into {-inch slices and then into quarters. Skewer chunks of cheese, the apple wedges, orange pieces and grapes on bamboo sticks.

Make ice cream cones and decorate the tops with candy corn, raisins or chocolate-covered peanuts for eyes, nose and mouth.

Instead of trick-or-treating, organize a last-minute progressive neighborhood dinner. Assign each family a dinner course. This lets active children trek from house to house with plenty of supervision.

Decorate frosted cupcakes with a cat made of gumdrops. Cut a gumdrop into three pieces. Use the smallest part for the head and the largest slice for the body. Cut a tail and ears from the third slice.

Make filled cookies. Cut a pumpkin face into half of the rounds before baking. Put the cutout cookies on top of the filling.

Make your favorite cheese ball, only turn it into a pumpkin shape. Put a piece of green pepper at the top for the stem.

Cut cheese slices into rounds and cut out eyes, nose and mouth to resemble a pumpkin. Use slices for open-face sandwiches.

Shape popcorn balls into pumpkins and stick on raisins, nuts or candies for the face.

Prepare individual tart shells and fill with pudding. Cut jack-o'-lantern eyes and nose from red apples. Place skin side up on pudding. Fashion a mouth from four or five raisins.

Halloween Party Punch

3 quarts apple juice

1 pint cranberry juice

1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate

Maraschino cherries

Combine apple juice, cranberry juice and thawed orange juice concentrate and mix well. Pour 3 cups of the punch into 1 or 2 ice cube trays. Place a cherry in each cube compartment. Freeze.

Chill remainder of punch. To serve, pour punch over frozen cubes in a pitcher or punch bowl. Makes about 4 quarts punch or about 16 {-cup servings.