The perfect Halloween treats for boys may, or may not, come in a commercial bag emblazoned with the letter “B.”

I have found through years of experience that perfect Halloween treats come from inspiration mixed liberally with love and helping hands, and served with enthusiasm. In other words, it’s not all about the food.

I remember one sunny fall day, picking up my oldest from school (then seven) with my little guy in tow (then four). We drove to a nature preserve for a little hike, just for the heck of it. The weather was glorious. I noticed the changing color of the leaves. The warm, gentle breeze that let us shed our sweatshirts and enjoy the tail end of summer.

My boys noticed frogs.

The frogs where everywhere. And like frogs, they were hiding, with only their croaks and the rare rippling of water signs to acknowledge their existence.

Armed with tall boots and eagle eyes, we spent a good hour and a half carefully stepping in the mushy marsh, looking for frogs, shouting when we found one or two, and getting not a little bit muddy. It was the perfect boy activity and they were in heaven.

Why do I include this little adventure in a post about Halloween treats? Because it was all part of a magical day. A hike just because. Enjoying the Indian summer. And since I was my son’s room mother at school, I had no idea what to make for the Halloween class party and I was running out of time.

That little conundrum niggled in the back of my head as I watched my oldest balance precariously on a log floating in the marsh. He fell in to the knee-deep water (“Look, Mom!”), soaking the soft felt of the boot liners. He was safe and thrilled beyond belief. My thoughts went back to the room mother assignment. On the way home, soaking boots and all, we stopped at local grocery store hoping for lightning to strike

And it did, in the form of the ultimate inspiration: Martha Stewart.

Inside the beautifully ghoulish cover of the October issue were two recipes that made my boys squeal. Gnarly spook fingers complete with red fingernails (aka pretzel sticks with slivered almonds painted with food coloring), and creepy eyeballs sporting crooked red veins (aka peanut butter balls coated in white chocolate with M & Ms for pupils). I have to admit, I was impressed.

We bought the ingredients, and set out to make the best Halloween treats – ever.

Since my kids could never pass a hot pretzel stand, whether in the local mall, or on a corner in New York City, the gnarly spook fingers made of pretzel dough were the favorite. When the fingers were done, the boys placed them carefully on a foil-wrapped serving tray, a row of dismembered digits.

Halloween treats Wisconsin Dells photographer

Gnarled, scary fingers are really tasty pretzel sticks.

The eyeballs were very colorful, a bit sweet for my boys. I was sure the class would be bouncing off the walls in no time. No matter. They looked perfect.

Halloween treats Wisconsin Dells photographer

Crazy ghoul eyeballs made with peanut butter, sugar, candy coating and more candy!

I only made those perfect Halloween treats once. But the memory of that day and the fun we had wafts over me every fall. So next time you are tempted to grab a bag with the big “B” on it, grab your kids and rustle up some fun with creative recipes for your own perfect Halloween treats!

P.S. You can find the gnarly finger recipe here. I no longer have the eyeball recipe, but you can find more Halloween treat recipes on my  Pinterest board.