A very spooky spread

Gather the kids for this hauntingly fun Halloween spread! Spend some time together brewing a magic potion, whipping up spooky treats, and telling ghastly ghost stories. Happy Halloween!

Kid Craft Corner: Magic Potion

By Bitsy Hall, M.Ed. and owner of Learning Circles

Spooky season does more than usher in thoughts of trick-or-treating and scary movies: it ignites our inner whimsy. In October, we playfully indulge our human fears and partake in harmless mischief. For children in particular, Halloween is a magical experience. With their imaginative nature, an ordinary mixture of everyday items can feel otherworldly.  While this craft requires only a handful of ingredients and steps, a pinch of added imagination and creativity will captivate your little one. This mixture isn’t just a colorful, sparkly liquid; it’s a magical potion.

For the potion, you’ll need:

  • Small glass bottles, but any small jar or bottle will do!
  • Food dye
  • Fine glitter or mica
  • Water
  • Baby oil


  1. Fill your bottle halfway with water.
  2. Mix in food dye until you reach your desired color.
  3. Shake or stir gently to combine.
  4. Carefully add your sparkle of choice. Add as much as you’d like just so long as you don’t make the consistency sludgy. 
  5. Repeat step 3. 
  6. Fill the remaining half with water.
  7. Seal the top and shake to watch your potion swirl.
colorful bottles of magical potions with handwritten labels


  • Decorations
    • To make this potion display-worthy for even the pickiest Halloween decorator:
      • Opt for cork and hot glue to seal the lid.
      • Wrap the top of your bottle with twine.
  • Extras
    • If you happen to spot some fun Halloween confetti or glitter, they would make a great addition to your potion. Spider, skeleton, or ghost shaped glitter can add a special haunting flare.
    • Your little one can label each bottle with their own unique design and name, like: Serpent’s Blood, Eye of Newt, or Dragon’s Breath.

Snap a picture of your craft and tag @beniciamagazine on Instagram. We would love to see your versions of this Halloween inspired craft!

Spooky Story: Ghosts of Benicia

By Mary Hand

Do you think you know every story about the famous ghosts in Benicia? Think again.

A chill wind was blowing off the straits, howling down First Street in one of California’s oldest towns, Benicia.

The fallen leaves were swirling, and the bare branches of the trees were creaking in protest against the wind.  And there was something hidden in that wind, something dark and angry. 

Ann Marie, famous denizen of the Union Hotel noticed it first.

She woke her friends, Carl from Sailor Jack’s, and Lorenzo, the new ghost whose house was moved from Napa to D Street.  Lorenzo wasn’t too happy about the move, but had settled in. Then Ann Marie contacted Penelope from Portuguese Hall and decided to include her pal Jack — he would want to know. She signaled a meeting at the old depot for the following night. 

The spirits arrived at midnight, all but Jack used the secret tunnels that riddled the underground, far below the streets of downtown. Jack came swimming out of the straits. “We have a problem,” Ann Marie stated. “There’s another ghost in town, and he is angry. Have you heard him?” Carl was agitated. “Can’t understand what he’s saying and there’s some sort of howling going on. Yes,” he said, “I definitely hear him.”

Carl continued, “The veil between the realms will be at its thinnest in 2 days on October 31st. This ghost could call for friends and we would have a big problem on our hands. We must find him!”  Suddenly the wind rose and screamed around the depot, the unknown ghost was screeching within it, and an unholy howling rose from the marshes. “Wait!” said Penelope, “I think he’s screaming in Italian!” The ghosts looked at each other with vacant eyes and furrowed brows. Italian? They agreed to track him down and figure this out.   

An eerie light rose from the old military cemetery, and the howling increased.

The Benicia ghosts floated to the creepy site, then stood in shocked silence.  Something or someone had disturbed two of the graves. A WWII soldier drifted out of one grave, shrieking and crying, when a military dog appeared beside him and howled. The group of ghosts commented to each other, “He’s a POW from WWII!”  “What does he want?”  “What are we going to do with him and that dreadful dog?” Finally Lorenzo said, “It’s simple. He wants to go home to Italy and the dog befriended him when he was a POW.” “ I have an idea,” said Jack. “He can sail back to Italy on one of the remaining ships in the Ghost Fleet.”

And that is what happened. Anthony, the Italian POW, and his faithful dog boarded the ship from the Ghost Fleet with the help of Jack. The ship pulled anchor and sailed on to the strait, through the bay, and into the Pacific Ocean. It promised to be a long voyage home.

The Benicia ghosts drifted back to their abodes and Ann Marie said, “Halloween is tomorrow, we better look lively!”

* Based on the ghosts said to haunt Downtown Benicia.

The Benicia Army Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in the Pacific States. It was the post cemetery for the Benicia Barracks, which from 1849 to 1857 served as the Headquarters for the U.S. Army’s Pacific Division. The cemetery contains 212 internments dating from 1849 to 1958. These internments include U.S. military personnel, civilians, unknowns, foreign personnel (German and Italian POWs) and three military service dogs. The cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Benicia Arsenal-Benicia Barracks Historic District.

Gracie’s Halloween Treats

By Gourmet Gracie

It’s almost here — Halloween, or “All Hallows’ Eve,”  is the night before All-Saints Day or “All Hallows’ Day.”  Some say Halloween has its roots in an ancient Celtic Festival celebration, welcoming the harvest at the end of summer with bonfires and wearing costumes to ward off the ghosts.  No matter how you celebrate — here’s a fun recipe to try with your little ghosts and goblins.

Witches’ Hat Surprise Cookies

  • Chocolate ice cream cones — sugar or waffle cones* 
  • Handful of chocolate chips and butterscotch chips, keep separate 
  • Tube or pouch of green cake-decorating frosting
  • Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers or any flat round cookie
  • Loose candy — candy corn, M&Ms, red hots, Tootsie Rolls,  sprinkles, etc., nuts, if desired

Gather your supplies. Fill a cone with candy. Microwave chocolate chips in a sandwich bag on low. Clip the corner of the baggie and “pipe” the chocolate around the wide edge of the cone.  Top with a chocolate wafer.  Stand the entire cone in the freezer for 5 minutes to harden chocolate.  When ready, pipe the green icing around the bottom of the cone. Melt butterscotch chips in another sandwich bag.  Cut the corner on the bag and “pipe” a square belt buckle onto the green “belt”.  Make a cone for each of your friends…watch their surprise when they bite into the tip of the hat and candy comes tumbling out! 

*Chocolate cones are a bit hard to find — you can order on Amazon: Joy Chocolate Waffle Cones, box of 12. Or, regular cones will work just as well.  

So much fun!

witch hat made from ice cream cone stuffed with candy