Written by: Cally Worden
The spooky season is soon to be upon us. Halloween celebrations are steeped in tradition so here is a helpful reminder of tried and tested ways to celebrate, with a few modern twists thrown in.
Jack O’ Lanterns
Pumpkin carving – one of the joys or horrors of Halloween season. With flickering tea-lights inside there is nothing spookier than a Jack O’Lantern gracing your window on Halloween night. But no matter how hard I try my carving efforts always seem to look like something from the Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
No amount of tracing elaborate designs onto the pumpkin, or skilful knife wielding seems to help. I’ve learned my lesson, and now set the kids’ expectations low and stick to simple triangle eyes and nose, and a jagged mouth. It works. They have fun anyway, especially scooping out all the gooey insides. And once the sacred evening is over we scrape the waxy, sooty residue from inside the pumpkin and make a hearty soup from the flesh.
Trick or Treat – Home and Away
Having kids is a great excuse to create spooky costumes and trawl the streets springing Trick-or-Treat surprises on your neighbours. In my day a black bin bag for a cape and white talc on the face was enough, but costumes have become more elaborate in recent times. Those upon whose doors you knock are looking for at least a bit of effort on your part, so make sure the costumes warrant the treat. If homemade creations are beyond your time or inclination visit any of the big supermarkets, who stock great value outfits in the run up to Halloween. Add in a little smear of ominous-looking make-up and your child’s transformation will be complete.
Whether you are planning to venture out or not it is wise to stock up on goodies to satisfy the demands of the Trick-or-Treat groups who will come a-knocking on your door. Thankfully most ‘Tricks’ in the UK have not reached the epic and occasionally nasty proportions of those sometimes doled-out in the US, but nevertheless – be prepared! Sweets are always welcome, and older kids will relish being the recipients of loose change too.
Dress-up your Home
By 31st October it’s dark from early in the evening. With a few classic touches it’s easy to transform your home into a haunted house, or create the illusion of a cemetery or some other such spooky spot. Place Jack O’Lanterns in dimly-lit windows and around your garden. Place fake cobwebs around gates and doors. Play spooky noise recordings from a hidden location outside your home. And for a super-eerie touch place fake headstones on your lawn with joke-shop hands scrabbling from the earth beneath, and dead flowers scattered around. One final fun touch is to dress up yourself, giving young Trick-or-Treat visitors a fright when you open your door.
Host a Halloween Party
Put all those spooky decorations to good use not just on Halloween, but the weekend before or after at your own house party. Traditional games for Halloween include Apple Bobbing, Pumpkin Carving competitions (Ha!), fortune telling, and the sharing of ghost stories. Clever effects can be used for food and drinks, with delights such as eyeball sweets, witches fingers and stringy cobwebs to tempt your guests. A witch’s’ cauldron of punch, complete with dry ice for that spooky smoking effect, can create a particularly impressive centrepiece.
If you want more structure to your party then think about staging a blackout, a murder mystery, or even a zombie attack – fake blood capsules can create a very dramatic effect.
If you have additional ideas for how to create the perfect Halloween celebration then share them here. Let’s scare ourselves silly and have a good time into the bargain!