Need some Halloween ideas?
- Everyone’s trying to outspook each other in the run up to Halloween. Lola’s friend is bringing face paints. Nell has been experimenting with vampire blood for months. Another friend, Anna, borrows her mum’s phone to text a calendar countdown every day of half term. We’ve bought sweets and dried bananas for Halloween callers. The pumpkin will be carved tonight… In our house there are a lot of strongly held opinions about what to wear. The sort of ideas and games included in this blog are borrowed from Nicola Baird’s recently published book, Homemade Kids
My girls missed out on the school Halloween disco (think spider webs and skeletons hung from the rafters as the kids bopped away) but ever since they were very little we’ve tried to make 31 October special. It’s a good moment in the year – what with the clocks changing us from autumn to a winter timetable and a real sense that the weather is going to be cold for the next six months…
Creative ways to keep the kids at home
1 If you don’t fancy trick or treating (you will one day!) then try holding a bad manners dinner at home. When my children were all under 7 this worked brilliantly. We made spaghetti and tomato sauce then tipped it on to the table (instead of plates) with lashings of sprinkles and banana chunks. No one was allowed cutlery, slurping was praised and the messiest face won a little prize (more chocolate). You can make the party just for family or invite a few friends.
2 One mum I know was forbidden by her partner to let the kids do trick or treating. Put out she said OK, then I’ll make sure the children come to my house and so each 31 October set up a fantastical scary scenario in her front garden. Ghouls lost heads, blood trickled off smiles from a “Traitors’ Gate” and the plant pots hid spooky recordings. It was a brilliant culmination to everyone’s local trick and treat tour. Sadly her kids are now at university but she made a generation of children happy, what an amazing legacy. And of course she got to see everyone of the costumes…
School night Halloween
Adapt the bad manners party and then organise some games. It’s hard to beat apple bobbing or trying challenge even the littlest child to eat a doughnut on a string without licking his/her lips. One makes you wet, the other sticky – so maybe have a few spare T-shirts, towels and face cloths around. More tried and tested games:
1 Tell a spooky story with the lights off (candle light can add some creepy effects) about a drowned sailor and pass around body bits at the right moment in the story. A peeled grape feels like an eye, cooked cold spaghetti are realistic guts.
2 Imagine this: challenge the children to think of a horrible scenario and then get each to react in freeze frame. The best reaction wins and then the winning child imagines the next scenario.
3 Using torches and a backlit wall try creating a shadow battle with torches, or finger shadows. You’ll be amazed how much your children know about blood and gore – blame it on the Horrible Histories – for whatever bit of history they’ve started learning about in school.
Out and about safety
Wait until it’s dark, but not too late. The suspense will kill them…
Then in small groups visit houses/flats near your home where you know the inhabitants or there is a pumpkin with a light in it placed on the doorstep. Tuck a bag into each costume so your child can stock up on sweeties… And ideally have a ghoulish joke ready to entertain each household.
Q Why didn’t the skeleton go to the ball?
Because he had NO BODY to go with….
Q Why didn’t the skeleton go to the quiz night?
Because he HADN’T GOT THE GUTS.
Stay together, be spooked together but don’t go into people’s houses. This is the one night in most kids’ life when they are allowed to take sweets from strangers… and they love that frisson.
How to make your buggy look spooky
Simple – cover baby and buggy in a sheet, then draw eyes or cobwebs on with fabric pens (or something that stands out). However naff it looks indoors with the lights on, it’ll look fab in the dark, lamp-lit streets as the kids rush spookily/noisily from pumpkin-eating house to house.
What are your children turning into this Halloween?
Feel free to use the ideas we’ve worked out – a zombie Alice, yeti, witch, Phantom of the Opera and the big orange pumpkin.
Or let me know how you manage toddler trick and treating. Enjoy, Nicola x