Halloween has been a major holiday in the US for generations but here in the UK it has come to the fore more in recent years. Now it is a massive event with shops regaling us with pumpkins, witches costumes and spooky food. But it is also a great time to do something with the kids from a little baking, costume making or even organising a Halloween party.
Halloween Fun for Kids
Lots of kids either have a craft side or simply enjoy making something, regardless of the end result and Halloween is a perfect time to go this. There are hundreds of different craft ideas around the theme ranging from simple pot decoration to more complex activities.
For the little ones, painting a pot is a good idea. Cover a pot in some white paper the day before, stick it down and leave it to set for a blank canvas. Then the kids can paint it orange, cut out some black eyes, nose and mouth and add a stalk and leaf in glittery paper to make a cup pumpkin lantern. Or paint it luminous green, draw on some face features as well as a big black gash with stitches then paint the rim black. Add a couple of metallic T-shapes on either side and you have a Frankenstein pot! Once decorated, they can fill them with sweet to give out on the night to trick or treaters or for a party.
If you’re having a party, a Halloween decoration or ten are compulsory. For the younger kids, you can start simple. Buy some wooden blocks, one for each letter of Happy Halloween. Let them paint them orange or whatever colour they want then write a letter on each in a black marker. Either glue them together to form the word or if you are handy with a drill, drill holes through them and string them onto some thick cord.
Another decoration is a nice witches broom to hang above the fireplace but using the real broom can be a bit heavy. Instead, take the inside of a roll of wrapping paper and get the kids to paint it black. Wrap a few sections of yellow around it and you have the stick. For the broom, take a piece of cloth and either stick or stick a load of threads on it then wrap it around the stick and glue it.
No party is complete without party games and there are plenty of simple ones for even the younger kids to enjoy. Apple bobbing is a traditional game and you can make it more Halloween-esque by using milk rather than water and adding red food colouring to it. A treasure hunt around the house once you have added your Halloween decorations and some moody lighting can be great fun with prizes for everyone at the end. Even pin the tail on the donkey can be reinvented as pin the wart on the witch!
Going out trick or treating means that a costume is compulsory. Some kids choose to just go with a favourite character without regard for the time of year but others want something special to Halloween. You can buy lots of them in the shops but if you want to make something unique and spend time with the kids making it, you can create your own.
The scary spider is a simple option and all that is needed are some plain black clothes to start with. A hoodie, trousers and black shoes are the basis for the outfit. Take two pairs of black tights and stuff them with the content of an old pillow or some bubble wrapping. Stitch them onto the top and tie loops at the end so that kids can move their spider legs with their arms.
Perhaps one of the easiest costume options is the Grim Reaper. A black hooded cloak that goes all the way to the ground is all that is needed along with a white swimming cap to hide their hair. Face paints to make their faces white and add big black eyes and a cardboard scythe finish the outfit.
For the girls, a witch is a good choice. Pick up a witches hat from the shop and decorate as you like. A feathered scarf is a good addition to the outfit and a coordinating top and skirt to match the hat colour is needed. You can cut out paper or cardboard stars and other shapes to stitch onto the clothes for that witch chic. Then some makeup or face paints will finish the look.
With all the elements of Halloween it is easy to find food that can be transformed into something spooky or gory. For instance, Dracula cookies are an easy quick option. Take some chocolate chip cookies and cut them in half. Put some red jam on one side of each then stick some white marshmallow pieces in to resemble teeth. For the fangs, slide some slivers of almond between the marshmallows – instant vampire cookies.
Mummified cake pops are great fun. Make up a batch on sticks with white icing or chocolate. Then drizzle white chocolate across them to resemble bandages and put two black dots of icing on each on for eyes. A little bit of tattered cloth wrapped around each stick will finish the look nicely.
For cupcake fans, the ideas are endless. Green icing and some witches legs sticking out is one design while spiders webs iced into a flat cake is another great look. Using biscuits to make grave stones and have them sticking out of crumbly chocolate icing works well for spooky cemetery cakes while a simple iced face on a white cake makes for a ghoulishly tasty snack.
If carving a pumpkin is a bit too much for you, why not make oranges into carved lanterns instead? Cut the top off the orange and scoop out the middle then cut out eyes, a nose and a funny mouth. You can even add jelly inside them and leave to set before carving the face.
Main Image by: Kenny Louie