Halloween has become one of the big dates of the year in recent times, and parties and celebration to mark it are becoming very popular. When your children are too little to go trick or treating out on the streets, having a party at home is a good alternative. Follow our top tips to have a spooky night to remember!
Apple bobbing Get a great big basin and fill with water, and float apples in it. Each child has to try and grab an apple using their teeth – the fun comes as the apples tend to slide away from little mouths, so that everyone gets thoroughly, fabulously soaked. If you’re worried about your floors, put down waterproof sheets in advance!
Balloon popping Pop treats, such as small toys or sweets, into orange balloons, blow them up and add leaves made out of green paper to look like pumpkins. Encourage the children to jump on the balloons to pop them, and when they do they win the treat inside. Noisy, messy and fun!
Pin the tail on the witch’s cat A variation on pin the tail on the donkey – draw a big black cat, blu tac the picture to the wall and get each child to wear a blindfold and attempt to stick on the cutout tail. Winner is the closest!
SIMPLE, CREEPY CRAFT IDEAS
All you need for these ideas is sheets of card in orange and black, plenty of glue sticks, some sheets of coloured tissue and some cotton wool balls. And plenty of crayons for colouring!
Glowing pumpkins Cut out a pile of orange card pumpkins, with holes for the eyes and mouth. Then get the children to glue sheets of coloured tissue to the back of the pumpkins – when you put them on the windows, the light will shine through. If the children are confident with scissors, they can cut out the pumpkin shapes themselves with supervision.
Fluffy ghosts Cut out basic ghost shapes from cardboard, as well as two eyes and a mouth for each. Make a hole in the top of each so you can add string later. Then get the children to glue on little cotton wool balls all over each shape, and the eyes and mouths on top. Thread string through the holes to hang the ghosts around the house.
Halloween colouring Visit activityvillage.co.uk for lots of printable Halloween colouring sheets and things to cut out.
There are lots of other Halloween craft ideas on the Make and Colour section of the cbeebies.co.uk.
One brilliant way to capture the Halloween spirit is with some gruesome food. Here are some ideas:
Snakes and eyeballs
- Cook up a panful of spinach tagliatelle – this green variety is readily available in most supermarkets
- Pop some tomato sauce in the middle of each serving of tagliatelle for a pool-of-blood effect, then
- Garnish with mini mozzarella balls, topping each with half a back olive. You’ll be amazed how much they look like eyeballs in a bowl of writhing snakes!
- Bake or fry a batch of skinny, chipolata sausages
- Chop the end off each sausage
- Cut fingernail shapes from slices of mild cheddar cheese and pop on the unbroken end of each sausage
- Pop a couple of sausages on each plate, and (as long as your little ones are not too squeamish!) squirt the broken ends with ketchup so that they look like bleeding fingers.
Mashed potato ghosts
Cook up a batch of mash, then mould it into small ghost shapes. Add spooky eyes with halved black olives; these are great to serve with the sausage fingers above.
- Make a batch of jelly and before it’s fully set, poke in brightly-coloured gummy snakes, so that half of each snake is poking out the top
- When the jelly is set, crumble Oreo biscuits over the top, so that it looks as if the snakes are crawling out of the earth!
Mini pumpkin tangerines
These are really simple – just draw pumpkin faces with black felt tip on some tangerines! This one is ideal for children to help you with – it’s a great way for little hands to practice gripping and drawing, and most of all – fun!
BE DANGER AWARE
We all remember the horrific occasion a couple of years ago when TV presenter Claudia Winkelman’s daughter, Matilda, suffered terrible injuries after her Halloween costume was set alight by a pumpkin lantern. There’s a fantastic range of ready-made, great value costumes available these days, but they do tend to be made from highly flammable, man-made fabrics. When you combine that with the high chances of people putting real tea-light candles in their pumpkin lanterns, you get a potentially very hazardous situation.
So what can you do? It can be tricky to steer small children away from the fabulous-looking costumes, but making your own at home could be a fun activity to share, and it can be as simple, or as complicated, as you choose. When using clothes your children already own as a basis for a fun Halloween costume, you can be confident the materials are much safer, and less flammable, than the materials used for shop-bought Halloween costumes (which don’t have to comply with the same strict safety standards as other children’s clothes).
It’s also worthwhile to be very aware of any loose fabrics wafting around (such as trailing cloaks and witches’ dresses) and to keep your child in your sight at all times. With Matilda, the worst of her burns were caused by the tights as they were so difficult to peel off her skin, so if you do decide to choose a shop-bought costume, consider avoiding the tights that come with many of them. But most importantly, avoid real candles. If you’re having a party at your home, you can use LED tealights that are now widely available inside lanterns instead of candles, and ask friends and relatives to do the same. If you’re out trick or treating, keep a close eye for lanterns outside houses and steer children away if you spot any with real candles inside.
HAVE A HAPPY AND HORRIBLE HALLOWEEN!
Read our blog on Halloween costume safety
Download our free Halloween safety guide
Written for the Pre-school Learning Alliance by Siobhan Godwood.