When is Halloween? It’s only two months until the spookiest of holidays! Celebrated on the last day of October, the 31st, Halloween is the creepiest of all festive celebrations.
The origin of Halloween can be traced back to the feast of Samhain, one of the ancient quarterly festivals, when bonfires were lit during the darkening evenings of autumn, and early British tribes believed the barriers between the living and the dead were thinned.
These traditions are still seen in action today in many cultures that venerate their ancestors on this date.
A Mexican Halloween celebration involves people visiting the graves of their deceased relatives and they make altars with photographs of their loved ones who have passed, decorated with candles and beautiful orange marigold flowers.
This holiday is also known as the feast of All Souls in the Catholic church, where church members pray for the souls of the departed and is followed the next day by the feast of All Saints on November 1st.
Other religious groups that notably celebrate Halloween are Pagans and Wiccans. While there are no formal churches or mandates for these groups, Halloween is a particularly celebrated feast day.
A Wiccan Halloween celebration might involve attending a moot or gathering of like-minded people to celebrate their beliefs. Samhain is seen by many as the changing point of the year, when summer and fruitfulness are over and the seasons turn to colder and less productive times.
Likewise at a Pagan Halloween celebration Pagans and Wiccans will gather, light a bonfire and share in the bounty of the harvest season while preparing for the leaner months ahead.
It is impossible now to say when the first Halloween celebration took place. That event has been lost in the mists of time.
European records show that feast days were celebrated at this time of year from before Roman times and from there the holiday has spread though out the rest of the world.
As the feast of Samhain was celebrated by British tribes throughout history, when the huge influx of Irish immigrants arrived on American shores, they brought those traditions with them.
Halloween is a big event in America, the nation that brought trick or treating and fancy-dress costumes to new heights, but for a Halloween celebration in England in the 1970’s pumpkins were a rare sight in supermarkets.
The carving of a turnip lantern was commonplace, which is a much tougher vegetable than the bigger glamorous orange pumpkins we can buy these days, and much harder to carve!
Today there is an amazing array of fantastic works of art that are carved into pumpkins for Halloween.
Halloween pumpkin stencils can help the less artistic create fabulous designs that will amaze the kids when you light them up with a candle or LED light and place them on your doorstep to welcome an army of trick or treaters to your home.
The range of Halloween pumpkin designs available covers horror movie themes, cute pumpkin styles, faces, animals, all manner of intricate designs are possible with a stencil and a steady hand.
Halloween pumpkin faces are still the most popular and traditional designs, incorporating triangular eyes and jagged teeth. With these tips you can impress all your neighbours with your Halloween pumpkin carving skills.
Pumpkins are not the only Halloween decoration for your home (though they are the essential one!), whether you are hosting a party or just celebrating the season with family there are many ways to decorate your home to enter into the spooky spirit.
The shops will soon be overflowing with spiders, bats, ghouls and goblins – but many Halloween decorations are really easy and cheap to make yourself.
Make some scary Halloween decorations using crepe paper and scissors to make some paper chain bats, pumpkins, ghosts or scared Halloween cats.
Just think of the paper chains of figures holding hands you made when you were young and let your imagination run riot! Drape a balloon with an old dust sheet for an instant ghost decoration.
Be creative with up-lit torches and coloured cellophane sheets to create atmospheric Halloween lights but best of all, don’t forget to decorate yourself!
The tradition of dressing up in scary Halloween costumes to visit the neighbours goes back as far at the sixteenth century in Europe.
Nowadays there is a huge array of Halloween outfits available to be bought on the high street and online, however lots of people still take a great amount of pleasure of creating their own outfits from thrift store finds and some creativity.
Making costumes for the children is a huge market and parents can easily find themselves overspending on costumes and accessories.
It is also easy to forget the spirit of the season and pick any old dress up outfit, but remember this is the spookiest time of the year, dare to scare!
Understandably not everyone wants to dress their tiny tots as the undead or dripping in fake blood, but the cutest toddler Halloween costumes have to be baby pumpkins.
For the grown-ups it’s a great time to have a huge amount of fun with gory face paints and make up, zombies, vampires, undead, mummies, there are so many opportunities to try and gross out your friends at a grown-up Halloween party it would be boring not to try!
With the growth of cosplay and amazing fan-based costumes and make up online it would be foolish to ignore the huge amount of inspiration available from the world of horror movies.
Jason Voorhees, Pennywise, Freddie Krueger, Jack Torrance and Michael Myers are just a few horror movie icons that would get an amazing reaction when you make your grand entrance at the party.
Couples Halloween costumes mean you can team up as villain and heroine, Frankenstein and his Bride, Red Riding Hood and the (Were) wolf, The Mummy and Cleopatra.
You could also try some sexy Halloween costumes for women!
Zombie walks have become a modern city phenomena, often raising huge sums of money for charity and are an amazing spectacle on the streets of many of our major cities.
Often organised around Halloween time, if zombies are your thing, then have a search online and see if you can spot your favourite film, TV or game zombie in the crowd and get some costume inspiration too!
If all else fails you can keep everyone guessing with a scary Halloween mask, a super easy Halloween costume option or just have fun with some scary Halloween makeup.
If, like me, you’re a huge fan of the scary season then you can prolong the holiday when you get your manicure, ask your nail technician for some Halloween nails.
But the main night is, of course, October 31st and the night to host your best ever Halloween party. You have your costume perfected, the pumpkins are carved and lit on the doorstep, the house is decorated in chains of bats, and the spooky lighting is in place.
Find the biggest bowl in the house, whether it’s the mixing bowl you bake with or a decent clean bucket, swath it in crepe paper and fill it full of Halloween sweets and candy for your little trick or treat visitors.
Leave it near the front door so it is accessible for your trick or treaters and make sure it’s off limits to little party guests.
Whether you let the trick or treaters help themselves or ration out the supplies is up to you, just make sure there is never ending supply of sugary stickiness for the little demons at the door. You wouldn’t want the little darlings to play a trick now, would you?
Feeding your party guests is also going to take a bit of time and planning to organise, but as with any party, doing as much ahead of time as possible is the key to ensuring you have as good a time as your guests do.
Pumpkin flavoured dishes are very seasonal, and you should have plenty of pumpkin spare after you’ve carved those amazing pumpkins on the doorstep! The best savoury Halloween food has to be Pumpkin soup.
It is nourishing and warming for autumn evenings and can be made the day before the party ready to re-heat and keep warm on the stove for your revellers to help themselves.
Another nice Halloween food idea for adults is to roast off the pumpkin seeds in the oven with some salt, thyme and paprika for another tasty nutritious nibble.
Pumpkin pie is also easy to make in advance and is a great Halloween recipe.
There are so many fun Halloween party foods to make for Halloween it would be impossible to list them all here.
My favourite Halloween food ideas for kids are ‘mummies fingers’ – hot dogs wrapped in pastry with almond fingernails, a bowl of ‘demon eyeballs’ – pimento stuffed olives and ‘Snakes nest’ – candy worms set in jelly.
A fun Halloween activity with the little ones is to invest in a few Halloween biscuit cutters and make some Halloween cookies, Halloween cupcakes, Halloween biscuits and Halloween cakes with some garish coloured icing.
Your kitchen might never look the same again, but you’ll have some fantastic memories of Halloween baking with your little ones and some sweet treats for the party too!
Make sure your refreshment table has plenty of ‘potions’ available. Make use of any old bottle you have or demijohns and decanters, fill them with soda and pop and label them with Halloween drink names such as ‘sleeping potion’ ‘love philtre’ and ‘transmogrification elixir’.
Though it’s tempting to pick out fizzy pop in crazy colours for Halloween drinks, remember what lots of colours and sugar might to do already hyper kids and try to pick some of the healthier choices if you can.
You will want your house to look normal again before winter!
If your party is for grown-ups you can think about setting up a mini bar and roping in one of your friends or co-hosts to be bar tender for the evening.
Again, there are so many Halloween cocktails you could have fun with creating.
Find recipes online, make a fun pre-party afternoon of planning your bar list with friends or stick to some tried and tested recipes that fit the theme – Bloody Mary comes to mind straight away.
You could name some of your cocktails after horror movies, mythical scary creatures, scary film or TV characters.
Of course, you should drink sensibly, it’s not a fun party if you end up ill because you have over indulged.
Make sure you have a good range of alcohol-free options for drivers and non-drinkers who will be at your party.
Now you have your costume sorted, your décor, food and drinks prepped you need to finish off the party of the year with the right ambience.
Curate some Halloween songs with a spooky music track list on your favourite music streaming service. This is another fun activity to get your friends, kids and co-hosts involved with.
See who can come up with the most tenuous spooky themed songs, even just a word in the song title or artist can count! Make sure you have lots of tunes as the monster mash on repeat can get a bit boring!
Think about your neighbours and where you live when setting the music volume. (Inviting the neighbours to the party helps a lot here!)
And of course Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without a scary movie. Have a TV set up somewhere quiet if you have film fans visiting, and pick your top three scary Halloween movies. You will want to make sure the films are age appropriate, and have a favourite kids Halloween movie playing in a chill out room.
One last thing you can think about for your Halloween event, whether it’s a party for the whole street or just you and the kids having some spooky fun, are activities to either break the ice or create some memories.
Halloween party games for the spooky season can have an extra edge of fright power, try and scare everyone at least once. (Except the very little kids, let’s not freak them out too much!)
If you can arrange for all the lights to go out at least once during the party you’re guaranteed some screams, but make sure they go back on quickly and safely to avoid accidents.
Apple bobbing is a tradition in Britain that goes back to the Romans and is a lot harder than it sounds. Best set up in the garden or yard, a large container is filled with water and some apples floated in it.
Contestants try to grab the apple with their teeth, hands are banned, sometimes the hands are tied behind the back to prevent cheating. If someone managed to grip and apple in their teeth they win a prize, but trust me, though it sounds easy, it can be really hard to get a grip on those floating apples.
Make sure you have some funny prizes ready wrapped for your winners to entice everyone to take part. Pin the tail on the Werewolf, blind man’s buff, Ring toss onto the witch’s hat, there are many possibilities.
Think about games you have played at other parties and see if you can put a spooky spin on them, see what games you already have around the house that can be adapted by adding spiders, skeletons or pumpkins. Easiest of all you can make a scary Halloween treasure hunt, another activity you can get everyone involved in preparing for and can be done in advance of the big day.
Have some costume themed prizes and an awards show with a mini catwalk; best homemade costume, scariest costume, a booby prize for the costume that isn’t Halloween themed at all (there will be at least one Disney princess or Marvel superhero, I promise you!).
Try and keep at least one part of the party zone as a quiet place with some quieter Halloween games for kids if you are having lots of little ones around.
Lots of overstimulation can result in fractious over-tired tots, so have a quiet space with bean bags or a sofa, cushions, blankets and a low stimulus environment where frazzled kids and parents can take a time out if needed.
Ask other parents if they can take turns in reading aloud a slightly spooky story.
Add some crafty activities, Halloween colouring pages for kids to make some Halloween drawings, books and it can be a refuge for the shyer kids to enjoy the party too.
When the apples are bobbed, the tricksters are treated and the Halloween face paints have melted into a muddy smear and it is time to say goodbye to your guests, it is also time to hand out the Halloween treat bags. When making up your party bags, try to think of eco alternatives for your Halloween gifts your guests can take away and remember your party as the best ever.
Use paper bags and personalise them with the guests’ names. Another task you can delegate to your kids for an hour of quiet while you make pumpkin soup!
Give your kids a colour palette of green, red, orange and black crayons, or whatever colours you like for the season and let them run wild on the paper bags. Use stamps, googly eyes, glitter, whatever you can tolerate on the kitchen table.
Fill the bags with some treats, but try to avoid plastic toys that will just end up in landfill. Add their own colouring page for them to do at home, a spider made from a lollipop and pipe cleaners, bookmarks decorated with pumpkins, witches and ghosts for spooky Halloween reads and yet more sweeties and candies.
And most of all, make sure you enjoy the fun of the season too, have a Happy Halloween! If you are hosting a party delegate jobs and prepare ahead so you can have some fun too. Enjoy the time with friends and family and don’t exhaust yourself to the point of burn out. After all, we know what’s coming next, don’t we?
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