At last, it’s half term and children everywhere are getting excited about Halloween! It’s great fun to dress up in spooky costumes, go trick-or-treating or enjoy ghostly games—and I have some top tips to make this year’s celebrations extra special.
The perfect pumpkin
The perfect pumpkin or jack o’lantern is a Halloween essential in my house. They’re easy to make and fantastic fun for the kids.
To make one, start by carefully removing the ‘lid’ by cutting away a chunk of the top around the stalk. Next, scoop out the pulp and save the seeds—these make a fantastic snack once roasted or you can use a few to grow your own next year. Next, create your design. My favourite way for transferring a design onto the face of the pumpkin for older kids is to get them to draw a template onto a piece of paper. You can then stick the paper over the pumpkin and prick holes through the lines with a skewer, thereby marking the skin of the fruit where it needs to be carved away. The paper template can then be removed and the flesh cut away to reveal a truly ghoulish face—it can also be re-used if you want several pumpkins that look exactly alike.
For younger children, drawing a design straight onto the pumpkin, or simply painting its surface, can be excellent alternatives. To finish you masterpiece, pop a tea light or battery-operated candle inside the base, before putting the lid back on and surveying your amazing artwork! When your lanterns are spent after Halloween, you can turn them into delicious pumpkin soup with lashings of garlic, olive oil and smoky bacon. A fantastic warmer for after a chilly woodland walk.
A traditional Halloween party game that’s great fun for all the family is apple bobbing. If the kids want to help set things up, your lightweight and flexible YOYO hose makes it easy for
them to fill a large tub with water without any spillages. Using the multi-jet attachment to reduce the water flow is also a good idea as it means that the container fills slowly and nobody gets soaked. Add lots of large apples, and they’ll float around the tub—why not let the kids try to sink them with a blast of water from the YOYO hose and watch as they bob back up.
My kids love it when I add a variety of apples in different colours and, at this time of year, we can freshly pick a range of apples from our orchard. Try mixing the rosy hues of Cripps Pink with the specked sunshine of Golden Delicious and the vibrant green of Granny Smith for a true rainbow of colours. Once the game is ready, have each person try to get an apple out of the water with their teeth—no cheating! The winner is whoever is successful in the fastest time.
Witch or wizard’s broomstick
Out on an autumnal walk, get the kids to spot their ideal fallen branch to serve as a broom handle. Find handfuls of long twigs, straw and bracken to make the bristles. When home, tie these foraged materials securely around one end of the fallen branch using garden string and your spooky broomstick is complete. Use it as a homemade accompaniment to ghoulish witches and wizards costumes at upcoming Halloween parties.
Spooky chalk pictures on the patio
For this next activity, you’ll need a box of brightly coloured chunky pavement chalks or a good supply of ordinary chalk as you’ll wear them away quickly on the rough surface of the patio. Give each child a paving stone to decorate and leave plenty of space in between if possible, to allow your little artists some elbow room. Make sure you’ve got bright white for ghoulish ghosts and scary skeleton pictures, classic orange for Halloween pumpkins and grisly green for maniacal monsters.
You can take photos of each masterpiece for hanging in pride of place on the kitchen fridge. Leave the designs in place as part of your Halloween decorations or let the kids have the fun of blasting the designs away using the jet setting on your YOYO hose. Turning up the power on the multi-jet attachment will remove every last trace of chalk and leave your patio looking spotless again. Once you’ve finished, simply disconnect from the tap and this handy hose shrinks back down to a compact size, ready to be popped away.
Enjoy these top tips for fun Halloween activities this year and keep your kids happy all half-term. See my blog Autumn Activities for Kids and you’ll never run out of ideas.