Hallowe’en. Please note the apostrophe. It’s important to me. Just like the one in St Valentine’s Day. If it’s not there, I get a bit twitchy. Hallowe’en.
We normally do the whole Trick or Treat thing for Hallowe’en. We live in a lovely cul de sac where lots of our neighbours have kids or grandchildren. There are a few very elderly folk so we’re careful to only knock on the doors of houses with pumpkins or decorations in the window. And we only do our own street.
My youngest is nearly two so this is the first year that she’s really been old enough to join in properly. Except we’ve got other plans for Hallowe’en. I’m taking the eldest to London for the day with my best mate. Husband is staying home with the littl’un to answer the door to other Trick or Treaters.
So we’re going to have our Hallowe’en early. But we can’t go out Trick or Treating the night before. That would be all kinds of wrong. So what to do?
We always have an expertly* carved pumpkin in the window with a tealight inside. I usually draw a face on before sculpting/hacking but today I spotted a handy free template sheet in Tesco. On the back it has instructions for making lanterns from old tin cans.
(*amateur at best)
The various pound shops do fun stuff for, well, a quid. It’s cheap and tacky but so is Hallowe’en! We pack it all away in the loft every year, just like our Christmas decs. Did I mention tacky? …
Yes, that is a tinsel pumpkin.
This kids’ costumes are always bought cheaply from a supermarket or pound shop. There really is no sense in spending lots of money on something that has limited use and will possibly get wrecked at a party or out in the autumn weather! I always buy several sizes too big so they last two or three years. This year I bought a second hand pumpkin costume for the littlest from a friend. It’s in excellent condition due to it only being worn once or twice!
Making paper ghosts and pumpkins
These are very simple for even young children. Fold a white sheet of paper in half, draw a rough ghost shape and cut out. If your kids are very young, they can draw it with a crayon and you can do the cutting. Use orange paper for pumpkins or get the kids to colour in the white paper. Stick them up in the window or thread them onto some string/wool to make bunting.
Classic. Put a towel on the floor and some apples in a big bowl of water. The aim of the game is to get an apple out of the bowl using only your teeth. Obviously, be very careful with little children around water and do not leave them unattended at any stage.
We’re going on a ghost hunt
We do this every year. Indoors if it’s lashing down or if you don’t have a garden; outdoors if you can bear it. Find a plain black and white ghost image using Clip Art and print out a dozen. Cut them out and hide them all over the house/garden. If you don’t have a printer, just make your own by hand. This year, because we’re not going trick or treating, I’ve bought some little Hallowe’en treats to hide with the ghosts.
We’ll get wrapped up in hats, coats, gloves and wellies. My children are usually asleep by the time it gets dark, so tramping about outside at night time with their little buckets, looking for hidden treasure, is full of excitement for them.
Trick or Treating
Here is my health and safety advice for a happy Hallowe’en.
My mum always says “wear white at night”. A lot of kids’ coats have reflective strips these days but if not, buy your child a white hat or gloves. It really will make it easier for cars to see them when they’re out after dark.
I always have a bowl of treats by the door on Hallowe’en night for any callers. I only offer individually wrapped sweets and I only ever let my children eat wrapped ones they’ve collected. Possibly a bit of paranoia on my part but better safe than sorry.
From one parent to another, if you are going out Trick or Treating, BEWARE THE DOG POO!!! I found this in the pound shop. It’ll help to light your way and avoid any nasty Hallowe’en horrors walked across the carpet when you get home.
A few years ago I found purple baking potatoes and black bell peppers in Sainsbury’s. I don’t know if they have them every year but they were great fun. And baked potatoes are a staple dish at this time of year, aren’t they?
Lots of supermarkets do themed biscuit decorating kits with icing and sprinkles and are always good, messy fun.
I saw a picture of some fab Hallowe’en jelly online and bought a packet of jelly and some snake sweets ready to make my own with the kids. They’re easy to do and packed full of sugar for rotting the little cherubs’ teeth. Perfect.
Macaroni cheese is a great autumn/winter dish. Proper stodge. You can find my recipe here.
Spicy butternut squash soup
A lovely, warming supper after being out in the cold. Top, tail and de-seed a whole squash. Chop roughly into chunks, toss on a tray with oil, garlic, dried rosemary, black pepper, as many chilli flakes as you can handle and plenty of ground cumin and ginger. Roast at 200˚C for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely chop and fry an onion and carrots in a big pan. When softened, add 2 pints of stock and bring to the boil. I use chicken but you can use veggie if you prefer. When the squash is nicely roasted, add this to the pan, making sure you scrape all the lovely flavours from the bottom of the tray.
Let it simmer for a few minutes so the flavours can mingle, then remove from the heat and whizz up with a hand blender until smooth. If it’s too thick, simply add hot water. By all means stir in some cream if you wish. Serve with crusty bread and proper butter.