It's nearly that time of year again. Time to deck the house out with carved pumpkins, cobwebs and fake spiders and don your very best spooky costume. That's right, it's almost Halloween, the spookiest, scariest night of the year. And yet, thanks to the way the coronavirus pandemic has changed the world, this year, celebrations will look a little different.
As per new government restrictions, it's unlikely there will be lots of knocking door-to-door for sweets or trick or treating this year. Plus, we reckon apple bobbing with people outside of your household may be off the cards given that some areas of the UK are being asked to lockdown again, as rates rise.
Halloween isn't cancelled—it's just time to get creative. Scroll for 12 fun Halloween ideas from a whole host of party planners, family influencers, creative directors and more. Have fun (while staying safe and within government guidelines, of course).
12 fun Halloween ideas to try with kids
1. A rather spooky treasure hunt
"If you’re stuck in the house, there’s nothing more entertaining and exploratory than a treasure hunt! Draw up some clues you for your kids, or get them to write their own, and get cracking with your very own spooky Halloween hunt", says Sarah Allsop, creative manager at Party Delights.
2. Get creative with carving your pumpkin
An obvious one, but a classic nonetheless. "Carve your own pumpkin is one of the best ways to join in the fun, whether you can trick or treat or not. This is one of those activities that can be done as normal if you’re at home with family. If you want to increase the party size, you could make this a Zoom affair, with other families showing their amazing creations," Sarah explains.
Alternatively, she suggests heading to the park, given your area allows it, and enjoying some socially distanced pumpkin carving. Just don’t forget to take your rubbish home with you.
3. Tell your scariest stories
Now it wouldn't be Halloween without a scary story. Whether you prefer to just put on a movie—Hocus Pocus, anyone? — or invent your own spooky stories amongst one another, you'll be in for some seriously ghastly fun.
Not so keen? Take the party online, suggests Sarah "There are lots of other traditional Halloween events that can be done over webcam, like telling spooky stories. Why not use a torch under your face to create a ghoulish glow?".
4. Halloween-ify your favourite activity
Stories not up your street? Don't fret, says Sarah—as above, there are so many options of fun things to do. Why not think of your favourite thing to do, and Halloween-ify it? "If you like dressing up, have a waist-up costume parade. If jokes are your thing, share some ghastly jokes. Or, if you're into movies, why not watch a scary movie together?," she suggests. The sky's your limit.
5. Get crafty
"Halloween is one of the best times of the year to crack out the glitter and pom poms," shares Sarah. Not sure where to start? "There are lots of Halloween crafts you could try out, including making or decorating a Halloween tree, making some jam jar Halloween decorations, making and play tin can bowling, or even crafting your own bunting." You could even have a scary craft competition—the spookiest entry, wins.
6. Whip up some scary edible masterpieces
"Why not get your trick or treaters in the kitchen to stir up some (tasty) magic? Little monsters of any age can benefit from spending time in the kitchen. From peeling to grating, mixing and rolling, there are lots of simple tasks for tiny hands and Halloween is the ideal time to get started," explains leading children’s cookery author Annabel Karmel.
One idea? "Unleash their inner Picasso by getting creative with their edible masterpieces. Task them with creating faces on their morning Dracula Buttermilk Pancakes or making a Skeleton Veggie Dip (that is, arranging their veg into a scary skeleton shape). It's the ultimate spooky savoury snack."
7. Get bat watching
Fun fact: there are currently 17 species of bat found in Britain. "However, over the last 50 years, we are sadly seeing the population decline. Creating a bat-friendly environment at home in your garden could help keep bats flying the night sky in the numbers they should, and provide a little spooky entertainment for your children, who can try to spot the creatures on a dark night," suggests Kate Turner, gardener at Miracle-Gro.
"Bats often go unseen, unsurprising as they are active during the night whilst we are tucked up in bed. To encourage them to your garden, increase food supply and provide shelter to create a bat-friendly garden. Bats prey on insects (some considered pests) such as mosquitoes, moths, and midges. Growing particular plants helps as certain flowers attract moths and other creatures (great snacks for a hungry bat)."
"During the day, bats hide in dark places, such as in hollow trees and under tiles. Bat boxes can be found in garden centres or made from scratch from untreated, unplanned wood – giving your garden bats a safe place to rest," she concludes.
8. Conduct a spooky food experiment
This one's a good'un. "Why not do a ‘spooky food experiment’ where you choose a mix of different textured food and kids have to guess what they are?," suggests Grace Willis, founder of Happy Little Eaters. "Think leftover pumpkin flesh and seeds, jelly, wiggly worms and apple puree—you can really get creative here. This is a great game for sensory play," she adds.
9. Craft your own skulls
Not literally. "One fun suggestion—get the kids busy on crafting their own skulls. Think fabrics, gems, buttons—whatever you can find! Create a crafting station where they can let their imaginations go wild," suggests award-winning party planner, Liz Taylor of the Taylor Lynn Corporation.
10. Get inventive with the face paint
Again, not the most novelty, but we guarantee the kids will love this one—especially if you let them do it themselves. "A face painting session, whether you do it or lets the kids do it, to create that signature look, is always a winner," Liz continues.
Stuck for ideas? Don't worry—we've got a whole host of Halloween make up tutorials for you.
11. Set up a torchlight treasure hunt
Keen to keep everyone entertained? You'll like this one. "Create a torchlight treasure hunt in your garden with kids having to find each skull-painted pumpkin. They should recall where they found each skull they find to complete the challenge. Of course, each pumpkin could result in a sweet treat, should you wish," explains Liz.
12. Play fancy dress pass the parcel
You'll likely already be dressed up for the fun, but if not—get ready for a few speed rounds of fancy dress bingo. "Something that always works well is having a Halloween dress-up box with lots of different items," shares children’s mental health campaigner and co-founder of The Positive Doodle Diary Finn Prevett. "Everyone has to pick an outfit and then swap every 20 minutes. This makes the party fun for children and helps to reinforce the important concept of sharing from an early age," she concludes.
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Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.
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