Giving your Halloween bash a spine-chilling theme doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but clever planning can make all the difference. Crêpe paper cut into ribbons and hung from the ceiling makes a good ‘scary creeper’ effect. Rubber spiders dangled on elastic or dotted over your refreshment table can be bought in bulk from most good party suppliers, as can fake cobwebs, which can be used again next year if packed away carefully. Make spooky ghosts by draping white helium balloons in large squares of cheese cloth and securing them with ribbon, so the loose ends of the fabric hang down. Then use a black marker to draw a ghoulish face and use them to decorate entrances, stairwells and empty corners. Buy a few cheap torches and place cut-out shapes of ghosts, cats and scary faces in black craft card over the lighted end. Place them strategically around the room and dim the lights. Equally, don’t fork out on heaps of witches’ hats. They are super-easy to make using black craft card and a stapler.
Useful links www.coolest-party-ideas.com/homemade-halloween-decorations and www.familymanagement.com/holidays/halloween/party.ideas.html
Cut 20 Halloween shapes, such as spiders, cats and pumpkins from different coloured craft card. Each shape should be about the size of credit card. Place the shapes in a pile beside a small bowl. Using the straw as a vacuum, each contestant tries to pick up a shape and place it in the bowl to create the witch’s stew. Time the players to see who can get all 10 in the bowl the fastest.
Tip Cut out several sets of shapes and let the players race head to head against the clock
Monster Mash relay
Make two pairs of scary feet by drawing the outline of a monster foot (about 15 inches from heel to toe) on thick cardboard (an old Masafi box is perfect). Cut a tissue box in half and stick it on top of the foot base using masking tape. Make four feet, and then paint them all sorts of creepy colours. You can also add some shaggy strips of fake fur to complete the look. Then divide the children into two teams, and let the races begin.
Tip This game is more fun if the children actually have to behave like monsters while they’re racing, so lots of roaring, growling and silly monster running is required
Witch’s hat treasure hunt
Think up a series of clues that will lead the players from one place to the next. Then print or write the clues onto labels and secure them to several black witches’ hats made from craft card. Hide the clues in the appropriate spots. To start the game, give the guests a clue that leads to the first hat, which will lead to the next one, and so on to the prize: a stash of Halloween goodies to divide up and take home.
Tip Hide the treasure in a scooped out pumpkin for added effect
Useful links www.partygameideas.com/halloween-games and www.pumpkinnook.com/hween/games.htm
Dressing up on a budget
Kitting your kids out in fab costumes doesn’t always require an expensive trip to the fancy dress shop. With a little imagination, some sheets of coloured craft card and a stapler, you really can create some scary masterpieces. Tin foil can be used to cover a cardboard cutlass, and you can make a princess hat by making a cone and tucking a shimmery long scarf into the hole in the top. Don’t limit yourselves to the usual bedsheet ghost costumes or zombie get-ups. Halloween offers limitless dressing up opportunities, from fairies and animals to more off-the-wall creations, such as washing machines and even sandwiches. Don’t forget the internet is a fantastic resource for inspiration, which saves you having draw things yourself. Decorate a pirate’s hat with skull and crossbones, or find all manner of black cat, spider, bat, ghost and pumpkin templates to decorate your costumes.
Useful links www.familyfun.go.com/halloween/halloween-kids-costumes and www.coolest-homemade-costumes.com
Making a few frightening dishes is really easy. Add orange colouring to plain cupcakes and top them with black glacé icing for a creepy pumpkin effect. Green jelly filled with chunks of strawberry, whole raspberries and raisins (for fake bugs) also makes a great ‘monster slime’ dessert. Tubes of icing that you can write with are perfect for jazzing up a plate of plain cookies. Knock up a batch of ‘scary-faced biccies’ in a trice, adding smarties for googly eyeballs or black licorice laces for spidery legs. And don’t forget the raspberry sauce – either homemade or shop-bought, it makes every pud ghoulishly good.
Useful links www.parents.com and www.foodnetwork.com/halloween