Halloween is almost upon us once more, and even if you can’t go out trick or treating, there’s lots of fun to be had at home

By Katie Campbell

Sweet, sweet Halloween – ’tis the season to be spooky, and a time for ghouls and goblins alike to don their disguises, take to the streets and entertain neighbours in exchange for the hallowed seasonal currency of fun-sized sweeties and the occasional peanut. For some kids, the opportunity to dress up and go trick or treating (or guising as it’s known in Scotland, where you’re expected to perform before you get sweets), but with the pandemic still looming over us like a spectre, it may not be safe for your children to head out with their friends, much like last year. 

Fear not, however, as Halloween is as much an indoor sport as an outdoor one, and there are many ways to get into spooky season while keeping your family as safe as you can… outwith the occasional haunting, of course.

Do You Like Scary Movies?
Horror movies and Halloween were made for each other, and there’s something nice about watching a movie that gets you in a spooky mood, just like you’d do at Christmastime. Of course, the standard Halloween fare may be inappropriate for younger viewers, so picking a movie for Halloween can seem like a bit of a daunting task. Fear not, for younger people needn’t worry about missing out with some of our favourite festive picks to get you into the spooky spirit.

The Addams Family (1991)
Halloween - Addams FamilyBased on the New Yorker comic series by Charles Addams, The Addams Family movie stars Anjelica Huston and Raúl Juliá as Morticia and Gomez Addams respectively, the heads of a macabre and gothic family who are powerfully, irrevocably in love with each other. A black comedy, the movie sees Gomez’s brother Fester – played by Christopher Lloyd – return after getting lost in the Bermuda Triangle, brainwashed and duped into stealing his family’s fortune for a con artist. The movie is ideal for older children, but the jokes that go over their heads will land with adults. 

Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Halloween - Hotel TransylvaniaThe Hotel Transylvania series sees classic Universal Monsters (like Frankenstein and Dracula) take a more light-hearted approach to cinema than traditional monster movies you might see them in. There are three Hotel Transylvania movies available across streaming services for you to sink your teeth into, with a fourth coming out (hopefully) this year. The first movie sees us visit Hotel Transylvania, a hotel run by Count Dracula for monsters to holiday at without fear of being sighted by humans, which comes under jeopardy as a human stumbles upon it and falls for his daughter, Mavis.

Dracula (1931)
Halloween - DraculaHear us out: it might be a long shot, but 1931’s Dracula is the OG horror movie and stars horror icon, Bella Lugosi, as the Count himself. By modern standards, the movie (and many other Universal Monster movies, like Frankenstein or The Invisible Man) aren’t particularly terrifying as a lot of the action happens off-screen, but will certainly still put a healthy fear into older children and teenagers. It’s based, of course, on the Bram Stoker novel of the same name, and sees main character Renfield travel to the Count’s castle in Transylvania on matters of business, only to find himself embroiled in matters supernatural, and needing the help of one Van Helsing to save him.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Halloween - Little Shop of HorrorsFeed me Seymour, feed me! Despite this schlocky 1986 horror-comedy-musical being rated PG, it might be worth taking a little time to see how appropriate it is for your kids as there’s a bit of comic violence and some sex references that may not sit well with some kids – you know what’s best for your offspring. In this classic movie, Seymour Krelborn works as a florist and pines after co-worker Audrey; one day he discovers a strange new plant that revitalises the wilting flower shop, but he soon discovers that Audrey II wants more than soil and sunlight, and craves foodstuff a little more… human.

Trick Or Treat Yourself
If going door-to-door is not something your family can do this year, why not try making your own treats for Halloween? Around this time of year, you’re able to pick up Halloween-themed sweets very easily, so there’s nothing to stop you from grabbing some fancy sweets and having your own Halloween talent show with the family where the reward for a good tall tale or a tight five-minute stand-up set. Alternatively, if you’re feeling fancy, you might like to try making your own! You can buy biscuit cutters in the traditional spooky shapes (ghost, tombstone, bat, maybe a skull) for under £5 on cake decorating websites and Amazon, making spooky cookies can be a fun family activity for Halloween. If you don’t already have one, here’s a basic recipe for you to get started:

Sugar Cookies
(Adapted from Mari Williams’ recipe on BBC Food)

Halloween cookies250g butter
250g caster sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
500g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt

Royal Icing
2 egg whites
1tsp lemon juice
1tsp glycerine
450g icing sugar
Food colouring

– Beat the butter and sugar in a big bowl, using an electric mixer if you have one (it can get very tiring to do by hand). Once the butter has changed in colour from a bright yellow to very pale and almost white, add in the eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of the flour, then mix again until they’re all well-combined.

– In a separate bowl, sift your flour, salt and baking powder to make sure there are no lumps in it. Spread some additional flour down on a clean work surface, and add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing them until they’re combined.

– Tip the mixture onto the floured surface, then cover your hands in flour and begin kneading the dough until it’s completely combined – don’t be afraid to add a little more flour to the work surface if the dough is sticking! It should start quite wet, but more kneading will bring into a shiny, smooth ball. Once it gets to that stage, cut the dough ball into two, wrap it up in clingfilm, and pop it in the fridge for an hour. This prevents the dough from spreading too much when you eventually get it into the oven.

– Preheat your oven to 170°C/150°C fan, and line two baking trays using greaseproof paper.

– Roll the dough out using a rolling pin, one dough ball at a time (leaving the others in the fridge when you’re not using it) until it’s about half a centimetre in thickness, then use your fancy Halloween cutters to cut shapes out of the dough. Place them on the baking trays with lots of space in between to stop your cookies from spreading into each other.

– Cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Let them cool for 15 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack if you have one, and let them sit until they are cool to the touch and have no heat in them.

– To make the icing, separate the yolks from two eggs. Whip them up until they form soft peaks, then sift in the icing sugar a little at a time, whisking until it all disappears into the egg whites. Add the glycerine and the lemon juice too.

– Once everything is incorporated, whisk it again until the mixture is smooth and shiny, and holds stiff peaks when you lift the beaters out. Divide into different bowls and add food colouring as desired, before putting into icing bags and using to decorate cooled cookies.

Halloween pumpkin

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Costume Change
Halloween is the same date every year, but you’d think it changed given how many people seem to be shocked by it sneaking up on them, leaving them in no way dressed up, but with somewhere to go. Then again, people have busy lives, and not everyone is a dedicated lover of spooky season. If you or your child find themselves in need ofa costume but unable to get one late in the game, fear not: we have ideas that will save you from an Elle Woods style “I’ve turned up at the party in the wrong ensemble”-style mishap, even if the party is in your own home.

This probably would have started a small riot if suggested at this time last year, but there’s a lot that can be done with the white gold that is loo roll when you’re in a Halloween pinch. Wear a white t-shirt and light-coloured trousers, wrap yourself in toilet roll, and you’ll be ready for the monster’s ball. For longevity, use bandages, but toilet roll might be more widely available in your home.

This requires you to have two things: an orange t-shirt (or a Primark close-by) and black tape, be it gaffer or electrical. Cut the tape into small strips, overlap them, then cut them into the shapes traditionally carved into a pumpkin and stick them to the chest of the t-shirt. Carry a battery-operated candle for additional fun.

Pop Art
Channel your inner Roy Lichtenstein and get the face paints (or makeup) out for this one: turn yourself or your child into a pop art masterpiece by drawing dots and lines on their faces to give them that “straight out of The Tate Modern” look. Using bright colours and bold lines is a must for this east costume.

Another classic “I have no costume but my parents did well in art at school” outfit for those who have access to black and white makeup or face paint. If you have the artistic wherewithal, take a look at Google images before laying down the paint, but it’s a skull – you’ve got one, you probably have a good idea of what it looks like, honestly. 

Article originally appeared in the Oct/Nov 2021 issue of PosAbility Magazine

Main image by Here and now, unfortunately, ends my journey on Pixabay from Pixabay 

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