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How to have a Happy Halloween

Posted on 25 October 2017

Whether you revel in All Hallows’ Eve or prefer to hide away, the goblins and ghouls of 31st October have steadily crept up on us all. We’ve rounded up some of the latest advice for parents on how to keep children entertained, happy and safe amidst the festivities. 

JOLLITY AND JACK O’ LANTERNS – HAVING FUN AT HOME

 Set the scene with themed entertainment, cookery and crafts. Children of all ages will enjoy pumpkin decorating - toddlers can safely scoop, trace and paint, and older children can carve more sophisticated creations. Place the devilish designs on the mantelpiece, the doorstep, or keep an eye out for local pumpkin carving competitions. 

Use online templates to make paper pumpkins, lanterns or friezes with younger children, and fashion makeshift costumes together. Design and decorate bats, skeletons, ghosts or witches and dot them around the house to create that eerie feel.

Gather around the kitchen ‘cauldron’ to rustle up spider-web cakes, ‘maggoty apples’ and other delicious themed treats, and don’t forget the obligatory apple bobbing! Parents who are not keen on buckets of water and drenched, shivering children can hang apples or doughnuts from string instead. Whatever you do, remember there’s no need to spend a fortune to have fun.

TRICK OR TREAT – ‘DOS AND DON’TS’ WHEN OUT AND ABOUT

 Many parents will find it counter-intuitive to allow their children to knock on strangers’ doors after dark. While some simply say no, others worry that this could cause family tension or rebellion. With Halloween’s rising popularity across the UK, parents are increasingly allowing their children to participate, but rest assured that there is plenty of advice on how to keep them safe.  

Under-13s should be accompanied by an adult, and older children are advised to stay in groups and follow a pre-agreed route, ensuring that they are highly visible to traffic and never venture into strangers’ homes. Remind children to behave respectfully towards homeowners, particularly the elderly, and only approach houses where the welcome is obvious. Costumes should be fireproof and trip-hazard free, and masks are best avoided since they hamper vision and some people find them unnerving.

Remember there’s always the option of hosting a party at a private venue or at home instead. This way, children will enjoy all the fun of the festivities while parents remain cool, calm and in control.

‘SPOOK-TACULAR’ PARTIES

 The very nature of Halloween is potentially unsettling so careful planning is key. Whatever your child is up to, make sure it’s both age appropriate and suited to the personalities of the particular children involved. Young children may find it tricky to separate fiction from reality so acknowledge their worries, read them gentle Halloween stories to help manage their fear, and keep things low key. Older children may audaciously claim to be fine with spine-chilling horror films, only to awaken the rest of the family with nightmare screams, so discuss boundaries with children and other parents before finalising or agreeing to plans.

Make informed movie choices and check out age ratings in advance. While one fifteen year old may be un-phased by Pennywise the Clown’s dastardly deeds in the recent film ‘It’, a child of the same age but different temperament may find it disturbing, so be sure to conduct thorough research.

Ground rules established and decorating done, buy in some glow sticks, turn on some suitable tunes, and choose from a huge range of Halloween games. There’s plenty on offer for toddlers and ‘tweens’. For teenagers, agree a guest list and party plan which they can implement safely and independently. Themed ‘mocktails’, a ‘make your own costume’ bar, a hired dry ice machine and some spooky sound effects on the door will make for a ‘hip and happening’ teen Halloween! Finally, consider adding a charitable twist by turning the party into a fundraiser for a favourite cause, or supporting initiatives such as the NSPCC’s ‘Go Green for Halloween’.

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