Yes Halloween is just over a week away that time of year associated with ghosties, ghouls and all things that go bump in the night. However, a more scarier thought that might be lurking in the dark recesses of your mind like a ominous spectre, is that it’s half term !!! As part of our new section, TheStylishDad we’ve teamed up with the not so scary Marks & Spencer to offer you an indispensable guide to stop you feeling like the undead over this gruesome time.
Long before there was Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve to give it the correct term, there was the Celtic pagan feast of Samhain (pronounced sow-inn) in honour of the solstice, communities would come together to bid farewell to the Autumn and see in the less favourable Winter months. Pope Gregory III, designated November 1 as a time to honor all Saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day. Over time October 31st became known as All Hallows’ Eve eventually becoming Halloween.
With economic downturns effecting Ireland over the years they spread themselves across Europe, North America and Australia. With them they too took their festivals and traditions and adapted them to their adopted homes. Jack O’ lanterns originally were made from turnips, but the more common pumpkin in North America replaced the humble turnip in acting as a symbol to warn off evil and the spirits that returned to roam the land of the living for one night before All Saints day.
Anyway, enough of the history lesson, let’s get down to some fun and what merriment we can get up to over the Spooktacular half term.
First up we have activities that will neither send YOU mad nor break the bank, but will keep your little angels from turning into lil devils. One of the benefits of using pumpkins rather than turnips is they are a lot easier and safer to crave. However, we have to stress children should NEVER attempt to do this un-supervised. Plus, you can use the flesh to make countless tasty faves including gnocchi, risotto and pumpkin pie.
Another food related task which you won’t find tasking, is making spooky inspired cakes, and don’t worry Mary Berry won’t be complaining about your soggy bottom with these. Your creations can be as simple as Rice Krispies and marshmallows covered in melted chocolate or buying a good quality of course, Chocolate brownie mix and decorating them. Remember it’s the experience rather than Michelin starred taste, that’s important. Plus, you can’t forget the fun that’s to be had with a basin of water and a spot of apple bobbing, although I would have towels at hand and make sure the kids don’t turn it into a fun game of water boarding, ahhhh childhood memories.
Lastly, you can never under estimate the fun to had making decorations, go for a Halloween colour scheme, so black, of course, orange, white, red and green all have seasonal connotations then channel your artistic side rather than maybe Linda Blair. Paper chains, paper garlands in the shape of ghosts, bats, pumpkins or skeletons and the only tools you need are paper, SAFETY scissors and sellotape.
Now if the weather stays seasonal rather than taking a turn for the worse, get out over the half term as you’ll find adventures and activities both near and far. Start off at your local library, yeah remember where it is, If you haven’t been into a library for a while then you’re in for a pleasant surprise! Gone are the days when libraries were places full of dusty books and bespectacled Librarians telling you to “Shhh” These days, they are a hotbed of fun and creativity, especially if you head to one of The children’s libraries in Redbridge, East London (2 minutes on the train from Stratford). Here the libraries are bright & noisy. We caught up with Anita Luby, Head of Library and Heritage Services for Redbridge Council, she informed us, “Redbridge prides itself on issuing the most kids books across London and puts this down to the fantastic programme of events for families it offers throughout the year. This October, kids will get the opportunity to take part in a range of Star Wars inspired craft activities and quizzes as well as to have their photo taken with their favourite characters. The half term holidays kick off with the Fabula Festival (22 & 23 Oct) which will be a celebration of arts and all that libraries have to offer. Key highlights include Korky Paul of Winnie the Witch fame and a spooktacular Monsters Ball! There will also be story and rhyme time sessions, theatre shows, balloon modelling and more! It’s the most fun you’ll have in a library and the best but is that most events are either free of very affordable, even if you are taking a few kids! “
If you are lucky enough to be going further afield, do a bit of research before you go, theme parks including Alton Towers, Harry Potter World and The Disney land parks all have a whole host of spine tingling ideas that will prove frightful but won’t keep you up all night with distressed offspring. More for grown ups or at least the teenagers you need to keep occupied are the varied and immensely entertaining Haunted Walks and Ghost Tours which you can find in pretty much every major Western city. Ones we can personally recommend are Dublin, Boston, London and Edinburgh, all incredibly fun and once again great value for money, remember don’t have nightmares.
Nearer to home Manchester is being transformed into a creepy, haunted location for Halloween, what’s new, did you say ? How dare you ! Families are invited on a mysterious adventure to crack a code to unlock and enter the secret and spellbinding world of Dr Dee, Manchester’s infamous alchemist. By following the haunting historic map to track down clues, surprising happenings and curious characters in unexpected locations. Dr Dee’s Secret Curiosity Shop takes place at various locations across the city centre from 10am, on 29th October with entry to the Curiosity Shop at a secret location throughout the day.
Our top 3 tips for Trick or Treaters
1) If you don’t want to be bothered by Trick or Treaters at Halloween, which is totally fine, each to their own, don’t display any form of Halloween paraphernalia. So no Jack O’Lanterns, decorations etc.
2) If you are up for partaking in a spot of seasonal shenanigans, invest in some decent quality treats, like the above from Marks & Spencer. You don’t wanna be subjected to any tricks.
3) Be considerate, not everyone likes the frights of Halloween and you don’t want to disrupt or upset anyone with any over enthusiastic ghoulish activities. Remember, don’t stray too far from home as you don’t know what might be lurking around that corner.