There was a time when we used to have a Halloween party every year. There were always plenty of games - the 'Mummy' game being a particular favourite.
TOP TIP - Don't go too 'value' on the loo roll or it rips just by looking at it and that's no fun for anyone.
The Mummy game was always closely followed by the 'Who Can Clear the Garden of the Most Shredded Loo Paper' game ...
And then as the children got older, Halloween always seemed to fall in the half-term holidays and the parties fell by the wayside for a few years. To illustrate how many years have passed since our last spooky gathering, Hella's costume of choice back then was a super cute witch (complete with pink tights and a frilly skirt) and for Halloween 2016, gruesome zombies were the order of the day. Oh, how things change ...
So how did we do Halloween this year - with no fuss and on a school night too?
Step 1 - Decorate the house.
The box of decorations that comes out every year is the secret weapon here - particularly cobwebs and hair-raising pipe cleaner spiders. Red light bulbs gave a ghoulish glow and plenty of crooked pictures transformed our downstairs into a haunted house (while playing havoc with any OCD tendencies).
Step 2 - Invite a few friends over.
It was a school night, so the emphasis for a no-fuss Halloween party was on the 'few' here. Let's face it, both teenage sons are completely too cool for Halloween these days (although it wasn't that long ago that they were huge enthusiasts - guess which is which?)
But when you're 10, Halloween is where it's at, so Hella designed her guest list of 4 (I really did mean it when I said a FEW friends) and we were on our way.
TOP TIP - Don't be too last minute with the invitations, not least because the girls need plenty of time to discuss outfits, hair, make-up and generally whip each other up into a frenzy of excitement. Experience would suggest that it's more straightforward for boys.
Step 3 - Do some spooky food for your no fuss Halloween party.
A 'blood' spattered paper tablecloth was the perfect backdrop for my Halloween creations.
TOP TIP - Put some newspaper under the tablecloth before you commit the savage act. Our garden table now looks like the aftermath of a scene in Midsommer Murders.
And then there were -
- Sausage rolls - nice sausages + shop-bought puff pastry (life's too short etc) + an egg wash.
- Worm Infested Chocolate Cakes - I used my favourite cupcake recipe here and did rough frosting + a jelly worm.
Everyone filled their boots and there were plenty of leftovers for teenage sons, who strategically arrived home after the girls had all left. Think they planned it that way.
Step 4 - How about some games for your no fuss Halloween party?
There have to be games and it's a chance to wheel out those family favourites.
- Apple bobbing - Who doesn't love a chance to duck your face into a bin of water and find the best technique for retrieving an apple between your teeth? And there were all sorts of techniques. Taking turns was way too dull, so 4 or 5 heads in the bin at one time was the only way.
TOP TIP - Play this game BEFORE applying ghoulish make-up.
- Hunt the Sweets - An idea stolen from my good friend, the Easter Bunny .... Buy a range of sweets/chocolate and wrap each item separately in tin foil (this sounds laborious, but honestly, takes no time once you're in the swing of it. Wrapping Christmas presents in tin foil has to be the way forward.) Then hide them around the house for the girls to find.
TOP TIP - Count how many sweets you've hidden (ours was 65 this time) so the scavengers know how many they're still to find. It also helps if you can remember where you've hidden them - mmmm, I always struggle with that. This time we finished with 3 still to find - goodness knows where they'll turn up. And funnily enough, the next day I found a tin foil clad mini chocolate egg left over from the last Easter Egg hunt. Fancy that.
- The Doughnut Game - Now this is definitely a firm family favourite. Eat the doughnut (the more sugary the better) off a string, without using your hands. The techniques were varied -
1 Eat it straight off the string
2 Pull it off the string and eat it off the floor
3 Pull it off the string onto the floor, then use your foot to pick it up and put it in your mouth. There really are children who are that flexible. True story.
TOP TIP - The 5 second rule absolutely doesn't apply here!
- A Halloween Treasure Hunt - I made up a few themed clues and stuck them to the bottom of a bunch of mini plastic skulls. There was a stash of (more) sweets at the end of the trail too.
TOP TIP - Use 'warmer' and 'cooler' if you need to make it a bit easier.
Step 5 - Get dressed up for your no fuss Halloween party
There was blood, hairspray, backcombing, ripping of clothes, pinning clothes back together again, ghostly white faces, red lips and soon our little angels had become little zombies.
TOP TIP - Allow plenty of time for this, it's such a big part of the fun.
Step 6 - And then there was Trick or Treating ...
International Halloween rules applied -
- Be safe.
- Only knock at the doors with decorations AND their lights on.
- Say thank you.
Hella's high moment was bagging a Patchi chocolate (best fancy chocolate in Dubai) at the first house but it was balanced by the low point of being fobbed off with an empty box of raisins later on. We all had fun and the weather was perfect so that always helps.
TOP TIP - Don't leave it too late to go out - lots of the houses that we came across had shut up shop for the night.
So there you go - that was our no-fuss Halloween. Much fun was had by all and I imagine everyone slept well (me included). It was probably pretty quiet at school the next day too ...