Halloween needn’t be double, double the spend and more toil and trouble than it’s worth

Michelle Emerson

By: Michelle Emerson | Date: 21/10/2013

As October draws to a close and bonfire night beckons, children (and adults) across the UK are dressing up in scary costumes and spending their pocket money (or student loans) on fake blood, pointy teeth, dismembered body parts, plastic bats, spiders and the like. The supermarket shelves seemingly get fuller each year of Halloween merchandise, with recent TV and film successes featuring vampires and zombies perhaps fuelling the increasing participation and age range of people taking part in Halloween activities. I’m sure that when I was a kid Halloween was only for young children, with teenagers and adults looking on in slight bemusement.

According to Jayne Dawson’s recent report in the Yorkshire Post, Halloween is now “close to rivalling Christmas as a money-spinner” with an estimated £300m to be spent this year.

There are many suggestions as to why Halloween has become such a commercial success (for retailers anyway), but for many of us it’s just a good old excuse to enter into some spooky role-play and brighten up our homes in an otherwise gloomy time of year. With Bonfire Night being so tightly controlled by health and safety concerns, participation is limited outside of organised and often expensive events, so Halloween gives us an opportunity to get hands-on and have fun which is, after all, what we’re all about here at Eureka!

With the abundance of outfits, decorations, tricks and treats of every shape and size now on offer Halloween can rapidly become frighteningly expensive which, in the run up to Christmas, adds further pressures to the family purse. So here are a few simple, low cost but high fun ways of enjoying yourself without having to conjure up a warty toad or a newt’s eye…

  • Halloween family broomstick race

    Halloween family broomstick race

    Broomstick Relay Race

    You’ll just need a broom stick or a mop and the game is best played outside (but can be brought in if the weather isn’t great). Start by dividing your family or guests into two teams. Each person takes it in turns to run to the end of the garden/corridor/alleyway and back while ‘riding’ the broomstick – complete with whooshing sound effects. Pass the broomstick to the next person in their team until everyone has run. The first team to complete the relay wins.

  • Halloween Masks

    Take two paper plates, marker pens, a stapler, a torch and any additional craft materials that you have to decorate the mask. Have your child draw a dramatic or scary face on one paper plate then cut out the features (pumpkin style). Staple the two plates together leaving a hole in the bottom large enough for a small torch to fit through snugly. Decorate the mask further, perhaps adding ears or hair. Finally insert the torch and give to your child to hold the mask up in front of their face – what kind of noises would this grisly character make?

  • Build a scary scarecrow

    Using some old clothes and straw or other filling material work together and build a scary scarecrow to scare away those pesky trick or treaters. Give it a name and story, and then maybe put him in your window to haunt your visitors!

  • Make your own ghost story

    Ask one member of your family to start your ghost story with an opening sentence and then take it in turns to add to the story. Who are the characters, where is the story set, what scary thing happens? Get your imaginations flowing, and add atmosphere by telling your story in the dark, lighting up the storytellers face with a torch.

  • Get face painting

    Try and turn your family members into ghosts, ghouls, bats, witches or zombies with a selection of face paints –can you create a family even creepier than the Munsters or the Addams Family?

Of course the events team at Eureka! can’t resist a bit of spooky mystery-solving fun during half term, so come and meet the Scooby Gang and join in!

This blog originally appeared as a column in the Friday 18 October 2013 edition of the Halifax Courier.

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Eureka! The National Children’s Museum
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