Spookfest in the 'Burbs

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Halloween mania in the suburbs at our house yesterday! While the atmosphere is still not quite as electrifying as it is amongst those who officially celebrate the festival (the United States, the UK, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Sweden and Switzerland), things are changing here in Aus, and we were surpised to have a set of trick-or-treaters knock on our door last night.


Before the celebrations began, we dressed up the kids - I was so short on time this year and had not really properly prepped either costume. Ella wanted to be a ghost rider à la Martha Stewart on the cover of this year's Halloween magazine annual. I made the top hat from cardboard and sequinned trim. She wore her school shirt, white jeans, brown boots and one of my black dresscoats. It turned out surprisingly fabulous for such a slap-happy job!

With Ella (above), is my gorgeous goddaughter Izzy, who came as a rather stunning little vampiress.

Riley, after falling in love with a set of horrifying teeth, insisted on coming as a mummy, only we couldn't find enough bandages that didn't come with a sports therapist's $20 markup, and so he was only half-swathed. Creepy, nonetheless.

I was up at 5.30am (husband is out of the country) to decorate the outdoors. I made a 'spooky' banner from shiny black card and used swathes of orange and black organza. Ghosts are made from white organza and white balloons with black card eyes and mouth.

I also hung balloons and papercut strings of sensational skeletons and skulls, purchased in Beijing. Paper pumpkin laterns hung from the trees and a large cardboard skeleton creeped out anyone wanting to escape the yard.

I had wanted to set this up in front of black fabric, spin his head down so it was hidden away, and take photos of the kids behind him - with their heads in place of the skeleton's - but this decorating was a lot of work and I simply ran out of puff.

I printed off creepy words and stuck them to black card, cut the edges with decorative scissors and tacked on the walls. Black bats are also really effective and so simple to cut out - arrange en masse as though a cloud of screeching bloodsuckers have just escaped the cave.

The tables were dotted with creepy-looking plants and statuettes, and some wonderful black card candelabras found at Spartys.

Indoors, the creepfest continued. Being such a warm day, we kept anything melty inside. On the dining room table, a gallery of eerie family photos peeked out at anyone daring to snaffle a goodie bag.

Before guests arrived, Ella and Izzy decorated the grim jelly with lolly snakes and the treats were brought out to drool over.

Outdoors, we had the hot food onto tables as soon as the guests arrived. Labelling the food really creeps out the guests - and this is a good good thing at a Halloween party.

As guests arrived, we were absolutely delighted at the impressive calibre of the costumes!


The games began after some goulish nibbles, with Ghost Hunt. Stick a white ghost on the back of some large card and then have kids place a pumpkin where they think the ghost will be. Nearest wins.

It was then on to Mummy Wrap. Unravel a toilet roll and re-roll, interspersing with treats every few metres. You may need to use more than one roll if you have a lot of children. The kids stand in a circle and start wrapping themselves and when a treat falls out, it's passed on to the next kid who starts wrapping. Make sure you use strong toilet paper.

Zombie Tag was a real hit. The zombie wears an eye-covering mask and gloves and intermittently groans, with arms outstretched. When it groans, the other kids must also put their arms out and groan (so zombie can find them and perhaps touch them). When a child is touched, he becomes the zombie. The last kid to remain untouched wins.


I'm a great piñata lover and seeing as though we had no trick-or-treat, I thought it would be a great way to disperse candy. I originally wanted to make a spider piñata but the shape of the balloon didn't work, so it ended up becoming a bat. Mindful of the piñatas I've made over the years that were so tough they had to be sawed open, I made this one a little thinner than usual.

The kids were so excited as they queued for what they consider the funnest game of all. Being such patient little monsters, they lined up and mucked around for the camera as I searched the house for my missing piñata stick. Unable to find it, I instead opted for a softball bat.

Riley was first, followed by Brett, who, coupled with brute strength, a thinner than average piñata, a great hulking softball bat and a lucky dead-centre smack, the piñata cracked open on his first hit.

Thankfully, the 20+ kids queued for a go, didn't dissolve in tears and instead found solace in the mass of candy tumbling onto the grass.

So... here are my tips for making the perfect smashable piñata...

Presuming you are using glue made from cornflour (cornstarch) and water, make the piñata with about 4 layers of paper (not including your cover paper). Use thick string or ribbon to hang it. DO NOT use a baseball, softball or t-ball bat. Consider blindfolding the kids to make the rounds of hitting go longer. Limit each turn to three swings (not three hits). Line up your kids in order of strength and competence. Littlies first.

A round of Hot Potato finished off the games and I was too exhausted to implement Mummy Wrap and Skeleton Relay.

Next year.

Hope you had a spooky Halloween!

Photo contributions by Shevaun Macks

Incredible Philly cheese skull with sweet chilli sauce blood by Shevaun Macks

Awesome wig wearing by Shevaun Macks

Wicked trio of boys by Shevaun Macks



moggies said...

How do you DO this???? Amazing.....again!

Anonymous said...

looks like such a great time - you are such a good mom!! TB


Tania, this is utterly fantastic!! SO impressive!

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