As I have mentioned before, Halloween is not widely celebrated in Germany. As a result, I don’t generally go to huge lenghts to make a fuss of it. We hold a party for the children and I try to incorporate some of the Irish traditions I remember from my childhood.
Out shopping yesterday I bought kale for colcannon, grapes for the party spread, mixed peel for the brack and a few packs of sparklers – the only firework I can deal with in the hands of amateurs. The homemade paper decorations and carved pumpkins have been sorted out already, keeping us busy for a few afternoons last week.
Planning the party doesn’t require a huge amount of expense or effort. As well as the obligatory sweets, there will be spooky muffins, cocktail sausages, nuts, grapes and mandarins with pumpkin faces.
The latter are easy and fun to prepare. I find them ideal as party food for children because there is no waste. You don’t need to peel the mandarins to make them. If they don’t all get peeled and eaten, you can keep the leftover ones in the fruit bowl for eating during the week.
All you need to do is choose some nice mandarins and use a black felt tip pen to draw a scary pumpkin face on the skin. Piled up on the table or dotted among apples, grapes and nuts on a platter, they make a great display.
Activity wise, we usually go with a mixture of some tried and tested ideas and some new ideas.
This year’s new idea is a spooky photo booth for the kids. In my experience a lot of smaller children don’t like to remain in their costume for long. Rather than get annoyed at having no dressed up children left twenty minutes into the party, I’m going to try this idea. I’m setting up a box of props – paper pumpkin faces, a witch’s hat, a ghost costume, some Halloween silhouettes and some masks and let the children try them out while I take few snaps. The showier ones might try out a few poses or funny faces, the shier ones might try on an item or two and have a bit of fun in doing so.
My favourites of our regular Halloween activities are these ones:
Reading ‘Room on the Broom’ by torchlight – I get the childen to sit on the sofa, switch off the lights, switch on a torch and, sitting in between all the children, read ‘Room on the Broom’ (the German version), putting in pauses, sound effects and plenty of emphasis. So far this has always gone down well.
A torchlit walk through the garden with hidden pumpkins, cloth ghosts, paper bats hanging from a branch. The Bavarian is great at making an event out of this for the small children. The cracking of a branch underfoot or the discovery of a lit pumpkin face can result in a few squeals from the children.
Lighting sparklers and writing in the air with them as the flicker and fizz. The older children love that they are allowed to hold the sparklers. The smaller ones are mostly afraid to hold them, but a few years back we found a solution. We asked each child to stick an unlit sparkler into one of our windowboxes. Then we lit them and the children stood in amazement as the sparklers fizzled away.
However you end up celebrating this year, make sure you and your children stay safe. Take no risks with fireworks and don’t leave your children unaccompanied near candles or out in the dark.