Family Fun at Halloween

As a child, I never went out Trick or Treating at Halloween.  For us, Halloween was a family occasion, a time for fun games and special treats.

Halloween Masks

One of my earliest memories of Halloween was sitting with my parents in front of the TV while one of my brothers ran about the house in his Halloween mask.  He had made it in school and was justifiably proud of it, so he wasn’t going to be put off by the fact that his little sister was absolutely terrified. I remember sitting there, my head turned towards the TV and Mam and Dad talking to me constantly to distract me from what was going on behind, so I can sympathise with my son as he closes his eyes or hides behind me in fear when walking through the supermarket at this time of year.

The mask hung in the garage afterwards but it was months before I could bring myself to look at it.  Soon enough however I got over my fear and learned to join in the fun of making witches hats and masks and other decorations in school in the run up to Halloween.  The highlight however was making my first balloon mask in the garage with my Dad and my younger brother.  The mask had to be started long before Halloween as it took several days to complete.  We started by blowing up a balloon and then building up a papier mache cover by pasting on lots of newspaper strips.  It then had to be left to dry before pasting on a nose and creating the shape of the mouth.  Once that was dry, the balloon could be popped, the edges trimmed and the eyeholes cut out before painting.  Finally once the paint was dry, it could be worn.

Halloween Masks

Apples, nuts and Barm Brack

Like Christmas and Easter, Halloween had it’s own special food.  The fun started after dinner with the Barm Brack baked with a ring and a 5p coin inside wrapped in tinfoil.  Then there were apples, nuts and grapes and usually a coconut too. Apples were crucial for the Halloween games. For Snap Apple, apples were suspended from a string and each person had to attempt to bite their apple with their hands held behind their back.  Of course, the best Halloween party game was Bobbing for Apples where we took turns to try to pick the floating apples from a basin of water using only our teeth.  In our house, we added extra challenges in the form of nuts in their shells, grapes and coins to the basin.  The grapes were an extra challenge as they sank to the bottom of the basin and the coins were hardest of all, but brought that extra sense of achievement when you managed to pick one up and a welcome boost to pocket money if you managed to collect a few.

I remember on a few occasions carving turnip lanterns.  Nowadays pumpkin carving has taken over at Halloween and pumpkins are certainly easier to carve, but for me a real Jack O’ Lantern should always be carved from a turnip.  I think I was in my teens before pumpkins became common in the shops.  My sister found a recipe for Pumpkin Pie and tried it out, but I’m afraid none of us were impressed with the taste of pumpkin.

Bobbing for Apples

Halloween Family Fun

For me Halloween is still about fun for all the family.  If you’d like to start the Halloween season with some fun Halloween games, a themed treasure hunt and a Fancy dress parade along with live music and food and craft stalls, get your costumes out and bring the family to Duckett’s Grove on Sunday 27th October.  We won’t make you bob for apples, but we will have other apple themed games and lots more fun for kids and adults.

Halloween Fun at Duckett's Grove