Halloween is just around the corner, and many of us are surrounded by overexcited mini-witches and werewolves planning their costumes and prime ‘treat or treating’ routes. We fill our houses with orange and black decorations, make cookies that look like mummies, fill bowls of spaghetti with surprises to find amongst the sliminess. Fake cobwebs hang from doorways and scary-faced pumpkins line the streets. But what if that’s not your preferred way of passing All Hallow’s Eve? If you’ve had enough of the usual mayhem, or just fancy doing something different this Halloween, we’ve got 7 alternative things you could do.
Visit a cemetery or graveyard at dusk. Spend some time thinking about the people who lived before us, and people we have lost. Western cultures are not always great at dealing with death, so this could be a time to really ponder the bigger stuff. You could remember people who have touched your life in some way, who passed something enduring on to you or your family, and find ways to keep them present.
2.Harvest pot-luck supper
The ancient Celtic festival Samhain was held at this time, marking the end of summer. Invite friends and family round for a harvest pot-luck supper, where everyone brings a dish to share that has been made from seasonal harvest food. The idea is that the glorious autumn vegetables and fruit form the basis of each dish, so you get a real sense of seasonal bounty and abundance. Decorate the table with laid-back linens, pine cones, tiny gourds, candles and trailing vines.
3.Read a ghost story
If you like a bit of spooky Halloween atmosphere, find a collection of ghost stories. Gather round a fire, or snuggle up in bed, turn the lights off, and take it in turns to read aloud by torchlight. We love the sound of this collection, in which eight authors visited heritage sites and created shocking, exhilarating and terrifying stories inspired by the different locations.
4.Rake some leaves
To create some community spirit that doesn’t revolve around knocking on doors for sweets, how about organising a street/ neighbourhood leaf-rake? Everyone meets up at a specified time and clears the leaves from the streets, doorsteps and front gardens. You either collect the leaves up in a large bag for compost, or burn them on a bonfire if they are dry enough. Give out toffee apples, hot toddy or doughnuts after the hard work is done.
One of the thrills of Halloween for children is being outdoors in the dark, taking ownership of the streets for one evening in the year. Harness this adventurousness and set off on a local geocache by lantern-light, or with flashlights, to make it more atmospheric. Geocaching is like a treasure hunt, and most places around the world will have some hidden things to find. The idea is to track down a logbook and add your names, and then work out where the next one has been stashed. Discover areas you didn’t know, work as a team to solve clues, and enjoy the excitement of the chase with this completely free activity for all ages.
There is something very satisfying about gouging out the insides of a fleshy pumpkin, storing the seeds and seeing the carved face lit by a candle, glowing into the darkness. You can keep your design simple with a classic toothy grin and angry-looking eyes, or use a transfer to create something far more fancy. Pinterest has some amazing examples and ideas for carving. To add the element of competition and make it more fun you could appoint someone to judge the finished pumpkins based on different categories: Silliest, Most Realistic, Scariest, Most Imaginative, for example.
To remember loved ones who have passed away, light candles and sit around a table sharing memories of them. You could put photographs or treasured objects in the centre to conjure up the spirit of the person you have lost.