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How to have a lockdown Halloween party

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With this year’s Halloween being a little more Test and Trace than trick or treat, we’ve come up with some seriously spooky ideas to keep your little monsters happy at home.

Yes, going door to door this year covered in fake blood and clutching a plastic pumpkin bucket in your hand is probably not the best idea at the moment. But, that does not mean all the fun has been cancelled - the spirit of Halloween can still be conjured at home.

Let’s face it, kids are not too bothered about the veil between worlds being thin or the opportunity to commune with the undead at the turn of the season. Halloween is a time for SWEETS! CAKE! FANCY DRESS and GAMES! And there is no reason why they can’t have them all, even in pox-ridden 2020.

Pumpkin carving

Carve some spooky pumpkins to create the right party atmosphere
Carve some spooky pumpkins to create the right party atmosphere

Where I grew up in the wilds of Yorkshire, absolutely no one had ever heard of pumpkin carving. You started whittling a turnip sometime around the second week of October and by the time Mischief Night came around (November 4, no one celebrated Halloween) you were ready with your terrifying shrunken head on a string and preparing to tie neighbours’ doors together then set fireworks off on their drive.

Any road up, this is ‘down south’ and 30 years later. Now no Halloween night is complete without a carved pumpkin and every supermarket has a bountiful supply of huge orange pumpkins that are easy to scoop out and carve.

If you want to go beyond cutting out a basic scary face and popping a tealight inside, there are many easy stencils available online to print off and cut around. Check out Pintrest for inspiration or buy a stencil set like this one from tesco https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/306381425

Alternatively, paint a pumpkin blue, give it two ping pong eyeballs and a packet of biscuits and call it the Cookie Monster.

A Halloween street trail

Usually, a pumpkin on your doorstep means you are willing to accept trick or treaters. This year they will probably be just for show but some streets may organise a ‘walk past’ for little ones to enjoy the display.

If you organise this ahead with friends and neighbours you could try reverse trick or treating by dropping off pre-packed sweets on neighbours' doorsteps. Other ideas for a socially distanced trail could be a doorstep decorating competition or scariest door garland.

Tick or treating is probably off the cards this year
Tick or treating is probably off the cards this year

Spooky scavenger hunt

If people in your neighbourhood are decorating their houses, you could try a Halloween scavenger hunt. Make a list of things to see and print it out for kids to tick off. The person with the most sightings is the winner. Things on the list could include: a fake spider web, a scary skeleton, a witches’ broom, a fake bat, a skull, a ghost, or a decoration that makes a noise.

Ghostly treasure hunt.

If you don’t want to venture out, you could set up a treasure hunt around your house with clues at every step along the way. You could try rhyming clues such as “Skeleton’s bones clang and clink, your next clue is in the _ _ _ _ .” Or, "Zombies are the walking dead. Check what's hiding under your bed."

That one may cause more trouble than it's worth.

Alternatively, you could cut out a handful of ghost or pumpkin shapes for kids to collect and hide them around the house like an Easter egg hunt. Each one they find wins a sweet.

Creepy crafts

There are lots of simple Halloween crafts to entertain children and decorate the house with a spooktacular display.

A few easy ideas:

Paint monsters on pebbles and give them googly stick on eyes; make a light-up ghost from a washed out, white plastic milk bottle. Draw on a spooky face with a black marker pen and put a battery operated tealight inside to give it a ghostly glow; cut out eyes from toilet roll tube and put glow sticks inside to make them light up in the dark; create a leaf ghost garland by collecting fallen leaves, painting them white, drawing on eyes in black marker pen and stringing them together to hang up at home.

Can’t face any DIY crafts? Baker Ross do a great selection of Halloween kits for kids here:


Homemade gingerbread cookies for Halloween
Homemade gingerbread cookies for Halloween

Bobbing for doughnuts

Apple bobbing in a communal bucket full of water and fruit is probably ill advised in these Covid times, but there is an alternative that (if we’re honest) kids might prefer to the traditional game.

Buy a couple of packs of ring doughnuts and hang them from strings on a tree, one to a branch, or from the ceiling. Then get your competitors to put their hands behind their backs and try to eat their own, individual, doughnut as fast as they can. It’s a race to the finish and the winner gets… another doughnut.

A pinata monster

You don’t have to splash out on a fancy pinata for Halloween when a cereal box painted with a creepy face will do. Just fill it with sweets and string it up outside where kids can bash it with sticks.

However, if you don’t have time to make your own try:

This cheerful looking bat


Wrap the Mummy

Wondering what to do with all that hoarded toilet paper? This game of wrap the mummy is the answer. The first team to wrap up a person from head to toe in toilet paper wins.

You’ll probably need around three rolls per team. Do try to leave eyes, nose and mouth uncovered or the mummy may decide this isn’t so fun after all. Bonus points if they chase people around the room afterwards.

Monster tag

It’s just a game of tag, but with the person who is ‘it’ wearing a Halloween monster mask and racking around trying to catch some victims. Will almost certainly end in a massive tantrum.

Other games to try: Sleeping Zombies, Winnie the Witch Says, Monster Statues, Pin the Tail on the Werewolf, Pass the (horrifying) parcel with eyeball sweets and creepy forfeits.

Blind Zombie’s buff

For this you will need a monster mask again, a blindfold and some monster hands.

Choose a place that is big enough to mark off a circle. You could use masking tape, rope or chalk - or salt, as this is Halloween. Move anything out of the way that the blind monster might trip over.

All the players must stay within the circle while the monster walks around with their arms stretched out to catch the players. When the "monster" growls, all the players growl back so the monster can try to find them. The first person to be tagged becomes the next monster.

Time to celebrate Halloween at home this year
Time to celebrate Halloween at home this year

Halloween Glow Stick Disco

If you’re indoors, turn the lights down and put on some of your spookiest tracks. Now is the time to switch the battery-operated tealights on in your pumpkins and get your glow sticks out for a decidedly devilish disco.

Halloween disco playlist: Monster Mash – Bobby Pickett, Thriller – Michael Jackson,, Ghostbusters– Ray Parker Jr. Time Warp – Rocky Horror Picture Show, Monster – Lady Gaga, Superstition — Stevie Wonder, Somebody's Watching Me — Rockwell, Disturbia — Rihanna, Hungry Like the Wolf — Duran Duran, Boogie Monster — Gnarls Barkley.

Halloween online escape room

There are plenty of online escape rooms to try out online, but everyone’s favourite spooky setting must be Hogwarts. Harry Potter fans will enjoy this free escape room puzzle that takes seekers on a trip through the famous school of witchcraft and wizardry after you arrive in your new dormitory only to discover you have been locked inside.

Hogwarts Digital Escape Room

Or if you preferred the Jumanji movie, why not try this escape room where you are trapped in the video game like the characters.

Jumanji Digital Escape Room.

Alternatively you could buy the board game EXIT: The Haunted Roller Coaster where players (aged 10 plus) are trapped on the ride with the gates locked in front and behind of you and only by solving the riddles can you escape this amusement park nightmare. Available from Amazon.

If you want to solve the puzzle in a team or with friends in another house, you could always try working on the escape games over trusty old Zoom or Skype. Everyone should be pretty familiar with that set up by now.

Groups of six or less could head to Lockhouse Games in Cambridge to try out their Egyptian Tomb escape room.

Creepy cookies

A favourite of many a sugar-addled birthday party, the cookie decorating session can be as easy as buying a packet of digestive biscuits, some food colouring and some icing sugar and allowing kids to go mad decorating their biscuits. You could also buy Nutella, peanut butter or chocolate frosting to take the ensuing hyperactivity to headache-inducing levels.

After the party - adults only

Ivy Brasserie Halloween dessert (42623262)
Ivy Brasserie Halloween dessert (42623262)

If you could do with a drink or two after the party and have someone within your bubble who is willing to babysit, head to The Ivy Cambridge Brassierie for a seasonal tipple.

They have created a duo of spooky cocktails and a limited-edition dessert. The Smoked Pineapple Martini, (£10.25) features Crystal Head Vodka, Grand Marnier, pineapple juice and a dash of orange bitters, whilst The Professors Potion, (£10.75) mixes Crystal Head Vodka, Lillet Rouge and Plymouth Sloe Gin, garnished with an orange twist.

Ivy Brasserie Halloween cocktail (42623265)
Ivy Brasserie Halloween cocktail (42623265)

For guests with a sweet tooth, the brasserie has added an additional dessert to its already extensive menu. The Pumpkin Patch (£7.50) incorporates a blend of buried pumpkin brûlée, milk mousse mist, chilling vanilla ice cream and a shadowy chocolate brownie.

Shanil Weerakoon, General Manager at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie says: “Halloween is one of my favourite times of year and having these new spooky cocktails and dessert makes it all the more exciting. The team and I are really looking forward to welcoming diners into the brasserie.”

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