It’s time to brush up on your arts and crafts and cook up some Halloween treats. As All Hallow’s Eve approaches, follow our step-by-step guide to carving the perfect pumpkin, and be inspired by recipes for ghoulish treats.
As any parent knows, with October drawing to a close it’s time to brush up on your arts and crafts skills and get in the party mood. Because come Monday, the streets will be filled with miniature vampires, ghosts and witches, and ghoulishly carved pumpkins to mark All Hallow’s Eve.
Celebrated annually on October 31, and with its roots firmly planted in folklore, Halloween has grown into a modern-day money-maker, with everything from cauldron-shaped buckets to skeleton costumes on sale. But at its core are the simple, traditional Halloween pastimes of dressing up, trick-or-treating, carving jack-o’-lanterns out of pumpkins, gathering round the bonfire and participating in apple bobbing.
To get you in the Halloween spirit we’ve compiled our guide to Halloween. From creative recipes to give as treats, to a step-by-step guide to carving a pumpkin, we hope you enjoy a very happy Halloween.
TRICK OR TREAT?
Don’t let your visitors leave empty handed. Get baking this weekend and ensure you have plenty of treats to give out on Halloween.
Transform traditional Lamingtons by adding a little food colouring to the sponge mixture or by colouring the desiccated coconut topping. Try mixing red and yellow colouring for a pumpkin-style orange, or using ghoulish-green for a hint of horror. Add licorice to the sides of each cake to create legs, tails and and eyes and transform your Lamingtons into little furry monsters.
Creepy Cinnamon Biscuits
Use these festive biscuits as a canvas for your scariest creations that will delight any Halloween goer. Use a piping bag to create spider’s webs, ghosts, witch’s hats and pumpkins with colourful icing.
Chilling Chocolate Caramel Brownies
Devilishly good, add a Halloween twist to these kid-friendly brownies by topping with marshmallows and drizzling with icing to create your very own ghosts. Let your imagination run wild as you use lollies to create faces on your ghouls.
If you’re holding your own Halloween party then grab a bucket and a bag of apples for a traditional party game. Apple bobbing is easy to set-up and will provide hours of fun for all involved.
To set up the game you will need a large tub or bucket filled with water and a handful of apples. Given the difference in densities, when placed in the bucket of water the apples will float or ‘bob’ on the surface.
Ask your participants to stand in a line with their hands behind their backs. One-by-one each player should step forward to take a turn to try and pluck an apple form the water using only their mouth.
TIP: If you want to get even more creative why not throw different fruits and vegetables in with the apples and award points based on difficulty!
JOLLY JACK O’LANTERNS
Halloween wouldn’t be the same without a traditionally carved pumpkin, but if you’ve never had a go at creating your own, then follow our step-by-step guide. When complete, place your pumpkin in the window and light it up with tea lights to watch your ghoulish shadow dance its way through the night.
1. Pick the perfect pumpkin
Orange skinned pumpkins are the most commonly variety used for jack-o’-lanterns as they are easier to carve and have a flat bottom. Look out for pumpkins with smooth contours.
TIP: Beware the pumpkins will not hold up well in the warmer October weather so it is best to carve them either the night before or on the day you want to display them.
You will need:
- a large bowl for the scraps and seeds
- some newspaper to lay down for the mess,
- a sharp knife
- some sturdy spoons to scoop out the inside of the pumpkin with,
- a little oil and an old rag,
- a pen or pencil to draw on the template you would like to carve
- some tealight candles, or coloured LED lights to place in the pumpkin
3. Be prepared
Wash the pumpkin thoroughly, cleaning the skin and the stem, and allow to dry before carving.
Make sure the base is level before you begin to carve; you may need to slice the base so it is stable for carving.
4. Creative Carving
Lay down a few sheets of newspaper, as this task can be quite messy. Place the pumpkin on top of a damp rag on a level surface.
Using your knife, carve a lid at the top of the pumpkin. The general rule of thumb is to carve on an angle so that the lid is slightly bigger than the hole you have carved. This way the lid will sit snug on top and wont fall inside the pumpkin.
Rally the troops because the next step will need a few extra hands. Using some very sturdy spoons, scoop out the inside of the pumpkin leaving a 3cm thick border around the edge.
Now is the time to get creative with your jack-o’-lanterns! Using a pen or pencil draw a face on to the pumpkin. Remember to leave room between the features so the pumpkin remains sturdy. Once you’re happy with your drawing, grab a knife and cut out the shapes you’ve drawn to create eyes, a nose and a mouth.
Don’t fret too much about keeping the outlines straight, the more jagged the cut out features are the spookier they will look. Once finished make sure to lightly oil the outside of the pumpkin to stop it from wrinkling.
6. Show off your creation
Place a candle in each lantern, if you have children around and a wary of a naked flame near small hands you can use LED lights instead.
TIP: If you really want to impress you could also source some dry ice and place it into the pumpkins for a smokey effect, a few tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda topped with some vinegar will create a bubbling, frothy effect for a bit of fun.