Halloween wasn’t something we celebrated during my childhood, but for the past few years I have organised a party for my own children and their friends: this year we held a pre-Halloween party, one night early.

Halloween is an excuse to indulge in fancy dress in our house and I get involved just as much as the children, as this selection of costumes from the last few years shows:

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Looking back through photographs it’s interesting to see how the children’s costumes have evolved, and to see just how much use you can get from one black leotard.

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We decorate the house with toy cauldrons, frogs, spiders, bats and skulls, and this year we haven’t even had to bother with fake cobwebs as there are plenty of real ones, especially draped over the home made witch’s broom which has been hanging on the wall continuously for the last 3 years!

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Made from a branch and some twigs from the local woods

Pumpkins are a must, of course, and we all get involved in the carving process though the children tend to get bored of removing the seeds and flesh, so there was a distinct advantage to the small pumpkins that Richard bought this year:

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I must remember to buy a set of pumpkin carving tools: much easier to use than wielding a selection of kitchen knives

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Designs always vary: this year we had a cat, vampire, computer smiley, spider and Rebecca’s choice of surface decoration

When it came time to light the pumpkins, we had the usual problem of getting the candles level, so next year I will definitely be using this tip from Jackie at Happy Hooligans where she recommends cutting a hole in the base of the pumpkin as opposed to slicing the top off:

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Click on the image to go to the Happy Hooligan’s blog
(image courtesy of Happy Hooligans)

Refreshments are themed: to drink there was blood (blackcurrant), bat’s urine (elderflower), zombie spit (orange)…..yes, I know, gross!…….but it is Halloween; to eat there were brains (mashed potatoes), severed fingers (skinny sausages), scrapings of flesh (chicken nuggets) and maggots (baked beans).  Then of course there’s pudding, which this year was our all-time favourite: pumpkin jellies.  No…….not pumpkin flavoured jellies (ooh, can you imagine?!) but these:

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They are a little labour intensive, but great fun, so if you fancy trying them yourself then the following pictures may prove useful:

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Slice the top from each orange

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Scoop out all the flesh (reserve to make fresh orange juice); be sure to take care at the base of the orange to avoid making a hole in the skin

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Make up the jelly in the normal way: choose a contrasting colour for maximum effect

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Pour jelly into oranges and refrigerate: 1 packet of jelly fills approx 4 medium oranges

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When the jelly is set, carve out the pumpkin faces

All too soon the party is over and it’s time for the children’s friends to go home with a party bag (to make up for the fact that I don’t let them go trick or treating…..I know the practice has grown in popularity here in the UK, but I’m just not keen on allowing my children to knock on people’s doors asking for sweets):

Then all that’s left is the removal of thick layers of make up and several hours of brushing out wild back-combed hair!

Roll on Halloween 2013……..

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