New Approach Needed
I don’t know about all the other fellow parents out there but as soon as talk turned to the impending half term a few weeks ago, my thoughts immediately drifted towards Halloween and Bonfire Night. Namely, how were we going to celebrate them this year with all the covid restrictions and concerns in place? Of course, like every other annual occasion this year, these traditional autumn events required a new approach. On our neighbourhood Facebook group, ideas were thrown around in regards to how we could facilitate a safe trick and treating experience, whether we could launch fireworks from what little green space our estate hosts without needing to fill out reams of bureaucratic paperwork, asking what everyone else was thinking. In the end, I decided the safest and least stressful way forward for our family was just to do our own thing, at home, this year. And I know that I’m not alone in taking this course of action. So I thought I’d share a few ideas I’ve seen at how to make these events special, even without the stadium firework displays and joining throngs of pint sized zombies, witches and ghosts on the streets!
I’m not going to teach you to suck eggs by suggesting you carve pumpkins…however, perhaps think about going to a local farm to pick your own rather than grabbing them from the supermarket? Not only will you be supporting a local business but you’ll have a fun few hours in the great outdoors exploring a patch for the perfect specimen for your ghoulish creations! This year we got ours from Higher Woodway Tiny Farm Store which was worth the drive just for the spectacular views across Teignmouth before you even get round to the great assortment of pumpkins and the amazing Maria who showed us round her site and introduced us to some amazing edible wild plants we previously didn’t know about.
Although I’ve seen countless complicated crafty ideas to do with the kids this Halloween, I’m going to level with you – I’m totally over it. Besides, more often than not, the kids end up getting bored and then I’ve just wasted a whole lot of time, resources and energy! I want easy activity ideas with a high probability of success. In my house, a guaranteed winner is treasure hunts and the great thing about these is that you can match them to any theme you want. If you’ve got younger kids, simply hiding cut out ghosts, pumpkins and spiders to collect will do the job and if you’ve got older ones, you can turn your hand to riddles or puzzles they need to solve to win their prize (of your choosing!)
But if you’re trying to juggle children and work this half term and everything’s getting a bit much, give yourself a break, grab the duvets from the beds and snuggle up on the sofa with a Halloween feast and a (semi) scary movie with the kids. I’ve seen some amazing recipe ideas for eyeball cake pops, snakes made of puff pastry, slimy worm filled jelly… but I reckon most kids would be happy with some pizza, popcorn and some spooky sweets you can pick up at a moments notice.
Once Halloween is out the way, it’s back to school and before we know it, Guy Fawkes night is upon us. Due to the virus-that-shall-not-be-named, most displays this year are cancelled but you can still celebrate it at home and make it a night to remember. There are plenty of fun activities out there but as is often the case, simple is sometimes best…
Why not take a walk in the woods or your local park and make some natural firework pictures out of leaves and sticks? The Autumn leaves are the perfect colours for this! And who can resist some tasty snacks to mark the occasion. Personally, I can’t stand the mess of toffee apples but a much more tooth-friendly option is chocolate dipped apples – they’re also a lot easier to make at home. Simply spear some apples on lolly sticks and then dip them into some melted chocolate and then sprinkles for a firework-y feel. They’re the perfect after dinner treat once you’ve had some jacket potatoes, sausages and soup – the quintessential Bonfire Night feast!
Once you’ve eaten your fill, whilst we wouldn’t advise setting off your own display at home, why not pick up a pack of sparklers or have a bonfire if you have access to a suitable outdoor space. Don’t forget to check established bonfire piles for hedgehogs and other creatures before lighting it and wear gloves for sparklers. Or else, cosy up inside and play some board games with a hot chocolate on the side. Cat Chaos, Uno and Exploding Kittens are all age favourite card games in our house!
There’s often a lot of pressure on making these occasions a sensational experience for your kids but actually, when it comes down to it, all our kids want is our undivided attention and to have some fun with us. You don’t need to have prepped for weeks in advance or spent a fortune to achieve this. You know your kids best so at the end of the day, make a plan that works for your family and have a fantastic time this Autumn celebrating these days, however that may look for you!
Author: Hannah Durdin, Administrator & Forest School Leader
Date: Tuesday 27th October 2020