Halloween has always been my favourite time of year: carving pumpkins, bobbing for apples and gorging on sweets in front of a classic horror film. When I was a child, my mother would magic up costumes from household objects: pillowcases, cardboard boxes, tin foil and milk bottle tops. Surprisingly, wrapping your child in a bin bag, painting them green and shoving a broom in their hand doesn't cut it in the Instagram age. In Britain, we spend an average of £155 million per year on Halloween costumes in a bid to create the picture-perfect post.
Rewind to 1980's Britain, and – unlike our tastes in fashion and music - Halloween was a modest affair. Trick or treating had yet to hit the streets. And children were subjected to home-made outfits that would undoubtedly be resurrected the following year. There was the occasional after-school party, where we were treated to a game of pin the tail on the witch’s cat before sitting down to a frightening feast of finger sandwiches and eye scream. Fast forward thirty years, and children now put the same effort into their Halloween costume as they do into their letter to Santa. This year, my nieces will be dressing as a pumpkin (Isla, 5) and a consumptive Victorian child (Scarlett, 8). Unsurprisingly, only one of these outfits have been given the go-ahead.
Here are a few ideas to make dressing up for Halloween as easy as pumpkin pie...
it's halloween: dress to distress
Children love to raid the dressing up box and try on new identities. Whether it's a character from their favourite film, book or cartoon - encourage your child to choose their own outfit. While the same roll-call of costumes continues to top the popularity polls each year – Superhero, Star Wars and Princess – many still opt for more traditional outfits such as ghosts and goblins. Children do have a tendency to change their minds, however, so best wait until nearer the day before deciding on a costume.
creating a monster
Halloween is a time to invoke the sewing spirits and conjure up a confection of frightening fabrics to rival Frankenstein's monster. If you're no Coco Chanel with the sewing kit, fear not: the internet is inundated with tutorials and blogs to get those creative juices flowing. Stock up on glitter, glue, sequins and sparkles, dig out a plain top and trousers - and get accessorising! Whether you choose to rattle out a skeleton or spin a spider's web, you'll have terror-inducing togs on your hands before you can scream trick or treat! And remember, if all goes awry, a pre-conjured costume is only a click away!
dare to scare
Crank the fear factor up to 11 and embrace the horror of Halloween! Children love a good scare, and when it comes to costumes, the scarier the better! Whether your artistic skills are more stickman than Cézanne, you'll find face painting kits galore to help you get gruesome. And if you're feeling brave, take a punt on prosthetics to transform your angel delight into the angel of death. Chalk spray turns hair all shades of scary, and best of all, washes out the next day. And whatever you do, don't forget the fake blood: vampires and zombies feel faint without it!
Whatever or whomever your child chooses to transform into over the witching hour, this enchanting evening should ignite the imagination with magic and mystery, superstition and folklore; so, crack open the face paints, pour out the fake blood and plant a pumpkin outside your haunted house - the trick or treaters are coming!