Love it or loathe it, there’s no denying Halloween’s eternal popularity with children. For one night each year, they are legitimately allowed to behave like little devils and relish dressing up in scary costumes, filling swag bags with sweets and playing messy games.
But with sugary trick-or-treat goodies being shunned by some parents in favour of carrot sticks and gluten-free cookies, it seems that even fun childhood traditions like Halloween can’t escape nutritional scrutiny. We all want our children to eat healthily, but is there really anything wrong with occasional party-time treats?
Not according to professional party planner Riea Elliott-Jones. “Sweets and toffee apples are part of the Halloween tradition,” she says. “Even my most health-conscious clients indulge their child’s sweet tooth during Halloween. It’s all about having fun with food.”
So if you are planning a ghoulish gathering for your offspring, are there any golden rules? “Stimulate your child’s imagination and encourage them to come up with their own recipe ideas,” says Riea. “A large glass bowl full of colourful jelly works well as a ‘cauldron’ centrepiece. Place some jelly spiders or worms at the bottom and allow children to delve in with their spoons.” Other grisly ideas guaranteed to make children squeal with glee include studding green grapes
with chocolate chips for eyeballs, serving spaghetti as intestines and tomato soup as hot blood. Our favourite suggestion is using dried cherries and cranberries for freshly-picked scabs. Yuck!
After serving your devilish delights, plan a few traditional party games. “Apple bobbing and the Egyptian ‘mummy’ game, which involves two teams wrapping their chosen mummy shoulder-to-toe in toilet roll, are popular with all age groups, including parents,” says Riea.
And remember, not all children enjoy being spooked. Avoid scaring younger ones witless by making simple, friendly costumes and using face paints, cloaks and luminous accessories.
This article previously appeared in Junior magazine as a print article