Create a Halloween party in your house or garden with ideas and suggestions from David Coton that will keep your children and neighbours thrilled and spooked on the 31st October.
With a cast featuring ghosts, ghouls, zombies, vampires and any other sinister characters who inhabit the dark side, Halloween can be nothing other than an enjoyable night of spooky goings on amongst the para-normal.
Decorate the house and garden to recreate a gothic Frankenstein experience. Grey and gloomy with plenty of cobwebs and perhaps a few imitation crows and bats winging their way through the party from the dark recesses.
Some judiciously placed skeletons might invoke a bone chilling effect among guests who are watched over by ravens lurking above them.
Not for the faint-hearted, you could have the Lost Zombie bursting out of the rockery, not the real thing but a meticulously detailed resin reproduction. As if this wasn't frightening enough, other Fantasy and Horror Ornaments including gothic style benches, planters and fountains in addition to fabulous gargoyles, will add atmosphere and complete the sinister garden ambiance.
And for the party poopers who have sought refuge inside your house, surprise them with a monstrous zombie, perhaps trying to escape the clutches of the Grim Reaper, whose bloody head and hands will appear to have smashed through the lounge wall.
To make it an unforgettable evening get the blood circulating with a few scary cocktails. A Bloody Mary (vodka and tomato juice) is the most obvious but why don't you see what you can do with a few slugs of grenadine, sangria or any other ingredient that happens to be a gory red with slices of blood oranges thrown in to make the mixture a fruity crimson concoction that will both shake and stir your guests.
The traditional pumpkin lanterns are a bit tame but children love them and they are easy to make. Just cut off the top (or base if you are placing it over a candle), scrape away the inside and use a template or you own imagination to carve a design. It needn't always be a face although they can seem pretty alarming, perhaps a ghostly figure would add a dash of spookiness to the proceedings.
If young children are invited, they will be entranced by magical fairies from the secret garden, twickle toe, pondering and gazing fairies, nymphs, pixies and trolls. Superbly crafted statuettes of cherubs, angels, wizards and unicorns will also provide a light relief for youngsters and those grown ups of a nervous disposition.
Another idea popular for younger party goers (as well as a lot of adults) would be face painting. Ask your guests to turn up in character, make your youngster the scariest kid on the block or transform next door's little horror into the real thing. Pallid faces with oozing blood, spider webs adorning foreheads and apparent horrible injuries can be achieved with a little inventiveness, fake blood and malice.
To go with the face painting, costumes that transform your friends into Christopher Lee lookalikes or the Grim Reaper can be hired or home made, although your mother-in-law might need very little work to turn her into an old witch. Don't forget your pet, you can really give the dog a bad name by overhauling Rover to resemble the hound from hell with a studded collar and canine black cloak.
Halloween Party Games
No party would be complete without games, love or hate them a bit of guest interaction is no bad thing but preferably not too gory. Apple bobbing is ages old, pumpkin bowling possibly less so. Mummy wrapping is always good fun for kids but perhaps not altogether for mummies. Before getting out the Ouija Board, skeleton hoop toss or pin the eyeball on the monster might be innocent distractions.
Finally, load up the iPod with a few monster movies soundtracks to send a shiver through the throng and if you are feeling particularly like a Hammer horror set designer, hire or buy a mist machine to complete the gothic scene.