It’s that time of year again. Autumn is upon us, the nights are drawing in and all that jazz. The arrival of lots of orange plasticky stuff in the supermarkets, and numerous flammable-looking fancy-dress outfits for kids, signals the arrival of Halloween.
I’m reminded by the multiple pumpkins and tatt; I should probably get my arse in gear and cobble together something resembling an outfit for my kids around now.
Previous years have snuck up on me and I have found myself rummaging through the airing cupboard in the vague hope of finding a couple of sheets knackered enough for me to justify chopping up and fashioning a pair of last minute ghost costumes from. (Actually they ended up looking pretty cool considering the whole thing was put together in about 20 minutes flat: #MumWin.)
Ultimately, Halloween season, since having kids, has become another of those things I need to organise for the children. Outfits? Check. Crafts (*oh ffs!*) check. Pumpkin? Check. Treats for trick or treaters? Check.
However; It wasn’t so very long ago (though it might feel like it) that Halloween was an altogether different proposition.
Halloween: The Truth – Before Having Kids vs After
During life BC (before kids) Halloween was basically a weekend full of parties in which to get riproaring drunk whilst wearing a silly costume.
How things change.
Let’s have a look at how things compare shall we….
1) Food and Drink
Less about the food and more about the drinks… And even then, pretty much any drink as long as it’s got alcohol in it will do nicely thank you. You can always change the name of an otherwise ordinary drink to make it more spooky. No-one will really care though.
In addition to the enormous volume of sweets your child will no doubt collect if they go trick or treating (see below), you may also be coerced / whined at / lose control of your senses sufficiently to attempt to make your own Halloween ‘treats’.
Before you attempt some Pinterest horror or other, know this: Your children will initially be delighted, owing to the sheer novelty value, and proclaim these ‘treats’ to be “amazing”. They will scoff one enthusiastically, and then bimble off to do something else.
Later on, they will admit that “I didn’t really like them as much as I thought I would Mummy.” The rest will go in the bin.
An excellent excuse to dress up, laugh a lot and get royally pissed.
Lots of bad dancing to Thriller, naturally.
Your friend, who dressed up as a slutty dead nurse, will probably cop off with some bloke in a Batman muscle outfit. Your other mate who dressed up as an enormous rubix cube will drink too much and blow chunks in the garden, emerging all crumpled and smelling of sick.
Someone will have made luminous vodka jelly shots, which seem like a cracking idea until you wake the next morning feeling like you’ve been run over and discover dried sticky jelly in your hair, which stinks. And induces hangover vomming.
Now you are a parent, the parties you find yourself preparing for are for children. There are two very different outcomes here as follows…
a) Your child has been invited to another child’s party
This means that you not only have child-free time but are likely to be absolved from shlepping around trick or treating with them. You go all-out organising your child’s fancy dress, and when dropping off your child you greet the parents holding the party with such unreserved enthusiasm that they wonder if you’re on drugs.
If your child is young, they may well be phased by any particularly ambitious or gruesome Halloween decorations at the party house. Brush these off in a slightly high-pitched and airy fashion by reassuring them that it’s all made of plastic whilst simultaneously skipping back towards the car. They will be fine, obvs.
b) You are holding a Halloween party
Dear God why would you do this to yourself? Why?
Prepare for two hours of absolute bedlam in which 12 overexcited kids cram their faces with hideous amounts of sugar, spill sticky drinks all over the carpet / the sofa / the dog, and take turns to break out the histronics when they don’t win at apple bobbing.
When it’s over, you will pour yourself an enormous glass of wine whilst vowing never, ever, to do it again.
3) Fancy Dress:-
There are 4 outfit options available:
a) Go all-out and wear something outlandish and over the top which guarantees a laugh, but will inevitably make you look like a bit of a knob.
b) Don some sort of sexy / borderline slutty ‘spooky’ outfit which you’ll think is a brilliant idea, and a bit ‘cheeky’ when getting dressed. Eventually derives the same outcome as 1, once you are a bit worse for wear.
c) Construct some sort of ‘clever’, costume that reflects something which is based on current affairs / something politically ‘of the moment’, or a recent social media craze. When you arrive at the party you will be greeted with lot of “What have you come as?!?” and then “Oh…. Clever…” Which will initially be part of the fun but will get boring after you’ve been asked 27 times.
d) Say you can’t be arsed to dress up, and just pop on a pair of cat ears, or carry some sort of mask. Then feel a bit left out when you see everyone else’s outfits.
You are either the sort of Mum who possesses sufficient skills to remember to buy / make / craft laboriously in order to ensure that your children have adequately Halloweeny outfits for the day…
…Or you’re like me, in which case something in the back of your mind registers that it’s nearly Halloween and you really should crack on, but you get distracted what with one thing or another, until you wind up rifling through the airing cupboard at 3pm on Halloween eve, a la Halloween 2016 chez moi.
Handy Tip: Buy a big snazzy box of face paints and stash them somewhere. If the day comes and you’ve clean forgot there’ll always be something you can turn your kid into by going all out painting their faces, and cobbling together an outfit using their everyday clothes: Green face + ragged trousers = the Incredible Hulk. Blue face + white shorts = a smurf. Easy peasy.
4) Trick Or Treating:-
No. Just No.
I am not procuring vast quantities of sweets and carving a bloody pumpkin just so that I’m up and down like a bloody yo-yo all night answering the door to ungrateful kids expecting rewards from me just because their parents dressed them up.
Turn the hall light off and don’t answer the door. Sooner or later they’ll think we’re out and bugger off.
Once you have rescued the costume situation from the brink of disaster, your little darlings / hooligans will be dressed and utterly ecstatic at the prospect of being able to knock on strangers’ doors and demand sweets without fear of remonstration (kind of counterproductive, considering ALL THE THINGS we teach our children about manners, stranger danger and stuff, but hey-ho.)
Armed with bags (or if you have really gone to town, specific trick or treat pots which you have either bought from Asda or created during a previous Pinterest inspired craft session) you set out. You soon realise that only about 25% of the houses in your neighbourhood are participating, and competition is fierce.
There is about an hour of frenzied house-checking, door knocking and sweets gathering, trying to get around the block quick so you get there before they run out, seeing as demand is high and resources are low. At the end of the route, you and your thoroughly over-stimulated, and no doubt overtired, children return home. At which point they will expect to demolish an unhealthy volume of their hoard.
You can either let them go to town, in which case they will be bouncing off the walls until they eventually have a meltdown before finally relenting and being put to bed 3 hours late, or you can ration them. Be warned: Although the latter seems like the sensible option it will still no doubt incur a meltdown and probable utter hatred from your children anyway. YOU CANNOT WIN THIS.
Ideally you will want to source something that is just the right balance of creepy/supernatural and preposterous, so that you can laugh nervously about how unrealistic it is when the scary bits kick in. Best matched with some tasty snacking options and booze of your choice.
You will still find yourself running back to the front room from the toilet when you go for a wee, but feel a bit silly about it once you’re back in a well lit room.
This is an absolute minefield, especially if your kids are on the younger side. On the one hand they will want you to put on something sufficiently spooky to feel festive, but on the other hand, anything even slightly dicey might set them up for random terrors come bedtime.
Try and fob them off with something fairly fluffy, preferably animated, to be on the safe side. They will probably get bored and demand you put on Star Wars or Power Rangers halfway through anyway.
Consider yourself off the hook.
So there you have it… Amazing how making a few small humans totally rewires an occasion isn’t it? Still; On the plus side, you will be demonstrably less hungover in the morning, and you now have emergency outfits to stash away for when you forget next year.
Happy Halloween Spooky Mamas. Catch you on the flipside! Kate xx
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