It’s been a frightful year already but Halloween is almost here. Yes, I know some criticise Halloween as being an imported, commercialised celebration that’s overly fixated on junk food and begging from strangers. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s how to celebrate this spooky holiday which actually has its origins in pagan harvest festivals without spending too much and without the major sugar highs in the middle of a pandemic.
Please note: The suggestions provided in the following article are based on the easing of restrictions according to the NSW roadmap. NSW has reached the 80% double vaccination target. Visit the NSW COVID-19 website for information about the freedoms granted to fully vaccinated people.
Meet Drac from Hotel Transylvania roaming around Jesmond Central and snap a spooky pic together on Saturday 30 October. He’ll have Halloween treats for you! You can find him at the following times. 10am – 10:30am, 11am – 11:30am and 12pm – 12:30pm.
Celebrate Halloween at Ninja Parc with spooktacular games and Halloween-themed classes. Kids are invited to dress up in their most terrifying attire for a chance to win great prizes. The Halloween Party will take place on Saturday October 30 from 9am to 4pm at Ninja Parc Newcastle – Darby St & Tooke St, Cooks Hill. Bookings are essential – visit the Ninja Parc website or phone (02) 4926 4488. Book online using the code HALLOWEEN before the day and get 10% off.
Take part in Charlie’s Spooktacular Halloween event at Reading Cinemas on Saturday 30 October. There are three different sessions which include a screening of Hotel Transylvania, scary beats disco, trick or treat goodie bag, Halloween games, and a best dressed competition (with fantastic prizes). Sessions run at 9:30am, 12:30pm and 3:30pm and cost $5 for adults and $5 for kids. This is a COVID Safe event, in line with NSW Government restrictions. Bookings required.
Trick or Treating COVID-style
Trick or treating is going to be different this year. Under the 80% rules, up to 50 people can gather outside in a public place and COVID-19 protocols need to be followed. Here is handy health advice from NSW Health provided for Halloween 2020.
COVID-safe tips if you plan to hand out treats
NSW Health recommends:
- If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 over Halloween, stay home, don’t receive Halloween visitors and get tested immediately
- If you are self-isolating, don’t answer the door to trick-or-treaters
- Make it a front-yard event, not at the front-door of your house. Keep your celebrations outdoors and get creative in decorating the front yard
- Only hand out individually wrapped treats
- Don’t use communal lolly bowls. Consider other ways of distributing treats such as hanging them individually on your fence, front gate or up your driveway
- Offer hand sanitiser at your front gate or fence
- You may wish to avoid people knocking on your door by putting up a sign that says “We are home but due to COVID-19, we are distancing. Please take one, Happy Halloween”
COVID-safe tips if you plan to trick or treat
NSW Health recommends:
- If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 this Halloween, stay home and give trick-or-treating a miss this year. Get tested immediately
- Keep it local by staying in your suburb rather than going to well-known “treat streets” that attract crowds
- Celebrate outside, don’t go to people’s front door
- Stay in small household groups (for example a supervising adult and children from the same household) rather than groups of young people together. Under the current 80% rules that NSW is under for vaccinated people, no more than 50 people can gather outside in a public place
- Stay 1.5 meters away from people you don’t live with
- Only take treats that are individually wrapped
- Use a disposable bag to collect your treats, and dispose of it appropriately afterwards
- Don’t share your treats with others from different households
- Don’t share costumes or costume face masks
- Carry hand sanitiser with you and use it often, especially after touching common surfaces.
If trick or treating in your neighbourhood is off the table for your family this year, we’ve come up with a list of alternatives.
Do a Trick or Treat Drive By
Still want to trick or treat? Drive over to friends and family in your costumes and pick up or deliver treats in person. It’s an opportunity to dress up the kids and celebrate while still abiding by COVID-19 protocols if you’re not fully vaccinated.
Drop Off Boo Bags
Instead of going around trick or treating, how about doing the reverse. Create a Boo Bag filled with fun Halloween treats and leave it on the doorstep for a friend, family member or neighbour. Ring the doorbell or text and let them know it’s there.
Decorate your house
Get in the Halloween mood and decorate the outside of your house for families to enjoy while they walk or drive by. Make some ghosts, decorate with pumpkins and enjoy the spookiness. You can also decorate rooms in your own home and make your own haunted house for your kids to enjoy.
Take your dog for a Halloween walk
Get your family dressed up in Halloween costumes and take your pet (costume optional) for a walk.
Instead of trick or treating, organise a Halloween hunt in your house and/or backyard. Think Easter Egg Hunt only it’s Halloween. You can buy sweets, stickers, little toys and hide them and then let your kids run around and find them.
Glow in the dark hunt
Want to up the fun? Do a Halloween hunt in the dark using glow in the dark items for kids to find. Think glow in the dark necklaces, bracelets, wands, headbands and stickers. You can even buy Elmer’s Glow in the Dark glue to add to existing things you have at home to make them glow.
Organise a Halloween party at home
If you’re fully vaccinated, you can now have up to 20 people visiting your home (visitor limits do not apply for children under the age of 12). You might want to invite a group of friends or family and celebrate Halloween at home with treats, Halloween games, a Halloween parade, a Halloween movie and more.
Zoom Halloween party
If you would prefer not to have an in-person event, organise a Zoom party for a big group of kids. Get kids to dress up in their costumes and arrange treats to be delivered beforehand that they can eat together. Organise games like scavenger hunts, Halloween bingo cards or riddles that they can play together while in their own home.
Carve a pumpkin
This is the year to learn how to carve a Halloween pumpkin. I’ve spotted whole orange pumpkins perfect for carving at my local supermarket. If you don’t want to buy a pumpkin, use oranges. Buy a whole bag of oranges and try carving different expressions into their faces. For younger kids, let them use foam stickies or googly eyes to make fun faces. When you’re finished playing, just cut up the oranges to eat!
Take Halloween photos
Get the whole family dressed up in Halloween costumes and then take some family selfies. Make sure you dress your pet as well.
Order Halloween cookies
Local company Funky Monkey Cookies have created special Halloween cookies to treat your little monsters. Order some Funky Fright Night Cookies as well as the other delicious cookies they offer. The Funky Fright Night Cookies have ghoulish orange coloured buttercream filled centre, black velvet dough that is as dark as the scary freaky night and white choc chips. Topped with haunting white wisps of chocolate drizzled and spooky sprinkles. Yummo!
Have a Halloween-themed bath
Local company Wax & Lye have created Halloween themed artisan soaps and bath bombs. These handmade soaps are a fantastic, sugar-free gift alternative for Halloween. There are also Black Flame candles inspired by the early 90’s Halloween movie classic, “Hocus Pocus”.
Halloween Tik Toks
If you’re a Tik Tok family, stay in costume and make some fun Halloween Tik Tok videos. Get your music and dance routines sorted and start filming. How about recreating “Thriller”?
Make your kids work for their candy by filling a pinata with Halloween treats. Let them take turns bashing the pinata until it breaks.
Listen to Halloween music
Spin the Halloween tunes this year. Whether you’re having a family dance party or a karaoke night, choose from a great selection of music. We’ve put together a Spotify Halloween playlist with some of our favourite songs inspired by Halloween.
Make Halloween food
Cook with your kids and make some spooky food. Yes, there can be lots of sugary treats available around Halloween but encourage kids to enjoy a few sweets and then switch to some healthy options.
Here’s some creative food options for Halloween listed on the Woolies website including ghost Halloween pizzas, crunchy noodle spiders, Redback Spider Dip and Slimy Swamp Smoothie. On the Coles website, you’ll find mummy sausage rolls, Monster burgers, spooky fruit kebabs, spooky sushi balls and a ghost milkshake.
Halloween craft & games
If you prefer to organise a Halloween party at home, jump onto the Newy with Kids Halloween Pinterest board for loads of ideas for crafts and games. There’s lots of ideas including bobbing for apples, donut eating race, costume ideas, Halloween bingo and skeleton puzzles.
Play Stupid Deaths
If you have older kids, play Stupid Deaths, the perfect game for Halloween. In this game, players have to guess whether a stupid death is real or made up. Read Newy with Kids full review.
Watch a scary flick
Spend some spooky family time watching scary movies together in honour of Halloween. You’ll find a selection to choose from on Netflix and Disney+. Some of our favourites include The Addams Family, Beetlejuice, Coco, Corpse Bride, ET, Ghostbusters, The Goonies, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, Gremlins, Hocus Pocus, Monsters Inc, Scooby Do, The Addams Family, The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Spiderwick Chronicles. Younger kids will enjoy Room on the Broom, Spookley the Square Pumpkin or Super Monsters: Vida’s First Halloween or Dreamworks Spooky Stories. Whatever movie you watch, pair it with some ghoulish green popcorn.
Read some Halloween kids books
For a spooky read on Halloween, here are some page turners.
Florentine and Pig and the Spooky Forest Adventure by Eva Katzler
There’s a monster on the loose, and Florentine and Pig are determined to catch it! And what will they need for their monster-catching expedition? Binoculars? Torch? Super-scrummy supper? CHECK!
Sounds Spooky by Christopher Cheng and illustrated by Sarah Davis
Filled with onomatopoeia this book with a delightfully spooky twist will have young readers listening for those spooky sounds and chanting, ‘What’s that noise that I can hear? I’m not scared!’
The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon by Aaron Blabey
Life is cursed for the townsfolk of Twee. The ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon haunts their every waking hour and they’ve had enough! But then one day, the brave and practical young Herbert Kettle has the most extraordinary idea . . .
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler
The witch and her cat fly happily over forests, rivers and mountains on their broomstick until a stormy wind blows away the witch’s hat, bow and wand. They are retrieved by a dog, a bird and a frog, and each animal asks for a ride on the broom. They climb on, one after the next, until the broom is so heavy that it snaps in two! What will happen next as they tumble into a bog and meet a greedy dragon?
What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen by Nick Sharratt
The witch has hidden a trick and a treat in her magical kitchen cupboards! Which one you find depends on how you open the doors. Whether it’s frogspawn or popcorn, lollipops or rabbit plops, there are hilarious rhymes to discover inside in this innovative new novelty book from Nick Sharratt. Age 0+
Mr Tickle and the Scary Halloween by Roger Hargreaves
Ever since Little Miss Scary moved to town, Halloween had become really scary. Scare your pants off scary! But Mr. Tickle has a plan to make this year different – a ticklishly, tricky plan! Watch out little Miss Scary, there’s someone behind you!
Halloween in Christmas Hills by Karen Tayleur and illustrated by Heath McKenzie
This is a very Aussie Halloween book.When Miles Cameron was allowed to go trick or treating for the first time, everyone warned him to stay away from Stingy Jacks house. If only he had listened. Halloween is here to stay! And this book taps into the growing interest Aussie kids have in this holiday. ‘Halloween in Christmas Hills’ reminds people that this holiday is actually Celtic in origin not American. Age 5+
Cats on the Run by Ged Gilmore
Although not strictly a Halloween book, it does contain magic and foul-smelling witches who have abducted the two feline heroes of this story, Will Tuck and Ginger. This chapter book is a funny read for kids aged 8 to 12 or any adults who want a good laugh.
In 2012, Reena founded Newy with Kids to share information about family-friendly Newcastle. Originally from Canada, she had no idea about what to do with her toddler and after searching unsuccessfully for a local family guide, decided to start her own. Since that time, both the toddler and Newy with Kids have grown keeping Reena busy. If you see her out and about, say hi.