A Note from Natalie
Natalie is the resident writer, but not an expert. For expert advice, please book a consultation with Dr Quinn
What has all this to do with wellbeing?
It’s a chance for celebration, a chance to connect to friends and family in a relaxed, expressive and fun way. Time to be creative, an opportunity to play, explore your imagination and be ‘young’ again…
Get stuck in this year and embrace the rare occasion to dress up, to be dramatic, to explore parts of yourself that don’t usually get to see the light of day…
There’s a reason this night has a place in cultures all over the globe and spans hundreds of years of tradition. Try and experience it for yourself to find out why…
Cat Power, Werewolf
Back to Nature
All the atmosphere of Halloween is right outside your door in flaming colours, moody mists and the first glimpses of tree skeletons revealed by falling leaves… so try decorating with your senses this year and get foraging!
The plus side of decorating with found objects is that what you make can actually be a really beautiful, traditional counterpoint to the more plastic, garish commercial style.
I made this leaf wreath in the picture on the right to garnish the bottom of a candle in 10 minutes, but if you’ve got longer, go for a garland because they look sensational! And see below in ‘costumes’ for an idea of integrating this garland into your own dramatic look!
Here’s my step-by-step guide to creating a leaf wreath with nothing more than found leaves, a bit of cotton and a needle.
STEP 1: Forage
You will need a LOT of leaves! Whether you’re in the city or the country, at this time of year, leaves are no problem. Go for as many different types and colours as you can. Your leaves are going to be pretty tightly packed to give the best effect, so the more variations they have, the better it looks!
STEP 2: Get a nice cup of tea, and get stacking.
For speed, you can stack a bunch in your fingers and thread them all at the same time.
a) put a loop in the end so your leaves don’t slide off – and you can use that later for either hanging a garland, or tying off a wreath.
b) don’t put all the leaves up the same way. You’ll get more texture and variation if you stack the curves in oppoisiton. Also, don’t ‘design’ the colours too much. The best result is random selection.
STEP 3: Just keep going!
If you want to do a full length garland, you will need probably a black bag of leaves.
1 inch of garland is roughly 6 crisp leaves (more if they’re flat leaves with no curves), so the best way to estimate is measure how long you want your garland, times it by 6 – and get foraging!
Remember you can add your own garnishing details – berries, mini pumpkins, bats, glitter – whatever you like!
Costumes aren’t just for kids. There’s something pretty primal about dressing up, wearing disguises, playing at being something, or someone else. And actually in some ways, it’s easier to be our more authentic selves when we’re wearing a disguise than it is when we’re in full view of the world.
Dressing up isn’t just fun, it’s magical, it lifts you out of the ordinary and takes you to a realm of mystery and mischief.
Throw yourself into it with great gusto, and if you’re completely stuck and uninspired for something scary to wear…remember it’s often the simplest things that are the most unnerving…
Image from cosplay.com
The old favourite. It’s used throughout the world for the purpose of masks, statues, boxes, dishes etc etc – pretty much all seasons of the year. You can get very creative with it. For some advanced inspiration on making your own masks, check out the amazing Dan Reed here at his paper maché blog.
DIY Day of the Dead
Mexico’s Day of the Dead masks are steeped in culture and folk tradition. Respecting and understanding where something comes from helps us appreciate it more deeply.
The popularity of this aesthetic probably comes from the fact that we can all appreciate the gorgeous aesthetic of highly decorated skulls and Flor de Muerto:
Mask by Suzi Linden
It’s the reality of life mixed with the beauty of magic, hope, music and laughter…
So rather than buy a mask, or print one from an internet template, why not make your own authentic costume of festive celebration?
If you have children, help them out with a simple paper maché mask, and encourage them to paint their own symbols of what this time of year means to them. Generally, children have less trouble with this than most adults do – they don’t tend to struggle to come up with images and symbols at all, because they’re still quite connected to their creative selves (or at least they should be!)
You can use the leaf garland above to make a headdress. And if you don’t have time to make a paper maché mask, go for facepaint.
Here’s some inspiration for children’s costumes.
In the words of Albert Einstein…Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.
Natalie’s Playlist: Halloween for Grown-Ups
Click he link above for over 3 hrs of tunes from classic rock to cult movies, with not a TV theme in sight!
Please note: Spotify DOES run ads, so if you’re using this playlist for a party, upgrade to get interruption-free music!
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Devil Woman – Cliff Richard
Witchy Woman – Eagles
Highway TO Hell – AC/DC
The Call of Ktulu – Metallica
Human Fly – The Cramps
Sisters of the Moon – Fleetwood Mac
Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
Bat Out Of Hell – Meatloaf
I Put a Spell on You – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Ghost Town – The Specials
Jealousy – Stanley Black and His Orchestra
Pet Semetary – The Ramones
Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones
Paint it Black – The Rolling Stones
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
Wicked Annabella – The Kinks
Superstition – Stevie Wonder
Lullaby – The Cure
Do You Believe in Magic – The Lovin’ Spoonful
Moondance – Van Morrison
Hungry Like The Wolf – Duran Duran
Every Little Thing She Does is Magic – The Police
Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
Riders on the Storm – The Doors
Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
Sweet Dreams – Beyonce
Sweet Dreams – Eurythmics
Cry Little Sister (From Lost Boys) – Gerard McMann
Enter Sandman – Metallica
The Female of the Species – Space
Red Right Hand – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Dark Secret – Matthew Sweet
How Soon is Now? – The Smiths
Tomorrow Never Knows – Our Lady Peace
Hotel California – Eagles
Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor – Dan Mumm
Howl – Florence and the Machine
Flesh ‘N Blood – Oingo Boingo
The Mark of the Devil – Pulp
Masters of the Universe – Hawkwind
Killer Queen – Queen
Magic Dance – David Bowie
The Werewolf – Paul Simon
Venus in Furs – The Velvet Underground, Nico
Werewolf – Cat Power
Seven Devils – Florence and the Machine
Black Magic Woman – Fleetwood Mac
Important: While we hope to inspire you, you MUST make sure that all ingredients you use are compatible with your own individual medical conditions, medication, allergies and goals.
Some healthier family fare hand-picked by Debbie for a cosy night (and of course adaptable for parties!)
Warming Vegetable and Pink Lady® Apple Soup
- 1 – Large carrot
- 1 – Sweet potato
- 2 – Garlic cloves
- 2 – Pink Lady® apples
- 1 – Large red onion
- 3cm – Fresh ginger
- 25g – Butter
- 1 tbsp – Mild, medium or madras curry powder
- 1 tsp – Cumin
- 1/2 tsp – Paprika
- 1/2 tsp – Tumeric
- 3cm – Cinnamon stick
- 4 – Cardamon pods
- 100g – Red lentils
- 500ml – Vegetable stock
- 400g – Tin chopped tomatoes
- 400g – Tin coconut milk
- 100g – Natural Yoghurt
- Peel the carrots, sweet potato, garlic cloves, apples and onion. Ask an adult to dice this for you and discard the apple cores. Peel the fresh ginger using a teaspoon and grate it into a small bowl.
- When all the vegetables have been chopped ask an adult to supervise you while you melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion, carrots and sweet potato and cook over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally until the onion has softened.
- Add the garlic, ginger and apples and sauté for 2-3 minutes then add the curry powder and spices, stir to coat the vegetables well.
- Add the lentils, stock and tomatoes and bring the soup to the boil. Add more stock if the soup seems very thick. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
- Ask an adult to supervise you while you remove the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. They tend to float to the top so are pretty easy to find. Puree the soup with a stick blender or liquidiser leaving some chunky if you prefer.
- Stir in the coconut milk, adjust seasoning and serve with a dollop of yogurt.
Spicy sticky chicken
From Jamie Oliver
- 3 fresh red chillies (Amend to your own tolerance for spice!!)
- 2 onions
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 4 large plum tomatoes
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander
- 4 large free-range chicken legs, skin on
- olive oil
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 tablespoon crumbled dried curry leaves
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- fat-free natural yoghurt
- Halve the chillies (deseed if you like), peel and finely slice the onions, then peel and crush the garlic. Quarter the plum tomatoes, and pick the coriander leaves.
- Rub the chicken legs all over with a drizzle of oil and the garam masala, then transfer to a large non-stick ovenproof pan.
- Add another drizzle of oil and fry the chicken over a medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lovely and dark golden all over. Be brave and let it get really nice and dark – it will make such a difference to the end result if you get it right at this stage. Drain off any excess fat.
- At this point, preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.
- Next, add the curry leaves, mustard seeds, chillies, onion and garlic to the chicken. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes and white wine vinegar.
- Transfer the pan to the oven. Cook, uncovered, for 50 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and falling off the bone.
- Pop the pan on the hob and reduce the liquid until sticky. Scatter with the coriander leaves and serve with the cooling yoghurt. Delicious with rice or couscous, and a crisp, refreshing salad.
Serve with Crispy Jacket Potatoes
BBCgoodfood.com reported that Vivaldi, Sante, and Melody potatoes are the best bakers. For a super crispy skin and a slow cooked inside, go for 180C for 2hrs 20mins
Frozen banana ghosts
BBC Good Food
- 200g bar white chocolate (suggestion: Green & Blacks), broken into chunks
- 4 medium-large, ripe bananas
- 85g desiccated coconut (you won’t use it all)
- handful dark chocolate drops (suggestion: raw cacao nibs)
- In a small bowl, gently melt the chocolate either in the microwave – in short bursts on high or over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water). Set aside for a moment while you get the bananas ready.
- Peel the bananas, cut in half, and push a lolly stick into the middle of each piece. Spread the coconut out in a shallow bowl. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment, and make sure there is room for the tray in the freezer.
- Using a pastry brush, coat a banana half in chocolate, letting excess drip away. Sprinkle with plenty of the coconut until coated, then set it on the prepared sheet. Now add two chocolate eyes and a mouth, and if you like, cut a few little eyebrows from the chocolate drops too. Freeze the lollies for at least 4 hrs, and up to a week.
Dracula’s blood punch
BBC Good Food
- 2l cherry juice
- peel from 3 oranges, pared with a vegetable peeler
- 1 thumb-sized red chilli, pierced a few times but left whole
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 10 clove
- 6 slices ginger
- Dracula’s fangs sweets (available from sweet shops), to serve, optional
- Tip the cherry juice, orange peel, chilli, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ginger into a large saucepan. Simmer for 5 mins, then turn off the heat. Leave to cool, then chill for at least 4 hrs, or up to 2 days – the longer you leave it the more intense the flavours. If serving to young children, take the chilli out after a few hours.
- When you’re ready to serve, pour the juice into a jug. Serve in glass bottles or glasses and pop a straw in each. Dangle a fangs sweet from each glass.