There is no better time of year than Halloween. The food, the decorations, the costumes ... the (horror) show of community spirit. With so many elements to celebrate, consider this your guide to getting the most out of your October.
Halloween is not an American holiday. It started as the Celtic holiday, Samhain, and was introduced into America by Irish immigrants who were fleeing the potato famine. While its meaning is deeply rooted in ghosts and otherworldly spirits, America has helped to shape it into a more festive affair with costumes, food-focused celebrations, and family-friendly fun.
Halloween in Australia still largely focuses on all things dark in nature. Small scary clowns, cackling witches, ghosts and vampires are all rife on suburban streets come October. As the holiday gathers momentum in Oz, costumes are becoming gradually more inspired by fantasy and pop culture.
Anything goes on October 31st, so by all means, embrace the tradition. Flex your creative muscle in the costume department, and dress as a public figure, your favourite food, or your scariest nightmare. And if you’re unsure, feel free to use one of my ideas below for inspiration. Mi costume idea, es su costume idea. That’s what the Spanish are always saying, right…?!
- An overripe avocado: Is there anything more alarming?!
- Single-use plastic: For an element of high-brow horror. Bonus points for upcycling your single-use waste.
- A melting Wicked Witch of the West: As a stark reminder of the climate crisis.
- Coriander: If you’re looking to cause a fright to roughly 15% of the population.
- A black cat: A social commentary on the impact of superstition on black cat adoption.
- Potato: In any of its wondrous forms.
Trick or treat
There are few things more adorable than gentle knocks at your door on Halloween night, followed by the painfully shy, awkward chant of ‘trick or treat’. In all my Halloweens on this planet, I’m yet to meet a trick-or-treater who actually has a trick up their sleeve — which is just fine by me. In the current climate, we can’t be affording to use a precious commodity like toilet paper for anything but … well, y’know. And hurling eggs at houses…? Don’t get me started! In the off-chance you do happen upon a trickster, be sure your treat offerings are up to scratch. I’d hate for you to fall prey to any acts of mischief.
I want candy
Did you know that many sweets contain animal products? That’s an element of horror we can do without!
All is not lost, however! Supermarkets and chain stores carry a range of animal-free treats, sparing animals from the blood and gore of the season. Be sure to check out your local milk bars too, as they often have some exciting finds.
Mad Monster Party
October is the season for numerous parties and potlucks, giving you the ultimate reason to go all out in the kitchen. Share dishes are always great, but when there is a theme involved, it can take your festivities to the next level.
If you don’t have time to allow your mind to wander the murderous pits of doom or the fiery depths of hell for inspiration, not to worry — I’m here to help. Try these simple but effective dishes and share plates to impress even the most discerning of ghouls…
- Pizza Bones: Using a cookie cutter, stamp out as many bones as you can from sheets of puff pastry. Sandwich your pizza fillings of choice between two of the bones, and press the edges with a fork to seal, and that’s it — Fester’s your uncle! Don’t forget to add a side of Napoli sauce blood for dipping.
- Jack O’ Lantern Stuffed Peppers: Grab your smallest knives and get a-carvin’! I recommend this delicious stuffed pepper recipe. With the simple addition of spooky faces, you’ve turned this Mexican-style treat into a festive delight!
- Frankenguac: It’s just like your regular guac, but with a face. Fill a bowl and decorate with olives for facial features and blue corn tortilla chips for the hair. This one isn’t rocket science, but it is avocado. No need to reinvent the wheel with every dish!
- Munster Wraps: Decorated and filled spinach wraps to live out all your Herman Munster dreams…? That’s a big yes from me!
- Monster Mash Shepherd’s Pie: A rich, indulgent lentil shepherd’s pie is always a hit, but it’s even better when the mash is piped into potato ghosts with peppercorn eyes. Sweet potato can also make a welcome and colourful addition in the ghost department.
- Dips, dips, and more dips: Since you’ve already bought pepper, put a few lanterns aside for some no-waste dip bowls. Vegetable dips, hummus, or this winning Hot Cheddar and Jalapeno number with a side of bat-shaped tortillas, is sure to liven up any spread.
- Sweet Voodoo Doll Pastries: Bring in the gingerbread cutters, things are about to get dark! Slather sweet fillings in your sandwich of pastry people, and bake until golden brown. Skewer with toothpicks as desired – you can let spite be your guide.
- Vampire Sandwich Cookies: This Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookie recipe is only an alteration away from a blood-sucking treat. Whip up a Vanilla Buttercream with red food dye. Sandwich two semi-circle cookies with buttercream and add marshmallow teeth to the rounded edges. Add marshmallow fangs, or for added crunch, slivered almond points.
- Witch’s Fingers: Shortbread classics never let me down. Right before your cookies are due out of the oven, brush with Nuttelex and dust with choc cookie crumbs. Apply some choc fudge glue and apply the slivered almond nail. (Hershey’s Chocolate topping is recommended but feel free switch up with raspberry sauce as well, for an elegant mix of ‘blood and dirt’.)
These suggestions really are just a drop in the coffin when it comes to Halloween cooks and bakes. There are infinite possibilities with themed foods, which is where the trusty ol’ world wide web comes in handy. Let Google image search be your guide, if you dare, and see what fresh, tasty hell it brings…!
Season of the witch
Now that you’ve dressed up, partied, eaten, and have more sweets than you could poke a sharp instrument at, strap in for some classic holiday viewing. You don’t need to be a horror fiend to enjoy this vital part of the celebrations – my below suggestions are all family-friendly!
- The Addams Family & Addams Family Values: Christina Ricci was born to play the magnificently macabre Wednesday Addams.
- Mad Monster Party: This 1967 stop-motion classic is visually stunning!
- It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Peanuts holiday specials never fail to hit me in my hollow, heartless chest.
- What we do in the Shadows: Just three Kiwi vampire housemates, living their best eternal lives.
- Beetlejuice: For so many reasons, but especially 80’s Winona Ryder.
- The Witches of Eastwick: Never pass up an opportunity to combine your Halloween celebrations with Cher!
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show: With a cast of colourful characters and plenty of sing-a-long opportunities, this is an October must!
- The Munsters: Just your average Transylvanian-American family of loveable monsters, doing their best to keep up with the Joneses.
- The Twilight Saga: Glittering vampires, jealous teenage werewolves, and high school hormones…? Yes please!
- The Craft: High school witche. Need I say more?
It’s time to get spooky
Now that you’re no doubt feeling excited, inspired, and empowered to hit the streets, my job here is done.
I will leave you with a small piece of advice though. In the unfortunate event your celebrations aren’t going to plan, and you find yourself all dressed up and with nowhere to go — don’t fret. Your friends may have abandoned you, but take note from Wednesday Addams:
Popularity is fleeting. I prefer to set my sights on something challenging — the establishment.
Happy Halloween, ghouls!