Hooray for Halloween - party ideas for the kids

Traditionally Halloween hasn't been the biggest of holidays in the UK but All Hallows' Eve is fast over-taking Valentine's Day as families splash out on costumes, decorations and parties.

Children dressed in Halloween costumes
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It also offers mums, dads and children alike an excellent opportunity to get creative with costumes, recipes and games.

But where do you start?

A good idea is to come up with a theme and the children will no doubt happily pitch up with their very own creepy favourites - whether it's vampires and werewolves, witches and warlocks or ghouls and goblins.

For those with children too young for anything too scary, a witches' tea party means they can join in with baking scary cookies and weird and wonderful cakes.

For ease of costume, an Addams Family bash requires simple face paint and hairspray while if you can persuade the kids that Egyptian mummies are big this year, you can cheaply and cheerfully let them go mad with the tissue paper.

If you're looking for something a little more flash in the costume department, the shops are awash with Halloween gear at this time of year and children and adults can get hold of almost any creepy creature there is.

Of course, you will need at least one pumpkin and the kids will love hollowing out the slimy insides (just remember to keep knives well out of their reach). Buy several smaller pumpkins and you can even arrange a competition to see who can draw on the scariest face.

And the pumpkin is just the beginning.

Depending on your party theme, simple decorations can bring a whole new dimension to your haunted house. Black paper for scary silhouettes, glow-in-the-dark paints for ghastly ghosts and clothes stuffed with newspaper and pinned together can create a seriously creepy closet.

Once your home is suitably scary, it's time for the fun to begin. Trick or treating, pin the hat on the witch, the mummy wrap relay (where teams see how quickly they can wrap their 'mummy' in a whole roll of toilet paper) and a Halloween parade, allowing everyone to show off their costumes, will all get the party going.

And no Halloween party would be complete without apple-bobbing - after all, nothing gets the children excited like a game that gets messy!