How To Keep Pets Calm When There Are Fireworks

Halloween is almost upon us. The shops are full of Halloween decorations and people are preparing for what has become quite a big party night. It also won’t be long before there’ll be the sound of fireworks being let off late into the night and, when that happens,  you can hear dogs barking right across the village. Pet anxiety can be a big problem for some pet owners at this time of year – and for the rest of us too!

pet anxiety - labrador puppy with a happy halloween ornament

I can’t understand why fireworks are still available for sale to the public given the risks to health and safety, particularly to our children and animals.

Then there’s the upset our pets may feel at the increased noise and intrusion into their normally peaceful routines. Animals have very acute hearing and loud noises can cause them real distress. The possible disturbance of trick or treaters ringing the doorbell may set pets howling or running for cover.

As Kennel Club Secretary, Caroline Kisko says, “dogs can react very badly to the unfamiliar sights and sounds that are common around Halloween and Bonfire Night. Fireworks, people in costumes knocking on the door, flashes of light and other things that dogs would not normally experience can be terrifying for dogs and could result in them behaving unpredictably which could put their safety, or the safety of people, at risk.”

Whilst we have to put up with it – and the late-night explosions seem to start earlier every year, here are some things you can do to keep your pets calm and minimise pet anxiety, especially on the nights of these celebrations.

Signs of pet anxiety

If you have a dog, you can spot the signs of stress by looking out for the following:-

  • pushing ears back and tucking the tail
  • salivating or yawning
  • licking the muzzle, or lifting a front paw
    cowering or hiding
  • trembling or panting
  • diarrhoea

Cats will exhibit anxiety by showing aggression (hissing, spitting, scratching), hiding, trembling or cowering, meowing or refusing to use their litter box. You should also look out for excessive grooming or your pet following you everywhere.

How to minimise pet anxiety at Halloween

Try to keep them indoors

In the days when we had Samson, my beloved old black and white moggie, we always made sure he was kept indoors and that the curtains were drawn. It was a little easier for us because Samson was an indoor cat anyway and it’s obviously more difficult if your cat wants to go out for a loo break!

Try to stay with them

Some pets experience separation anxiety if left alone and during a disturbance, an anxious dog can be quite disruptive and show other behaviour problems such as chewing or biting. Good pet parents will know whether their pet will need company or whether they can be safely left alone in their basket or favourite spot.

pet anxiety - 2 pug dogs being taken for a walk

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Walk your dog earlier in the day

Walking your dog is obviously important for pet health and you don’t want your pooch to miss out on vital exercise. For dogs, the simple solution is to walk them a little earlier in the day so that they can be safely indoors when the banging and flashing starts, or when people in scary costumes start turning up.

The Kennel Club advises dog owners to walk their dog before trick or treaters start their rounds and keep a firm grip on the lead as many dogs are frightened by people in costumes and could potentially react aggressively through fear.

Distract them

A special chew, puzzle toys or some extra kitty biscuits might go some way to taking their mind off the din.  Obviously, you don’t want to feed your dog any chocolate from the Halloween sweet stash.  You might also need to keep pets’ water bowls topped up as dogs, in particular, will drink more through the extra panting that results from being scared.

You could also try distracting your pets with new toys or long-lasting chews.

Play music

Just like us, our pets can be soothed by music.  Research has shown the dogs seem to prefer the sounds of soft rock or reggae to jazz, pop, or Motown.  Classical music can be extremely calming too.

Otherwise, keep a radio or TV switched on to cover the sound of any sudden bangs and draw the curtains to minimise the lights from nearby fireworks.

pet anxiety - cat snuggled in a basket

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Create A Safety Zone

If you are having people around which will add to the noise and stress for your pet, you could bed them down in a separate room away from the hubbub.  The staff at Battersea Cats & Dogs Home suggest this could be something simple like a blanket draped over a table and to set this up so that your pet has a chance to get used to it before it needs to be used.

Try A Firework DVD or CD

The Kennel Club suggests that in the run-up to Bonfire Night or any other occasion when there will be fireworks, such as New Year’s Eve, you could try playing a sound CD with firework noises or firework sound videos on Youtube at a low level to let your dog get used to the sound in the background.

Behave normally

Close the curtains and turn the television or radio up and try to behave as normally as possible to encourage your pet to do the same. Don’t shout at your pet or tell them off – it’s not their fault they’re scared.

Pets can pick up subtle changes in your voice and body language so make sure you don’t pass their anxiety to them.

Ensure your pet is chipped or tagged

If they run off you’ll have a far better chance of getting them back again if they have been micro-chipped and are wearing an ID tag.

Fix Broken Fences & Gates

Check that your pets can’t escape from your garden if you have one. Fixing that broken fence before the festivities start might be a good idea just in case your pet makes a break for it.

Talk to your neighbours

Ask your neighbours if they are planning any parties or firework displays of their own. That way at least you’ll be prepared and could even relocate to somewhere quieter for the evening.

Talk to your vet

There are calming sprays and plug-ins that might help and it’s always worth asking your vet for some advice on how to calm an anxious dog or cat. You may be referred to a veterinary behaviourist or dog trainer. Your dog may also be prescribed dog anxiety medication if appropriate.

With a little preparation, you may be able to make Halloween and Bonfire Night less of an ordeal for your pets.

Do you have any tips for helping to keep pets calm and minimising pet anxiety?

Will Your Kids Be Trick Or Treating This Halloween?

It’s almost Halloween and, much as I adore it, I have very mixed feelings about trick or treating.  In this post I’ll cover some trick or treating safety tips to help keep your kids out of harm’s way – whether they are little ones or teens.

trick or treating - 2 carved and lit Halloween pumpkins

Love it or hate it?

Opinion seems to be thoroughly polarised between those who think trick or treating is a harmless and fun activity and those who think it’s akin to begging and threatening behaviour.

So where do you stand?

Have you ever turned all the lights out on Halloween just to avoid the constant ringing of the doorbell  Have you secretly prayed that those knocking will go away and, when they do, won’t shove something horrid through your letterbox or cover your car in eggs and flour?

Caitlin & Ieuan in their Halloween costumes 2016

And there’s the problem.

In a way, it’s a shame that, as in so many other occasions in life, the behaviour of a few spoils it for the masses.

Our Family Halloween

For the past few years, I have put on a Halloween tea for the family.  Mum and Dad come round and we try to scare my father to death by dangling fake spiders in the toilet.

The house is decorated with the supermarket’s finest and Mr Bones (our skeleton friend) makes his annual appearance.

Dummy skeleton

We always have buckets of sweets ready and it is the Husband’s duty to carve the pumpkins to light the way for any passing revellers.

Very often the callers come early in the evening escorted by their parents and the little ones are dressed to the spooky nines and look incredibly cute.

Later on, in the evening sees the odd sulky teen who might be wearing vampire fangs and a smear of fake blood who is happy to take a pound for their trouble.

Caitlin and Ieuan are regularly campaigning to be allowed to go trick or treating but in all honesty, I am really not keen on the idea.

They certainly couldn’t go unescorted but, because our village, Dinas Powys, has a large proportion of elderly residents, it isn’t really somewhere that you could knock on loads of random doors.

Caitlin and Ieuan in Halloween Costumes

I suppose you could just go to those houses where there are Halloween decorations or lit pumpkins but it all seems like a lot of effort for a few sweets when you could celebrate at home with your family.

Leaving aside the increased risk of anti-social behaviour on Halloween, there is, in any case, the issue of child safety.

So if you are going trick or treating, remember the following safety tips.

Trick or Treating Safety Tips

For Younger Children

DO

  • make sure there are enough adults to keep a close eye on them
  • check that children’s costumes have something brightly coloured or glow in the dark so that you can easily spot them
  • ensure that children’s Halloween costumes comply with European Regulations and have been flammability tested to the EN71 Standard
  • keep them away from candles and lit pumpkins and take plenty of torches or glow sticks to light the way
  • encourage the kids to take wrapped sweets and make sure you are aware of any allergies before setting off
  • remember to take buckets for the kids to collect their treats in

DON’T

  • give sweets to your pets and be aware that they may be more nervous than usual
  • let little ones take sweets that might be a choking hazard – e.g bubble gum or boiled sweets
  • bother people in houses where the lights are off and there are no Halloween decorations
  • turn up without at least a couple of ‘tricks’ to play!

For Teens

If your teens are going trick or treating:-

  • make sure you know who they are going with and what time they will be back
  • mobiles should be charged (they can also be used as torches if need be)
  • advise your teens NOT to share their itinerary on Facebook or Snapchat
  • check they’re not secreting stocks of flour, eggs or alcohol!
  • remind them that their personal safety comes first
  • make sure Mum or Dad’s taxi is ready to go in case you need to pick them up.

This year we’re playing safe again and going to our local Halloween night at the St Fagans National Museum of History where we’ll see plenty of spooky characters and the Burning Man.

Will your kids be trick or treating this Halloween?

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Family Friendly Halloween Movies

Are you looking for family-friendly Halloween movies?  There are tons of things you can watch with your kids on Halloween that aren’t scary and are suitable for all ages.

The following television shows and movies are perfect for Halloween when you want them to enjoy the holiday but not get frightened.

Hocus Pocus

Since it came out in 1993, Hocus Pocus has become everyone’s favourite Halloween movie. It is fun to watch, not too scary, and family-friendly. The movie features three sisters who are witches and live in Salem. They come back centuries after their death when they get resurrected. An immortal black cat helps the young characters get rid of the witches for good and save everyone in town in the process.

Coraline

If your kids are around 9 or 10 or older, Coraline is a great Halloween movie. It is based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, who wrote a scary book meant for children and teens. Coraline is an animated movie that came out in 2009, with imagery similar to Nightmare Before Christmas. It features an alternative world that is much more dangerous than she was expecting.

Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie

For the younger kids, there is a Halloween-themed Winnie the Pooh movie called Pooh’s Heffalump Movie. This takes place in the Hundred Acre Wood where it is Halloween and Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and the rest of the gang go on their regular adventures. This is great if you have babies or younger children since it can be something they are able to watch for Halloween while the older kids either watch it or play Halloween games in another room.

Beetlejuice

This is an older movie, and not necessarily a Halloween movie, but it is definitely one that is fun to watch during this season. Beetlejuice came out in 1988 and is one of Tim Burton’s first iconic movies. While it is somewhat of an exorcist and ghost movie, it isn’t too frightening. Older children and teens do love this movie a lot, though you might want to take a peek before you let younger kids watch it.

Dear Dracula

In Dear Dracula, the vampire has a great opportunity to try his brand new skills at the neighbourhood Halloween party, where he realizes that self-confidence is enough to make him as scary as he ever was.

Casper’s Scare School

In Casper’s Scare School, friendly ghost Casper returns only to discover that he can’t hang out with his human friend. The scare school assigns him to scare the humans, even his friend.

Toy Story of Terror

In Toy Story of Terror, Buzz and Woody return and, this time, the characters end up stranded at a roadside motel.  As toys start to disappear, the crew has to band together to figure out what’s going on.

Room on the Broom

We loved Room on the Broom – a 30-minute film based on a children’s book by Julia Donaldson all about a witch who discovers that kindness pays far more dividends than evil spells.

Scared Shrekless

In Scared Shrekless, Shrek and his friends discover that they’ll have to spend the night in Lord Farquaad’s haunted castle. As usual, chaos ensues!

The Witches

In The Witches, a young boy named Luke accidentally spies on a convention of witches while staying in a hotel with his grandmother and discovers they have a terrible plan – to turn all children into mice. Luke is the first to fall victim to their plot and has to find a way to get turned back into a human.

If Halloween stories are more your thing, you’ll find some great Halloween reads in this post.

What are your all-time favourite family-friendly Halloween movies?

Keep Kids Safe This Halloween

Halloween tends to polarise opinion, doesn’t it?  Some people (like me) love it whilst others just want to lock their doors, switch their lights off and wait for 1st November.  Certainly, over the years here in the UK we have seen a growth in the celebration and commercialism of this pagan festival and trick or treating is a big part of that.

If you let your kids go out and about on All Hallows’ Eve (to give it the correct name), then you need to ensure that you keep kids safe (and that includes tweens and teens) by teaching them personal safety tips and ensuring that there is adequate adult supervision.

For younger kids, Halloween may also be a time when you need to manage your little ones’ anxiety because it can be quite a scary time for younger children.  It may be wiser not to make a fuss about witches and ghouls and just tuck your kids up with a soothing drink and read them a comforting, non-scary bedtime story.

Pets, too, are often not great fans of Halloween or Bonfire Night celebrations and you’ll find some helpful tips for keeping your cats and dogs happy and calm in this post.

If you are planning to head out dressed in all your frightening finery, here are some tips to keep kids safe this Halloween.

Keep kids safe this Halloween

Younger Children

Do’s

Make sure there are enough adults to keep a close eye on them.  We advise our children not to talk to strangers for the rest of the year and it shouldn’t be any different on Halloween.

Check that children’s costumes have something brightly coloured or glow in the dark so that you can easily spot them.

Ensure that children’s Halloween costumes comply with European Regulations and have been flammability tested to the EN71 Standard.

Keep them away from candles and lit pumpkins and take plenty of torches or glow sticks to light the way.

Encourage the kids to take wrapped sweets and make sure you are aware of any allergies before setting off.

Don’ts

Don’t give sweets to your pets and be aware that they may be more nervous than usual.

Don’t bother people in houses where the lights are off and there are no Halloween decorations.

Don’t turn up without at least a couple of ‘tricks’ to play and remember to take buckets for the kids to collect their treats in.

Teens

If your teens are going trick or treating, make sure you know who they are going with and what time they will be back.

Mobiles should be charged (they can also be used as torches if need be) and, ideally, your teens shouldn’t be sharing their itinerary on Facebook or Snapchat.

You might also want to make sure they’re not secreting stocks of flour, eggs or alcohol!

Above all, remind them that their personal safety comes first and prepare Mum or Dad’s taxi just in case you need to pick them up.

Teaching our kids as early as possible about personal safety will only stand them in good stead in later life and give them a chance to develop their street smarts.  You can find loads more personal safety tips and ideas to stay safe around the home all year round in this helpful article from Verisure.

Photo by Bekir Dönmez on Unsplash

Halloween activities to do indoors

If you don’t want to go out then why not hold a family movie night and watch some ‘age-appropriate’ scary movies.

There are loads of great books for Halloween and older children may enjoy reading stories about ghosts and monsters.

There are lots of simple Halloween crafts that younger children may enjoy or how about baking some Halloween cookies or scary cupcakes?  You’ll find some great ideas for all things Halloween on my Pinterest board here.

Then, of course, there are the traditional Halloween games such as bobbing for apples or you could host a dancing competition and all do your best version of the Monster Mash.

What tips would you add to keep kids safe this Halloween?

 

Quick Ideas For Decorating the Outside of Your Home For Halloween

Halloween often marks the beginning of the autumn season, and many people use this as an opportunity to begin decorating their home to hunker down in maximum cosiness! But it is only too easy to spend a fortune on Halloween bits and pieces which aren’t particularly inspired or unique.

Two Halloween pumpkins

And, frankly, who wants to invest in expensive Halloween decorations for the outside of the home which are quite likely to be pinched or damaged?

Then there’s the chance for the whole family to work together on a crafting project to really celebrate the spookiest day of the year.

The following decorating tips provide family-friendly Halloween decorations that aren’t too scary but are great for this season.

Create a Pumpkin Fairy Garden

If you have kids that love fairy gardens, they will really enjoy this decoration! It can even be a craft the family creates together. Instead of putting the fairy garden in a large bowl or pot, you will instead use a pumpkin.

Since real pumpkins go bad, it is best to find a large plastic pumpkin that you would be able to use. What you want to do is have the garden inside the pumpkin, but be able to see it.

For this, you would cut out a section of the front of the pumpkin, and set up your fairy garden there. You can get a fairy figurine and decorate her in little witch clothing, then add some small pumpkins to create what looks like a little fairy pumpkin patch.

Make Yard Signs

A fun way to decorate your yard or the front of your house for Halloween is by making yard signs. These should be the names of different Halloween or spooky places with arrow-shaped signs as if they are showing where these spooky places are.

Have things like ‘Halloween Town’, ‘Bates Motel’, ‘Transylvania’ and anywhere else you and your kids want to make signs for. Stick them on stakes in your yard or attach them to a large tree in front of your house.

Put Witch Brooms On Your Porch

For porch decorations, you can make witch brooms if you are unable to find good ones at local Halloween supply stores. This is really easy to do.

You just need an old broom, since the handle and the bottom of the broom are already done. To make it look like a witch broom, get a bunch of straw and use it to cover the bottom of the broom so that it looks like the bottom of a witch broom. This is easy to do and keeps your original broom intact.

two witches brooms

Place Ghosts in the Front Yard

There are a few different options for making ghosts you can put in your front yard. The first option is to get some wire and create forms with it. This is more of a creative challenge, so maybe the kids can help as well.

You just want a simple wire form of a body. You can then put a large white dress on the form, such as one you find at a thrift store, or any type of white fabric. It makes it look like ghosts are just floating.

An easier way is to simply get plastic pumpkins and attach them to stakes in the yard. Cover the entire thing with an old white sheet, and your ghost is done.

Top 5 Halloween Costumes For Toddlers And Babies

We love to celebrate Halloween in the Hobbis household and have done since the kids were little.  Dressing up is half the fun, isn’t it? If you have a baby or toddler, you may be looking for a fun and cute Halloween costume for them. These are some of the top-rated Halloween costumes for toddlers and babies on Amazon for the comfort, style, and the fact that kids don’t mind wearing them.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

This is an excellent Halloween costume for your little one. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are very popular right now, especially in the last few years since the new movies have come out. The costume includes romper, shell and headpiece to turn your little one into Raphael in an instant. The TMNT costume is appropriate for toddlers aged 3 and up. This costume is 100% synthetic and needs to be hand washed.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Costume

Lil’ Lobster

This is an absolutely adorable costume for your baby. The machine washable Halloween costume is released by InCharacter, a company that makes some of the best costumes for babies and toddlers. The costume is in a red and orange colour theme since it looks like a little lobster. It is made from polyester and easy to care for since you can put it in the washing machine. The inside of the jumpsuit costume is lined, while it has a zipper that makes it easy to put on and take off. There is also a hood and booties that come with the lobster costume.

InCharacter Lil’ Lobster Costume

Pinky Winky Monster

If you want your baby to be a little monster, the Pinky Winky costume is perfect. This is a romper costume, so it is comfortable and easy to put on your baby, but won’t get ruined if they are crawling around the floor with it on. It is released by Rubie’s and is made of polyester. You will need to hand wash this costume if you intend to save it and use it next year. The costume is in a pink colour and includes the fuzzy romper with footies, bowtie, and horns. There is a size for younger babies and a bigger size for toddlers.

Pinky Winky Monster Costume

Lil’ Monkey

Another cute Halloween costume that is provided by InCharacter is the lil’ monkey costume. This is easy to care for since you can put it in the washing machine and is also made of polyester. Many Halloween costumes are made of polyester since it is inexpensive and flexible enough for babies and toddlers. With this Halloween costume, your baby will have a little bodysuit that looks like a monster, as well as leg snaps for diaper changes. It also has a hood with the ears, booties, and a tail.

InCharacter Lil’ Monkey Costume

Silly Shark

The last baby and toddler Halloween costume on the list is also by InCharacter. This is a little gray shark costume, which is simple enough for babies of any size. It is made from 100% polyester and can be machine washed. This costume is easy to put on with a jumpsuit that also includes leg snaps. There are slip-proof booties, the jumpsuit, and a hood with shark teeth.

Silly Shark Costume

If you don’t fancy buying a costume for your little one, here are some ideas for making your own kids’ Halloween costumes. and whatever you dress them in, be sure to keep them well away from any naked flames such as candles, tealights and lit pumpkins.

Will you be dressing your little ones up for Halloween this year?

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Halloween Family Traditions – What Are Yours?

Hmm.  Well, Halloween seems to polarise opinion in this house.  I love Halloween but the Husband hates it.  We have just returned from ASDA to stock up on ghoulish bits and pieces and he is in the kitchen muttering about tat and plastic whilst whipping up a curry and listening to his terrible Viking Rock.

Halloween family traditions - 2 carved and lit Halloween pumpkins

Perhaps it is just for the kids but it’s surprising how many of us have our own little Halloween Family Traditions.  We always make an effort with our Halloween costumes.

Sophie (Sophobsessed.com) says “We have this weird thing about not stepping on the bottom step. It dates back to when my mum was little and her grandmother told her this story her and her friends used to tell at school about stepping on the bottom step and a witch chasing you down the stairs. Well, it terrified my mum even when both her grandmother and her mum told her it was just a story. Since then my mum would never step on the bottom step until she was in her thirties!!! Sometimes you still catch her missing the step now!! Thing is she told us the story and then I wouldn’t step on the bottom step either!! I do now but there was a solid period where I forbade it.”

Nikki (Yorkshirewonders.co.uk) is a big fan of a traditional Halloween spell.  She says “Take an apple and peel it into one long continuous strip. Then, at midnight throw it over your right shoulder. The apple peel should land in the shape of the initial of the person you will marry… Love these old traditions!”

Helena likes to read spooky stories to her kids whilst Emma (TheMinisAndMe) always has a themed buffet and invites her kids’ friends around for a few games and apple bobbing before heading out trick or treating together.

Lianne  (Anklebitersadventures.co.uk) makes sure her house is decorated from top to bottom and likes to buy a special decoration every year that she allows her little ones to choose from.

Anthea (Bluebearwood.co.uk) creates a fearsome Pepper Brain Monster which they only ever eat during October.  (Find more healthy eating Halloween food tips for kids here).

Leandra (Lara Bee UK) has a Halloween cauldron which she fills with Halloween goodies much like a Christmas stocking.  She says it might be over the top but Halloween is a holiday they all love.

We decorate the house and lay on a special Halloween tea usually featuring my Halloween brain jelly and lots of ghoulish cakes.  Let’s be honest it’s a bit of a sugar fiesta but we try to eat healthily for the rest of the week.

Here are some more ideas you might like to try:-

  • Take a frightful family photo with you all dressed in your Halloween finest
  • Have a Halloween movie night
  • Have a pumpkin carving competition – who can create their masterpiece quickest?
  • Holding a doggie Halloween fancy dress competition – whose pooch is the most terrifying?
  • Try some fun fortune telling.  Become Madam Zara for the night and predict some happy tidings if your guests cross your palm with chocolate coins.
  • Hold a Halloween music contest – get your resident film buff to download the theme tunes to the top Halloween films and see which team gets them all right.
  • Or, play know your monster – create some flash cards of the most gruesome ghouls and ghosts and see how many your guests will recognise.
  • Halloween disco time – there are so many great tracks you could use to put together a great playlist (Monster Mash, anyone?)

Whatever you do, play safely and keep all costumes away from lit flames.  Make sure you know if any of your guests have allergies and keep all foods that could be a choking hazard away from little ones – including whole grapes and marshmallows.

Do you have any Halloween family traditions?

Quick Ideas For Kids’ Halloween Party Costumes

Halloween parties are a great excuse for dressing up, aren’t they?  Whether you go all out spooky or just don your best fancy dress outfit, it’s great fun to embrace your evil alter ego or wander round as a ghoul for a few hours.  (My few hours looking like a ghoul are generally most mornings, but I digress…).

Caitlin and Ieuan in Halloween Costumes

This is all well and good unless you are a frazzled parent called upon (yet again) to assemble a fancy dress costume for your kids.  And if funds are tight, that can be no mean feat!

The lovely people at Hotel Chocolat have come up with a quick cheat sheet of ideas for DIY children’s Halloween costumes.

and if these don’t meet the approval of your little monsters, how about:-

Scary Robot

Cut out a hole in an extra large cardboard box, cover in tin foil and voila – scary robot.  All you have to do then is a bit of face painting and supply a pair of rubber gloves for the hands.

Zombie

Got any old t-shirts and shorts?  Simply rip and fray the hems, add some ghostly white face paint and a bit of fake blood and you have your own zombie.

Go Addams Family

If you love the Addams Family as much as we do, then dress the kids up as Pugsley and Wednesday.  Caitlin and Ieuan have a lot in common with these two most days anyway. Lots of black and plaited hair for Caitlin and absolutely no smiling.  That’s the definition of tween-dom now I come to think about it. Plus, I’d get the chance to dress up as Mortisha.  On a bad hair day, I’m more like Cousin It, sadly.

Whatever costume you choose, please make sure that you do not use flammable materials and keep the kids away from flames and lit pumpkins.

However you celebrate, don’t forget lots of chocolate treats to share for any wandering spirits who turn up at your door!

Happy Halloween!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hotel Chocolat. The opinions and text are all mine.

A Hobbis Family Halloween

We love Halloween and this year it was made all the more special by seeing the burning of The Wicker Man at St. Fagins (National Museum of Welsh Life) on the Sunday.

Wicker Man St Fagins Cardiff, Halloween 2016

 

When the wicker man burns you are supposed to make a wish and the crowd were asked to scream as loudly as they could to repel evil spirits for the forthcoming year.

 

Caitlin at Wicker Man Burning, St. Fagins, Halloween 2016

 

Ieuan at Wicker Man burning, St. Fagins, Halloween 2016

 

Hobbis Family at Wicker Man burning, St. Fagins, Halloween 2016

I love decorating the house and the kids were on red alert for trick or treaters but this year we only had 2.  I know lots of people really don’t like this tradition – particularly since it can be scary for the elderly, younger children and pets but it is nice when you find fellow Halloween enthusiasts!

2 pumpkins, Hobbis Family Halloween 2016
The Husband and kids did a great job of the pumpkins this year

 

Skeleton in hat and shoes, Hobbis Family Halloween 2016
Mr Bones announced he needed a holiday

 

Hobbis children with Nain Brooks, Halloween 2016
The kids with my mum, Kay

 

Ieuan in Grim Reaper fancy dress, Halloween 2016
Ieuan as the Grim Reaper

 

Caitlin in gothic bride fancy dress, Halloween 2016
Caitlin as a gothic bride

 

Linda Hobbis in Zombie Bride fancy dress, Halloween 2016
I’m a zombie bride

 

Hobbis children with Taid and Nain Brooks, Halloween 2016
The kids with my parents, John and Kay.

I always think it’s important to take every opportunity to celebrate the yearly events in the religious calendar or those times which were marked by rites and rituals by our Pagan forefathers.  Life goes by so fast and it’s good to make some memories, isn’t it?

When you’re an older mum, like I am, you are very conscious of the passage of time so these times have an additional significance.

Did you celebrate Halloween?  What are the events which mean the most to you?  I’d love to know.

Review: Kids’ Halloween Costumes At Matalan

Every year we love spending time deciding what we’re going to dress up as on Halloween and this year we found our inspiration at Matalan.

Caitlin transformed herself into a Gothic Bride and Ieuan, being a sweet natured boy, decided he was going to be the Grim Reaper.

Obviously Mr Bones didn’t want to be left out.

Their costumes were very good value at £12 a piece and as you can see from our photographs, the detailing is quite impressive.

We got both costumes in a size 9-10 as my kids are both quite tall. Caitlin will be 9 in November and Ieuan is 7.

Both costumes fitted well with enough room under the arms to dance and threaten people with plastic weaponry without risking a split seam.

Kids Gothic Bride Halloween Costume – £12

Matalan’s kids’ Halloween costumes are made for ages 4-13 (the age ranges vary depending on the costume) and they have ensured that all of their Halloween products have passed additional Flammability Testing BS5722.

If the Gothic Bride and the Grim Reaper don’t inspire you, how about Vampirella or a Pirate Skeleton? You’ll find face paints and wigs too just in case the grownups want to join in (who doesn’t!).

Kids Grim Reaper Halloween Costume – £12

On the Matalan website there’s a fun Halloween section where you’ll find spooky decorations, costumes, lifesized skeletons and party tips and ideas.

There are even pumpkin carving templates, should you be stuck for inspiration – although we usually delegate this to the Husband.  It’s good to get everyone involved, isn’t it?!

Click here for pumpkin carving templates

Delivery is free over £50, otherwise it’s £3.95 but Matalan offer free Click & Collect and Free Returns to Store.

For more information visit www.matalan.co.uk.

*PR samples were received for the purpose of this review.

Simple Children’s Crafts For Halloween

We love Halloween.  In fact, apart from Christmas, it’s my absolute favourite time and we make sure the house is fully decorated.  Last year, the Husband gave up resisting and even donned a vampire cape and some fangs.

picture hanging solutions - Caitlin crafting with Mr Bones, the family skeleton

In terms of picture hanging solutions, I usually stick things to walls and any other surface I think needs it with blu-tack or white-tack but versatile though these are, sometimes you need something that will take a bit more weight.

picture hanging solutions - the range of Command products

So we’ve discovered a range of ingenious adhesive strips and hooks from Command Products from 3M that allow home lovers to hang decorations and much more without the hassle of nails, screws and tacks, throughout the home. Better still, they stretch cleanly away, leaving no surface damage.

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Picture hanging solutions for Halloween

There’s Command Brand Balloon Bunchers (for 3 balloons), Ceiling Hooks, Poster Strips, Decorating Clips and Banner Anchors which all promise damage free hanging.

We tested the poster strips and decorating clips and they certainly stick firmly and offer a more reliable grip than blu-tac!  You do have to be careful about where you put them – you can’t use them on wallpaper and you’re advised not to use them, for example, on anything antique or that you wouldn’t be able to repair – but we found they stuck fine to a painted surface.

picture hanging solutions - scary poster and hanging green skeleton
We tested the Command poster strips and decorating clips

When you remove them, you simply stretch the strips which releases them from the wall – no risk of those annoying marks you can get on some surfaces when decorations have been left in place a little too long. (You can tell I’m a decorating pro, can’t you?!)

For Halloween crafting, Caitlin insists on doing her own thing with the help of Mr Bones who was a bit startled to be disinterred a bit earlier this year. But if you’re stuck for ideas for your Halloween decorations, here are three ideas you might like to try.

Gliding Ghouls

picture hanging solutions - three hanging ghostly skulls

 

For these ghastly ghouls, you’ll need some polystyrene mannequin heads, coloured netting, a spray adhesive and clear fishing wire. Simply spray the heads with adhesive, cover with your choice of netting and attach the wire – three heads have been used here and hung at differing lengths to create this ghostly effect! Once you’re happy with the terrifying faces, suspend from a fireplace, ceiling, or dark corner using Command Party Ceiling Hooks… and listen out for the screams!

Bat-tastic

 

picture hanging solutions - bats cut out of black card

 

For some scary wall décor, add some 3D flying bats to your wall. Fold an A4 sheet of black card in half, then draw a slim half-sausage shape starting from the folded edge, to form the bat’s body, then sketch one simple batwing shape leading off from this. Cut around it all, then open out and fold each wing out from either side of the body, leaving you with a flat body shape with fluttering wings. Adhere each bat to your wall using Command Poster Strips.

Web-tacular

picture hanging solutions - spider's web made of wool and string

 

Add a giant spider’s web to give your Halloween décor a little more substance.

Working at a table, cut six lengths of wool to equal lengths and lay them out to create the spokes of your web, tying the ends together at the centre, then tape each outer end down onto your table top with a little masking tape to form the web’s structure.

Cut another length of wool and tie it to one of the structural lengths with a knot, around 5cm from the centre. Move along to the next structural length and knot your wool down here too, keeping the wool relatively taut between the two knots. Continue working your way around the structure of the web until you’re back to your original knot- cut off any excess. Repeat the process with a new length of wool, around 5cm further out from your first circle, then continue working outwards in the same way for several more circles until you are happy with your web shape and size.

Command Clear Decorating Clips are ideal for attaching these to your wall or ceiling – simply tie a knot at the end of each length and place this over the hooks. Play around with your web’s position with masking tape before sticking down with the Command Decorating Clips.

Hanging Horrors

picture hanging solutions - orange paper pumpkin decorations

Command Decorating Clips or Command Party Ceiling Hooks are ideal for hanging spooky items from your ceiling… whether it’s a giant spider, witches hats, or a pumpkin lantern. Simply attach a long piece of white wool or cotton to your items, secure with a knot and hang.

picture hanging solutions - Caitlin and Mr Bones the skeleton dressed as a pirate

What picture hanging solutions have you tried?  Do you risk your paintwork and wallpaper?

For more information, visit www.commandstrips.co.uk. You can buy Command Strips at Amazon.co.uk, Asda, B&Q, Hobbycraft, Homebase, Robert Dyas, Ryman, Sainsbury’s, Staples, The Range, Tesco, WHSmith, Wilkinsons and 3Mdirect.co.uk.

No skeletons were harmed in the production of this post.

*PR samples were received for this post




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