We’ve had our fair share of frights these last few years, so, maybe it takes a bit more than Halloween these days to scare us, but either way we’re embracing this time of year! So, here’s our ultimate guide to surviving – and thriving!! – Halloween 2023, from costumes and decorating, to treats and ways to relax!
Trick or treating sadly wasn’t much of a thing when I was a kid – or maybe it just wasn’t a Howick thing? Who knows, but either way, the one time my friend and I ran around the neighbourhood wearing zombie outfits, it didn’t seem to be appreciated and we netted zero candy. Then there was one other rogue Halloween where my friends and I stayed up late drinking energy drinks (never a good idea at 14) and watched The Craft (also not a good idea if you are 14 with an overactive imagination).
So, it’s come as a bit of a surprise that in the last few years I have leaned into Halloween HARD. Maybe it’s because the world has been a bit scary at times and it’s been a way of reclaiming the fear? Or, it’s likely just the fact that I now have kids to dress up and spook, plus, as soon as we’d bought our house, everyone who knows the area said, ‘oh, the Halloween street?’ and we soon realised that our street goes all out on decorations and we need to put aside a week’s pay to stock up on candy to last us through until nightfall (something we have still not been successful at achieving).
Anyhoo, I’m here to tell you that Halloween is a heck of a lot of fun (especially if you have kids!). Here, I’ve compiled the best of the best out there – whether your idea of a fab Halloween is a glass of wine and a slightly spooky Netflix show, or you need tips on how to makeover your house so that Morticia Adams would be proud.
Ok, yes, Normally, I would not associate glow in the dark mummies, screaming ghouls and vampires with a relaxing good time, but it’s 2023 and after the scary last few years we’ve all had, this is where we’re at. A great way to ease into Halloween is with a little spooky relaxation. Lush, the festive queens, have a range of spooky and fabulous Halloween themed treats this year, including a range of fab bath bombs (my faves): Punkin Pumpkin, Ghostie and Jason’s Mummy (yes, it glows in the dark!). There’s also bubble bars (like Bubble Lugosi, pictured above), a pumpkin sheet mask, a Ghost in the Dark soap (that also glows in the dark), Pumpkin Eye Pads, Shower Gels and a Candy Corn lip scrub (delicious!). Young ones will love the fun, colourful bath treats, but so will adults with uplifting calming scents and ingredients like patchouli and lavender. Prices start from $8.00
Get in Costume
Maybe you’ve been invited to a Halloween costume party, maybe you’re heading out trick or treating with the kids, or maybe you just live on a Halloween crazy street where you need to be in theme for when the hordes of trick or treaters descend – whatever the case, don’t worry. There’s loads of easy ways to quickly whip up a costume. If you’ve got a few items of black clothing in your wardrobe and a black eyeliner, you already have what you need for a simple witch outfit! But, if you wanna go a little more elaborate or need some inspo, here’s three ideas for this Halloween:
Anything Barbie is sure to be big this year. Throw on some pink from your wardrobe, or, you can pick up items from Boohoo’s Barbie range (pictured above left) or buy the actual branded knee pads/skates by Impala, or a simple pink and gingham dress like the one pictured above right from Asos (Monki seersucker wrap midi dress).
Ok, all you really need to be Wednesday (or Morticia if that’s more your jam!) is black, black and more black. Wednesday’s day-to-day style has a preppy twist, so bonus points if you can incorporate some collars, plaid and ties. Costume shops or places like Look Sharp are a great place to find some props, like a severed hand (for Thing!), wigs (they make a big difference) or a single rose if you’re going for Morticia rather than Wednesday. Or, you can go full out and get this replica dress from the iconic Wednesday scene from Costume World NZ, or the Wednesday wig from Party Online NZ.
Tanya from White Lotus
There are so many iconic White Lotus looks, but this ‘Peppa Pig’ outfit has to be the most memorable. Pair a pink wrap dress (like this one pictured from Augustine (it’s the Florence wrap) with an oversized pink scarf (the one above is from Amazon), a gold clutch (Colette has heaps to choose from – like the one above!) and an oversized pair of sunnies and you’re good to go (just not anywhere near any luxury super yachts that is)
Whip Up A Treat…
Halloween is the perfect excuse to indulge in large quantities of sugar – and these brownies taste FAB and are right on theme. They’re even ghoul and gluten-free! For best results try making them in a Lodge Cast Iron Loaf Pan.
Cobweb brownies by Alex Haslop (@alexskitchenstory)
- 200g dark chocolate
- 200g butter
- 200g sugar
- 3 eggs
- 120g ground almonds
- 10 white marshmallows
- 1 pack (125g) m&ms
- Dash vanilla essence
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C. Melt butter and chocolate in a large pot over the stove on a low heat, as it melts, stir continuously. Once melted and combined, pour in the sugar and stir until melted in. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla essence. Crack in the eggs and beat with a hand beater until combined, then pour in the almonds and continue beating. Grease a baking tin and pour in the mixture. Separate out the green and orange m&ms and scatter on top. Place in the oven for 25 minutes. Once cooked, remove and leave to cool for 1 hour. After the hour, put the white marshmallows and place in a small pot on a low heat, continuously stir until melted and without lumps. With a fork, take some of the mixture and drizzle over the brownies. Slice and serve
…Or Leave The Treats to the Experts
If you’d rather leave the baking to an expert, hand over the hard work to someone else and pick up some treats! Here’s a few suggestions:
- A Jumping Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin shaped Boston Mudcake from The Cheesecake Shop Mt Wellington
- Grab some Pumpkin Spiced Lattes from Starbucks nationwide
- Pick up 24 mini cupcakes – all with a unique Halloween design – from Petal Cupcakes.
- In Forest Hill, Delish Cupcakes have boxes of six spookily themed cupcakes for sale
- The City Cake Company has a load of options, ranging from themed gingerbread biscuits ($6 a pop) to an incredible pumpkin shaped cake ($260)
- Grab a Jack o Lantern or Jack Skellington Smash Cake from Hello Smash Cake
Get Your Place Looking Spooooooooky
During the depths of lockdown I made a $100 order online at LookSharp and bought giant cobwebs, spiders with glow-in-the-dark eyes, bats, a pumpkin that glows, a terrifying skeleton and a grave stone to emerge from the front garden. I don’t really know what came over me (do many of our lockdown purchases make sense) but, now, I still feel like it was a terrific purchase.
Because every year since, we’ve brought them all out again (ironically after clearing the cobwebs off them), and each year we’ve added a new decoration or two. It’s become a favourite tradition and one that the kids ARE INTO. I couldn’t recommend it more!
You don’t have to spend a lot to make the outside or inside of your place spooky – and, you’ll be able to use the decorations again and again. Pictured above are a few options – from Left, three options from The Warehouse: Scarehouse Ghost Inflatable 8ft $89, Scarehouse Hanging Spiderball Light $9, Scarehouse Ghost Inflatable 6ft $75. Kmart: Large Pumpkin Jack O Lantern $10, Adjustable Skeleton $13, Light Up Flicker Lantern $10. Looksharp: Inflatable Black Cat 1.2m $65, Hanging Ghost With Huge Hands 173cm $49, Inflatable Ghost 2.4m $120.
Although we now have a stash of decorations, my favourites are actually the ones that we make each year. Every October when there is a rainy weekend (there is always at least one) we have a Halloween craft afternoon. My absolute favourites over the years have been these toilet paper roll freaksters, some puffy ghosts and some painted jar Halloween Luminaries.
Tune into some Terrifying (or not-so!) TV…
It’s the perfect time to watch something a little bit spooky or a lot scary, but how do you know what’s a fun thrilling time, or going to haunt you for the next six months, if you’re someone who is admittedly, a bit of a horror wuss?
Fear not, thankfully Capsule’s Emma has made a scaredy-cat guide to Halloween viewing, which includes some recommendations, as well as a list that lets you know what is genuinely scary and not (including a helpful breakdown of gore ratings, whether you’re likely to scream out loud, and whether animals and children are safe in each movie – something that we find too disturbing to sit through!).
Here’s a taste:
Haunting of Hill House
I have already written ad nauseam about how this Netflix series is one of my top five TV series of all time (yes, I’ve seen The Wire, so please know this is an INFORMED ranking) but it’s one of the most moving depictions of the ‘ghosts’ that come with grief and trauma as it is about the actual things that go bump in the night. A young family move into a house that turns out to be haunted and after a tragic death, the impact of the house and that summer are still felt by the now grown-up siblings two decades later.
Will I scream out loud? 100% yes. Oooh boy are you in for some jump scares.
Is it gory? No.
Are animals and children safe in this movie? Mostly yes, but there’s a creepy kitten scene which is… unforgettable.