Scary is simple: grab a bin bag and let out an evil laugh

The real joy of the Sinister Season is not to be found in plastic gimmicks but in the opportunity to use our twisted imaginations and to share an evil laugh

Hallowe’en is nearly here and shops are bulging with a pleasantly horrifying array of pumpkin costumes, skull chocolates and ghoulish decorations. But let’s not forget, the real joy of the Sinister Season is not to be found in plastic gimmicks but rather in the opportunity to use our twisted imaginations and to share an evil laugh (mwahahahahah!) with our friends, family and neighbours.

Then, hot on the heels of Hallowe’en comes November 5 – Guy Fawkes, Bonfire Night, Firework Night. Whatever name you prefer, it’s all about the shared excitement of bright sparks against the chill autumn darkness and it doesn’t matter who bought the biggest banger but rather how many fellow Londoners get to see it with you.

So here’s five fun and friendly ideas for this Hallowe’en and firework season:

Make your own costume

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Scary is simple: black bin bags make excellent witches’ capes, a ripped shirt with some ketchup can’t be bettered for zombies and the white sheet ghost is an unbeatable classic!

Introduce the kids to apple bobbing

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Yes, you remember … a large bowl of water, a handful of floating apples, 60 seconds to lift one out with your teeth (hands forbidden).

Carve a pumpkin

Children love opening the door to fellow waist-high trick or treaters and what better welcome than a gruesome orange fire-head on the doorstep? Simply cut the top off a pumpkin (so cheap at the moment), scoop out the insides, cut a grimacing face (very sharp knife… careful!) and then place a lit tea light in the bottom before placing the lid back on.

Toast a marshmallow

Whether you use a bonfire, barbecue or gas hob, toasted marshmallows are utterly delicious for little tongues. Grab a long stick, a bag of marshmallows (perfect for sharing), a flame of some sort and get toasting!

Join a community firework event

There’s nothing like a communal ‘ooooooh … aaahh’ to warm even the most cynical heart and many of us are disappointed that the much-loved Ally Pally display will be absent yet again due to the recession. But by venturing only a little further out of town, we can still enjoy the big extravaganza at Totteridge Millhillians Cricket Club, Totteridge Green, on November 2 from 6pm to 11pm (fireworks 7.15pm), details on 020-3519 2779. Or for those of us with particularly small families, many local schools and community groups welcome visitors to their friendly displays, such as at Hollickwood School, in Sydney Road, Muswell Hill, tonight (October 25) from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, details on 020-8883 6880.

Linden Groves is a landscape historian and north London mum-of-three with a forgivably nostalgic view of having fun. You can follow her at

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