trick or treat
As October gives way to November, and the mercury begins a slow, lazy descent, the only horror stories plaguing kids and their parents in this part of the globe involve upcoming exams. With a few weeks left before the real deal begins, Halloween brings the perfect excuse to take some time out, indulge in some silly fantasy and role-playing and limber up for all those cramming sessions.
While the tradition of Halloween is still fairly alien to this region, the idea of costume parties is beginning to catch on in some circles in Dhaka. While those usually involve adult crowds, you could take the basic concept, make some tweaks, and plan a small party for the kids. Why, and moreover, why now you ask? Firstly, the weather's just turning nice, and throwing a party now would put them in a more cooperative mood when you put them through the grinder in just a few weeks. Also, the basic thrill of such a party is in the dressing up and socialising. Companies use office parties, role-playing games, exercises and activities to help build teams, develop employee motivation, and improve communications. Studies have shown that these activities also play a role in children's development. Building a party around the theme of popular children's fiction, encouraging them to enact some of the scenes, should make them more interested in the literature itself. So roll up your sleeves, and let the creative juices flow as we help you put together a quick and easy bash.
Partners in crime
What's a party without the peeps? Draw up a guest list, and get your child involved in the planning process. You could get them to make invitation cards with spooky themes and motifs, like bats and cobwebs. Talk to the parents of the invitees and stress on the importance of wearing costumes. Managing a handful of kids is a harrowing job any day of the week, so make some calls of your own and recruit some volunteers, like your teen daughter, or anyone who's good with kids. They'll come in handy. Make sure they'll also be in costume, to get into the spirit of things.
Who are you tonight?
This is probably the most fun part of planning the party: getting the costumes ready. Action-hero masks and costumes are available in stores here, but with a little creativity, you could also put together a unique costume. A dressing robe and a dupatta can be draped to form a kimono; a little talcum powder and make-up, socks and sandals can yield a geisha outfit.
Black is a good colour to work with: tights and a t-shirt, and one of those plastic devil horns that you can find at the traffic intersections can turn your little angel into a charming imp. Again, don't take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders; get your children involved in the decision making process, walk them through the steps of the transformation. You can have fun reciting out famous dialogues and catch-phrases together, and striking poses, so that everyone really steps into the character.
Popular costumes this year include Hannah Montanna, Pretty Witch, Pirate Princess, Fairy Princess, and Kimono Girl for girls, and Batman, Harry Potter, GI Joe Snake Eyes for boys. For older boys, there's The Joker, The Godfather, and Jack Sparrow, and Neo, while older girls can go for Gypsy, Flapper girl, Geisha, and Vampire.
House of Horrors
While teens and adults would require more elaborate settings, it's easy enough to put together a suitably creepy party room for the kids. The roof or backyard is a great place to throw a Halloween party. Don't bother sweeping it clean; for once, fallen leaves can add to the décor. You can burn a few leaves in metal drums, or allocate a corner for a bonfire, where you could place a pot with a fake witch brew, or you could splurge and hire a real cauldron. If you know any medical students, borrow a skeleton. Fake skulls are also available at toy stores. Plain white candles create an eerie atmosphere, but keep them out of reach of the kids. Paper lanterns and fairy lights also create a party mood, but if you know someone who's good with a knife, nothing beats a real jack o' lantern. Put some streamers over dead twigs stuck in pots, and you're good to go.
Games people play
Since the kids will not have the option of tramping through the neighbourhood while trick or treating, have your volunteers scattered throughout the party area. Send the party-goers on a 'quest' where they will have to approach each volunteer, answer a riddle to receive candy. You can also have a corner for a gypsy storyteller who will tell scary stories. Other game options include a monster quiz, where you can get them to answer quizzes based on popular fiction, as well as 'Pass the pumpkin".
A cool autumn evening, costumes and creepy, corny music, and the sound of children laughing. All it takes is a little imagination and elbow grease, and you'll find yourself laughing all your stress away. Happy Halloween!
It's Chow Time!
Creepy Crunchies (Assorted chips and crisps)
Crocodile Eyeball on a stick (olives, sausage chunks, and cheese skewered on toothpicks)
Entrails (Spaghetti in meat sauce)
Roadkill (Pizza with black olive smiley face motif)
Mummy muffins (Banana muffins with green food colouring)
Spider cake (Chocolate cake with cobweb motif icing)
Blood (Strawberry/Cranberry/Tomato juice)
1. Everybody (Backstreet's Back) - Backstreet Boys
2. Thriller - Michael Jackson
3. Monster Mash - Bobby Boris Picket
4. X-Files theme - Dust Brothers
5. Ghostbusters - Ray Parker Jr
6. Super Freak - Rick James
7. Addams Groove - MC Hammer
8. Love song for a Vampire - Annie Lennox
9. Hold me, Thrill me, Kiss me, Kill me - U2
10. Paranoid - Garbage
By Sabrina F Ahmad
Photos: Sazzad Ibne Sayeed
Models: Raisa, Zoya, Maisha, Faria, Sabrina and Zayan
Special thanks to Sarah F Ahmad for set design and props