We love Halloween at Playing Out St Albans District. There is so much fun to be had in our immediate neighbourhoods and it’s great to feel part of the community. This year we’re inviting residents to get involved in local Halloween competitions and a plan for a district map of spooky spots. And with Halloween becoming bigger and better every year, we’re also encouraging everyone to keep sustainability at the heart of what they do.
In this special Halloween blog, Nicola Wyeth, project co-ordinator of Playing Out St Albans District (a Sustainable St Albans project), talks about their joint seasonal project with St Albans Rainbow Trail and how to keep the celebrations sustainable.
After last year’s pause on the traditional Halloween trick-or-treating, it is exciting for Halloween to feel a bit more normal this year. Halloween falls on the last Sunday of half term, so it will feel like a bit of a party before the return to school. Some streets across the district have even got permission to close their roads for organised Playing Out sessions before it gets dark – we can’t wait to see photos of the kids scooting and biking in their costumes!
This year we are delighted to have been approached by Preet Cox of St Albans Rainbow Trail to work on some fun Halloween stuff together. You can find out full details of our plans on the St Albans Rainbow Trail Facebook page.
In essence, the project consists of two parts: a trio of competitions and (hopefully) a district map of decorated houses and businesses.
A trio of Halloween competitions
We are inviting all residents across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages to take part in our Halloween Spooktacular event and enter one or more of our three competitions:
- The Spooky Home/Window Display – enter a picture of your decorated window, home or business.
- The Rainbow Pumpkin Hunt – can you spot one while out and about in St Albans District?
- The Pumpkin Carving Competition – enter a picture of your carved pumpkin into the competition
Entrants are asked to donate to St Albans District Foodbank. The suggested donation is £2.00, whether you enter one or all of the competitions. A winner for each competition will be picked on 1st November and each lucky winner will receive a £20.00 voucher courtesy of Bradford and Howley Estate Agents.
Join the St Albans Rainbow Trail Facebook group to enter the competitions as well as to find the terms and conditions. Any questions can be sent by direct messaging the St Albans Rainbow Trail Facebook page.
Map of St Albans District spooky spots
With St Albans Rainbow Trail , we are encouraging everyone who decorates their house or business for Halloween to tell us so that we can try to create a map of all the places to see across the district. Whether it’s a silhouette window or a full front drive horror house, fill in our google form and let us know.
Assuming we get enough locations, we’ll publish the map each day from 29th to 31st October. You’ll be able to locate Halloween displays near you whilst you’re out and about. We hope that local residents will enjoy walking around their neighbourhoods to see all the Halloween decorations and window displays.
If you live in Redbourn, do check out the Redbourn Village Trails Facebook Group too!
Please do get involved and spread the word! Why not pop it on your street WhatsApp group?
Keeping Halloween climate-friendly
In some households, Halloween is already becoming the new Christmas. You can pretty much buy anything themed on Halloween – and every supermarket is offering an array of orange and black as you walk through the door. From disposable tableware to costumes to projectors, there is so much tempting Halloween stuff to buy.
Before you chuck those orange plastic trick-or-treat buckets in your trolley, please do stop and think. Can you join in with Halloween without buying new? Here are some ideas…
Think second-hand Halloween
So many polyester costumes are bought for one day, worn once and never worn again. So much plastic is involved in cheap Halloween decorations. But you don’t need to shell out £10 notes on new stuff. Lots of local charity shops have displays of loads of Halloween stuff that is as good as new so wander down your high street and see what you can find. What do friends and neighbours have that you could borrow or swap?
Local social media
- NextDoor, the geographically-based social media website and app, is a good resource to tap into
- WhatsApp groups are great for this kind of thing – tell your local contacts what you’re looking for!
St Albans District selling Facebook groups
- Selling & Buying in St Albans
- Buy and sell in St Albans and Around
- Harpenden Network Selling Page
- Items for sale in Wheathampstead and surrounding areas
- Bargains for sale in Redbourn, harpenden, St Albans
- Items For Sale In London Colney
St Albans District free sites and webpages
Facebook groups for free stuff in St Albans District
- St Albans & Harpenden Reuse Project
- Harpenden Reuse Movement
- Redbourn Community Network – Reuse Group
- Wheathampstead Swap Shop
- Reuse London Colney, Shenley, and surrounding areas
Think natural materials, think home-made: Decorations
Playing Out is, first and foremost about play. Free, unstructured play. The most unstructured way to decorate for Halloween is to let the kids go wild with natural materials and their imagination.
Forage in nature
Pine cones, conkers, autumn leaves, twigs all make great decorative materials.
Home made decorations
No need to go out and buy them – make them from the stuff you already have! Don’t forget to try to avoid glitter if you can.
- Get a bucket of chalk and decorate the drive with spooky pictures and words
- Wool makes great spiders’ webs
- Make a haunted house den from a big cardboard box
- Cut out spiders and ghouls from black plastic bags and blue tack to walls and windows – those plastic postal bags that have black insides are ideal for this.
- Fill jam jars with spooky stuff and dot around – what pocket money toys are lying around your house? Plastic spiders and other insects, pretend eye balls, fake thumbs from a magic set can be put in a jam jar filled with water. Add a few drops of different food colouring to each for a spooky display.
- Decorate jam jars – and fill with LED tea lights to make lanterns
- Egg carton bats
- Bed sheet ghosts (stuff a pillow case in the middle and tie with string to make head then suspend)
Sustainable window displays
If you’re planning a window display, check out our Festive Streets blog from last December. The theme is different – but the principles of window displays can apply to Halloween as well as December celebrations.
Care with lights
Please minimise energy usage with your decorated house or window, particularly on lights. If you do use lights, please avoid flashing lights as these can adversely impact some people.
Think natural materials, think home-made: Costumes
Making your own is so easy and it’s cheaper!
- Ghost up with a sheet (best advice my mother-in-law ever gave me – “never throw away old sheets – they come in so handy for everything”).
- Toilet paper mummy – wind round you!
- Cat – black outfit, cardboard ears attached to hairband, homemade tail from old tights.
- Bat – black outfit, wings from black material, cardboard bat ears attached to hairband
- Don’t forget the joy of Facepaints – scary witch, spooky ghost – there are tons of ideas on line
Also what could you use that you already own that would make a good trick-or-treat sweet collector?
Don’t waste that pumpkin
Keep your pumpkin decorations sustainable by not creating unnecessary food waste. A terrifying 14.5 million pumpkins are expected to be left uneaten this Halloween, in the UK alone! Hubbub UK’s annual Pumpkin Rescue campaign is back, this year called “Eat Your Pumpkin”. For lots of ideas visit Hubbub.
Why not try this great pumpkin soup recipe from Grow Community Sopwell in St Albans. And don’t forget pumpkin seeds can be roasted too for a tasty snack!
Finally when the celebrations are over, make sure you compost that pumpkin!
Find out more about Playing Out
Playing Out is a nation-wide concept where residents choose to apply to the local authority to close their road to through traffic to allow the children to come out onto the street and cycle, scoot and play together in the road. It is a fabulous way to build communities, offering neighbours a chance to build support networks and children the opportunity to get fresh air and exercise, as well as learn to play in an unstructured manner with other children of all ages.
If this is something you would like to see on your street in the future, why not join our mailing list to be kept up-to-date with the latest news and check out our Playing Out St Albans District webpages.
Find out more about St Albans Rainbow Trail
This 2,500 strong community Facebook group was set up by Preet Cox during lockdown and has raised hundreds of pounds for charity while helping St Albans District residents to come together as a community and get creative.Why not click here to visit the St Albans Rainbow Trail Facebook page or click here to visit and join the St Albans Rainbow Trail Facebook Group.