4 Ways to Get Into the Halloween Spirit

It’s one week to Halloween, and thanks to Covid-19, it’s not going to be the usual October 31st. Parties, haunted hayrides, clubbing, handing out candy… it really sucks that we can’t do whatever our Halloween traditions are. I’ve been trying to spend the last month celebrating ~spookyseason to try and make Halloween 2020 seem as normal as possible, and I thought I’d share a few tips to help you make the most of Halloween Week! (Does anyone else consider Halloween Week to be a real thing?)

Decorate Your Home

I love decorating for Halloween! It’s one of my favourite parts of the holiday. Having decor up is a great mood setter, and the process of making and putting decorations up is a fun seasonal activity. I love DIY projects, and since I don’t want to invest in reusable decor (since I won’t be bringing it home to Canada), I had a great opportunity to make my own projects:

Leaf garlands: I’ve had these up since September as general Fall decor. Cut leaf shapes out of brown paper and trace leaf vein patterns onto them with coloured markers. Pierce the stems with a toothpick, and push string through. Knot at the end. Tie the ends of the string to one long piece to create bunting.

Bats: Literally the easiest project – cut bat shapes out of black paper. Stick onto the wall with washi tape.

Pumpkins: These were the trickiest craft to make. Take sturdy paper (either construction paper or watercolour paper painted orange) and cut it into strips. For the smaller pumpkins, glue the ends together to make rings, then spread the rings around to form a sphere. For the larger ones, glue all “top” ends and “bottom” ends together to form larger spheres. I painted toilet paper rolls orange and inserted them into the larger pumpkins to hold them up so they retained their shape a bit better. Green leaves and vines cut from paper on top to decorate!

Explore Your Local Cemetery

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Going for a walk in a cemetery is a surefire way to get into the Halloween spirit. Cemeteries are beautiful places to learn about local history and soak up the spooky atmosphere. Many big cities will have historical cemeteries, and I’m lucky that Sheffield has a stunning Victorian cemetery located quite close to my flat.
Walking through the rows and reading gravestones will provide you with many stories of those from the past – a quick glimpse into who they were and how they lived (and died). If you know the name of the cemetery, have a look online to see if there are any prominent graves or interesting people buried there. For example, the Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa is the resting place of Sir Robert Borden (one of Canada’s early PMs), Tommy Douglas (father of Canada’s Universal Healthcare).

If you go Cemetery Wandering, remember to be respectful of where you are. Older cemeteries are historical sites and are unlikely to have active mourners, but are still sites of mourning. Contemporary graveyards are still in use, with more recent burials. Either way, the best way to be respectful in a cemetery is this: don’t be too loud, be thoughtful of others, do not vandalise, and do not walk across graves.

Watch Some Spooky Movies

A GIF Recap of the First Episode of 'Scream Queens'

I wrote about my Top 8 Halloween Movie Recommendations last year, and my Top 20 Horror Film Recommendations earlier this year, and I stand by the fact that October is the best time of year to get cozy with some spooky movies and shows. I think that Halloween movies break down into Scary (horror films) and Spooky (nostalgic media). I tend to skew on the scary end of the scale, but I think 2020 Halloween in particular just needs some feel-good Halloween nostalgia to get in the mood! Even I’ve caved and returned to some of my classic favs in a low-key desperate attempt to make the Halloween magic happen.

On top of my movie recommendations from last year, I’ll add a few TV shows that I’ve been watching this month:
Scream Queens (a super witty, self-aware Sorority drama slasher show)
Dragula (like RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s weird spooky goth punk sister)
The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror (I-XIV, after that it’s probably not worth it, though there are a few good sketches here and there after that. And okay so it’s on my list from last year but it hurts my perfect nostalgia/enjoyment spot 10/10)
American Horror Story (I’ve only seen the first two seasons so I can’t speak to the quality of anything after that…)

Get Some Tasty Treats

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

It goes without saying that a big part of Halloween is the treats! Here are some ideas for turning your snacking into a spooky ~experience:
-Fall is such a month for baking – get in the kitchen and make some pumpkin bread or apple crumble. If you’ve got a pumpkin to carve this year, look up recipes to use it in cooking after Halloween!
-Toasted pumpkin seeds are a hugely nostalgic treat for me. Another great way to use parts of a jack-o-lantern you’d otherwise throw out (or, ideally, compost!)
-Swap your regular snacks for a big bag of mini/bite-sized candies like you’d get trick ‘r treating. Or, if you want to keep it more environmentally friendly, cut your chocolate bars into bite-sized pieces for snacking.
-Experiment with some boozy drinks! My easy recommendation would be a Gin & Tonic made with orange gin (like Beefeater Orange, which has a super vibrant colour) and a wedge of lime/twist of lime zest for a colourful cocktail. For my last Halloween party in Canada, I made fall spice sangria: red wine, brandy, fireball whiskey, apple juice, sliced apples and lemons, with gummy candy cocktail skewers to go in the drinks. There are tons more themed recipes available online – check out Pinterest for more ideas!

What are your favourite things to do on or around Halloween? As always, I’d love to know in the comments!


How to Make a DIY Face Mask

We all know that Covid-19 isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and a lot of governments are recommending that people wear face masks when they go out. While non-medical grade face masks are not proven to offer protection from virus transmission, they do inhibit the spread of germs from the wearer, which still helps flatten the curve by preventing the spread of coronavirus by asymptomatic carriers. This means that you should be wearing a face mask when you go out, particularly if you will be around lots of other people (such as at the grocery store).

PPE needs to be prioritized for healthcare and other essential service workers, but it’s easy to DIY a face mask at home! I’m providing the steps that I followed to make my mask, which hopefully aren’t too confusing to follow. I know my way around sewing projects and patterns, but have never written one before. Fingers crossed that it’s easy enough to follow at home, and that my ridiculous diagrams make enough sense!

What You Will Need

-Tightly woven fabric, such as cotton (I used a cheap cotton t-shirt from ASDA)

-Needle + thread

-Scissors

-Coffee filter (optional)

Step 1.

Measure and cut the pieces you will need for your mask:
-A rectangle of fabric with a width that is [twice the distance from ear to ear allowing for facial contour + 2″] and a height that is [tall enough to easily cover from nose to chin allowing for facial contour]. This will be the facial covering.
-Two (2) 1/2″ wide strips equal in length to your fabric rectangle

Does it make more sense if I draw it out?

Step 2.

Fold the fabric rectangle in half to create two layers of facial coverage. Sew along the open edge to make a seam. Recommendations for home-made face masks emphasize two layers of fabric to cover the nose and mouth! Leave the top and bottom of the rectangle open, so you end up with a tube.

Step 3.

Measure 1″ in from each closed side of the tube, and sew from top to bottom to make narrow tubes on either side of the mask.

Step 4.

Take one of the narrow strips of fabric and feed it through the tube you’ve made on one side of the mask. Tie a knot at each end of the strip.

Repeat on the other side.

Step 5.

Tie the ends of the fabric strips together, top to top/bottom to bottom. These will fit around the back of your head (over your ears and around the nape of the neck) when you wear it. Tie the ends with bows so they are easy to readjust.

That’s it!

Adjust the tightness of the bands around your head so that the mask fits snuggly on your face. Make sure the mask covers from over your nose to under your chin. For increased air filtration, slide a coffee filter between the layers of your mask.

Stay safe everyone!