Happy almost-Halloween! It’s Luce here with new takes and spins on your fall favourites to mix and match for your own day and night of socially distanced autumnal amusement. :-)
In this blog with every activity for your friends or family, I will give you three themes: Sinister, Fall Harvest or Cheery.
And, of course...the best tea pairings for the job because what cozy fall celebration is complete without tea?!
- Clever Autumn Decorations
- Fresh Pumpkin Carving Ideas
- Mulled Tea Potions
- Fall Movies for a Screening Under the Stars
Here in New England, fall feels especially glorious given the odd “suspended reality” effect of the coronavirus; adjusting to our confined reality has been a process to say the least. As the leaves have changed color these past few weeks, I am truly missing the carnivals and fall festivals...the biggest pumpkins, the cows, carnival rides, cider donuts, and fried dough in all directions!
Growing up in Salem, Massachusetts, fall and Halloween were a big deal. Every October, visitors flooded into the town in a wonderful array of costumes, from the spooky and serious to downright hilarious; particularly during the annual pet parade (...yes I think I lucked out where to grow up!). Carnival rides take over the common, and in recent years streets as well. Vendors line the streets selling handmade crafts, costume pieces, and everything you can possibly fry.
So to bring about that wonderful fall and Halloween energy in a covid safe fall activity way, let's get started!
Fall Decoration Ideas (with Chai Blends)
Your starting point for festivities: This is your chance to make your living environment distinctly different from the last few months, I think something pretty essential to lift spirits. Will it still be recognizable after you are done decorating? Well, that is up to you!
Close your eyes and picture what you miss the most. Is it the vibrant trees, the delicious smells wafting through crisp air, or haunted houses? Time to decide on your decoration theme!
- Box of colored bulbs ~ replace your indoor and outdoor lights for a total change in atmosphere, and you can use them for other parties later to add something different
- Silhouettes can go a long way when you go insane with quantity ~ cut out black paper or card and plaster your lowest windows and along your baseboards. Make your home look amazing for your family and friends coming home. The quantity needed means everyone can join in and quality can go out the window!
- A scarecrow everyone can join in to make ~ newspaper + gloves + boots + clothes + a surgical mask = voila your very own Instagrammable Halloween fiend (who definitely does not have covid)
- Corn husks ~ tie them up with string and hang them from doors, windows, stair banisters etc. Corny is not always corny!
- Platters of tea lights ~ Get red, orange and black tealights and fill a load of dishes and platters. The difference here is not to skimp: create an autumn atmosphere with dozens and dozens of tealights filling every corner of your home (mindful of safety and kids of course)
- Autumn leaves ~ bring the outside inside with the most colorful yellow, orange and red leaves you can find (the drier the better). Fill baskets, make collages on card, stick to walls throughout the house, go crazy! You can also make ‘bouquets’ of sticks and branches, with black and orange ribbons to tie them together. It’s up to you how skeletal they appear.
- Twinkle lights *everywhere* indoors and outdoors. Brightens up in more ways than one! Make sure you get warm-white or yellow, and don’t go sparse for the best effect
Best Tea For A Morning Decorating
My suggestion is early and often! Just like voting ;-) that way you can fit as many pots in the day as possible. Not only will this put you in the right mood, but it will mean the rest of your fall day activities will take place in an atmospheric space.
So how to make it new, special and autumnal? This fall we have launched Blend@Home Chai Blends: add a chai blend to your favorite morning tea to jazz up your classic morning pick-me-up.
We have Sweetly Cinnamon Apple Chai Blend, Classically Cardamom Ginger Chai Blend, Pinch of Pink Pepper Aniseed Chai Blend, to Minty Fresh Licorice Chai Blend, so there is something for everyone. To learn more about MatchaAlternative’s chai blends check out our post on Health Benefits of Chai and, as they are all naturally caffeine free, you can add to any tea at any time of the day or night!
Fresh Pumpkin Carving Ideas (with Sweet Red Apple Green Tea)
It is a hard time to go places, so instead bring quarantine activities into your home. In Salem growing up, a neighbor would collect some of the biggest pumpkins from a local fair after the prizes were handed out. He would spend the entirety of Halloween preparing these huge pumpkins, giving them grins and eyebrows and desperate eyes that still haunt me today...
ANYWAY. Let’s get into it, with some new pumpkin carving ideas for Fall 2020. Paired, of course, with a hefty pot of tea:
- Hungry Pumpkin ~ Carve a large pumpkin, cut one side of the mouth into a larger opening and have it eating a smaller pumpkin! Make it as gruesome as you like...
- Spiral Pumpkin ~ cut the pumpkin with a large spiral throughout going top to bottom (like a slinky!). Use toothpicks to prop up gaps between the layers or use cubes of pumpkin every now and then throughout the spiral.
- Mummy Pumpkin ~ a different sort of spiral. This time use white bandages to circle the pumpkin over and over like an Egyption mummy! Decorate with egyption motifs and designs with card that you can stick or draw on.
- Play with sizes ~ did you know jack-o-lanterns first were made with turnips by Irish immigrants?! Instead of one large pumpkin, carve a load of small and tiny pumpkins, turnips, and gourds. For some reason tiny little angry gourds and turnips hidden around the house are so much scarier - they are always watching...
- Happy Colors ~ If you are in an area with beautiful fall leaves, collect a bunch and decoupage them onto your pumpkin. I recommend Mod Podge as an adhesive. With enough leaves the pumpkin turns into a huge fall-colored flower!
- Potpourri Basket ~ fill large pretty dishes or containers with small pumpkins, gourds, pinecones, branches with berries, etc. and then add a spritz of your favorite fragrance. You could even use one of MatchaAlternatives’ chai blends - they smell so good...
- Forest Pumpkin ~ paint your pumpkin in a simple base color all over to move away from the classic orange, and paint on leaves and branches all over. This can be quite stunning, a work of art in itself
- Halloween Cat ~ Carve a sweet little cat face, add pipe cleaner whiskers and shape some ears out of extra pumpkin pieces (these are easily attached with toothpicks). Add a little witch hat, cape with any ol’ piece of cloth and more as desired.
- Whole Pumpkin Family ~ a happy family of friends to sit by your door. Have your family or friends you’re living with fashion themselves out of pumpkin. It’s fun to do with all sizes, even to the tiniest little baby pumpkin and all the family pets too!
- Cookie Cutter Pumpkin ~ after you carve out your pumpkin use cookie cutters to add fun shapes. To create cut-outs, place a cookie cutter on the pumpkin and tap gently with a rubber mallet keeping fingers well clear (keep the gore imaginary, please). These also are perfect edges to color-in or draw patterns to make beautiful pumpkins
- Pumpkin Decoupage ~ for toddlers and young children, instead of carving try decorating. Some basic supplies: glue, paints and brushes, glitter, stencils, colorful paper and safety scissors, and an imaginative mind!
Best Tea for Pumpkin Carving
Our Sweet Red Apple Green Tea, ripe red apples in the nose, and orchard on the tongue, will make a lovely addition to your pumpkin decorating experience. The gentle caffeine will help you keep awake and focus on your designs as you while away the afternoon (plus no spike of caffeine jitters here unlike with coffee due to the particular antioxidants). Plus if you’ve made your home all cozy and warm, it works really well as a sweet and smooth iced tea too.
This green tea will be perfect with oven roasted pumpkin seeds with salt and pepper. Be sure to preheat the oven as you start carving so you can put them in right away without delay. The BBC says 400F / 200C (350F /180C fan oven), wash the seeds and dry them thoroughly, then put the seeds on a baking tray and toss with olive oil, roasting for 10 mins.
Mulled Tea Potions
When I was young, I spent many fall afternoons concocting potions with my brother. While ours were mainly odd combinations of the kitchen ingredients we could reach, it was always so much fun! For a tasty brewing experience, I recommend trying something new: mulling tea potions.
Mulled tea is a fantastic alternative to apple cider. Sugar free and naturally zero calorie but still can be sweet depending on your chosen tea. it is a healthy and energizing replacement as I’m sure after all the treats, cookies and pies no one needs even more sugar!
So what’s the concept? With our new-to-fall Blend At Home Ingredients, you can tailor your mulled tea potion to your specific taste. With Turmeric, and Lavender, to Licorice Root and Rose Petals and many more herbs, petals and roots. Check them out!
So pick one of these bases, and craft away with Blend@Home plus anything you find in your cupboards!
- Start with Organic Tulsi Holy Basil as the base: New for you? Well, like Halloween, this tea has a deeper and darker flavor. Strong and herbaceous with spicy notes, will be the perfect addition to your spooky season, brewing with boiling water
- Add Hibiscus petals to turn it a red, and make sure they steep for a solid 5+ minutes. This adds a tartness too for lovers of sourness
- Then, for the final magical moment: add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and watch your ‘hibiscus potion’ change color before your eyes...
- Start with Sour Green Apple Green Tea: Sweet with that bit of tartness that makes Granny Smith Apples so tasty, this tea is perfect for a harvest-themed day!
- Add some color and spice with a heaping spoonful of turmeric pieces and mull for 3-5 minutes (don’t boil the water though, or it will go bitter!). You could do this with turmeric powder too, but it suddenly becomes dusty, so I recommend using the root pieces.
- Ta da, a goldenrod-yellow potion that is fall-licious (and pairs amazingly with apple pie)!
- Start with Apple Cinnamon Crumble Rooibos: This decadent and sweet tea is a perfect drink for kids and toddlers who don’t need any extra sugar! With lovely cinnamon and almond notes, this tea is well loved by all.
- Mull on the stove with a stick of cinnamon OR our own mulling spice mix for 5-10 minutes. Rooibos doesn’t burn so you can boil or simmer to your heart’s content ;-)
- Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of rooibos leaves for maximum cheerfulness!
Explore all our Flavored Teas for loads more sweet options like Caramel Christmas Rooibos and Citrus Burst Green Tea (and yet sugar free and with no artificial flavors or colors).
Fall Movie Suggestions (with Cozy Chamomile)
What is better than spending an evening outside wrapped in warm blankets watching a movie? Growing up, on Halloween night, a neighbor would project Frankenstein from an upstairs window onto the house next door. People filtered in and out for candy and snacks, all under the looming presence of the Monster...if he was the monster at all...
Since then, I have loved watching movies outdoors even if I am a bit of a wuss for horror! In the evening, that cool and quiet air makes the perfect atmosphere for a movie night.
Top tip: If you don’t have access to an outside space, open the windows and turn off the heat will lend a similar experience!
For this activity you will need...
- Lots of blankets and warm clothing
- A thick blanket to sit on or chairs, whichever you fancy
- A projector and wall or a laptop. Make sure you grab or borrow a friend’s plug in or bluetooth speaker so you can all hear properly
- Spooky movie? Something festive? Your choice, see below for my ideas...
Our Social Media expert, Trinity, has shared some of her favorite Autumn and Halloween films!
- Halloween (1978) ~ Perhaps the Halloween movie classic to end all classics, exciting and heart racing but still has plenty of cheesy moments (it is a late 70s horror movie, after all). A perfect not-too-scary scary movie for horror movie lovers and scaredy cats alike ;-)
- Midsommar (2018) ~ Definitely not for the faint of heart, Midsommar is a newer scary movie that became an instant classic. The movie takes place in broad daylight during a summer Swedish festival, and yet is still scary which shows how unique and different it is!
- Suspiria (1977) ~ An underrated horror gem, Suspiria is great for those who love horror but have seen all the most popular films. Even though the plot can be a little nonsensical, you’ll enjoy the suspense created by the soundtrack, special effects, cinematography, and fantastic costumes
- Last but not least, if you’re into horror, but want to know what the movies are about...try the The Scaredy Cats Horror Show, a podcast explaining scary movies to someone who hates them!
***Content warning: These scary movies contain violence, Midsommar and Suspiria especially for gore. But that’s what you would expect right?!
- Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) This movie carries the very essence of Autumn coziness and crisp leaves! A movie both kids and adults alike will enjoy. Full of all the charm, timing and weirdly-lovely animation like many-a-film from Wes Anderson.
- When Harry Met Sally (1989) For all the traditional rom-com lovers, this one's for you! A trip down memory lane for most, this movie takes place over multiple years and seasons, but it somehow maintains a very intense autumnal feeling to it (you’ll see what I mean).
- Emily in Paris on Netflix is a rom-com sit-com TV series full of the wonderful tropes of love and European exploration but with a little more of the curious and interesting education that comes from a very American American clashing with the very Parisian French :-) Somehow it manages to toe the line of not getting to standard corny but still a provides a reliable happy time (plus the eye candy of the French capital)
- About Time (2013) is a fun romantic trip to London with a magical time-travelling twist. What’s more cheery than the Britishness of Bill Nighy and Domhnall Gleeson with all the foppishness of Hugh Grant in his prime.
- For classics there’s always Hocus Pocus (1993) for an October with Salem vibes in full force!! Or Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock. A soft spot in the childhood memories of the founders Elizabeth and Vientiene!
- Finally even further down the childhood route you can go all the way back to Beetlejuice (1988). I know it sounds weird that a movie about a young couple dying tragically and being forced to inhabit their home eternally can be cheerful, but I promise it’s a fun time! Definitely Tim Burton at his best.
Best Tea for an Outdoor Movie Night
Now before you get too settled, I recommend brewing mugs of Sweet Dreams Chamomile Honeybush for everyone. This calming tea is sweet, smooth, lightly tart. In other words, the perfect end to a busy day decorating, carving and eating too much.
Both Chamomile and Honeybush are naturally caffeine free, so if you can’t sleep perhaps it is the scary movie you just watched.. To learn more about the benefits, read Why is Chamomile Calming? Honeybush is also a more unusual tea so MA’s blend is especially so! It’s the perfect opportunity to give it a try...
A Note from Luce
Why don’t more fall festivals and carnivals have tea?! It seems like a huge oversight! I have greatly enjoyed making this festivity list, all with a cup of tea in hand. While this fall season and Halloween are very changed, you can still enjoy the season from the safety of your own backyard. Different? Yes. Still fun? Absolutely!
In addition to the activities I have shared here, I personally plan on taking walks and hikes around the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts, baking Earl Grey Lavender Shortbread, and spending afternoons reading with a cup of tea in hand.
I hope you liked my autumn-at-home activities - you can pack them all into one day for a carnival-like atmosphere, or spread them out over a few weekends or a week to prolong the celebration! I remember my elementary school gave us a week off right at the end of October, which for parents meant saving hours of traffic but for kids it meant a whole week of decorating, costume assembly, and exploring the town. Since the pandemic, this will be the first year I won’t be home for Halloween so I really enjoyed writing this blog and reminiscing.
Wherever you are, enjoy the season, and reference these covid safe activities if you need ideas. Comment below to let me know how your day goes, and which teas were best for your fall experience!
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Thank you for your lovely comment Trinity! Your Halloween plans sound excellent ;-)
These are all such great ideas!! Halloween is my favorite holiday and I look forward to it all year – can’t wait to carve the spiral pumpkin and make the Apple Cinnamon Crumble mulled tea….and of course watch some horror movies afterward lol! ;-)