Kate Livingstone: Fancy dress time chills the blood ...

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There’s something about Halloween that chills the blood, don’t you think? Well, if you’re a parent or grandparent with young children it certainly does these days.

In my day, children wore old clothes and dressed as scarecrows, put bed sheets over their heads to be ‘ghosts’ or artfully splashed tomato ketchup around in a suitably gory fashion. If you were lucky, someone would buy you a witch’s hat.

I no longer have the energy to tell children that, actually, it’s called guising and if you want sweets you have to at least tell a joke

But bed sheets and broomsticks are clearly out of fashion when it comes to Halloween costumes.

Now, it seems to be essential to buy a costume, whatever the cost – vampire, superhero, zombie, skeleton ... the selection is frightfully good.

If you’re old-fashioned, like me, it feels a bit like cheating

But if you’re a stressed, busy parent I suppose it’s an easy way to let your children get into the spirit of things, without having to devote hours of your time.

Last year saw my daughter on a frantic run round Hobbycraft and various other shops to get material to make a Castle Crasher outfit, which was not available to buy.

Now, it’s a very simple 2D computer animation, so wasn’t too difficult to replicate, even for the generation who are strangers to such things sewing machines and anchor stitches.

However, this year, my grandson appeared with a picture of a different cartoon knight he wanted to be.

Recognising it was beyond her skills, my daughter turned to me. I was happy to help. I persuaded him that actually going as a ninja would be much more fun and got the costume he already owned but had forgotten all about from the cupboard.

And don’t get me started on trick or treating. That’s one argument that’s been well and truly lost. I no longer have the energy or patience to explain to groups of small children that actually, in Scotland, it’s called guising and if you want a handful of sweets you’ll jolly well have to sing a song or at the very least tell a joke.

Now, they just hold out their plastic, shop-bought trick or treat pails and I hand the goodies over. I warn them, however, if I hear it called candy, I may take it back.

If all this sounds a bit curmudgeonly, I’m sorry. I like to enjoy Halloween and my grandchildren love it. I just don’t like to see it turn into an expensive, plastic-ridden money-spinner,

There is one American import I approve of, however – anyone who’s ever tried to carve a turnip will know that it’s a never to be repeated ordeal. Pumpkin carving is one tradition I’m very happy to embrace.