Over the past few years Halloween seems to have evolved from wearing a half-hearted costume and ducking for apples to an all-singing all-dancing extravaganza. Though it might seem a bit Americanised these days, Halloween originates in the Celtic festival of Samhain and has been celebrated in the British Isles for over two thousand years.

If you want to join in the fun without traipsing round to the neighbours’ houses demanding sweets, here are some fun Halloween party ideas ideas suitable for all ages.

1. Silhouetted scares

Give your neighbours a treat with some cardboard cut out monsters! Using black poster board, sketch some spooky silhouettes – ghosts, bats or even skulls if you’re feeling artistic! – cut out the shapes and stick them to your windows (blue tack works well and is less likely than sellotape to leave a mark). When the lights are on indoors the scary shapes will be highlighted to terrifying effect.

2. Cheesecloth ghosts

Take an old wire coat hanger and drape with cheese cloth (available from most kitchen or hardware shops) to create spooky floating ghosts.

You could create eyes or gaping mouths from black construction paper, and shred the cheese cloth at the bottom to give it a ragged effect. Hang them outside your front door or in any dark corner to give Halloween guests a fright. Shredded cheese cloth draped over a doorway or along walls can also give a cobweb effect to welcome guests.

3. Scary soundtrack

Anyone who has watched a scary movie knows how crucial the soundtrack is to build tension. You can buy a spooky soundtrack, but why not try making your own?

Track down creaky doors or floorboards, record howling wind or faraway shrieks.

If you want to take it to the next level, watermelons are a great favourite of movie soundtrack artists. You can squelch the flesh, crunch or rip the peel, even drop the whole thing from a ladder – there is no end to the horrible noises a watermelon can create. Record the effects with your phone and use a sound editing app (some computers and tablets have them installed as standard, others are available as free apps) to edit them all together.

This is the kind of project kids love to get involved with.

A simpler option could be creating a playlist of all your favourite scary songs!

4. Go old style

Sometimes the classics are the best.

Bobbing for apples requires little set up, and though it can involve splashing water, it could also be a good way to get kids to eat an apple amongst all the Halloween sweets! Fill a clean bucket or basin with water and float several apples in it, then players take turns trying to catch an apple with their teeth while their hands must stay behind their back.

Carving pumpkins (or turnips, if you really want to go old-style!) is another fun activity – either in preparation for the party or as a party game for older children or adults. You could also get competitive and offer a prize for the scariest design…

5. Grave cake

A simple chocolate sponge with chocolate shavings to evoke dirt can be turned truly horrible with a couple of strategically placed dolls limbs escaping graves!