Whether you’re having a Guy Fawkes party, setting off a few sparklers or just having a quiet night in, Bonfire Night provides the perfect opportunity for a bit of family time this autumn. For children especially, it’s a magical occasion, so planning activities that are both safe and enjoyable for all is a high priority.
Here are six ideas to ensure November 5th goes off with a bang.
1. Bobbing for apples
One of the oldest Bonfire Night traditions is apple bobbing, or apple ducking. Fill a basin or tub with cold water and fill it with apples. The objective of the game is to pull an apple out of the water using only your teeth – no hands allowed! Remove the stalks if you want to make the game even trickier. A successful bob earns you the apple as a prize, which is a great way to get little ones excited about eating something healthy. Leftover apples can also be used to make toffee apples as an after-dinner treat; all you need is some lolly sticks, caster sugar and some syrup.
2. Firework art
A great (and easy) way to entertain children on Bonfire Night is to invest in a pack of coloured chalks and ask them to make illustrations of their favourite fireworks. You can even do drawings with them on a patio or paved area. Just make sure you buy washable chalk, which is easily hosed off! If that’s out of the question, use sheets of black paper. This way, the children can also keep their drawings as a souvenir. If you’re visiting Center Parcs during Bonfire Night, make use of the chalkboard in your accommodation to draw us a picture!
3. D-I-Y Guy
Traditionally, children used to make their own effigies of Guy Fawkes, or ‘Guys’, on Bonfire Night. They would then take these around local streets and collect ‘pennies for the Guy’ in order to buy fireworks. Today this custom has all but disappeared, but making your own Guy is still a great daytime activity for the family on November 5th – or in the run-up to it. Much like a scarecrow, they are made from old clothes, newspaper and straw, so you can have plenty of fun with dressing and decorating your Guy, before giving him a face.
4. Roasted chestnuts
Chestnuts can be found in abundance throughout the autumn season; whether they’re being gathered up for playground conker tournaments or roasted for an evening snack over a fire, they can provide another time-honoured autumn-holiday custom. Why not roast them yourself? It’s so easy: just use a small, sharp knife to cut a cross into the skin of each chestnut. Place them in a roasting tin into an oven (preheated to 200c) and bake for around 30 minutes, until the skins open and the insides are tender. For real authenticity you can serve them in paper bags, but make sure they’re not still too hot for little hands first.
Some parents are – understandably – wary of sparklers, but as long as they are used sensibly they really add to the magic of the evening. Remember basic safety guidelines, such as making sure children using them are supervised at all times, and keeping a bucket of water or sand close by for when they’re ready to be put out. Use sparklers one at a time, and be sure to wear gloves, whether handling them or just lighting them.
6. Parkin Cake
The Parkin cake, originally created in the North of England and a fond favourite in Yorkshire, is enjoyed UK-wide on November 5th. Fun and easy to make, this is another great activity to get stuck into with the family in the run up to Bonfire Night. You’ll need all the baking staples such as eggs, flour, butter, milk and sugar, as well as some treacle and golden syrup, which is what gives Parkin its great moist and sticky texture.
If you weren’t lucky enough to take a short autumn break with your family this year then this is an ideal opportunity to make up for it. Wrap up warm and arm yourselves with the necessary tools for a brilliant bonfire bonanza.
Have we missed any of your favourite 5th November pastimes? Let us know in the comments below.