Halloween is kind of a non-holiday in Greece. I was told it’s been gaining traction the last five years or so, mainly because children love it. But come Halloween night, you won’t see roving bands of costumed half-pints ringing bells and demanding candy door-to-door. You will, however, see a pretty sizeable Halloween section at the Jumbo. This came in handy for the Halloween party Liam decided he wanted this year. I called it Liam’s Halloween Spookfest. We’ve never thrown a Halloween party, so I figured I’d keep it simple, especially because James would be out of town. Throw a couple of snacks on the table, invite a few close friends, plan a couple of games, and be done with it.
Except…Halloween is so much fun! And once Liam and I put our heads together, the plans got bigger…and bigger…and bigger.
Next thing I know, I’m scouring the city for dry ice to create spooky fog in our “haunted attic.” I messaged one of the Greek moms I know to ask where I might find some, and she suggested gas stations or liquor stores.
Here’s me trying to explain dry ice to the gas station attendant:
“I’m looking for DRY ICE. No…not the ice in the machine. It’s very cold, colder than that. No, it doesn’t go in your car…it’s for…um…keeping things extra cold. It’s made from carbon dioxide, completely frozen. It turns to gas when you pour water on it.” (Pantomime pouring)
I got a lot of puzzled looks. One guy, who seemed to know English the best, replied, “I do not think you will find this thing you describe.”
Indeed. Turns out my friend misunderstood me, thought I was looking for regular ice. Back to the drawing board. I reached out to the science department at Liam’s school and to some folks at the embassy to see if they knew where I could find some. And finally, two days before the party, I called a guy who said he could deliver some right to my front door for 11 Euros. Alright! Friday evening he pulls up to the door, dumps 10 kilos of steaming dry ice into my cooler, only charges me 10 Euros, then shouts back over his shoulder as he runs back to the van, “Remember, don’t touch it!”
I’m really starting to love this country.
Liam and I spent more than a week planning and decorating. We tacked red tissue paper over the lights in the elevator and hung a spooky sign over the ground floor door. We strung spider webs, carved a few pumpkins, and hung a motion-activated ghost in the top floor vestibule (AKA haunted attic). I looked everywhere for a black lightbulb, but had to settle for red and blue, which was still pretty eerie. We ordered a super gross severed hand online, and found some tombstones and skeleton hands at Jumbo. I looked up fun Halloween games for his age group online. I asked each family to bring a spooky dish to share, and I made little ghost-shaped turkey sandwiches. I even decided to get a little mileage out of my new smoothie machine by making strawberry slushies for the kids (with a shot of Grand Marnier for the adults).
I pushed the party up to October 22 because October 28 is a major Greek holiday, and many families (including ours!) plan to go out of town then. We had five kids (six if you count Violet) and seven adults, and although Liam was bummed his three best buds from his class couldn’t make it, he still had a great time. After the kids ate, they ran around the house playing hide-and-go-seek. We had planned to reveal the haunted attic at the end of the night, but most of them ran up there ahead of schedule. I eventually had to call them all back to play some of these games we’d planned. Pin the Eyeball on the Zombie was a big hit, but Liam got upset during the Spooky Walk when one of the younger siblings wasn’t following the rules, and we completely forgot to do the Mummy Wrap Relay. By the time we got all the lights out and started telling spooky stories, no one wanted to sit still or take turns. Time for some dry ice fog!
Liam and I had rehearsed how this part was going to go. I would go upstairs with some hot water and a walkie-talkie, then call him when it was time to send all the kids up. Just as the doors opened I poured the water into the cooler and got a tremendous blast of cold, white fog. The kids were all super impressed. Laid out on a table with a creepy talking skull was a party favor bag for each of them full of candy, plastic bugs and little practical joke gags.
Aside from Liam’s little screaming match with a four-year-old and the general chaos, I’d say this was a hit. The adults had a great time, too. Liam is already planning the second annual Halloween Spookfest, and if it’s anything like my rooftop parties, we’ll have an entirely different set of kids at the next one!
The American School plans a big Halloween celebration, too, with a costume parade, classroom parties, and a fall carnival in the evening. However, we’re going to miss it because…
We’re going to Transylvania to see Dracula’s Castle! Squee!!
Liam’s been watching Hotel Transylvania and episodes of Count Duckula to get him up to speed on who this whole “Dracula” character is. We’re staying in Bucharest, Romania, then taking a bus tour up to the mountains to see two famed castles of Vlad the Impaler. And lest the kids not find this as fascinating as we do (which is entirely possible), we’ll be back in time for the big Halloween party at the embassy on Monday.
So, stay tuned for updates from Transylvania…transsexual or otherwise.