It turns out that Halloween can actually be quite fun, who knew? If you can get past the obsession with sugar and some of the quite ridiculous (nothing to do with Halloween) costumes there are some really fun activities to do with your children. The bonus of being on paternity leave at this time of year is that I’ve been able to get properly involved with the build up and it’s been great.

This had the added bonus of providing some much needed distraction to a half term week where we suddenly had 3 children at home and no preschool to occupy Matilda and Henry for a few hours. It’s been nice having so much time with them but also hard when you’re adjusting to having a new born again and we all know very well that bored preschoolers can test the patience of anyone.

With perfect timing HP also delivered on the first day of my paternity leave 2 items of shiny new technology to help us in our Halloween activities; a red Pavillion x360 laptop and an Envy 5640 wireless printer. The 360 in the name of the laptop refers to the fact that you can flip the screen over 360 degrees so that it can be used either as a standard laptop or as a tablet (and anything in between). My work laptop is a similar design and it’s so useful; having touch screen just feels normal and is great for scrolling pages then you can flip the screen over when you’re watching videos or using it for recipes in tent mode.

IMG_3659

After a week of using them they are my new best friends when it comes to crafting with the children, I have all the motivation and good intentions with crafting but really not a lot of skill. I know lots of people say they have no skill but my drawing skills are so bad it’s hard to tell which bits Matilda did and which I did. Which is where the world of printables comes in handy and I know I’m late to this party but they really are awesome aren’t they? We wanted to start the week making some bats that Matilda and Henry could decorate, we could have drawn one but it might have been hard to distinguish from a boomerang, instead we fired up the laptop and grabbed a free printout which duly appeared as if by magic on the printer. We quickly transferred it to card and used it as our stencil on some black paper and then let the kids loose with glue, paint and glitter. The result is somewhat Christmassy bats but I like them.

Glittery bats

Next up of course was carving the pumpkins, HP kindly included a pumpkin carving kit which I was a little sceptical of but quite honestly it’s fab. Having the small saws and a roller for doing the outline before cutting is much easier than using a kitchen knife and probably a lot safer too. I did a free hand silly face which is actually not bad for me but the lady of the manor was in her element and put me to shame. She printed off a stencil of an owl (Snapfish is a great resource for free printables for most occasions) which she stuck to the pumpkin and then marked out. The children loved this one and watching the candle flickering inside.

Carved pumpkins

We didn’t really want to take the children trick or treating as they’re a bit young and also aren’t too keen on the other kids dressed up (one dressed as a werewolf that knocked on our door really freaked them out) so instead I did a little trail around the garden. We waited until it was dark after dinner and then I put the lit pumpkins in the trees at the end of our garden with a little tub of sweets next to each one. We then gave Matilda and Henry a head torch each and let them search out the sweets, they thought being out in the dark was hilarious and loved running around finding sweets to put in their bags. One of the most fun 20 minutes I think I’ve had as a parent and we finished up trying to take some slow shutter speed photos of the lights in the dark. Hard getting the kids to wave their lights for 10 seconds in one place though!

garden pumpkin trail

We also made good use of having a wireless printer to print off sheets of pictures for colouring, we’ve been trying to get Matilda and Henry to do some drawing after meals as a quiet activity. They have a little table to do it on in the kitchen so I just print off some new sheets each day and leave them on the table for them. Very quick and convenient and means we can choose whatever pictures to colour fit with their interests etc.

Drawing after breakfast

A quick final comment on the HP kit; the laptop is a great bit of kit, quite light but so far seems robust enough for the children to handle. The rotating screen makes it really versatile (we used it in presentation mode to watch videos of fireworks with the kids so they knew what to expect at bonfire night) and I love having touch screen. The only negative for me is it can be a bit sluggish at times, it’s the bottom spec model so if I was buying it I would go for one with a better processor (an Intel Core i3 ideally). The printer so far has been perfect, having it wireless means you can set it up somewhere out of the way as you don’t need to get a cable attached and printing from your phone is so easy. I haven’t tested it for printing photos yet but everything else has been good quality wise, will have to see what the running costs are like for ink.