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A perfectly frightful tea party

Natasha Roffe offers some tricks for treating your little horrors on Hallowe'en
For those wary of sending their cherubs turned cackling witches and wizards on to the streets for a night of trick or treating on Hallowe'en next Tuesday, the alternative is to treat the little monsters to a party at home. In America, Hallowe'en has always been big business but, if the pounds 150 pumpkin-shaped china soup tureen at Tiffany's in Old Bond Street is anything to go by, Britain is also cashing in on this pagan festival as a pre-Christmas sales pitch.

Commercial gripes aside, children love Hallowe'en, so we are offering a selection of things freakish, from pumpkin cutters to electronic ghosts, all guaranteed to generate shrieks of gleeful horror.

Once you've lured the kiddies to the Hallowe'en festivities with Hannibal Lector-inspired "Come Over For a Bite" Hallowe'en invitations (Marks & Spencer, pounds 4 for 12), throwing a tea party is merely a question of stocking up with the best range of eerie edibles available from supermarkets and department stores. Tesco's Gasp the Ghost cake (pounds 7.99)is disarmingly charming, while Marks & Spencer does bright orange pumpkin-shaped cakes (pounds 4.99) or a set of four mini-pumpkin cakes for pounds 1.49.

The Beverly Hills Bakery is doing baskets (from pounds 21) of pumpkin-flavoured muffins, chocolate cookies, brownies and jam, all cellophane-wrapped and finished with a distinctive green ribbon and Hallowe'en greeting - an inspired way to say thanks for a ghoulishly great night out. Millies Cookies is also offering toffee apple flavour muffins (90p).

For visting trick or treaters, the Book of Spells and Spices (Tesco, pounds 2.49) - complete with an edible tarantula that would dangle nicely out of young jaws - contains all that's necessary to traumatise toddler and teeth alike, while witch's head or skull-shaped chocolate lollipops (Tesco, 99 pence), marzipan witches (Harrods, pounds 3.20), striped candy climbers featuring cats or witches (Harrods, pounds 2.80), moon- and bat-shaped fruit gums (Marks & Spencer, 49p) are all ideal.

Toys to make toddlers tremble - and parents cover their ears in horror - include a plastic rocking witch who cackles as her bright green eyes light up (Hamleys, pounds 24.99), a 24in animated sonic vampire (pounds 34.99), voice- activated ghosts and pumpkins (Hamleys, pounds 14.99) that cackle on command and, for goody bags, Hamleys also does glow-in-the-dark sickly green monster gloves (pounds 8.99), skull mask (pounds 3.49) and walking monsters (99p). If cackles aren't enough, a larger, and even wickeder, witch (pounds 49.99) not only rocks but also responds to noise, warning: "I'm going to get you, my little pretty." Dorothy, eat your heart out.

For post-tea entertainment there is a good range of non-edible activity books, including the House Haunting Kit (Random House, pounds 8.99), which contains Abra Cadazzle spells, a cassette of terrifying sounds and a stage bloodkit; a Creepy Kokey sound book (Heinemann, pounds 6.99) - a horror story that children can sing along to - and, for the more creative child, a Hallowe'en Fun book (Kingfisher, pounds 3.99).

Another find for a nocturnal do is a pumpkin lantern (Harrods, pounds 24.99) with a pair of matching black candlesticks with raised pumpkins wrapped around their middles (pounds 2.50 a pair, also from Harrods). If you'd prefer to make your own candlelit pumpkin, Selfridges has a fine range of pumpkins (60p a pound) up to 200lb in weight, as well as pumpkin cutters (pounds 5.99) to ease the process.

Hamleys 0171-734 3161, Tesco 01992 632 222, Marks & Spencer 0171-935 4422, Tiffany's 0171-409 2790, Millies Coookies 0171-240 0194, Beverly Hills Bakery 0171-584 4401.