Halloween & Day of the Dead prep party

It’s my third Halloween in Australia! It’s not a very popular holiday here, but I’m fortunate to have some people in my life who love Halloween and the Day of the Dead.

Back in 2012, Theo and I hosted a pumpkin carving dinner party at our house and since then we’ve been gathering with my sister-out-law and her adult children. Last year, she made sugar skulls and we all gathered at her house to decorate them. This year, we gathered at the home of Theo’s niece and her fiancée for both pumpkin carving and decorating sugar skulls over a vegetarian Mexican-inspired lunch. After three years in a row, it’s officially a tradition.

Here are some of my favourite images of the day.

Halloween beetroot heads.
Every good cheese tray needs scary beetroot heads.
Decorating a sugar skull.
My partner Theo decorating his sugar skull.
Day of the Dead sugar skull.
Decorating sugar skulls for Day of the Dead.


Sugar skull.
I love the lips on this one.
Sugar skull.
Flowers and bright colours are traditional choices for sugar skulls.
Sugar skulls.
Our finished sugar skulls. Mine is the boring one on the bottom left. I need more practice.
Taking a break for a delicious vegetarian, Mexican-inspired lunch.
Bits of pumpkin.
Pumpkin innards. Don’t let this go to waste! Roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious. The pumpkin chunks can be used for soups, salads, and pie.
Little carved pumpkins.
I went with three little pumpkins. Here are two of them.

Field pumpkins, the big orange type that Americans use for jack-o’-lanterns are not common in Australia. When Halloween rolls around, supermarkets carry them for a limited time and a premium price. Don’t feel obligated to buy them. You can carve any kind of pumpkin and they will look just as good. In the Celtic countries where this custom comes from, jack o’ lanterns were carved from turnips, potatoes, or beets. The pumpkin was an American adaptation.

What are you doing for Halloween?



  • Those beetroot heads are fabulous!

    • Cosette Paneque

      Right? And they look creepier as they age and “bleed”.

  • This is all great – I’ve not seen the sugar skulls before and I think they are particularly good. And the pumpkin spewing guacamole, and the jack o’lanterns. What fun for your Australian nieces and nephews!
    Happy Halloween.