When it comes to holidays, nothing makes you feel like a kid again more than Halloween. Thanksgiving and Christmas are great, of course, but they involve a lot of adult responsibility, like cooking, prepping the house for guests, and SO much gift wrapping. Halloween is all spooky movies, candy, costumes, and the chance to decorate the house without untangling a million strings of lights. (You can even have fun creating some DIY decorations!)
It’s also a great reason to throw a party, and whether your guests are full-grown werewolves or just little were-cubs, we have some ideas to make your party a Hallow-scream!
Ideas for the Little Boos and Ghouls
The key to a successful kids’ party is to keep the crowd size manageable. A good rule of thumb is to start with your child’s age and then add one or two. (So a 10-year-old’s party would have 11 or 12 guests.) If you want to invite more kids — especially more young kids — make sure you have enough adults on hand to help out.
Before planning your menu or treats, ask parents if anyone has any food allergies so you know what to avoid. Include a variety of healthy options to offset candy and sweet treats, but stick to kid-approved fare like baby carrots, string cheese, apple slices, and yogurt pouches. Add holiday flair with Five Easy Halloween Treats in 15 Minutes or Less, which includes a Mummy Dog recipe to transform hot dogs and crescent roll dough into spooky snacks.
To keep your young guests engaged and channel their energy, plan on lots of activities … ideally more than you think you need. You can easily drop a game or craft if time is running out, but the last thing you want is to have to improvise with a houseful of fidgety, overexcited kiddos. Offer prizes to the top scorers and possibly consolation prizes (like stickers) for the rest. Here are some games and activities to get you started:
Pin the Spider on the Web
Put a Halloween spin on the old staple of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Draw a large spider web (or create one out of crepe paper) and provide spider stickers or cutouts instead of tails. You can also modify this as Pin the Nose on the Pumpkin by using a pumpkin background (with eyes and mouth shapes only) and triangle cutouts for noses.
All you need for this are brooms, pumpkins, and yard space. Set up a start line and finish line, then see who can be the first to sweep their pumpkin over the finish line. You can vary the size of the pumpkins or the sweeping distance depending on the age of the kids.
Bean Bag Toss Pumpkins
Carve out pumpkins with extra-large mouths and see who can toss in the most beanbags. As with the Pumpkin Sweep, vary the size of the pumpkins or throwing distance according to the kids’ ages.
Go simple (a wall hung with a Halloween tablecloth) or rig a more elaborate outdoor backdrop. Then throw in as many props as you can find, and watch the magic happen!
Finally, although party favors aren’t strictly necessary, if you’re looking for an unusual treat to provide kids as a send-off, check your closet for gloves that are missing their mates, or pick up some inexpensive gloves from a dollar store. (You can also use powder-free, non-latex plastic gloves.) Create “Hand Bags” by gluing fake fingernails to the fingertips and adding a ribbon handle, then fill with treats.
A Monster Mash for the Ghostly Grownups
We all become kids again at Halloween, so a lot of the previous ideas here work for all ages. (Who doesn’t love a photo booth?) But for an older crowd, you can obviously increase the scare factor and add in food and drinks more catered to adult tastes. Charcuterie boards are an easy way to keep the crowd fed by providing a crowd-pleasing variety of cured meats, cheeses, olives, nuts, fruits, crackers, and more. And if you’re looking for Halloween-themed serving ideas, check out Pinterest for ideas that range from the festive to the truly ghoulish. (You’ll never look at a plastic skeleton the same way again!)
For décor, you can create an eerie, Haunted Mansion setting on a budget with these hacks:
Drape furniture with white sheets to create a ghostly vibe while protecting upholstery from spills.
Use black spray paint to transform inexpensive artificial flowers and vases into an otherworldly landscape.
Give paper lanterns a creepy vibe by adding gauze, stickers, paint, or other decorations.
Swap out regular lightbulbs with colored bulbs. (Black, red, and purple are perfect for Halloween.)
One Final Note
Remember that a lot of overly excited and possibly sugar-addled kiddos will be out on the streets tonight, so use extra caution when driving to and from any Halloween celebrations. If you’re hosting a party or handing out candy, make sure your walkways are well-lit and clear of obstructions, and for extra safety, use battery operated tea lights instead of candles in luminarias and jack-o’-lanterns.