- By Jenna Maxwell
Halloween is a great time for parties, and if you are hosting one this should be a time to have fun, to enjoy dressing up in costume and to spend some good time with your friends and family as well. Here’s a few tips to help you to be stress free while on your way to Spook-tacular party success and an absolutely frightful good time!
Invitations: Pick a date and time and send our your invitations at least 1 ½ -2 weeks in advance of your date. When it comes to kids Halloween parties you have to be mindful that some kids will not want to substitute trick or treating for a party, so if your party is planned for Halloween night you may lose some of your potential revelers. Having a pre-trick or treating party is a great idea; you can hold this the afternoon of Halloween, or even in the days preceding the holiday. On the invitations be sure and indicate the location, the starting time, (as well as the ending for kids parties) and remind the invitee’s to wear their Halloween costumes! Add an RSVP number for responses. If you are having a particular theme for this party, be sure to indicate that on the invitation as well. Indicating that there will be prizes for various categories of costumes is a great way to get your guests to make an extra effort in their dress up choices.
Games: If this is a children’s party, a few appropriate games will be fun and will keep the kids busy. Choose age-appropriate activities, such as Halloween Bingo, Candy Corn Catch, or even the Mummy Wrap game. Halloween Bingo cards can be obtained online or at most novelty stores. Candy Corn Catch is a simple game in which kids try to throw as many candy corn pieces into a plastic pumpkin (or a plastic witches cauldron) as they can during a preset time interval. The Mummy Wrap game involves teams. Divide the children up into small groups. Each group will pick who gets to become the mummy. Set a timer for a predetermined amount of time and while the time runs each group will use toilet paper to create a mummy with their designated group member. Give prizes for the most creative mummy, etc. The most fun game of all may be the Halloween costume parade. If the weather permits take the parade outside to give your guests lots of room to get into their character. Give prizes for various categories of costumes. If you are entertaining very young kids, have a small prize for each child so no one feels left out.
Food & Drink: Halloween themed food & hors d’oeuvre’s are perfect for this type of party. Finger foods and simple fare are going to make your life a lot easier. Even regular foods can be re-named into appropriate dishes. Guacamole dip can become “swamp dip” and Meatballs can become “Hobgoblins”, etc. For kids parties, a tried and true favorite dessert is the “Cup ‘o Dirt.” In clear plastic cups, layer chocolate pudding (about 2/3 of the way up) and then sprinkle on some crushed Oreo cookies. Garnish with gummy worms. Easy and kids love this! You can also find some other fun Halloween themed recipes here on our site. To create some spooky effects in your punch bowl, freeze some water inside a glove and float this ice “hand” inside the punch for a really creepy effect. For another amazing Halloween beverage trick you can add a small piece of dry ice to your punch bowl that will make it look as if it is smoking. Do not do this ahead of time as the effect wears off and the drink may get too cold very fast. Start with room temperature beverages to help avoid freezing if you are using dry ice. Some precautions are necessary when using dry ice, as you want to make sure that no one accidentally consumes a small piece, as this could be quite harmful. If handled directly, dry ice can cause burns similar to frostbite, so care is necessary and children should never be allowed to touch it.
Decorations: Keep them simple, but make them fun. A few lit Jack-o-lanterns are perfect, as well as the liberal use of spider webbing with plastic spiders inside. Change a few of your light bulbs to black or purple to create some spooky mood lighting. Use Halloween themed tablecloths on the food tables. Bring out all your Halloween décor to fully dress up the occasion. Don’t forget to play some appropriate spooky music in the background, too!
Kids Parties: Make sure you have plenty of help so that the kids are adequately supervised and to also assist you with any of the games you are playing and to help clean up, etc. If your party was planned for the outdoors, have a back up plan in mind, as fall weather can at times be unpredictable.
Pre-School Party Tips
Pre-schoolers love Halloween parties but there are a few special challenges you need to keep in mind when planning a party for the very youngsters. Little kids have short attention spans so you will want to plan your activities accordingly. Whether your Halloween party is at home, at school or for some other function keep in mind the following tips and your preschool Halloween party will be a sure success!
Planning: Let the kids assist with planning their party. Not only will it make them feel more grown up, but you will be sure to have activities on hand that they want to do. Of course adults will need to be present to supervise, but letting the kids have a say in the happenings of their party will ensure that you do what they like!
Party Players: Invite a manageable number of children, keeping in mind that these kids will likely be in costumes which may complicate things a bit with extra hats, props and accessories being around. Keeping the group small will ensure a safer party and will ultimately mean less stress for the adults that are present as well.
Keep them busy: Preschoolers have notoriously short attention spans. Have several activities planned with perhaps an extra one on hand in case you need it. Have the energetic games at the beginning of the party and the quieter activities like eating toward the end.
Consider the venue: If the party is planned for outdoors, have an appropriate back up plan in case mother nature doesn’t cooperate with your party plans. An indoor party is always a safe bet, but that does mean there is less room for the kids to run around. Use your best judgment and if you do opt to stay inside, once again, keep your numbers small.
Timing is everything: With the short attention spans of young children in mind, keep your party on the short side. A couple of hours is plenty long enough to play some fun games, have some activities, and eat some festive foods. It is far better to run out of time than to have rambunctious kids in your home with nothing left to do. Keep the party moving at a brisk pace. When the kids are busy having fun there is less likelihood of little ones having tantrums, tears or other mishaps.
Halloween Slumber Party (perfect for “Tweens”)
Slumber parties are a great idea for older kids, “tweens” in particular. Children ages approximately 8-14 love sleepover’s, and a “spend the night” party with a Halloween theme is going to be very fun as well as memorable for this age group.
A themed party, such as an art party, costume party, or a Karaoke party is enjoyable for this age group. Take into consideration the kinds of activities that your child as well as his friends enjoy, and go from there. Your child probably already has an idea or two in mind. A theme or activity will keep the kids really busy and you won’t have the pressure of entertaining all the kids; you will be there just to monitor and supervise.
If your child is younger than 8, you may want to consider whether or not he/she is secure enough to spend the night away from home. If the child is over 14 they have probably already attended many slumber parties and may be tired of them. Most 14 and older kids prefer to have a more intimate sleepover with only one or two friends.
No Mixing! You should keep your guests to the same sex at slumber parties and not mix boys with girls. If you want to have some opposite sex friends over early in the evening for some activities, this is a great idea, just make sure they go home at a pre-designated time. Most parents are comfortable with this type of arrangement.
Older kids 12-14: This age group really enjoys things like dance parties, Karaoke parties or more traditional Halloween activities, such as telling ghost stories in a darkened room. Older kids can really get into the spookiness of Halloween a lot easier than the younger ones.
Movie Night: Everyone has a favorite scary movie no matter what age he or she is. Make absolutely sure your movie choices are age appropriate and that you ask the other parents if they approve of any choices that will be viewed as a group. Turning on a movie as the activities are over is a great way to get kids to settle down for the night. After all the fun, the kids will all be asleep before you know it!
Food: It’s not a good idea to put all the food out at once. Start with some fun hors d’oeuvres, later put out some pizzas or other hearty fare, and then finish off the night with cupcakes or a Halloween themed goodie.
The Great Pumpkin Party
If you are looking for a Halloween party that is fun and exciting for kids of all ages, the Great Pumpkin Party is the perfect solution. This party emphasizes the preparation as well the anticipation that comes before Halloween. A pre-Halloween party is a great way to do something to get ready for the holiday while having some great fun with your close friends as well as your entire family. The Great Pumpkin Party is essentially a simple get-together centered on carving and decorating pumpkins for Halloween.
Plan to have this party is a couple of days before or the weekend just before Halloween. You will set up all the carving supplies at your home, but each guest will bring their own pumpkin. Organize a simple menu that is hearty but easy to prepare, get some spooky music ready to inspire the carving, and you are ready to party!
Simple Invitations: Make a simple pumpkin shape out of construction paper. This can be easily created by folding a rectangle of orange paper in half and then cutting out a simple pumpkin shape. Add the details of your party—time, place and date to the paper and be sure to emphasize that each invitee should bring their own pumpkin. Hold the party someplace conducive to mess, as carving pumpkins can create quite a bit of this. Having the party in the backyard on a beautiful autumn afternoon is a perfect idea, weather permitting of course.
Get ready for mess: Don’t stress about it, but you are going to have pumpkin innards everywhere, so prepare to deal with it. Cover large tables with plastic tablecloths that can be obtained inexpensively in Halloween colors. Have old newspapers around to help collect the mess, and large trash containers nearby to keep the goo level somewhat under control. Have a large container of handy wipes or a roll of paper towels nearby for messy hand cleaning during the carving process.
Get in the Mood with Spooky Music: Some great Halloween music is going to enhance your party and get everyone really in the mood for carving. Here are some of our favorite Halloween CD’s:
- Halloween Hits (Rhino Records)
- The Nightmare Before Christmas: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Disney) –very fun to sing along with and not too scary for youngsters.
- Very Scary Music- Classic Horror Themes. (Delta) Any spooky music that you like, you are likely to find it here!
- Boo, Cackle, Trick or Treat (Wee Bee Music) This CD has a great selection of lesser-known Halloween songs with a folk, sing-a-long twist.
Make it Festive: Haul out all your Halloween décor and make sure your house and yard is decorated with fall-themed and Halloween decorations. A fun and easy decoration that can sit on your porch and greet your guests as they arrive is a scarecrow made with a grinning pumpkin head. Any Halloween decorations will do; you can even pre-make, light and set out a few jack-o-lanterns for inspiration. If you have youngsters attending your party, consider making some painted jack-o-lanterns out of your young carvers with a unique pumpkin face stamp kit, readily available at craft stores. You can also make your own by cutting triangles or small pumpkin shapes out of craft foam and gluing them to cardboard. Kids love to have their faces painted and will love being decorated!
Create stations for carving, sculpting and painting: Traditional carving is fun but sometimes little kids want to participate so having other simpler options available for them will help them to be a part of all the festivities. Have the following tables ready to go so each age group can find the pumpkin decorating activity best suited for them:
- Carving-Stock this table with serrated, made-for-pumpkin-carving saws along with vegetable peelers, spoons and a few ice cream scoops for scraping. Set out large bowls to hold the discarded pumpkin goo and another one labeled “seeds only” so you can roast up the pumpkin seeds later on.
- Sculpting-For those more interested in creating a pumpkin look with vegetable accessories, have a fully stocked table featuring lots of pre-cut veggies with toothpicks available to attach them to the pumpkins. Carrot sticks make great noses and various greens make wonderful hair. Get creative with broccoli and other veggies to make some really comical pumpkin faces!
- Painting-even the littlest partygoers will have a lot of fun creating pumpkin faces on their pumpkin with non-toxic craft paint. Set this table up with paper plates for the paint, water cups, and lots of brushes.
Judging: At a predetermined time have at least 3 judges ready to assess the pumpkin artwork and give out all the awards. To make this process extra fun (and so every one takes them very seriously) make some really silly “Pumpkin Judge” hats for the judges to wear while doing their very important job.
Prizes: Have plenty of prizes. Make sure everyone gets an award for something, especially the little ones. You can have awards for the scariest, silliest, most artistic, most creative, etc. Write the type of award on a pumpkin cutout (just like your invitations!) and attach it to a goody bag filled with appropriate Halloween treats and award it to the lucky recipient. If you like you can have a “Grand Prize” for the best overall pumpkin at the event—a great prize for this is a fun Halloween decoration that can be taken home and put in the yard. This will remind the recipient of the good time had at this great party for many years to come.
Eat! Have some hearty yet simple fare ready for your hungry and hard-working carvers. Hot apple cider and chili can both be served in festive paper cups and are easy to prepare as well as serve. You can also try some of our favorite Halloween recipes that are found here on this site, such as delicious Pumpkin Bread Pudding with chocolate chips.
Adult Halloween Party Tips
The rules regarding Halloween parties change somewhat if you are having a party just for adults. Adult Halloween parties can be extremely fun, here’s a few tips to make sure yours turns out perfectly.
- Make your decorations more sophisticated, spooky and less “cute” than you would for a kid’s party.
- Have great food and lots of it! Feel free to experiment with gross sounding (and looking) but still delicious recipes that you can find online.
- Make special Halloween cocktails. There are many recipes on the web for all sorts of ghoulish cocktails to serve your guests. Any recipe is going to be made creepier with the addition of ice cubes frozen with plastic spiders, fingers, flies, roaches or even small doll babies inside. YIKES! Glow sticks make fabulous Halloween swizzle sticks that you can pop right into your guest’s drinks. Any drink is going to look spookier in an appropriate Halloween-themed tumbler. Drinks resembling blood are a fun addition to your beverage selection as well. Any red juice or liqueur will serve as the base, and you can make up several labels for them after an appropriate blood type—0-positive, A-negative, etc. Have fun with this!
- Pick a theme. Sometimes for adult parties its fun to have a theme. For example, you could have a Wild West Party, where all the guests would dress in attire from this time period. Another fun idea is to have a “Wedding that really is a Funeral” theme. Plan the party as if one couple is getting married and then have all the guests come dressed as already deceased wedding guests. Other simpler themes could include Superheroes or Villians. Let your guests show up in whatever appropriate costume they desire.
Movie Night for older teens or grown ups
Sometimes it’s fun just to have a few friends over for drinks, a little food and then watch a nice scary flick to top off the evening. Here’s our list of the Top 10 scary Movies to watch for a really frightful Halloween night!
Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The Ring (2002)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The Shining (1980)
The Exorcist (1973)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The Amityville Horror (1978)