5 Tips For A Successful Kids’ Halloween Party

fullsizerenderIt’s Halloween in a few days which means it’s one of my favorite times of the year!  I’ve got childhood memories of wearing my costume and marching in a parade at school for parents and kids to admire.  I’ve got adult memories of carving pumpkins in my college dorm.  I’ve got lots of memories of going trick-or-treating with my kids over the years.  And, handing out candy dressed in a witch hat is an evening I look forward to all year.  So, in my opinion, Halloween is a great excuse to have a party!

I’ve thrown a few Halloween parties for the kids over the years, sometimes themed in with one of my daughter’s birthdays.  It’s just too easy to have a Halloween party, especially when the dollar stores, drug stores, and corner stores are all so well-stocked with fun crafts and ideas.  Did you know that, in the US, Halloween is about a $7 billion a year industry?  Canadians spend about $1 billion, which is more per capita than Americans do on Halloween costumes, decor and candy, according to an October 2014 article in The Financial Post.

img_3046Here are my 5 tips for hosting a party, followed by photos of what I’ve done.

Let the kids be involved in setting the agenda.
Do kids come wearing their costume or not?  What do they want the main activity to be? What do you want to serve? How many people is comfortable for you and your child to entertain? What time do you want to have the party?  I think Halloween is more fun in the dark, so if you can do a late afternoon party, go for it.

Decorate your house indoors a few days before the party.
This will get your house and your child in the mood.  I have two boxes of Halloween decorations and we decorate one day after school.  Each kid places their favorite decorations around the main floor.

Make outdoor decorating one of the activities and do it first.
This can be lots of fun for the kids and a lot less work for you, especially if you involve your child in buying the decorations that he or she knows the guests will enjoy.  Think cobwebs, ‘caution’ signs, graveyard stones and chains, as well as walkway lights or other lights that can be hung low.

Plan one major activity but have a few extra games planned.
This could be a scavenger hunt in the neighborhood or a trip to the local coffee shop or decorating Halloween treats.  For my daughter’s party, I made huge cookies for the kids to decorate which took about half an hour.  Then the kids played a few Halloween-themed games, had pizza, and ate Halloween decorated desserts.

Set a beginning and an end time for the party.
With all the sugar the kids will be consuming, setting a pick-up time is a good idea! Make sure you involve the kids in packing up their cookies so they’re ready to go when their ride arrives.  The dollar or craft store has lots of themed packaging for baked goods.

Here’s what we did for a Halloween party I hosted for my daughter and her young teen friends:

The main activity was to decorate large pumpkin-shaped cookies into jack-o-lanterns. I made these cookies a few days in advance, but you can also buy store-bought sugar cookies.  The cookie toppings such as sprinkles, candy coated black and orange chocolates, candy corn, and icing tubes are readily available at a bulk store or the grocery store.

The kids also made witches’ hats by using icing to attach Hershey’s Kisses to Oreos and chocolate cookies.  A super simple idea is to pipe icing around an Oreo cookie and roll it in sprinkles.

img_2423One of the games was to divide the kids into two teams and have them assemble one of two kits that I had bought at the dollar store: a witch or a frankenstein foam character.  We made this a race to see who could put the characters together first, without letting the kids see what the finished product was supposed to look like.

img_3045Another game was to hide pieces of a plastic skeleton in the backyard and have the teams find the pieces and connect them to re-make the skeleton.  I put curling ribbon around each piece in a different color so that one team had to look for orange ribbons and the other had to look for white ribbons to complete their skeleton.

img_3043A big hit was a Halloween memory game where I walked around the house and picked up 20-25 little items that I placed on a tray.  I covered the tray with a cloth, opened it up for one minute, then covered it up while the girls had to remember what was on the tray.

Another game they’ve played before is finding hidden Halloween stickers or confetti on the main floor.  There are lots of websites that can provide many more ideas for entertaining kids of all ages – just do a quick google search or try this post from the blog My Life and Kids.

img_2339img_2267If you’re used to having kids over for playdates, then a Halloween party is not much of a stretch in terms of theming the food and tableware to the holiday and arranging for a few games.  It’s all about being together and having fun!

Let me know if you’ve hosted a kids’ Halloween party and what has worked well.

Happy Halloween!!

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