Guide to Throwing a Stress-Free, Kid's Halloween Party

October 21, 2010 9:46:28 AM PDT
Scare up some family fun!

The idea of hosting a Halloween party can frighten most parents. But you can enjoy a fun, stress-free party, according to Sue Kirchner, the founder of ChocolateCakeClub.com who calls herself "The Family Fun Coach." She has some tips on scaring up a family-friendly, easy and inexpensive Halloween.

"There is no better time to throw a kids party than at Halloween," Sue says. "The decorations, costumes, activities, and food are all perfect for amusing children and adults alike. The theme allows for the utmost in creativity, so go all out in planning your spooky party."

To help you save time and turn the party into a Family Fun event, let your kids help you with the planning and prepping for the part, Sue suggests. "Have a blast making decorations together or cooking up some ghoulish treats," she adds. "You'll be having fun way before the first guests arrive. Happy Hauntings!"

Invitations
There is certainly a variety of cute Halloween party invitations out there, both paper and electronic versions. There are also a lot of Halloween invitation templates that you can search and find on the web. However, sometimes sending a homemade invitation makes all the difference and creates a great first impression for the festivities. Here are some ideas:

  • Cut out orange pumpkin shapes, let the kids decorate the front with pumpkin faces and write in the details of the party on the backside
  • Fold gray construction paper in half. Cut the shape of a coffin around the fold so that the "door" swings open. With a black marker, decorate the outside with RIP. Inside, write the party details.
  • There is a fun invitation template at Martha Stewart Magazine. Just print it on orange laser paper.
    http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/2007Q4/tv3029_101207_halloweeninvite.pdf
  • Draw a large skeleton on white paper. Cut out the bones. Write the party details on the bone pieces and send one to each guest. Ask the guests to bring the bone invitations with them to the party. Reassemble the skeleton by the door as they walk in.

Decorations
You can certainly buy a ton of Halloween decorations at the various Party and Discount stores but using a little creativity to dress up your existing home decor to have Halloween flair can be the most fun of all.
Note: If you are throwing this party for toddlers and young kids, don't make the decorations too scary. You don't want the kids afraid to go into a room of the house during the party. Stick with the familiar Halloween images like friendly ghosts, witches, and pumpkins. If your kids are older than 5 years old, you can get a little spookier with cobwebs, rats, monsters, and mummies.
Tip: Don't feel like you have to use only orange and black in your color scheme. Throw in some deep purples, green or yellows into your decorating scheme.

Table Top Decorating Tip: Most of your decorations for the table can be the food. If you plan on making some Halloween themed treats, then your food will take center stage for the table decorations.

Here are some of our ideas for creating some spooktacular decorations.

  • Use old trick or treat bags or small decorative treat bags to hold candy or Chex Mix as snacks around the room.
  • We like to take the kids artwork from the last few Halloweens and hang them around the house as our decorations. It's cute, not too scary, and reminds the kids of what they made last year.
  • Let the kids draw ghosts and pumpkins on the windows with window markers before the party.
  • Take some muslin cloth cut into 1" strips or gauze and wrap it around objects in your house to make them look like a mummy. Vases, tall candlesticks, and plant bases are all great objects to wrap. Have the kids add googly eyes and you have some funny Mummy decorations.
  • Every year at Halloween we make spice, cut-out cookies in the shapes of bats, cats, and pumpkins. These colorful cookies placed on a serving plate make a great centerpiece for the food table.
  • We like to use the colorful Mexican Day of the Dead paper cutouts for Halloween decorations too. The bright pink, blue and yellow tissue paper cutouts feature scenes from everyday life, but with skeletons. You can order them from: http://www.cut-it-out.org/cgi-bin/cutcatalog_short_custom.pl?banners&&Category or http://mifiesta.com/pme18646.html.
  • Piñatas are a fun decoration and activity for the party. You can find some great Halloween piñatas at: http://www.pinatas.com/Halloween_Pinatas_s/172.htm
  • If the party is for older kids, top off glasses with red cake gel to look like dripping blood.
  • Buy black masks and put them on your pillar candles so that they look like mysterious bandits. Or, you can make them with black construction paper. Use ribbon or string to tie the mask to your pillar candles.
  • Take a glass bowl and fill it with black and orange puff balls. Have the kids guess how many balls are in the bowl to win a prize.
  • "Scarrots!" Put full size carrots upside down in black candlestick holders to look like candles. Add googly eyes for a scary, yet very funny decoration.
  • Reuse that Easter grass. Spread it out around the Halloween table between the dishes of food. Now scatter some candy corn or small wrapped Halloween candy in the grass.
  • Be sure to give the food scary names! Be creative and write down some spooky names for your food on index cards and place them next to the dishes. Kids love bat barf, spider drool, and other silly names.

Food Ideas
There are so many ways that you can take ordinary food like pizza and tacos and give it a special Halloween touch to delight the kids. Don't forget, you can buy candy eyes in craft stores and put them on any of your food to give them a creepy feel. Here are a few ideas and recipes to scare your party guests into eating.

  • Jack O-Lantern Pizzas

You'll need:

  • English Muffins
  • Marinara or your favorite pizza sauce
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Black olives or red pepper

Spread the pizza sauce on one half of the English muffin. Add cheddar cheese on top and then create eyes and a mouth with either the black olives or pieces of red pepper. Place mini-pizzas on a cookie sheet and broil in oven until the cheese is melted.
TIP: This is a great party activity as well as a menu item! Let the kids make and decorate their own pizzas.

  • Beefy, Cheezy Pumpkin Tostadas

You'll need:

  • Flat, crispy corn tostada shells
  • Ground beef
  • Taco mix
  • American or Cheddar cheese slices
  • Green pepper cut into 1" x 2" slices

Note: If you can't find tostada shells in the Hispanic section of your grocery store, you can make them a day ahead of the party. Take corn tortillas and fry them in oil until they are crispy and golden brown. Drain well and store in an air tight container until the party.
Brown the ground beef and add the taco mix. While the meat is cooking, take slices of American or Cheddar cheese and with a small, sharp knife cut the cheese slice into a circle or pumpkin shape. Then cut eyes, nose and mouth of the slice of cheese. Spread a layer of the meat mixture on the tostada. Place the cheese pumpkin on top and place on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes until the cheese starts to melt. Don't let it melt too much or you'll lose your face shapes. Take out the tostadas and add a green pepper "stem" to the top of your pumpkin.

Buy a latex pumpkin and hollow it out. Place glass dishes inside to hold your dips for veggies or fruit, as a healthy snack at the party.

Party Games and Activities

There are so many traditional games to play at kids Halloween parties, like bobbing for apples. However, we've put together some of our favorite games and activities to truly distinguish your house as the most Haunted Party Palace. We have listed these activities in order of age appropriateness to appeal to kids ages 2 - 12 years old. Don't forget, if there is a great party game that you love, think about how you can give it a Halloween edge to make it seem new and exciting.

  • Pin the Stem on the Pumpkin - Similar to Pin the Tail on the Donkey, cut out a large pumpkin out of oversized orange construction paper. You could also draw one on a 3M Sticky White Pad, like we use at work for meetings, and that way it will stick the wall by itself. Cut stems out of green construction paper and write each child's name on the back so you know who's closest. Use a bandana or scarf as a blindfold, turn each child around 3 times and let them at the pumpkin. Whoever sticks the stem closest to the correct spot wins a prize. (Suitable for ages 2-6 years old.)
  • Mask Making - Buy some white paper plates and cut eyes out of the center of the plate. Make sure you measure with your own child so the eye holes are in the right place for a small face. Let the kids decorate the paper plate masks with crayons, markers, glitter, feathers, jewels, foam sticky shapes, and yarn. Once they are done, you can put string or elastic around the back to hold the mask on. Or, to avoid the snapping and the uncomfortable feel, we use wooden dowels or paint stirrers and glue them to the side of the mask. That way the kids can just hold the mask up to their face. (Suitable for ages 2-8 years old.)
  • Halloween Freeze Dance - This is a perfect video moment. Have the kids play freeze dance in their costumes. Turn the music on and off. Whoever doesn't freeze, steps aside and gets a prize. This game is a favorite because it lets the kids release some energy and it's so fun to see the kids dancing in their costumes. (Suitable for ages 2-8 years old)
  • Ghosts on the Floor - This is a variation of musical chairs. Draw or print out pictures of friendly ghosts on regular paper. Place the papers randomly on the floor. Use 1 less paper than number of kids playing the game. Start some Halloween music and when you stop the music, whoever isn't standing on a ghost is steps aside and gets a prize. Everyone who goes out gets a prize so no one's feelings are hurt. (Suitable for ages 3-7 years old)
  • Decorate a Witches Hat - Think Bling! Check the discount or craft stores for some inexpensive witches hats or make them out of black construction paper. We like these instructions on how to make a witches hat - http://play.powerhousemuseum.com/makedo/witch_hat.php. For little kids, give them neon markers and foam sticky shapes. For older kids, give them glitter, feathers, jewels, and beads. This is a great activity and party favor to take home. (Suitable for ages 3-5 with supervision, ages 6-12 without)
  • Catch the Donut Game - We prefer this game to bobbing for apples. Tie a string or yarn around some cider donuts and then hang them from the ceiling, spaced about 2-3 feet apart. (If you can't hang them from the ceiling, you can tie the donuts to a broomstick and have two volunteers stand on chairs to hold the stick up.) The first child to eat the whole donut without using their hands wins.
    Note: Don't use donuts with powdered sugar or heavy amounts of sugar coating. You'll just create a mess on the floor and on the kids costumes. (Suitable for kids ages 5-12 years old)
  • Glow in the Dark T-shirt - Head over to the craft store and grab some black T-shirts and glow in the dark paint tubes for the party guests. Let them draw and create a luminous masterpiece. Make sure you do this activity early on in the party so the paint has a chance to dry. (Suitable for ages 5 and up)
  • Mummy Limbo - This is a little twist on the traditional mummy wrap game. Have the kids take turns wrapping each other up with toilet paper, pinning their arms to their sides. Once they are all wrapped up, hold up a broomstick, turn on some music and watch the kids limbo. The guest who can not only go the lowest but keep their mummy wrappings wins a prize.
  • Toilet Paper Costume Creation - We recently played this game at a bridal shower and it seemed perfect for a Halloween party. Separate the kids into teams. Each team will pick a "victim". The rest of the team then has to create a costume for the victim using only toilet paper. Give them 20 minutes and a few rolls of toilet paper and watch the creativity begin. Have someone judge the costumes and give a prize for most original or most elaborate. (Suitable for kids 8 and older)

Party Favors
Looking for some party favor ideas? Well, in addition to candy, there's always small toys, spider rings, bubble jars, glow sticks, erasers, and stickers. You can even find books or coloring books at the Discount stores for $1.00. But, what do you put these fun items in?

  • Get some brown paper bags and have the kids help you decorate them as goody bags. Use crayons, markers, or Halloween stamps to create some cute decorations.
  • We like to make Halloween hobo bags. Take Halloween fabric and cut 12 x 12 inch squares. Place your goody bag items in the center, bring the four corners up and twist. Tie the bag at the center of the twist with black yarn, Halloween ribbon or raffia. Makes a very cute and very easy gift bag. If your items are bigger, cut a larger square.
  • As a unique party favor, create some Lollipop Ghosts. Take 2 or 3 Kleenex tissues and place them over the top of a Tootsie Pop. Cinch the Kleenex sheets at the bottom of the lollipop and tie with a Halloween ribbon or yarn. Have the kids help you draw faces on these "ghosts on a stick" with markers. Place all of the candy ghosts in a cup for a nice decorative effect.

ABOUT SUE KIRCHNER AND THE CHOCOLATE CAKE CLUB

Sue Kirchner calls herself Chicago's Family Fun Coach. In 2006, she founded Chocolate Cake Club as a way to help busy families ease stress, have fun together and enjoy life more. She is also the author of The Chocolate Cake Moments blog, where she shares tips and ideas and provides a community that encourages Moms to "Indulge in Mommyhood" by having more fun with their families. The Chocolate Cake Club is an e-boutique that lets busy Moms put their feet up and smile with products and ideas that help them get organized, encourage their kids to be more self-sufficient, and distinguish them as a Mom who's got it together with must-have gifts and parenting tools. Sue Kirchner and The Chocolate Cake Club were recently named 28th out of 200 winners in StartupNation.com's 2010 Leading Moms in Business in America competition.

For more information on Sue and Chocolate Cake Club, visit http://www.chocolatecakeclub.com, email info@chocolatecakeclub.com or call 847-963-1805.


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