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!"
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.
- 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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- For desserts, try making Pretzel Log Ghosts. Melt a bag of vanilla chips in the microwave or on the stovetop. Dip or roll the pretzel logs in the melted white goo and stand up to let the candy coating drip down a little. Either stand these up in a paper cup to dry or lay flat on a wax paper covered cookie sheet. When dry, take black icing (not the gel kind!) and draw ghostly faces on your pretzels. These look so cute all bunched together in a cup on the table.
- Decorate the tops of orange sherbet cups with chocolate faces. (Use Magic Shell Chocolate Ice Cream Topping to draw on eyes and a mouth.)
- For more Halloween inspired food ideas check out:
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.
- 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.)
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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 847-963-1805.