Bewitch children with a simple backyard Halloween party
Every year, the elementary school had a half day on Halloween. Since we lived near the school and the late October weather is great, I always let my kids invite as many of their classmates as they wanted to our backyard for an afternoon Halloween party.
This gave parents a break for the afternoon (they were welcomed to drop off so they could go back to work), and it gave my kids an opportunity to enjoy time with their friends.
If your school doesn't have a half day on Halloween, this party could always be a pre/post-Halloween parade party. It could also be a simple weekend party with the plus of getting one more wear out of the costumes.
For the invitations, use light pumpkin colored 8x11 paper found at craft stores. (At least once a month, paper goes on sale at one of the craft stores.) Type the information (what, where, when, etc.) and place it so four invitations can be printed on one sheet of paper. Then, cut (it may be easier to fold into quarters, first, so there are lines to cut along) out each invitation.
To make the invitation a little less basic, use an edge punch to decorate one of the edges. The kids love helping out with the punch.
Decorations could be as simple as the basic orange and black. The party could go as far as center around a favorite story or type of character, like Harry Potter or witches.
The decorations should include a spot where party-goers can get photos taken in their costumes. A plastic tablecloth, old tablecloth or old sheet can be painted with a scene for kids to stand in front. The cloth just needs to be attached to the fence with clothespins. Be sure to paint the year on the background where it can be seen so there is no doubt when the costume was worn.
A favorite decorative space is a graveyard with funny epitaphs about cartoon characters, fictional characters and athletes who may have not had the best of luck. First, paint foam board with grey paint, then sponge a different shade of grey over it. Once dry, cut out a tombstone shape per foam board. Write the rhymes with a black permanent marker. The tombstones are great to make use of flower beds, and can be propped up against bushes of the leftovers of out-season plants. A paint stirrer can also be glued to the back so half overhangs the bottom and act as a stake in the ground.
Note: Before decorating the yard, make sure leaves are raked or mulched and all sticks are removed. The weather is nice, but it also leaves the ground a somewhat dangerous mess.
The kids will get plenty of candy while trick-or-treating, so less sweets will make the other parents happier. Provide kiddie finger food, like chicken nuggets, mini pizza bagels and cheese cubes. Deviled eggs could be made to look like eyeballs with a little food coloring and sliced black olives.
One cute sweet are ghost marshmallows. Simply dip a small portion of the end of each marshmallow in melted chocolate. Once hardened, use a black food marker (found in the cake decorating section of craft stores) to place three dots for eyes and mouth on the non-chocolate end.
For the cupcake lovers, it's easy to create a spider web decoration on top. Frost as usual, then use white icing to draw three circles like a target on top. Then, use a toothpick to pull lines of white icing from the outer circle to the center, forming a spider web look.
Drinks can include apple cider and Ghoul Aid. Ghoul Aid is simply a mix of grape Kool-Aid and Orange Kool-Aid. (Some may add ginger ale or lemon-lime soda to the drink, but I do not.)
What's a party without music? Here's some music to download for background, freeze dance or musical chairs:
Thriller by Michael Jackson
The Scooby Doo Theme
Batman (TV show) Theme
The Monster Mash
Purple People Eater
The Addams Family Theme
Games and Activities
With the amount of kids that may be in the backyard at any given time, it's best to have several games that don't need supervision. It will still be good to have gathering times, traditional games like freeze dance. Prizes can be the traditional Halloween plastic goodies, like spider rings and vampire teeth. Glow necklaces/bracelets are a thoughtful prize.
Game ideas include:
- Bobbing for Apples- Have lots of apples. Kids are smarter than we were.
- Ghost and Pumpkin Bowling- Paint six water bottles white and glue on black construction paper eyes and mouth. Set the "ghosts" up as bowling pins and use a small pumpkin as a bowling ball.
- Eyeball Pong- Decorate ping pong balls to look like eyeballs. The objective is to bounce the ball on a table into one of a few cups filled with water on the opposite side of the table.
- Freeze Dance- Play a few times to so more kids get to win.
Games may not be for everyone. Non-competitive activities could include:
- Trick-or-Treat Bags- Reuse the paper handled shopping bags from retail stores as a base for kids to make their own bags for candy gathering. Either pre-paint the bags white or provide pre-cut construction paper to cover the store's markings. Provide markers and stickers for the kids to decorate.
- Coloring station- Rip out pages from a coloring book or two. Leave the pages on a table with crayons.
- Storytelling- Have a seat for a storyteller and space for others to listen. Kids could take turns making up their own stories, or short stories could be provided.
The party can be a grand as you want to make it, but kids will be happy with the simplest party. Don't forget to have fun and at least throw on a witch's hat for a costume.
© 2014 Samantha Sinclair