10 Tips for Throwing a Halloween Party for Kids

A little forethought is all it takes for monstrously memorable merrymaking. Halloween Tricks & Treats editor-in-chief Ann Blevins gives us the inside scoop on how to throw a kid-friendly monster mash this Halloween, complete with Halloween decorations, party food, and games.

1. Make clever invites

The way you announce the "what, when, and where" can make the difference between a full house and one that seems like a ghost town. Pique interest with a clever invitation, and then follow up with an equally crafty take-home bag or trinket. In other words, begin and end on a high note! Take your pick from these easy Halloween party invitations. There's something for every age and party theme—even a haunted hoedown.

2. Play it by age

Factor in the age of party-goers to make sure your shindig doesn't frighten—or bore! This will help you decide what Halloween party decorations are appropriate for your group. Put a Halloween twist on classic party activities like bowling, pin-the-tail games, or cornhole. 

3. Know when to end the party

Possibly the most important Halloween party tip of all: Determine how long your bash should last before the day of the party. For younger kids, an hour or two will be plenty. Older kids might be able to persuade you to stretch it into a sleepover. Either way, make sure the invitation states the time parents can pick up their kids.

4. Decorate!

Cast a spell on your home with handmade Halloween party decorations that will be the life of the party. Set aside a weekend afternoon to craft a few goodies and have the kids lend a hand. If you're in a hurry, use these easy-to-make Halloween decorations (three steps or less) as a crafting activity the day of (or during!) the party.

5. Put it to music

If you lack ghosts in your house to provide spooky background noises, buy a CD of eerie and Halloween-appropriate tunes or compile your own from an online store. With the right background music, your decorations will seem to come to life. Ann recommends playing "Monster Mash," "Witch Doctor," and "Ghostbusters" to get the party started. Set Halloween games to music, or use music to set the tone when guests arrive. 

6. Use double-duty decorations

Give out the homemade Halloween decor you used at the party as game prizes or as thank-yous for adult helpers. Choose easy black and white dishes from your kitchen to serve food that also complements the Halloween theme. We're all about using party decorations that are easy and inexpensive. Decorate the party with Halloween decor you're already planning to display around your house, and accent with a few bold pieces—like this fun oversize balloon. To make one, purchase one large balloon and attach large stickers or use a permanent marker to spell out a spooky greeting. 

7. Make monstrous munchies

With minimal effort, ordinary munchies and sweets become extra-special treats. Just make sure you check ahead for food allergies and other dietary concerns.

We know Halloween is synonymous with "candy," so have some fun with your dessert options. But that sugar crash? It's no treat, and it's no trick to avoid, either. Make sure your Halloween party food includes some healthy offerings so you don't send little guests home on a sugar high. Sneak some healthy foods into a Halloween trail mix, or add spook appeal with scary-good treats to entice tykes to take a bite.

Ann's favorite recipe to mix healthy and sweet treats is for monster mouths, which involves sandwiching candy corn "teeth" between two apple slices spread with peanut butter. You can also adorn skewer tops of fruit and cubed cheese kabobs with plastic spiders for another healthy Halloween treat.

8. Play some games

Even though kids have a magical way of entertaining themselves, plan to fill some of the party time with easy Halloween party games for kids. Try a sit-down crafting project followed by a work-off-some-energy dance contest, or take kids outside to learn black cat croquet. A game of Halloween charades can be adapted to all ages and will get your group wiggling and giggling as they play pretend.

9. Play to your theme, or theme your play

There are plenty of Halloween party themes to choose from. Along with spiderwebs and black and orange decor—the standard, fun ways to turn your home into a haunted house—try focusing on a second theme. Kids will enjoy a spooky magical forest or a not-so-scary monster-themed bash. For a younger crowd, a circus theme is a fun idea, and a good way to let younger siblings in on the fun by having them be the animals! Ask guests to come in costume and then hold a costume contest, of course. Adult helpers should get into character, too. Get creative!

10. Do the shutterbug

Preserve the fun by taking lots of pictures! Designate a friend to be the photographer to take one thing off of your full plate. In addition to candids, take a posed shot of each guest. Set up a festive "photo booth" in a corner of a room, like this fun ferris wheel bench. After the party, mail photos to guests' parents, or upload digital photos and make an online slide show to relive the fun.

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