-Carol Martin, Insurance Billing, Finance Department, Rainbows United, Inc.
Face it, the Halloween holiday is growing bigger every year, and more and more people are throwing parties. There are many ways to entertain on Halloween. Big or small, fancy or casual, make sure to plan ahead and save time and energy with creative shortcuts. This article contains party ideas for three very different crowds.
The smallest jack o’ lanterns will enjoy a morning or afternoon play group-style event. Invite several moms and dads with toddlers. Clear a room of furniture and provide yoga mats, blankets and pillows for sitting in a circle. Read a Halloween-themed book, like Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins by James Dean. This book is based on a funny song, so after reading, you can play the You Tube video, featuring Pete the Cat. Toddlers will love dancing and moving to the silly music. Make a simple snack like Banana Ghosts (peel a banana, cut in half, and push in Cheerio eyes and mouth), cheese sticks or cut grapes.
Serious trick-or-treaters want to eat something quick and hit the streets on Halloween night to get the best candy haul. Let friends and neighbors know you will have a soup and sandwich bar ready early, so they can stop in, fill up and get a group together to canvass the neighborhood or trunk-or-treat events. Leave the soup pot on simmer on the stove or in a crockpot on low, so it will stay hot through the evening as guests come and go. Set paper goods and garnishes on the kitchen table or island. Invite grandparents to stop in and take photos of the kids in their cute costumes. Have mini flashlights, treat bags or glow necklaces for each participant. These serve double duty as party favors and handy tools for a night outside.
A Saturday Fun House can entertain your whole circle of friends, or all the kids you know. Fill your backyard or basement with carnival game booths, like corn hole, pumpkin golf, ring or bean bag toss, face painting, fortune teller, pumpkin painting and soda pong. Making your own Halloween-themed slime can be a fun craft activity. Add a photo booth (see instructions below), candy land or an obstacle course and you’ve got an action-packed party. Sweet treats like Halloween cookie bars or mummy cookies are yummy for young guests. Serve a simple stuffed pepper with a ground beef or chicken and rice mixture. Make it festive by carving jack o’ lantern features in the peppers. A veggie tray can be made spooky by filling a decorated mini pumpkin with dip. Borrow folding tables and chairs from friends or your place of worship. Use disposable plastic or paper tablecloths. Teens, friends and family can help man the booths and play Halloween tunes on their phones. Give out small trinkets as prizes.
Shop discount stores after holidays or consignment/secondhand shops to find incredible bargains on holiday decorations. Keep a plastic bin in the basement or closet and just pick out what you need during the appropriate month. Put up banners made from paper plates that look like monsters or candy corn. Turn black plastic trash bags into spooky giant spider webs. Have your kids paint faces on small and mini pumpkins to set around on tables and floors. The multi-colored leaves on the trees in your yard will provide loads of color for decorating.
A costume box with found items from thrift stores, garage sales, fabric scraps, and wardrobe rejects is handy year round. Add a crazy hat and other colorful accessories, and you have the makings of a great Halloween outfit. Target and Wal-Mart stores have sales on costumes right now, so take advantage of the savings. My favorite new DIY costumes for this year is Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese and Mary Poppins.
Make a simple photo booth for parties by taping a bed sheet against a blank wall. Add crepe paper strips, garlands of plastic flowers or leaves, or cut out construction paper shapes and tape them onto the sheet. Don’t forget to pull out hats, jewelry, old coats and glasses from your costume box. You can make a zombie tombstone motif by cutting out and drawing on cardboard. Kids can easily help put this together and in the selfie age, this is a popular party feature. Post party photos on social media and tag family members who can’t make it in person.
Credits: Andy Walston–RUI Accountant, Pinterest, Food Network, Oriental Trading Company, YouTube, Amazon, and Mom!