3 Tips for a Toddler-Friendly Halloween Party

Dressing up in goofy, ghoulish, or glamorous costumes and collecting loads of free candy . . . It’s no wonder kids go wild over Halloween.

But if you’re looking for something more than last year’s haunts, a kids’ Halloween party can be a safe alternative to trick-or-treating – or simply an entertaining addition to your traditional All Hallows’ Eve festivities. Bonus: Whether your tots adore everything scary or your brood prefers cute over creepy, you can pull off a howling good time without spending a ton of time, effort, or money.

Terrifying trimmings

Ambience is everything and you really cannot overdo Halloween decorations. Here, you’re going to want to go for cute over macabre.  Play spooky music on a loop near the entrance. Set up an adorable motion-activated ghost to startle guests as they arrive. No props? No problem. Enlist another adult to wear a not-so-scary costume with a mask and settle into a chair near the front door. Belt out the occasional “BOO!” as partygoers enter, and you’ve set the mood.

Allow oversized spiders to loom in the corners of the room. Crisscross four lengths of black crepe paper streamers and tack or tape them onto the wall near the ceiling to create spider legs. Stick a round, black balloon in the center for the arachnid’s body.

Drape plain white sheets over large pieces of furniture, block doors with witchy brooms, and complement it all with simple orange, white, and black balloons. You have a party going!

Frightfully fun food

No matter the age of your kids and their guests, finger food recipes are favorite Halloween party fare.  And when it comes to spooktacular snacks, take those finger foods literally. With a few strategic slices to create knuckles and slivered almonds for nails, you can turn anything from hot dogs to string cheese into edible fingers.

Want a grab bag that just might grab back? Stick one piece of candy corn (pointy side first) into each finger of a food-grade glove and stuff with air-popped popcorn. Close the open end with a twist tie and slide a plastic Halloween ring over one finger. Instant witch hands.

Top a pan of prepared brownies with crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. Write “RIP” and other epitaphs on oval-shaped cookies with gel frosting and stick them vertically into the “dirt” as tombstones.  Place a few candy pumpkins around this sweet cemetery.

Want more desserts? Get your hands on a box of macarons. Armed with chocolate icing, you can quickly make some edible jack-o-lanterns the kids with gobble right up. Add some celery-topped pumpkin tangerines and choco-banana ghosts to add a bit of health to your treats.

How about a nice zombie punch? Reserve one of the gloves from the witch hands. Fill it with orange juice or green drink mix; secure the end and freeze it overnight or longer (set it upright so it doesn’t leak). Before the party, combine two liters of lemon-lime soda, two liters of red cream soda, 24 ounces of frozen pink lemonade concentrate, and a liter of pineapple juice in a large bowl. Remove the glove from the frozen juice and float the "zombie hand" in the punch.  Go easy on the drink though – it’s frightfully sweet!

Make some pretzel broomsticks by attaching a bunch to a long Italian breadstick – and serve them up with your favorite veggie dip.  Use bat-shaped cookie cutters on pizza dough, sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt and bake them until they’re nice and crisp.

Ghastly games

Once your guests are sufficiently spooked and satisfactorily stuffed, you can move on to some eerie activities. Gauge the ages and potential squeamishness of your gang when planning your party fun to make sure everyone enjoys the hair-raising happenings.

A Halloween party game that typically delights kids of all ages is the slightly-sickening Feel Boxes. Collect a variety of lidded containers (margarine tubs and the like). Spray paint them black or orange, and cut a hand-sized hole in the lid of each one. Fill them with odd-feeling items and label each one, daring partygoers to reach in and touch them. Go with old favorites, such as cold spaghetti (brains) and peeled grapes in olive oil (eyeballs) as well as some updates, such as an oiled flour tortilla (skin), and pumpkin insides (guts).

Incorporate candy with a treat toss. Place a strip of tape on the floor where players will stand and set a bucket a few feet away. Give party goers five pieces of candy and instruct them to toss them, one at a time, into the bucket. They get to keep the sweets that land in the pail; everyone who makes all five wins a prize.

Or go on a haystack hunt. If you are hosting an outdoor party (or don’t mind a messy living room), spread a bale of hay and mix handfuls of assorted wrapped treats. Give  children a goodie bag and – on their marks, get set, GO!—let them hunt for candy treasures.

With a little planning and some creative ideas, your guests will be talking about your amazing tricks and treats for weeks to come.

Tags : celebrations   party   halloween   toddlers   

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