October 31, 2014

Dear Frannie Friday--Cheap and Easy Halloween Party Ideas

For the past four years I've hosted a Halloween party for my kids.  With three kids each inviting about 8 kids (about 1/4 of which actually R.S.V.P.) plus kids from the neighborhood plus cousins and family friends, that adds up to a lot of kids.  Not to mention I work, my kids are all in after school activities, I have a baby now and there's the whole chore thing.  So the name of the game with these parties are: cheap and easy.  So if you are interested in throwing your own Halloween party for kids, here are some of my tried and true tips for over the years.


First of all, I always schedule my parties to start after lunch, but before dinner.  That way the only thing you have to worry about are snacks and drinks.  This year I went lighter on the snacks than I usually due just because of time, but here are some really cheap and really easy snacks that I have made in the past:

Witch Hats and Bloody Bandaids

Disgusting, I know, but they're easy and kids like them.  All you need to make the bandaids are graham crackers, white frosting and red tube frosting.  It's pretty self-explanatory.  You put a dab of white frosting in the middle and a dot or so of red frosting on top of that.  My kids helped me with these a few years ago.  They were a bit excessive on the red frosting . . .

The witch hats are just Hershey kisses "glued" with white frosting to Fudge Stripe cookies.  Easy as can be.

Rice Krispie Pumpkins

Ok, so these might not be as easy as the previous snacks, but they are cheap and I make them every year.  All you do is make Rice Krispie treats--that's the easy part.  I put a drop of red and yellow food dye in the marshmellow and butter mixture to get the orange color before adding the cereal.  The tricky part is getting them into pumpkin shapes.  I still haven't learned an easy trick for this without getting it all over myself, but it is still pretty easy.  The "stems" are just Tootsie Rolls.  If you're really fancy, you could probably add a "leaf" with green tube frosting.  Usually by the time I get this far, I'm done with the pumpkins.  But it's an option.

I also try to have a few crafts on hand for any younger kids or just kids that would rather create than play games.  It's worked pretty well although we didn't do it so much this year as the kids are all older.  But in the past I've made these:

Paper Plate Ghosts, Blow-Pop Ghosts and Popcorn Hands  

These are very cheap and simple to make.  For the paper plate ghosts, all that you need are cheap paper plates, tissue or crepe paper and markers to draw faces.  For the Blow-Pop ghosts you need suckers (I found Blow-Pops or Tootsie Pops work best), Kleenex, yarn and markers to draw faces.  The popcorn hands are just plastic gloves (clear, obviously) stuffed with cheddar popcorn and tied with yarn.

Beanbag Tosses (Monster and Pumpkin)  

I made these the first year I did this because Brielle and her friends were three and I thought it would be a way to entertain the younger kids.  But you know what?  I still bring these same things out every year and every year they get played with.  The monster and pumpkin are a little worse for the wear, but for four years use, it's not so bad.  They are just drawn on presentation posterboard and propped up along a fence.

The bean bags are just Halloween socks filled with pinto beans.  No sewing required!

The highlight of the party is obviously the games.  They keep order, they draw excitement and they let the kids that don't know each other bond.  All of these games cost next to nothing and require nearly no set up, if any.

Every year we do bobbing for apples.  It's a tried and true hit.  All you need?  A bucket and some apples.  We add dry ice to the bucket for the spooky effect, but even that cost is minimal.  Just be careful with it, obviously.

Every year excepting this last one, we played The Mummy Game.  Each team gets a roll of toilet paper in which to create their mummies.  So literally all that you need is enough toilet paper for each team to get a roll or two.  And we use a stopwatch on our phones.

This year we added Pin the Stem on the Pumpkin to our games.  It was our first time.  All we needed for this was a posterboard to draw the pumpkin on, another posterboard to cut out "stems", some scotch tape to stick on the back of the stems and a blindfold.  I didn't expect this game to be such a hit, but all the kids loved it!

The favored part of the party is always the scavenger hunt.  All you need for this is to make enough lists for each team--usually half a dozen will suffice--and enough grown ups to help you man the teams.  I usually give the kids an hour to complete the task and we have never gone over that.

Our parties are always a hit.  I thought the kids might be getting too old for them (and indeed Kaden opted to have just a few friends stay over and watch scary movies this year instead) and almost opted not to do it this year.  But it was not only my kids but all of their friends that were begging me to still do it.  It has become a tradition and one that (while exhausting) I am proud to give my kids.  

Happy Halloween everyone!

Black Blazer-thrifted; Red and White Striped Tee-Jones New York; Denim Cutoffs-DIY, thrifted (maternity); Studded Gladiator Sandals-Target; Earrings-gifted; Anchor Necklace-Charming Charlie's

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