Happy Haunting: How to Throw a Spooktacular Little Kidsí Halloween Party
By: Pamela Brill
Dressing up little ones for Halloween goes down as one of the more enjoyable new-parent moments. Having to decide between a plump pumpkin, an adorable scarecrow or any other of the tons of options out there is truly child's play. So, if you've decided to turn this photo-genic holiday into an opportunity for a festive get-together with mom friends and their little ones, so much the better.
Of course, hosting a party for babies and little kids involves an entirely different type of affair than you may be accustomed to. With the right tips from these party planners and mom bloggers, your home can be transformed into a boo-tiful setting that's bound to delight even the littlest ghosts and goblins.
A Not-So-Scary Set-up
To get your house Halloween party-ready, experts recommend choosing a room that can accommodate both partygoers and their parents. "We would suggest holding party activities in an open space in your home where the children can move freely without bumping into furniture," says Lisa Cokinos and Brandy Carbone of B. Lee Events (www.b-lee.com). "Place seating around the area for the adults to be within reach of their children and also to block any child from leaving the play area unattended." They also advise covering your flooring or carpeting with old sheets to avoid any spills.
When deciding on the appropriate timeframe for the festivities, consider the ages of your youngest party guests. "For babies, lunch time usually works best and for preschoolers, later afternoon is usually better because they've napped by then," says Jenn Andrlik of The Crafty Mommy (www.thecraftymommy.com). "I like to plan ahead and have as much ready to go ahead of time, so you can really focus on the kids."
Store-bought Halloween decorations, such as orange and black garland, black cats and friendly ghosts, make for a welcoming display. "Stay away from spiders and skeletons; those are older kids," she cautions. Other decorations can easily be made on the cheap, using items around the home. Paper towel or toilet paper tubes can be fashioned into bats, ghosts and pumpkins by painting them black, white and orange and decorating with different shapes. Andrlik also repurposes empty cereal boxes by covering them with green construction paper and turning them into Frankenstein monsters.
Using plastic milk jugs, Cokinos and Carbone suggest drawing ghost faces on the sides and putting flameless lights inside to illuminate the home. "Paint empty vitamin and aspirin bottles and turn them into potion bottles, or clean out a few pumpkins, put a large glass bowl inside, fill them with ice and your favorite beverages for the adults and kids," they offer.
Scrumptious Snacks and Ghoulish Games
Speaking of drinks, tasty refreshments are the key to any good get-together, and kids' parties are no exception. Cokinos and Carbone prefer individual, pre-packaged options for little ones, such as applesauce cups and squeezable yogurt pouches. To avoid any issues with food allergies, they recommend a nut-free party for all snacks and treats. Staying hydrated is a must for all ages, so small water bottles and juice boxes are crowd-pleasers. "A creative way to present these snacks is to purchase a few plastic jack-o-lanterns from your local party store, add orange and yellow tissue paper and stuck your snack options in the vessels," say Cokinos and Carbone.
Traditional treats that are dressed up in Halloween brights are also a big hit with younger kids. Andrlik enjoys dipping pretzel rods in orange, white and black candy melts and decorating them with colorful holiday sprinkles. "For kids with or with allergies, I love using orange food coloring to dye Rice Krispie treats and shape them into pumpkins," she says. Scooping apples with a melon baller, sticking them with a Popsicle stick and dipping them into caramel sauce is another fun favorite.
Once little tummies are full, kiddies are ready to be entertained with games and simple crafts. Creating projects with little or no instruction and minimal supplies is ideal for short attention spans. "I like to have them paint small pumpkins or decorate them with foam stickers to make faces," says Andrlik. "I gather googly eyes, pipe cleaners, foam stickers and feathers and let the kids go for it!" Another option is to make or buy Halloween cookies that kids can decorate using frosting in squeeze bottles, sprinkles and candy eyeballs.
Once the crafts are complete, a few age-appropriate activities will round out the festivities. According to Cokinos and Carbone, keeping kids engaged is essential when choosing games for toddlers and preschoolers. Pin the spider on the web, pin the nose on the pumpkin and a witch's hat ring toss can be easily assembled using printables and items found around the house. "You can also incorporate sensory play with a bucket of slime in a bin and small plastic spiders, skeletons and pumpkins," they say.
And since costumed kids will enjoy their fair share of sweets on Halloween, send them home with goody bags stocked with candy alternatives. "I usually do treat bags with Halloween slime, Play-Doh, little games and spider rings," offers Andrlik.