Loves going out and about in Canberra and writing about her adventures! Also addicted to coffee, high teas, escape rooms, and dressing up.
Published July 17th 2019
Ten tips for a spooktacular Halloween party
Halloween has become a very popular 'holiday' in Australia. Held every year on October 31, Halloween is now celebrated with plenty of spooktacular festivals and events across the country, including the age-old tradition of trick or treating in many neighbourhoods.
But while the witches and zombies and vampires and grinning Jack O Lantern pumpkins and ghosts and creepy clowns and bloodstained curtains and decapitated heads, etc might all be just a bit of fun on Halloween, they may not be so very funny for young children. Halloween, however, is a holiday for children as much as it is for adults. After all, trick or treating is now considered to be an activity that's done wholly by children.
If you have young children, it's important that they remember Halloween as a fun, enjoyable holiday, not a terrifying, bloodstained one! And I think one of the best ways to celebrate Halloween with young kids is with a fun party at your home.
If you have young children and would love to celebrate a Halloween party with them this year, then here are ten things for you to think about.
1. Your party date. Celebrate on the day of Halloween itself (that is, October 31) or even a few days before or after. If October 31 works for you and your guests, then you can organise some actual trick or treating around your neighbourhood (provided, of course, that you've warned your neighbours beforehand!).
2. Your party guests. How many guests you invite is up to you. You may want to invite your child's entire preschool class for a big Halloween party, or you may just want a small affair for your child with only two or three of their friends. It's totally up to you and your party budget. I've celebrated Halloween parties at my own house with a maximum of ten children (including my own).
3. Your party theme. Will your Halloween party be all about monsters? Or will Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry be its setting? Or will you have a Halloween superheroes party or a Halloween pirates party? Or will you just have a Halloween party, with no specific costume theme? Your theme will set the tone for your party and will influence your invitations, decorations and party games and activities.
4. Your party invitations. Your child can help you design your own Halloween party invitations. For ideas, search the web for free, printable Halloween party invitation templates. But whether you email, text or post your invitations, make sure you send them out at least four to five weeks before your party date. And don't forget to include on the invitations a time by which guests need to RSVP as well as two forms of contact, such as a phone number and e-mail address.
5. Your decorations.
The shops begin selling Halloween decorations around September (pretty much the same time as the Christmas decorations come out!). In fact, Costco Canberra began selling Halloween decorations last year in early August. There are plenty of affordable Halloween decorations in the big stores such as Kmart, Target and Big W. You'll also find Halloween decorations at bargain stores, The Reject Shop, and dusk. Go here to check out dusk's quirky and whimsical 2018 Halloween collection.
Whatever decorations you buy, just make sure you steer clear of the bloodstained sheets, the decapitated heads, and other gruesome trimmings. You don't want to give your guests nightmares, after all!
You can also make your own decorations if you want to keep the party costs within a certain budget. I made these Jack O'Lanterns one year out of old plastic milk bottles, lots and lots of orange paint, and black cardboard for the facial features.
Search the web for many more easy, do-it-yourself Halloween decorations that won't scare the kids.
6. Your costumes.
Without a doubt, one of the most important decisions you and your children will ever have to make about Halloween. If you have a party theme, then that will probably narrow your choices down. So if you're having a Halloween pirates party, then it would make sense to dress up as pirates, of course. But if you're having a Halloween party in general without any specific theme, then you can dress up as anyone or anything you want, whether it's a vampire, Jack o Lantern, ghost, skeleton, witch, wizard, dinosaur or Disney Princess. It's up to you. Kmart has plenty of kids' costumes for Halloween at very affordable prices. Read here to find out more.
7. Your party food.
A lot of your food choices will depend on the timing of your party, as well as your guests' special dietary requirements. If your party starts, for example, at 10am and ends around 12-1pm, then you'll very probably need to include lunch for your guests. Afternoon snacks or afternoon tea is fine for a late afternoon party, especially if you'll all be going trick or treating as well. And make sure you understand every child guest's specific dietary requirement and any allergies they may have, and of course factor that into your food choices.
Also, don't forget it's a party, so you'll need Halloween party food. For some fang-tastic Halloween food ideas that are easy to make and the kids will love, go here.
8. Your party games and activities.
So what do you do with all those children during your Halloween party? Being young children, three or four activities should be plentiful. Here are some ideas:
Make Jack O Lanterns.
Next to trick or treating, carving a Jack o Lantern out of a pumpkin is one of the important traditions of Halloween. Obviously, the kids at your party will be much too young to do this themselves so let them gather around you or another adult and watch as you carve a face on the pumpkin. Once you've sliced the top off the pumpkin, you can pass it around for the kids to feel the gooey, sticky, stringy pumpkin flesh as well as find any pumpkin seeds.
Buy Gingerbread Haunted House kits from Costco and get the children to put them together.
The kits cost about $10 each last year. I bought two and divided my guests (including parent helpers) into two groups. Each group worked together to build their house.
Pumpkin patch hunting game.
Hide mini plastic pumpkins like the ones below (they usually come in packets of 6) in your backyard and get the kids to find them.
Instead of Pass the Parcel, why not try Pass the Pumpkin?
And trick or treating.
If you're planning a party for October 31, then why not go trick or treating around the neighbourhood? However, you need to remember that despite its increasing popularity, Halloween is not an 'official' celebration in Australia, so trick or treating can be a very unwelcome intrusion. There will be many people in your neighbourhood who won't appreciate having your kids bang on their doors demanding lollies! So if you want to go trick or treating, make sure you ask the neighbours first if it's ok. And make sure the neighbours are willing to join in the fun too.
For more ideas on children's games and activities for your Halloween party, go here.
9. Your party soundtrack.
Tune into the awesome kids' internet radio channel Kinderling around Halloween time for their Halloween party mix. Or grab your copy of the Wiggles' Halloween-themed Pumpkin Face DVD. Play it in the background during your Halloween party.
10. Your party favours.
These plastic Jack O Lantern trick or treating buckets work very well as party favours. Fill them up with treats for the kids to take home, or let the kids take them as they go trick or treating around the neighbourhood if your party is on October 31 and trick or treating is included as part of your activities.
Halloween comes but once a year and young children should have fun (not nightmares) when celebrating it. So remember to make things fun and child-friendly, and keep the bloodstains, severed heads and hands and other frights for your own spooktacular grown-up Halloween party.