I love Halloween. As far as holidays go, it's up there with my favorites. I love this time of year, I love the decorations, I love the costumes, and I love that it's quick and easy and relatively inexpensive. I was thrilled when Max said he wanted a Halloween-themed birthday party this year: I wouldn't have to buy or make a ton of decorations, games and activities would be simple and easy, and I'd get to make my favorite jack-o-lantern and ghostie sugar cookies!
But first: Costumes!
|Zombie Max and Spidey Molly|
Max's Zombie costume was a total DIY. I bought a cheap white tee and scrounged up a pair of Max's old jeggings. To distress the clothes, I cut up the shirt and pants (scrunch up the material before cutting to avoid perfectly straight cuts...gives a more natural zombie look) and then took a cheese grater to them to rough 'em up a bit. I soaked different areas of the shirt and pants in coffee to give it the stained, dirty look. (I tried tea first, but coffee produced a darker color.) Around each of the slits and around some of the roughed up areas, I added a little red marker (washable, so that it ran a bit in the coffee). Here's a close up:
Add a little face paint and, presto! Zombie!
Next: Games and Activities!
Stick the Witch on Her Broom
With just two pieces of poster board (one sheet of black for the witch silhouettes and background shapes and, when I couldn't find purple, a white sheet and a tiny jar of purple glitter paint) and a little yellow construction paper, this was a simple, if slightly labor-intensive game. Those witches took some time to cut out! Despite it's simplicity, Pin the Tail on the Donkey variations end up at nearly all of our parties. For some reason, the kids always love it! Classic Party Game for the win!
This game was all Max's idea. I printed out a bunch of little monsters (I laminated them because I think this is a game we'll keep playing even after the party ends!). You'll see on the chart below that there's a number next to each type of monster. That's the number of that type of monster that we stuck to the walls and furniture all over the party space. So, for instance, there were 5 of the purple monster, 3 of the orange monster with horns, 8 of the one-eyed monster, etc.
Each kid was given a check list and was sent off on the monster hunt. The goal was to just spot the monsters, not collect them. A few of the kids only wanted to find one of each type of monster before returning to the rest of the party activities. Most, however, diligently searched and tallied until all of the monsters had been spotted.
Feed the Monster
I cut a zigzagged opening in an old box and painted it to, more or less, look monster-ish. I made a bunch of yarn balls that the kids needed to toss into the monster's mouth. This, again, is one of those classic bean-bag toss games that seem to score big with the kids every time.
Dry Erase Jack-o-Lantern faces
I've had these laminated paper pumpkins since I was a teacher. I used them in the classroom for various fall activities and have held on to them ever since. For the party, I taped them on to the windows, placed a dry-erase marker beside each one, and the kids knew exactly what to do.
I loved watching them work together to decorate their pumpkins or try to out-silly each other by drawing the funniest Jack-o-Lantern face.
This is one of those "just because we have the materials" kind of games. My parents gave the kids a bunch of these little wind-up eyeballs so...of course, we made a racetrack for them.
The kids...and grownups!...really got into these races!
Spooky SkeletonsOn one side of the front room, a skeleton puzzle. On the other, all the materials needed to make a Q-tip skeleton.
Because the Q-tips were pre-cut to the different sizes (long for the spine, arms, and legs; medium for the ribs; short for the hands and feet) and because I had made an example Q-tip skeleton that the kids could refer to as a guide, the kids were totally independent in this room.
And there was nearly always a crowd, hard at work building Mr. Bones and gluing their skeletons...
I LOVED how they made their skeletons so uniquely their own! Not a single kid followed the guide exactly.
Spider Egg Toss
As a complete and total arachnophobe, this one pushed me to the edge of my comfort zone.
First, I made a sticky spider web out of masking tape (sticky side facing in towards the room)...
Standing behind a painter's tape line on the floor, the kids tossed cotton ball "spider eggs" toward the web, trying to get their eggs to stick on the web.
By the end of the party, the web was covered with spider eggs and I'll have nightmares for weeks.
Costume Party and Photo Booth
What's a Halloween Party without costumes, right? The kids were invited to wear their costume to the party and many did. Just about everyone, however, tried on some of our costumes or accessories and had a turn in front of our spiderweb backdrop!
I found the cutest little mini pumpkins a few weeks ago at Whole Foods. They were only a dollar each and, with a few stickers and pipe cleaner accessories, they turned into perfect little pumpkin pals that each kid could take home in their goody bag.
I like to try to have a couple of different quiet areas where kids can go if they're waiting for the next structured activity to start or if they need a break from the crowd. Sometimes we have a reading tent, for this party, though, we had coloring pages...
...and a Halloween memory game.
The best part of any party....the treats! Max wanted sugar cookies and a 7-layer dip. I added popcorn (served in little plastic cauldrons with a few pieces of candy corn) and lemonade (served in adorable little lidded glasses, found in the Target $1 section).
It was a great party. And the best part is...I don't have to un-decorate from the party in order to decorate for the upcoming holiday!
Happy Birthday to the sweetest little zombie you ever did see.