Ultimate Hallowe'en Party

November 02, 2009

This year Izzy decided she wanted to have a birthday party at home. Although her birthday isn't until November, we decided it'd be fun to have a Hallowe'en party, especially as 31st October fell on a Saturday this year. Being me, I had to organise and plan everything to match the theme. It went really well and everyone had a great time (apparently it was the talk of the playground today - high praise indeed!) so I thought I'd write down what I did in case anyone reading this ever wants to do a Halloween party for kids.

Invitations: We invited about fifteen kids, all aged 7 and 8, and in the end we had twelve acceptances. Twelve is plenty. Ten would've also been fine. We made the invitations by downloading amazing fonts from Fontenstein - we used 'Halloween', 'Batman Beat the hell Outta Me' and 'Blackadder ITC' but there's loads to choose from. I printed one invite per page, then drew ghost shapes round the words and cut them out. (I based my ghost drawing on this picture as it was fairly easy to draw).

Decorations: All the supermarkets have cheap decorations now, and I went round all of them picking up bits and pieces.

I had a load of sparkly cut-out shapes which I could stick on the windows and walls, some balloons, some hairy spiders and web and a glow in the dark skeleton. I also picked up a fabulous spider glitter curtain from Sainsburys for a few quid which looked great.

We obviously had a few pumpkins, which Mattgreen carved. We also made more decorations by cutting spiders/bats/pumpkins out of crepe paper in strings and hanging them round the house. I also got a red light bulb to create an eerie glow - Mattgreen said it made us look like a house of ill repute - so your mileage may vary with that one!

Finally I got a couple of orange & black helium balloons from the party shop and tied them to the front gate - a party just isn't a party without helium balloons.

Food: We had a bit of regular party food - sandwiches, crisps, sausages etc - mixed up with themed stuff. I made green slime jelly - use a bit of milk instead of cold water to get that cloudy effect, then chop it up, add plastic spiders and serve with ice cream.

Mud pies - chocolate Angel Delight, with jelly worms mixed in, then top with crushed up Oreo cookies (this is actually frighteningly realistic) but unfortunately the picture I took didn't come out too well. I made these spider web muffins, which really do look just like the picture. And I served a load of red and green grapes ("eyeballs") in a plastic cauldron. Finally, a drop of food colouring in the bottom of the cups turned lemonade into 'magic potions'.

Cake: I love a good cake, and this was too good an opportunity to miss, so I made a spooky castle cake. One layer was chocolate sponge, the other was vanilla sponge, with chocolate mini rolls for the towers and waffle cones for the turrets. The whole thing was covered with fifteen quid's worth of fondant. Anybody could make a cake like this - it really isn't difficult - just incredibly time consuming. If you've never done it before, it's worth watching tutorials on Youtube to get the hang of rolling out the fondant over the cake. The ghost was to cover up a bit of a cockup, but I think it looks pretty good.

Party bags: Having a party at Hallowe'en makes this incredibly easy. I had loads of Haribo, orange and black lollies from M&S, chocolate skeletons and pumpkins, and a load of plastic tat from Tesco - bouncy balls shaped like eyeballs, plastic spinners, plastic rats and spiders etc.

Games: Virtually every kids party these days has one of those horrible creepy 'entertainer/'magician' type dirty old men who make crappy jokes, do really obvious magic tricks and make balloon rabbits and swords. I hate them, I find them really quite disturbing as well as not at all funny. So I decided I would just run all the games myself, like my Mum did when I was a kid.

Let's not beat about the bush here - this is bloody hard work. However, it was also a LOT of fun, and the kids absolutely had a whale of a time, so I reckon it was worth it.

Anyway, this is what I did:

Mummies - Wrap each other up in toilet roll like a mummy. Get everyone into pairs and give each pair a toilet roll. I ran it twice and awarded prizes for fastest and most attractive. The kids had an impromptu bog roll fight afterwards. It looked like a snowstorm in my front room. All the toilet roll had to be binned afterwards, so don't use Nouvelle like I did - buy some cheap stuff!

Marshmallow eyeballs - White marshmallows painted with foodcolouring like bloodshot eyes - hanging off a string for children to eat without using hands. This was very popular!

Chocolate game - Sit all the children around a tray with a bar of chocolate on it, a knife and fork, a pumpkin mask, a witch's hat and a large dice. Each child takes it in turns to roll the dice, when they get a six they put on the hat and mask and start eating the chocolate with the knife and fork (they have to get it out of its wrapper first). The rest of the circle keep rolling - as soon as another child gets a six, the first child hands over the hat/mask, the other child dresses up and keeps going. Carry on until all the chocolate is gone.

Pin the wart on the witch - Fairly self-explanatory. I downloaded a picture from the internet and laminated it at work, then used sticky labels to show where each blindfolded child placed the wart. There was a prize for the closest guess.

Musical zombies - a variant of musical statues. Make sure they hold their arms ahead of them and groan as they walk around. Very funny.

Pass the parcel - I got a couple of giggle ball pumpkins and wrapped them up, then ran two simultaneous parcels with six children in each group. This worked pretty well and was easier than having one monster parcel.

Make a spider web - by throwing black wool from one child to the next. Simple but incredibly effective - the kids loved this and came up with the idea of lifting the web and throwing the ball underneath it, then going all the way around the circle to create the 'edge' of the web. You can run this with a few kids missing and they can join in partway through. Brilliant.

Hallowe'en corners - Stick a cut-out ghost/witch/pumpkin in the corners of the room. All the children dance around, then when you stop the music, they run to a corner. Call out ghost/witch/pumpkin, everyone in that corner is out. Last person not out gets a prize.

Sleeping black cats - variant of sleeping lions, good when everyone is getting a bit too excited to try to calm things down.

Treasure hunt - Attach spiders made from crepe paper to the ceiling with black thread and blu-tak. Get the kids to pull the spiders off the ceiling, the ones with stickers on the back give children a go at the lucky dip. (This game was incredibly time consuming to prepare and over in seconds. It would be better to hide the spiders in cupboards, under cushions etc, but then you would have a rabid horde of kids tearing your house apart. Approach with caution!) The "lucky dip" was a bucket of cold spaghetti mixed with a can of fruit cocktail and covered with a piece of spiders web print material I got from the local fabric shop. Cut a slit in it and let the children feel around inside for chocolate coins etc. I'm not sure I'd run this again as it got very messy and took ages for everyone to wash their hands, plus of course they all ate the sweets and then weren't hungry at tea time!

I had a few more ideas for games:

Scary objects memory game - put things on a tray, take one away, see if they can remember what's missing (would be better with just three or four children).
Eyeball race - with spoons and ping pong balls decorated to look like eyeballs (would be better if you lived in a bigger house than I do!)
Winking game - Sit the children in a circle and select one child to be the policeman. Send them out of the room while the rest of the children choose one child to be the murderer. Let the policeman back in, the murderer then tries to wink at everyone else in the circle without the policeman noticing. When someone gets winked at, they make a big fuss of dying loudly. This would've been great fun but we ran out of time.

Well, this has turned out to be the longest post ever. Hope it's useful for someone!

P.S. I discovered you can buy sparklers in the shape of children's ages. This was a huge hit! Who doesn't love indoor fireworks?! Definitely the MVP of the party.

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