Halloween is huge now, one of our kids’ most eagerly anticipated calendar events and most definitely no longer just ‘something Americans do’. It’s easy to see why children love Halloween: sweets, spectacular dressing-up costumes, the thrill of being out after dark with equally excited friends, fun games and familiar homes given a spooky makeover.
With kids so Halloween-keen, you’re already half way to a a spooktacularly successful Halloween party.
Here’s how to have embrace the batty fun without party wobbles.
Get the look with spooky yet sweet Halloween costumes
You can kit your kids out in fairly cheap Halloween costumes from all the main supermarkets. But please, make sure the material isn’t flammable and has passed British safety standard testing.
Emma Angel is director of fancy dress at Angels. She says: “Fake blood and special effects stickers, like cuts and scars, are cheap to buy. Make-up can totally transform a costume and is a great way to get into the spirit of Halloween without spending a fortune. It doesn’t have to be labour intensive either: for parents who aren’t so confident in their make-up skills face transfers are super simple.”
Set your spooktacular scene
You can ramp up the excitement pre-31 October by making party invitations and decorations with your family. One essential is the cut-out and lit-up pumpkin, set safely at your entrance. Top tip: teens love making creepy, lop-sided pumpkin faces but younger children, with less strength and manual dexterity, may find it frustratingly hard work. Instead, why not encourage them to make white paint handprint on black cards which, with the addition of googly eyes or felt tip features, can be transformed into ghosts and spiders for invitations or bunting.
Ghost balloons will make your party pop. Simply let children loose with a balloon pump and as many white balloons as they can inflate. Then draw ghoulish and gruesome faces using marker pens and tie them up in your entrance and around the party room. Or cut ghostly shapes out of white card and you can all draw spooky faces on the shapes with black felt tip pen. Hole punch the top of each ghost and thread onto orange or black ribbon for more homemade spooky bunting.
You don’t need to decorate your whole home but it’s worth casting a spell with a special atmosphere at the entrance and in the party room.
On the evening itself remember to turn the lights down low and put on your freaky but dancetastic music. You can make a themed playlist, including favourites like Monster Mash, Ghostbusters and The Addams Family Theme tune and even add ‘spooky laughter’ with Spotify.
’For super cheap and easy decoration, you just can’t go wrong with spider webbing,” advises Rosie Marsh, founder and principal party planner at Poppy’s Parties. “You just stretch it out across furniture and loop it over doorways.”
Let’s get this party startled (without a frightful mess)
Master of party organisation Rosie says don’t invite the whole street or every child in the class. “That’s the easiest way to stress yourself out and bring chaos,” she says.“Stick with 12 kids or less and everyone will feel a lot calmer. I’d stick to one room and maybe a break-out room with a children’s Halloween film playing for later on when they might be tired. It’s always lovely to do stuff in the garden too but be aware of the weather.”
She adds: “Make sure you move stuff out of the way to avoid accidents - anything with sharp edges, slippery rugs, toys that are special and could cause tears if broken and nervous pets.”
If you’ve got a pumpkin outside and a grand Halloween entrance, that’s a signal to local families that you’re welcoming to trick or treaters. So the party games aren’t constantly interrupted, it’s worth having another adult or older child on door duty to hand out sweets and chocolates.
You can organise some simple party games, like Musical Bumps (with the themed playlist) and traditional treats like Apple Bobbing, the always hilarious Blindfold Jelly Eating (when two children try to spoon jelly into each other’s mouths) and Make a Mummy relays (when competing teams have to mummify a team member in a roll of loo roll in a 60 second countdown).
Rosie recommends mask making as a cheap party game for calm-down time. “There are loads of free templates online which you can print off on to card for the children. I’d advise cutting them out before your guests arrive to avoid the pandemonium of a gaggle of children all asking you for scissors at the same time! Pop a wipe-clean cloth on a table, lay the masks out along with pots of pencils, pens, craft supplies PVA glue; then let them get on with it! DON’T put paint out; they will drown their masks in it, get it everywhere and it won’t dry for days!”
Fangtastically fiendish food
“You don’t need to stuff the kids full of e-numbers to make it a good party,” says Rosie. “You can make sandwiches fun just by using a cool Halloween themed cookie cutter like these ones.”
You can add some thrilling appeal to party food, like sandwiching mini marshmallow ‘zombie teeth’ between apple pieces spread with chocolate spread and making cute mini pumpkins with black marker pen faces on satsumas.
Continue the Halloween theme by filling ice cube trays with individual plastic spiders on ice and wrapping paper cups in white bandage gauze. Don’t forget the jelly - with sugar worms and other creepy crawlies, of course.
Visit our Halloween recipes page for more inspiration.