Let’s face it, once kids are in the mix Halloween just isn’t the same. It’s not about pregaming with a keystone while you squeeze your “sexy-something” costume on, party hopping the night away – weeks before Halloween. It’s actually much better!
It’s now about “pregaming” your diaper bag so you have extra clothes and snacks, squeezing some chubby arms and legs into a “cute-something” costume, and watching your kiddos smile from ear-to-ear as their candy buckets get heavier and heavier. It’s the best.
What I’m also sayin’ is that, while you welcome the adorable change in your life, it doesn’t come without having to tweak a few things. I’ve searched for fun Halloween ideas that you can try with your kiddos all month long or incorporate them into your spook-tacular night. These ideas seem like a no-brainier once you think about it, but having children to think about during the holiday season can almost cramp your creativity because of all the factors that seem to trip you up: age-appropriateness, stimulation, etc. Trust me on this, my family has been there and we’ve managed to incorporate fun and unique traditions into basic activities. Here’s what we like, would like to do, and what we’ve done:
1. Host a Pumpkin-Carving Party!
My earliest memories as a child we’re reaching deep down into my pumpkin and pulling slimy, seedy guts out of it. Gross and awesome! It’s not only sensory play with all the seeds and membranes, but the kids work on their motor skills by painstakingly carving a design on their pumpkin. Followed by the proud moment of unveiling your creation by watching it come to life in the dark, its all-around a great way to spend a night in on the cheap! Play some spooky music in the background, make some Halloween themed snacks, and just make the most out of it.
The meat and potatoes of this activity goes without explanation. Just about anywhere you go, pumpkins are a plenty. You can usually find the pumpkin carving kits alongside them, which are perfect for little hands. If your kiddos are too young, give them plastic knives or play-dough cutting tools and they can pretend they’re helping you as you cut the shapes out for them. The funnest part, in my experience, is putting a candle in your pumpkin and turning the lights off. Once the kids see their creation lighting up, they’ll really appreciate the whole activity and you can make a fun game out of being in the dark, like hide-and-seek or a good spooky story (pg-rated, of course!).
2. Indoor/Outdoor Picnic and Movie
I want to try this one! Projector screens are becoming quite a thing lately, meaning that finding and purchasing a projector screen set is a lot easier than it used to be.
I got lucky when searching through Amazon and found a great sale on tech stuff. This screen popped out at me. I realize this venture might be a little pricey, but it is one of those purchases that you will have for a long time and can use for a multitude of occasions. Netflix, for example, has so many perfect Halloween-themed movies for all ages; pick a favorite, set up a nice outdoor space with some sleeping bags, cushions, blankets, patio furniture, and then have a tray or table full of snacks like popcorn with candy corn mixed in, pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies, and some sprite with gummy worms to wash it all down. Easy snacks that little hands and eyes with truly think is magical! You can also skip the projector all together and just make a cozy and fun set-up in the living room. Transforming your space will make the kids feel like they’re somewhere else, so they are likely to sit still!
3. Play Ghost Patrol!
My kids and nieces and nephews love this Netflix movie. It’s basically about two kids who hunt ghosts, not having much luck until they get lured into an old mansion that their mother is trying to sell. They end up making friends with the ghost of the mansion, where they help wrangle up the evil spirits that have been released by the kids’ older siblings. My son is addicted to this movie, and I bought a ghost projector at the dollar store the other day and we just plug it in, get his fake guns and Halloween pails, and we pretend to catch the ghosts (actual ghost-wrangling photo to your left). It’s really fun and it’s a great way to get all the energy out of a few toddlers! Trust me 😉
4. Bake spooky goodies!
Also goes without explanation, just grab some store-bought cookie dough, a few Halloween-shaped cutouts and go crazy! This is also a great way to stay in the house and do something fun on the cheap. Also, a Halloween-themed haunted gingerbread house! Hardly any candy will actually go on the house. Just in little mouths. Actual proof:
5. Halloween Paaaaaty!
Enter if you dare! I’ve actually planned this for my niece and nephews the weekend before Halloween. I planned for activities that are all kid-friendly ages six and under. I’m an aunt to nine babies (you heard right!), so I’ve put a lot of thought into age-appropriate games and activities that will keep their attention. Here’s my itinerary so you can also prepare for something like this!
Nine kids, three ages 5-6; two ages 3-4; three ages 1-2; and one infant. Varied age group, but teetee (that’s me!) can handle the challenge!
- Halloween surprise bins: spaghetti for worms, raisins for maggots, grapes for eyeballs, dried apricots for witches ears, etc. The options are limitless!
- Pumpkin bean bag toss: plastic pumpkin candy pails (4) laid out and kids take turns throwing a bean bag into the pumpkins. Whichever pumpkin they land in, there is a treat they can grab out of it (piece of candy.)
- Egged On game: This game is so fun on its own, but you can imagine how you can make this fun for any occasion. I’m filling the eggs with fake spiders, one will have green slime (milk with green food coloring), halloween candy, and those nasty jelly beans that taste like dog food, etc. The kids take turns cracking an egg over their head, and they might get an egg with a surprise inside!
- Pumpkin decorating station: Take a few bags of those little pumpkins like this, get some paint out, markers, stickers, and just let them run with it. Put a table cloth down so you can do this indoors.
- Cookie decorating station: This goes without explanation. Just lay whatever treats like sprinkles, frosting, etc. out and let the kids run wild.
Here’s the layout for the evening:
- 5 – 6 p.m. is a spooky dinner. On the menu: toxic waste mac and cheese and gummy worm punch (sprite and limeade juice concentrate with gummy worms). Serve it on Halloween-themed serving ware like these at Walmart to get the paaaty started. After dinner, the fun begins!
- Put an adult at each station and split the kids up into groups, with each group having an older kid to help facilitate and keep them on task. The timer starts for ten minutes, music plays (spooky music from online like Pandora, etc.), and the kids have fun at their station. When the music stops, it’s time to switch stations and the music starts up again.
Two weeks before the party:
- Dollar store shopping. Dolla store finds is where it’s at! I personally find so much more in the realm of decorations than I do in my town superstore, which is really funny considering that you would think the opposite. Being a Halloween party, and especially for little ones, you don’t have to be too elaborate on the decorations – just whatever is colorful, fun, and imaginative. Buy fake spider webs with the little spiders in the bag to sprawl out around the house; styrofoam tombstones; table cloths in halloween colors; syringes to put green jello in (I got them at Wal-mart in the Halloween isles); Halloween-themed cups to put gummy-worm punch; pumpkin-shaped candy dishes to put the cookie-decorating things in; water balloons that the kids will throw around (we live in the southwest!); paint and brushes for pumpkin decorating; Halloween stickers for the pumpkin decorating; sprinkles, candy and frosting for cookie decorating; toys and candy to put in the egged on game; and baby wipe containers to put grab surprises in (spaghetti, grapes, etc.)
This would work great for Halloween night, too, if your kiddos are sick or you can’t go trick-or-treating. There are so many ideas on pinterest!
And that’s it, folks! Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions or need advice!
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