'Who's Afraid of the Dark?' Halloween Party

When autumn closes in, so too does the night. Days get shorter, the air gets colder, and a warm glow is just what it takes to charge up the kids who light up your life. You don't need to have a full-blown Halloween gathering, just collect some neighborhood kids and adults for an informal Halloween party.

Try It!
Here are some Halloween recipes from our collection:

Have the event the night of trick-or-treating or a few nights before. Here are some bright ideas for Halloween crafts, safety tips, games, and goodies everyone will love.

Get Glowing: Using Light

Halloween tradition says nighttime is the best time for nabbing candy. Moms and dads don't always agree, but they can feel a lot better about it if they send their costumed cuties out with trick-or-treat bags that look cool and keep kids safe.

Supply a black, navy blue, or purple pillowcase for each child (or ask the parents to supply one). Have on hand glow-in-the-dark paint (find it at craft stores) and adhesive reflective tape.

Kids can draw their own Halloween designs in paint and then festoon the bag with lightning bolts, stars, dead trees, skeleton bones, or even broomsticks cut from the strips of tape. They'll love their creations, and you'll love knowing they're easily seen crossing the street.

Flashlight Fright

A ghostly flashlight will help your witches stay safe in the dark when trick or treating on Halloween.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
A ghostly flashlight will
help your witches stay safe in the dark.

Getting children to carry flashlights on Halloween night is about as easy as convincing them to wear coats over their costumes. Give your entreaty a little help by taping colored plastic wrap over the flashlight head.

Make a ghostly glow by tracing around the head of the flashlight on black construction paper. Cut out the circle. Draw a simple ghost in the center of the circle, leaving about 1/4-inch border between the ghost and the circle edges.

Use a craft knife (adult use only!) to cut out the ghost. Discard cut out. Tape the remaining black ghost frame to the flashlight using clear tape. If you want to get really creative, tape 2 black eyes and an O-shaped mouth.

When the flashlight is aimed at a nearby wall in a dark room, the ghost will appear. Encourage the children to shine them at the doors of the homes they visit on Halloween night (but not into other people's eyes).

Dark Halloween Decorations

Party Essentials

If you want to give your guests -- or your own little goblin -- an illuminating thrill this season, replace regular lightbulbs with black lightbulbs in one room of the house. Find them at party and novelty stores. They give eyes, teeth, white clothes, and lint a wild glow.

Night-light

Create a Halloween-themed lampshade.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Create a Halloween-themed lampshade.

Send the children to bed with Halloween visions of flying witches, ghosts, moons, bats, and cats in their heads by making festive lampshade covers that can be removed after the holiday.

Lay a large sheet of heavy black or navy construction paper on clear adhesive paper. Smooth out any wrinkles. Lay the lampshade on its side at the bottom right corner of a sheet of newspaper or butcher paper to make your template. Use a pencil to make a small mark on the lampshade where it first meets the paper; mark both the top and bottom of the shade.

Slowly roll the lampshade toward the left, and use the pencil to trace the bottom path of the shade as you roll it. Continue rolling the shade until it has made a complete revolution, then roll the shade and add another inch for overlap.

Roll the shade back to its starting point. Slowly roll the shade to the left again, this time using the top of the shade as a guide as you drag a pencil along the paper. If your shade is a cone shape, you will have a wide smile shape on the paper. If it is a cylinder, you will have a large rectangle shape. Cut out this template.

Lay the template on the adhesive-backed paper to trace it. Cut out the shape, and then use a craft knife to carefully cut out Halloween figures you want the light to shine through. Finally, wrap the paper around your lampshade with the construction paper facing out. Use clear tape to secure the seam. For extra fun, glue rickrack along the top and bottom of the shade.

Creepy Candles

Create easy Halloween decorations with these simple, yet stunning, candles. Fill large cans with water, and freeze them. (Soup cans tend to be too small and bend the image or words.) Draw basic outlines of Halloween shapes or exclamations ("Eeek!," "Boo!," and "Yikes!" work well) on sheets of paper. When the water inside the cans is completely frozen, tape your designs to the outside of the cans.

Draw shapes onto the cans to make your own Halloween candles.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Draw shapes onto the cans to make your own Halloween candles.

Use a hammer and nail to make holes about an 1/8 inch apart along the lines of the designs. (Adult help is needed if children are crafting.) When finished, remove the paper. Run warm water over cans to loosen ice; discard ice. Dry cans, and add painted decorations.

When paint is dry, put sand in can bottoms for extra weight. Place small candles in the sand, set your lanterns out, and have an adult fire them up for a ferociously festive glow.

Hot Tip!
Never leave burning candles unattended.

Dark Diversions: Halloween Party Games

Noises in the Night

In this Halloween game, kids guess the howler's identity.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
In this Halloween game,
kids guess the howler's identity.

This fun party game needs only a great big box and some howling kids.

You'll need a big box, about the size of a stove. Seal the bottom of the box, and tear off the top flaps. Turn the box over. If you'd like, the children can decorate the box with crayons, markers, or paint -- a haunted house would be ghostly fun. But whatever you do, don't cut any windows or doors. This game requires no peeking.

A child sits inside the haunted house. One at a time, the other children tiptoe to the box and give their best howl. If the child inside can guess the howler's identity, he or she can "escape" the haunted house and the identified howler must enter. Make sure each child has a turn sitting in the haunted house.

Disappearing Acts

Nighttime is the right time to lose your head. Go outside when it's dark, and stand far enough away from someone so that you can see their figure but can't make out the details of their face (about 25 feet, depending on the darkness).

Keep staring at them, and their head will disappear completely! Try it with your child, or if you have an evening party, have the kids stand in a large circle and stare at the person across from them.

Glowing Goodie Bags

Let It Glow

Since this isn't an organized party, goodie bags are optional. But if you'd like to add a bit of glow into the lives of the kids, just add some twinkle to the take-home loot by handing out mini lighted key chains, glow sticks, glow necklaces or bracelets -- there are lots of glow-in-the-dark goodies to choose from.

This glowing goodie bag is a fun take-home for kids.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
This glowing goodie bag is
a fun take-home for kids.

For a more formal Halloween theme party, try the "Horrifyin' Halloween" party in the next section.