How to Throw a Halloween Party

Throw a spooktacular party with these ideas! Solstock/Getty Images

Halloween Channel
Get in the Halloween spirit with our collection of spooky articles, and find out how to make your favorite Halloween treats at our special Halloween Channel.

Whether your ghouls and goblins like super-scary or scream-free parties, you'll find a cauldron full of Halloween party ideas in this article. Their hearts will race and their funny bones will bounce with these Halloween themes. With step-by-step instructions, we'll show you how to throw a Halloween party for adults, kids, and even younger kids.

We'll give you Halloween decorations, crafts, and game ideas to make each party so fun it's scary.

  • Carving a Pumpkin

    One of the first steps to every Halloween party is a carved pumpkin. We'll teach you how to choose the right pumpkin for the design you want to create. Learn safety tips for carving a pumpkin into a Jack-O'-Lantern. If you're tired of the regular Halloween pumpkin designs, use our downloadable pumpkin-carving templates to create the most unique Jack-O'-Lantern on the block.

  • "Get Into the Spirit" Halloween Party

    This informal Halloween party is a great way to liven up the house for your family. Pick a time that's best and begin decorating with the little monsters you love the most. In addition to Halloween recipes, we'll walk you through different Halloween craft ideas that are fun for the whole family. Your kids will love the Shrunken Heads that you place around the house.

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

    This informal party is a good way to jump into Halloween without a lot of planning. This Halloween party theme centers on the play of light and darkness -- it's a good excuse to make sure your witch or warlock is ready to conquer the night with safe and fun flashlights and trick-or-treat bags. Learn how to create this party and make a Halloween lampshade that's sure to be the light of your eye.

  • "Horrifyin" Halloween Party

    This spooky Halloween party is fun for kids of all ages. Send out creepy invites with a (rubber) rat inside a box to set the mood for your Halloween party. Invite guests to play eyeball checkers or have them find the eyes from a bucket of unraveled brains. In this section, we'll show you how to set the table for ewww and create a truly horrifying Halloween party.

  • "Magic Brew" Halloween Party

    This party is perfect for would-be witches. Themed with classic Halloween decorations such as black bats, black spiders, black cats, and broomsticks, it's a fun night for the imagination. Send invites in a charm pouch, send kids on a witch hunt, and create ghastly bat crafts that your kids are sure to love. We'll teach you how to throw a "Magic Brew" Halloween party in this section.

  • "Spellbound" Halloween Party

    Another variation on the magic theme is that of spells. This is a great Halloween party for slightly-older kids. Guests can create their own spell books and show off their magic tricks at this party. We'll teach you how to conjure spells that will keep the kids amazed, decorate the party room, and send out creative witch hat invitations in this section.

  • "Historical Halloween" Party

    This is a Halloween party that is simple and beautiful. While your kids will certainly enjoy the games, adults will enjoy the old-fashioned celebration of the fall. Learn how to create a gorgeous Halloween invitation from a simple craft basket. Enjoy the traditions of the past by serving Apple Cider Cake and caramel apples. Decorate with tasteful elements of the season. We'll show you how to create this serene and fun Halloween party.

  • Pirate Halloween Party

    With all the blockbuster movies, pirates have come back with a bang. Your little ones may demand a pirate-themed party or make you walk the plank. You won't be lost at sea with our instructions on how to throw a pirate Halloween party. We'll show you how to transform the party room into a pirate ship, create a message-in-a-bottle invitation, and give you some great ghost stories for your pirates and maidens to tell.

  • "Good, Bad, Ugly" Halloween Party

    Sometimes you can't be sure if your little ones (and their friends) are angels, devils, monsters, or all three. You don't have to decide with this party. Mix all three themes for heavenly fun. Guests can create their own angel and devil headbands and monster masks as a fun Halloween craft to keep them busy. Games like Angel Toss and Monster Moat are great ways to entertain. Send guests home with sugar, spice, and not-so-nice Halloween goodie bags. Learn how to do it all in this section.

  • Halloween Parties for Younger Kids

    Halloween can be very scary for younger kids. These Halloween themes are designed so even your youngest pumpkin can have a good time. The Haunted Garden Halloween party centers around things that grow. Kids can craft their own seed pots and won't stop giggling from the "Killer Plant" decorations you place in your house plants. In the "Harvest Halloween" party, little ones can romp and play with scarecrows and velcro darts. Learn how to throw both of these parties in this section.

  • There are a lot of parties to get your Halloween off on the right foot. Let's jump right in by carving a pumpkin in the next section.


Carving a Pumpkin

Bored out of your gourd carving the same old jack-o'-lantern year after year? If you dare, take a look into the eerie eyes and wicked grins of the pumpkin faces in this section. We'll show you how to carve a pumpkin from start to finish.

Choosing a Pumpkin

Choosing the perfect pumpkin will depend on the design you wish to carve, but there are several things to look for. Make sure the pumpkin is fresh. It should be firm, not soft, and free of rot, mold, and bruises.

If you have your heart set on a particular pumpkin but there is a scratch or imperfection, position the design so you cut away the damaged part.

The front of the pumpkin should be as smooth as possible to make it easy to transfer the carving pattern to the pumpkin.


Wash the pumpkin in soap and water to remove any soil.

Decide whether you want to cut a lid on top or a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin.

When cutting a lid, don't cut a circle; it will be nearly impossible to line up the lid when you want to replace it. Instead, cut a pentagon (5 sides) or hexagon (6 sides).

Using a saw or knife with a serrated blade, cut at an angle (point the knife to the middle of the pumpkin) so the lid does not fall into the pumpkin.

An adult should always cut the pumpkin; it is too dangerous for children.

Cut a pentagon into the lid so it doesn't fall through the pumpkin.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Cut a pentagon into the lid so it
doesn't fall through the pumpkin.

Cutting a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin is a great way to straighten a crooked pumpkin. Set the pumpkin on top of an empty coffee can or cooking pot (depending on pumpkin size).

Set the pumpkin on a cooking pot before cutting the bottom of a crooked pumpkin.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Set the pumpkin on a cooking pot
before cutting the bottom
of a crooked pumpkin.

Position the pumpkin so it sits the way you want it to, then use a pen or marker to trace the top of the can or pot on the bottom of the pumpkin. Cut along the line with the saw or knife, and discard the bottom.

It's time to dig in and get messy! Reach in and comb through the "strings" with your fingers, removing the seeds. Set them aside for roasting later. When you've removed all the seeds, scrape the bottom and sides of the pumpkin with a large spoon or pumpkin scraper. Scrape the inside front of the pumpkin (where the design will be) until the wall is 1 inch thick or less.

Designs and Patterns

The design you carve into your jack-o'-lantern can be simple or fancy, but it will be easier if you first work out the design on paper. Use the enlargement guide to figure out how big to make the pattern.

Trim the excess paper from the pattern. Dry the pumpkin, then position the pattern with masking or painter's tape. Use a pushpin, nail, or ballpoint pen to trace the outline of the pattern by poking small holes through the paper and the pumpkin skin. The closer the holes, the finer the detail you can achieve.

Trace the outline of the pattern by poking small holes into the pumpkin.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Trace the outline of the pattern by
poking small holes into the pumpkin.

When you have finished poking the holes, remove the pattern and set it aside for reference. To better see the design, rub flour into the holes or use a pen or marker to "connect the dots."

Use a pen to connect the dots when carving a pumpkin.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Use a pen to connect the dots.


Never let a child use a knife to carve a pumpkin. Pumpkin-carving tools, which are small saw blades with handles, are inexpensive and available at most drug and discount stores. They are great for kids.

Adults may choose to use knives when carving. Good knife choices include a paring knife and a fish-boning knife. Make sure the knives are sharp; this will give you more control and make cutting easier.

Hold the tool in your hand so you have adequate leverage. Press the tip of the tool straight into the pumpkin at a pattern line. Plunge the tool up and down in a "sewing machine" motion. Let the tool do the work. Be careful as you cut, and take your time.

Carve pumpkin with a sewing machine motion.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Carve pumpkin with a
sewing machine motion.

Work on the design one section at a time. Carve sections in the center of the design first, and work your way out. To turn sharp corners, don't twist the blade. Pull out the tool, and reinsert it from the other direction. When you have finished a section, leave the scraps in place until you have carved the entire design.

Real flames cannot be used to light artificial pumpkins. Instead, use battery-powered utility lights, which can be found at drug and discount stores. Never leave a pumpkin with a lit candle unattended, especially around children.

The best way to light a jack-o'-lantern is with a candle. This gives the pumpkin a warm color, and the flame's natural flicker gives it the traditional look.

When you are done carving, push the pieces out from the inside with your fingers. Cut large or complicated pieces into smaller pieces so they are easier to remove.


The best way to light a jack-o'-lantern is with a candle. This gives the pumpkin a warm color, and the flame's natural flicker gives it the traditional look.


If you take care of your jack-o'-lantern, you can increase its life span. Rub petroleum jelly on cut edges to keep them from drying out. When using a candle, cut a small hole in the top of the pumpkin to act as a chimney to vent the heat.

Limit the amount of time you display and light your pumpkin. When not displaying it, place the jack-o'-lantern in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. To bring a shriveled pumpkin back to life, soak it in a tub of cold water overnight.

Carving Artificial Pumpkins

The techniques for carving an artificial pumpkin are the same as for real pumpkins, but several precautions must be taken:

  1. To prevent the risk of fire, never use candles or high-wattage lightbulbs to light artificial pumpkins.

  2. The extreme differences in wall thickness (from 3/8 to 1-1/4 inches) within a single pumpkin require a great deal of experience and patience to carve intricate designs.

  3. Polyurethane dust is generated by carving artificial pumpkins. Small children and pets should be kept away from the carving area to prevent ingestion.

  4. At ten times the price of natural pumpkins, a mistake can be costly. Natural pumpkins are a good choice for families. But if you want to create a special pumpkin that you can bring out year after year, an artificial pumpkin is just right for you.
Enlargement Guide

Measure the pumpkin's face (where you will place the design), then find the corresponding percentage on the chart below. Key in that percentage when you photocopy the pattern. You may need to adjust the percentage to fit your particular pumpkin.
Pumpkin Size
Enlargement Needed

Frightening Fun

Spine-tingling delights are in store for you with these gruesomely ghastly pumpkin carvings.
The patterns are hyperlinked PDFs that you can download and print out. The patterns need to be enlarged on a copier to match the size of your pumpkin. Match the size of the pumpkin with the enlargement guide above. 

Howlin' Wolf, Glare Scare, and and Eye See You scary pumpkin designs.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Howlin' Wolf, Glare Scare,
and Eye See You scary pumpkin designs.

Howlin' Wolf
  1. Carve the nose. If the scrap pieces aren't easy to push out, cut them into smaller pieces to remove.

  2. Carve the mouth, being careful not to cut off the teeth.

  3. Carve the ears, top of the head, and jowls. To simplify, create the features by cutting zigzag lines and leaving scraps in place. The light from the inside will still shine through the cuts.
Glare Scare
  1. Carve the eyes, the eyebrows, and then the nose.

  2. Carve the smaller teeth. Finish by cutting the large fangs.
Eye See You
  1. Drill holes for the center of the eyes (or push a pen or pencil into the pumpkin to create the holes). Carve the rest of the eyes and the bottom lashes.

  2. 2 Carve the top eyelashes starting at the center and working out.
Funny Faces

These happy faces are just right for the younger set or for those adults who like to keep things
on the light side.
The patterns are hyperlinked PDFs that you can download and print out.

Traditional Jack, Smilin' John, and Big Tooth Magee funny pumpkin designs.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Traditional Jack, Smilin' John, and
Big Tooth Magee funny pumpkin designs.

Traditional Jack
  1. Carve the nose.

  2. Carve the remaining features. Customize the design by adding or deleting teeth. To simplify, omit the teeth and the irises in the eyes.
Smilin' John
  1. Carve the eyes and nose.

  2. Carve the mouth and chin. Be careful not to make the connection for the tongue too thin.

  3. Carve the eyebrows.
Big Tooth Magee
  1. Carve the eyes and nose.

  2. When carving the teeth, work from the top down. Be careful not to make the connections between the teeth too thin.

  3. Carve the brow.
Baking the Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin-seed baking is one of the joys of Halloween. Any one of these funky flavor twists on a regular pumpkin seed recipe could wake the dead.

Once you've carved the Jack-O'Lantern, use our gourmet pumpkin seeds recipe to bake spicy, sweet, or cheesy pumpkin seeds.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Once you've carved the Jack-O'Lantern,
bake the pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin Seeds

Preheat oven to 350
°F. Separate the pumpkin seeds from the fibers. Wash, drain, and dry the seeds on paper towels. Coat 1-1/2 cups seeds with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Toss the seeds with salt (or omit salt and toss seeds with any of the suggested seasonings below), and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Deviled Pumpkin Seeds

Add 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper.

Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Seeds

Add 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice.

Cheesy Seeds

Add 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

You can carve your pumpkin to fit the theme of your Halloween party. Learn how to throw a spirited informal family gathering in the next section.


'Get Into the Spirit' Halloween Party

It's almost Halloween. You can't think of a meal to make, a decoration to hang, or a game to play that hasn't been a Halloween standard since 1952, but you've promised your little pumpkins a party that'll bring the house down.

Try It!
Here are some Halloween recipes from our collection:
  • Jack-O'Lantern

Now you're lying awake each night before the big day, envisioning just that -- a half-dozen sugar-charged children, bored out of their gourds, and armed with plastic swords and pitchforks, smashing your home to smithereens.

Scared? Don't sell your soul for a party planner just yet. We've got dozens of fresh ideas for Halloween treats, crafts, and games, so any parent pressed for time can pull off a party with ease.

We'll show you how to keep your goblin guests entertained and how to make your young hosts the hit of the holiday with themed parties that are bound to be fun.

No matter what theme you choose, in costume or out, you'll bear an uncanny resemblance to a bewitching wizard if you keep these simple party tricks up your sleeve:
  • For maximum fun and minimal chaos, let the age of your child determine the number of guests to be invited. For example, if your goblin is seven, invite seven of his closest ghostly chums. If you have several children, let them each invite a few friends, but make sure you have plenty of adult and teenage helpers. You want to enjoy the party also.

  • Send out invitations two weeks in advance, and request RSVPs within the week. Like costumes, Halloween parties are far less painful when they are sized to fit: think menu, craft, and game supplies.

  • Even a small party can overwhelm very young children. Keep them smiling by inviting a parent to accompany each of your young guests. Just remember to make up a "parent platter" so there's enough food for everyone -- and food the adults will find appealing.

    Block off doors that are off-limits to keep kids safe when throwing a Halloween party.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Block off doors that are off-limits
    to keep kids safe.

  • Nighttime isn't the only time for a Halloween party. Afternoon parties offer the outdoor advantage -- less pre- and post-party cleanup, more activity options, and lots of room for the kids to scream, giggle, and get silly. Be sure to specify warm clothes and/or play clothes in the invitation if the kids will be spending any time outside.

  • Whether the party is indoors or out, keep kids safe and on the right track by closing doors to rooms and spaces that are off-limits. No door? No problem. Hang crisscrossed streamers, caution tape, or signs that warn, "Beware: Haunted" across no-enter zones. For added security and fun, cut monster footprints from cardboard leading from party room to party room. Don't forget the path to the bathroom.

  • Keep food, games, and emergency cleanup and craft supplies at the ready to avoid lulls during the party. Organization and preplanning are key to a successful party: You want to keep that energetic group of goblins grinning.
"Get Into the Spirit" Party

If you're spooked at the prospect of scaring up a child's Halloween party all by your lonesome, you should be. Like any other holiday, Halloween is best celebrated when it's shared. So make a party planning date with your little monsters. Over this feast of festive eats and spooky craft treats your family can plan the Halloween party of your dreams.

Serve soup from a scary cauldron to set the mood for a Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Serve soup from a scary
cauldron to set the mood.

You don't need a server named Lurch to set a spooky dinner scene. Since it's just your own family, dim the lights and break out a couple of tapered candles or -- if you've got one handy -- a candelabra. Switch on some Halloween tunes, and don a black dress, veil, or cape. Speak like a vampire from Transylvania if you can. Your kids will love the fuss.

Heads on a Platter

Putting your heads together to discuss decorating is fun, but while you're talking, why not get "a head" of the game by making some nasty noggins for the party? These shrunken heads are inexpensive and easy to make, and they can be made up to two weeks before the party.

Preheat your oven to 150
°F. Using apples, potatoes, beets, or rutabagas (with the stems and leaves cut off), have your children carve out eye and mouth shapes using a spoon or, with your help, a butter knife. The cuts should go about 1/2 inch wide and deep to ensure the head's "melted" facial appearance. When you're finished carving, set the heads on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil and slip them into the oven overnight.

For a creepier effect, place shrunken heads around the house.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
For a creepier effect, place
shrunken heads around the house.

These shrunken heads are a perfect centerpiece for your Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
These shrunken heads are a perfect
centerpiece for your Halloween party.

When the heads have cooled, place them on a platter for a table centerpiece. If you'd like something wackier for your party, screw them on bamboo skewers and place them in houseplants, atop decapitated doll bodies, or even on a scarecrow's neck. To get really creepy, make hovering heads by skipping the bamboo skewers and stringing a needle and fishing line through the center of the head from bottom to top. Cut the line to the desired loop length, make a knot, and hang heads from the ceiling out of reach of your guests.

Keeper of the Days

As the day of the party approaches, it's likely the question "How many more days?" will be a constant refrain. Give your ears a break by creating a haunted house calendar in the weeks before the party.

Haunted house.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Haunted house.

To make, glue black or gray construction paper (or a brown grocery sack) to the front and back of a leftover cereal box. When the glue has dried, cut down the center of the sides and top and bottom of the box, making sure the front and back of the box have roughly the same depth.

Use a craft knife (adult use only) or scissors to cut a number of different-shaped doors and shuttered windows into the front, sides, and back of the box. You'll need enough windows and doors as the number of days until the party. Glue a sheet of light-colored construction paper to the inside of all the windows and doors. When you're finished, fold each door and shutter open and bring the front and back of the box back together, sliding the boxes together like a gift box. Have your child place Halloween stickers, homemade spooky drawings, or seasonal cutouts from magazines in the spaces.

Seal the box sides with tape or glue. Shut all the doors and shutters, and give each a number corresponding to the party countdown (either the date or the number of days until the party). Decorate the outside of the haunted house.

Haunted Hint!
Glue on real sticks, grass (or Easter grass), and pebbles for trees, greenery, and cobblestones. Use empty toilet paper rolls for turrets and towers.

High Spirits

Create a Halloween mobile for your kids to enjoy all month long.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Create a Halloween mobile
for your kids to enjoy all month long.

Your little ghoul or boy is certain to have sweet dreams before the big day, but why wait until sleep takes over? Let a ghost mobile lull him or her to la-la land every night. Kids will love molding spooky shapes -- think ghosts, witches, moons, stars, and bats -- from homemade clay.

In a small pot, bring the water to a boil. Remove pan from heat, and stir in salt. In a large heat-proof bowl, mix flours together. Slowly stir in hot saltwater. Knead resulting dough on a flour-covered surface.

When dough is soft and pliable, kids can mold signature shapes or they can use cookie cutters. When finished, use a toothpick to make a small hole just above the center of each dough piece, and then bake the pieces on a cookie sheet at 250
°F for 2 to 3 hours. Peek in on the pieces every 30 minutes after the first hour of baking to be sure they're baking evenly. Let shapes cool, and then decorate the pieces with paint, markers, and glitter. A clear acrylic spray finishes the job.

Once dry, string fishing line or string through the pieces and attach them at varying lengths to 2 hooked-together wire coat hangers. Hang the mobile from a hook in the ceiling. Balance the weights, kick up some wind, then kick back with your creative kid to watch the mobile spin.

A second party idea is the "Who's Afraid of the Dark?" themed party. Learn how to throw this informal gathering in the next section.


'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.
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.


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.


'Horrifyin' Halloween' Party

Kids seeking a haunting holiday sour at the sight of a candy-coated Halloween party. For them, grisly and ghastly is the only way to go. Let those tough types test the strength of their spine with a party that oozes with heart-stopping surprises, cringe-worthy crafts, and a menu into which only the boldest vampires would sink their fangs.
Creepy Invites

You Called?

If you want to create the gross atmosphere right from the beginning, be sure to tie your invitations into the theme. We'd suggest getting a surprise messenger to do your, inviting.

Find small jewelry boxes and rubber rats that will fit inside them. On the outside of each box, write "Open up, if you dare!" Then write party invitations on parchment paper, in spooky writing.

Tie black ribbon around the rat's neck and attach the other end to the invitation. Place the rat and the invitation in the box. Cut out a bat from construction paper, and glue it to the front of the box.

The invitation reads:

"My master has sent me to invite you to a Horrifying Halloween Party! Come to 1234 Maple Lane on Saturday, October 26. The haunting will take place from noon to 3:00 p.m.! Call my master to RSVP at 555-1234. Be afraid. Be very afraid!"

Place a fake rat inside the invitation box.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Place a fake rat inside the invitation box.

Making a Haunted House

Buy the creepy things you're afraid to touch and place them throughout your house for a Horrifying Halloween Party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Buy the creepy things you're afraid to
touch and place themthroughout your
house to set the horrifying mood.

Slimy snakes, nibbling rats, a slew of spiders, and all the creepy things that haunt your dreams -- that's the stuff nightmares are made of. This Halloween, haul those horrors out of naptime and let them -- OK, rubber imitations of them -- hang about your house for a truly terrifying party.

Party stores keep a monstrous stock of rubber vermin and insects on the shelves at Halloween; buy the ones you can't bare to touch and then plant them in surprising spots around your house. A rat in the sink, a snake in the coat closet, and worms writhing out of the sofa cushions make for revolting surprises. Keep stashes of plastic spiders in your pocket for tossing into the air when guests least expect it.

In the party room, a black light and cobwebs stretched from cotton batting create an eerie glow. Confirm guests' suspicions that the place is haunted by tossing white sheets or canvas tarps over furniture. Not only will your upholstery be protected from partygoers, you'll attain that abandoned house look found in all those old horror movies.

Of course, no house can be haunted without the help of a few ghosts. Hang one in a high corner, from a ceiling fan, or from a doorframe under which guests must pass. Stuff one corner of a large white plastic trash bag with 2 bunched-up trash bags. Twist a neck under the head, then fold the excess plastic skirt over the bulge and twist again, securing the resulting round head with a rubber band or string. Make a fluttering ghost by cutting the bottom of the skirt into long strips. A creepy soundtrack of low moans, wails, and screams played throughout the party will complete the eerie effect.

Table for Ewww...

You may appreciate a cheery dining room, but as endless fright flicks prove, apparitions appreciate an aged place. Date yours by tossing a white sheet over the tabletop and dressing it like an old banquet table. Plastic goblets or wine chalices are a must. Got some tarnished silver? Set it out -- unpolished.

Add some cotton spider-webbing to a candelabra stacked with melted but unlit candles. Pepper the dishes with plastic spiders. And for a true antique finish, fill the centerpiece with rotting food (plastic fruit covered with cobwebs).

Eyeing the Arrivals

As guests arrive, it's good to have a quick game or craft in the works so the kids who've already shown up have something to do. For this party, you can't miss with eyeball checkers. To create this creepy game, glue black and red poms to the checker pieces, and glue wiggle eyes atop the poms.

Supernatural Challenges: Halloween Games

Eyes on the Prize

Invite kids to search through the
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Invite kids to use their feet
to search for the missing eye.

Something freaky is afoot when you fill a shallow laundry tub with unraveled brains, but kids will think you've really lost your marbles when you invite them to use their bare feet to search among the mess for eyeballs. A true test of toe dexterity, this game is good for endless giggles.

Cook and cool at least three boxes of spaghetti noodles before the party. Place it all in a shallow laundry tub. Add one tablespoon of cooking oil per box to keep the noodles from sticking and to ensure maximum slipperiness for your guests. At the bottom of the noodles, slip in three marbles.

Let the games begin! Set the noodle-filled tub on the kitchen floor, and put a chair on either side of it. On "Go!," two kids must race each other to find the missing eyeballs, using their bare feet only. They must pull the eyeballs out of the tub with their toes and deposit them into a small bowl next to the tub.

Whoever pulls out the majority of eyeballs in two minutes wins. Reward the winners with ped-appropriate gifts such as toenail polish or Halloween-themed socks.

Keep a bowl filled with soapy water and a few towels nearby so kids don't have to traipse all the way to the bathroom to wash off.

Shot in the Dark

Aiming for a game that will test your guests' skill and not your patience? An easy-to-make, fun-to-play variation on the game of pool can be played on the floor of any room.

For extra fun, use red and black magic markers to turn the tennis balls into eyeballs. Draw a black pupil and the rim of the "iris" with the black marker, and red, spindly veins with the red marker on each ball.

Place half the guests on one side of the room, each holding a dowel and a tennis ball. Place the other half of the guest on the other side, at least 10 feet away, and give each of them a cup. Then make them all lay on the floor across from their partners. Those with the dowels (players A) must lie on their bellies; those with the cups (players B) must lie on their backs, arms extended behind their heads, with the cups in their hands and the openings facing players A. (Player B must keep the back of his or her head against the floo-- no peeking!)

Player A attempts to get the ball into the cup in this Halloween game.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Dorothy (Player A) attempts to get
the ball into the cup.

This little vampire (Player B) holds the cup for Player A in this Halloween game.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
This little vampire (Player B)
holds the cup for Player A.

To play the game, player A uses the dowel as a pool cue and shoots the ball into their partner's cup. Player B cannot see the ball rolling, but player A can shout directions (move left, move right) to their partner in order to move the cup in the ball's path. If the ball gets in the cup, the two hurry to switch places and equipment, starting the process again. If the ball misses, player A must leave his or her dowel, run to get the ball, and start again. The first team to hit its target twice wins.

Older kids with better motor skills can boost the challenge by playing this game with players A blindfolded, and a third player calling out the directions to both.

Macabre Movie

Film a horror movie as a fun Halloween party game.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Film a horror movie as a
fun Halloween party game.

Haul out the video camera and film a homemade horror movie. As you already know from watching them through the years, a plot is second fiddle to cool costumes, crazy makeup, and ear-deafening screams.

Use the kids' costumes to inspire the movie script, or you can provide garb by hauling out some old clothes, shoes, and costumes and letting the kids deck themselves out in whatever outfit suits their spooky style. Some old eye shadows and lipsticks are all that's needed to paint on blood, bruises, and some major under-eye circles -- they're all the rage with the walking dead. No doubt, the kids will have the screams covered. Let them spin out a basic script, and start taping.

For best effect, record the movie in small, one- or two-minute scene segments, and alternate between major close-ups, pans (sweeping the camera slowly across a scene), and zooms. The finished product will look less like a home video and more like a real horror flick. Add interest to each scene and build tension in the story by filming at different angles.

An ankle-eye view of a monster's sluggish footsteps; a look into the mouth of a screaming victim; a switch from the victim's eyes to the monster's outstretched hands and back again; a peek at the outside from the vantage point of a vampire sitting in a coffin -- team up with the kids to make the most of your imaginations.

After the filming is complete, hook the video camera up to the television and turn off the lights to enjoy an instant screening.

Halloween Crafts


And you thought the shower scene in Psycho was scary. Put it to shame by giving kids a craft that's awash in terror: monster mouth soap dispensers.

Kids can draw the head of a monster, vampire, ghost, or otherworldly being on the paper circles. The soap dispenser tip can poke out of the mouth, eye, or, if you've got a real gruesome guest, wound on the head. Help the kids mark the spot of their choice before they began drawing.

These scary soap dispensers are an easy and fun Halloween craft.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Make these scary soap dispensers as
an easy and fun Halloween craft.

When the head design is to the artist's liking, cover the front and back with the clear adhesive paper, then cut out the hole for the dispenser tip. Slide the head on the tip, leaving at least an 1/8 inch of tip poking from the head opening so the soap doesn't drip directly onto it. Secure the head in the back with tape.

For special effects, you can mix a few drops of food coloring in each child's soap, so a blood red, spooky blue, gross green, or even a morbid black mix can ooze out of the opening. The colored soap will not stain skin.

Kids can use any leftover paper or cardstock to create a monster body that can also be covered with the adhesive paper and taped to the soap dispenser.

Ghastly Goodie Bags

Scary Take-homes

When kids leave the party, give them coffins filled with stuff all ghost- and monster-busters need to communicate with the other side: invisible ink markers, spell books (note pads), toy phones, paintbrushes (for dusting ghost prints), a small pocket mirror (because the dead don't have a reflection), and maybe even a monster figure or two.

This ghoulish goodie bag helps guests communicate from beyond the grave.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
This ghoulish goodie bag helps guests
communicate from beyond the grave.

The "It's Alive" themed Halloween party is another fun way to celebrate the holiday for kids and adults. Learn how to throw this Halloween party in the next section.


'It's Alive' Halloween Party

The touch of a cold corpse, the sound of a howling wind, the taste of your heart in your throat... the senses truly come alive at Halloween. Spine-tingling invites and a mad scientist show that'll slay 'em are sure to set your guests' neurotransmitters on super-shiver mode.

Try It!
Here are some Halloween recipes from our collection:
  • Terrifying Tamale Pie

This Halloween theme party is fun for little Frankensteins and Brides of Frankenstein.

Audio Invites

Listen up, moms and dads: Audio invitations are an awesome way to involve your kids and alert your guests to the frightfully good time that awaits. Using a few regular household items, you and your children can relay the party date and time details amidst a cacophony of spooky sounds. All you need are some blank CDs or audiotapes and a little imagination.

You'll need one cd or tape per invited guest. Since you're only going to be recording a few minutes of sound on each, choose the cheapest tapes with the fewest recordable minutes.

Local libraries and music stores often have recordings of eerie music or sound effects available, but you easily can make your own. Crack fresh celery for breaking bones. Have a vaporizer or humidifier gurgling in the background to mimic the sound of a cauldron bubbling or experiments going awry in a mad scientist's lab. You can also find sound effects on the Internet.

A slow wail (created by running your finger along the rim of a wine glass) makes a haunting intro. You can follow with a squeaky door, heavy footsteps that get faster and faster and louder and louder -- then a howl, a bloodcurdling scream, some celery snapping, insane laughter, and, finally, a spooky whisper that asks: "Who's next? You are, if you dare to attend Nathan Alexander's Halloween party on October 26. The terror begins at noon, at 1234 Maple Lane. Survivors -- if there are any -- can escape at 3:00 p.m. Please wear play clothes and arrive hungry. Your last meal will be a good one."

Finish with a haunting melody, more howls and screams, or whatever your imagination desires.

Record the Halloween party invitation on a CD or audio tape, as shown here.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Record the invitation on a CD
or audio tape, as shown here.

Once you've recorded the invite on a tape, use it as the master to dub the remaining tapes. Remember to rewind each tape to the beginning. You can also record the invitation on CD through your computer. Many programs are available for creating audio and burning CDs.

Finally, create a label for your CD or write "Listen if you dare" on the recorded side of the tape's label and underneath, "RSVP 555-1234." You can package each CD or tape in a festive envelope, box, or even trick-or-treat bag so your child can distribute the tapes with fanfare.

Surgical Scene: Halloween Decorations

Domain of Pain

Cheerful orange streamers and balloons with happy Halloween messages are cute, but they don't exactly fire up the fear factor. Get your guests in a frightful frame of mind by sticking to decorations that inspire gaping mouths, nervous guffaws, and big giggles. How? Outfit the party room like a mad scientist's laboratory.

Start by laying a white sheet over a rectangular table. If the guests are older, stuff a sweatsuit with clothes or newspaper, and set that underneath the sheet with a round pillow or ball (for the head). Then mix a few drops of red food coloring in corn syrup, and drizzle it on the sheet for realistic blood drippings.

Outfit the party room like a mad scientist's laboratory when throwing a Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Outfit the party room like a mad scientist's laboratory.

Next, create a scientist's life generator from a large cardboard box covered in aluminum foil or colored with markers and paint. You can add dials and buttons galore by gluing on different colored bottle caps, large buttons, or cardboard dials you've made.

Pick up a few yards of plastic tubing and aluminum foil accordion tubing (like the kind hooked to your clothes dryer) from the hardware store. You can run these tubes from holes made in the box to the body, to various "bubbling" jars filled with soapy water and food coloring (and capped tightly), and to a metal colander, which any brave "victim" can try on.

Want to get really creepy? Drop some cooked spaghetti, a peeled and partially squeezed grapefruit, or doll heads in jars filled with corn syrup. A "Doctor Frankenstein Is In" sign on the front door and a phony medical certificate from "Dismembered University" on the wall will have the kids in stitches.

Halloween Costumes: Hair-Raisin' Fun

This Halloween wig is perfect for your favorite mad scientist when creating a Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
This wig is perfect for your
favorite mad scientist.

Setting the scene is fabulous, but why not get into character too? Lab coats and surgical masks are easy-to-find Halloween costume fare and make serving the body part provisions that follow much more fun for the kids. If the kids aren't wearing costumes of their own, invite them to join in on the madness by handing out mad scientist wigs.

To make these crazy coifs, stretch the waist of a pair of nylons over a basketball or soccer ball, knotting the legs near the crotch and cutting off the legs. Place a square chunk of cotton batting over the nylon cap so that a little hangs over the edges.

Baste the batting along the edges of the cap with a needle and thread. Be careful not to puncture the ball. When you've circled the edge, place one hand -- with fingers stretched out -- on the top of the batting to keep from ripping your stitches. With your other hand, pull and stretch the batting between your fingers so it sticks up here and there. Trim away the overhanging corners of batting. Once you've got the wig in a shape you like, remove it from the ball and sew a couple stitches at the crown to secure the top of the wig to the nylon. It's ready to wear.

Screaming Halloween Crafts

Have kids draw wild faces as a fun Halloween craft.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Have kids draw wild faces.

Kids can document the horrors of Halloween by blow-painting a wild scream face -- with their mouths. Provide each child with a sheet of heavy black paper or cardstock and a straw. Set different colors of finger paint -- white and light colors of purple, green, and blue look fantastic against the black paper -- in the center of a covered table.

Place plastic spoons in each paint color. If the paints are thick, add a bit of water, drop by drop. The paint must be a little runny so kids can "drip-draw" the face.

Have each child make a face by spooning little puddles of paint on their paper. Then, while the paint on their paper is still wet, they can use their straws to blow the paint in different directions to create interesting designs. It's a screaming good time.

Operation Entertainment: Halloween Games

It's Curtains for You

A state-of-the-art laboratory looks menacing under the operating room light, but to your gaggle of guests, it'll look positively mental.

Use your lab setup as the stage to entertain your guests with a gruesome shadow play. Just before show time, hang a white sheet between the stage and the audience. You can hang the sheet from the ceiling, or stretch a rope across the room and hang the sheet from it. Turn off all other lights in the room except for a bright lamp behind the stage.

You or your young host can act out a mad scientist sketch for guests using prerecorded and/or live effects. Some suggestions? Pretend to saw off the "patient's" pillow head by playing a saw sound, then lifting off a basketball that is taped to the pillow. Have a bowl of cooked spaghetti noodle brains waiting. The scientist can hold the ball in front of the bowl, thereby hiding it, and pretend to reach into the head and grab handfuls of brains. Then toss each handful -- with a loud splash -- into a bucket on the floor.

Break off carrot stick fingers; unwind wet rope intestines; pluck out and toss raw egg eyes, chalk teeth pieces, and even a peeled grapefruit heart. Operate with enough gusto and it's guaranteed: Your audience will provide the screaming and laugh track.

I Can Monster Run

Make monster shows with empty cans as a fun Halloween game.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Make monster shows with empty cans.

Why walk like an Egyptian when you can race like a monster? With the help and height of a pair of overturned cans beneath their feet, kids can do just that in this monster relay race.

Make monster shoes with 4 empty cans that are all the same size. The wider the can, the more stable the kids will be -- you don't want any turned or injured ankles. Large tomato sauce cans work well. You'll also need some twine, a hammer, and a nail. Before the party, use the hammer and nail to puncture 2 holes in the opposite sides of each can -- each hole should be a 1/4 inch from the lidded bottom and equidistant from the other hole. Loop a 4-foot length of twine through each can, and tie the ends of the twine together with a secure knot (place the knot inside the can).

For the race, divide the kids into 2 teams and hand 1 player from each team a pair of monster shoes. The first child on each team puts on the shoes and walks to a point at least 10 feet away, then turns around and walks back to the starting point. Then he or she hands the monster shoes to the next team member, who will do the same until all team members have had a turn. The first team to finish the race wins.

Buried Alive

Use a shoebox and a doll to create a coffin Halloween game.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Use a shoebox and a doll
to create a coffin game.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the fear of being buried alive led many people to have their coffins outfitted with bells, buzzers, and various other signaling instruments. Modern medicine has taken care of that concern -- doctors today can tell a corpse from a coma, but the lore makes for a great Halloween game.

You'll need a shoe box, string, a doll, and a small bell. Decorate the shoe box for the most gory fun. Cut a small, penny-size hole in the lid of the box, about in the middle of the box. Tie 6 inches of string to 1 arm of the doll. Place the doll inside the box, and pull the string out the hole in the lid. Tie the small bell to the other end of the string, and let it dangle against the side of the box.

Have kids take turns placing the box on their heads and walking through an obstacle course of cardboard gravestones. (You can tape these to your living room floor or tape wooden stakes to the back of each "stone" and stick them in the backyard.)

Use tape or string to mark off a square at the end of the course. This will be the empty grave into which the kids may use their hands to lower the box from their heads and place the coffin. Whoever can "bury" the coffin the fastest -- without ringing the bell -- wins.

Blood Running

Use cinnamon candies in this Halloween relay game.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Use cinnamon candies in this
 Halloween relay game.

Pretend cinnamon candies are drops of blood, and get your guests' blood boiling by holding a rousing, hot relay race.

For this game, you'll need at least 2 cups of red cinnamon candies, 2 bowls, 2 empty clear plastic or glass soda bottles, 2 tablespoons, and 2 funnels.

Place the bowls, each with 1 cup of candy in it, on 1 side of the room. On the other side, place the bottles and funnels. Divide the kids into 2 teams. Give each team a tablespoon. On "Go!" have the first member of each team run with a tablespoon from the bottle side, scoop up a spoonful of candy "blood," and run back to the bottle.

They then have to pour the blood through the funnel into the bottle, and then pass the spoon to the next team member. The first team to empty their bowl wins, provided their bottle's blood level is higher than that of the other team's. If it isn't, the team must scramble to pick up and deposit any candies into the bottle that have dropped on the floor during the race.

Goodies From the Great Beyond: Halloween Goodie Bags

Besides the souvenir wig, let guests take home a goodie box or pail.

Fill each with a small pocket mirror to identify the undead (the dead don't have a reflection), a small vial or baggie filled with cinnamon candy blood drops, vampire fangs, a vampire toy, and a pencil (a.k.a. wooden vampire stake).

Vampire fangs, mirrors, and Vampire pails are great Halloween goodie bags.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Vampire fangs, mirrors, and Vampire pails
are great Halloween goodie bags.

A less scary and more classic theme is the "Magic Brew" Halloween party. Learn how to throw this party full of black cats, witches, and bats in the next section.


'Magic Brew' Halloween Party

Call off the search for eye of newt. All you need to concoct a Halloween party that bubbles with black magic are these easy-to-find charms: a pinch of enchanted children and a slew of clever games and crafts. Mix well, then stand back and let it cook.
Invitation Incantation: Halloween Invitations

Want to summon your gaggle of guests with invitations so magical no witch or wizard could resist their charms? Send out charm pouches.

To make the pouches, buy enough fabric to provide 43 12-inch rectangles of purple fabric per invited guest and at least 1 yard of ribbon (any color you find bewitching) per pouch. If you don't have a sewing machine and hate sewing by hand, don't worry; fabric glue is strong enough for this job.

Cut out the rectangles. Use pinking shears or scissors with scalloped edges for extra flair. Fold each rectangle in half, and glue or sew the sides, leaving the top open. If using glue, let it dry completely. Measure 1 inch down from the top opening, and cut a small slit on either side of the bag, about 1 inch from each side.

Weave the ribbon in and out of the slits. When the ribbon ends are pulled, the pouch will close. (For fun, glue a spider onto one of the ribbon tails.)

Using a silver or purple pen and parchment or black paper, write: "Charmed, I'm sure! You will be if you don your pointed black hat or wizard's cap and ride your broom to Jamie Welp's house for a magical Halloween party at 123 Maple Lane on Saturday, October 26. The spell will be cast from noon to 3:00 p.m. Give the magic word, and food, games, and crafts will appear! RSVP: 555-1234."

Place invitations into a charm pouch when throwing a Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Place invitations into a charm pouch.

Roll up each scroll and tie with ribbon before tucking it inside a pouch.

Halloween Decorations: Hex House

Dress the house with bats, cats, and spiders to create the magical environment for a Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Dress the house with bats, cats,
and spiders to create the environment.

Cast a Spell With Style

Dressing the house to suit a witch's or wizard's fancy is a cinch.
Start by hanging a black umbrella from a short length of fishing line strung from a ceiling hook or turned-off light fixture. Cut out black bats from paper or fun foam. Glue on wiggle eyes, and add some dimensional paint. Dangle the bats at different lengths from fishing line attached to the tips of the umbrella's rods. These look fantastic when given a whirl.

If you don't have an umbrella handy, don't opt out of the black bats. You can still string them from the ceiling using fishing line and strong clear tape. Silver balloons filled with half air and half helium will hover hauntingly in the air.

If you're confident in your abilities to keep an eye on the kids while keeping the party moving, consider getting some dry ice. When mixed with a little hot water, the dry ice vaporizes and froths like a real witch's cauldron. This looks great set in an empty fireplace or kitchen corner. You can often purchase the ice from party stores. Just be sure to keep a close eye on curious fingers.

Finish the room display with a black light, a black cat cutout in the window, and, of course, one giant stuffed spider. You can make your own simply by stuffing the legs of four pair of black nylons with newspaper or cotton batting and safety pinning the remaining waists to a puffy pillow covered in a black pillowcase or fabric.

For added effect, paint a big foam ball black, glue on big wiggly eyes (find them at a local craft store), add some chenille stem antennae, and make smiling fangs. This spider looks great lounging atop a tall bookcase or plopped smack dab in the middle of the party room.

Black and/or purple streamers, tablecloth, and eating utensils give the aura of a witch's or wizard's mealtime. But why stop there? Fill a Halloween bowl with gummy worms, candy corn (monster's toenails), cinnamon candies (blood drops), mini-marshmallows (ghost tears), and corn curls (troll fingers) to make the spells stick.

You can use glow sticks for stubby wands, or create magical ones with 12-inch long dowels. You'll need one for each guest. Use black permanent marker or paint to cover all but the bottom 4 inches to avoid the dreaded inky curse. You can cover that end with duct tape or colored electrical tape. At the top end of the wands, tie on ribbons of foil stars, feathers, or curly wrapping ribbon. Place a magic wand at each guest's place setting.

Enchanting Amusements: Halloween Games

Hockey Wizards

If you've got a basement or if the weather permits, face off with a game of witch and wizard hockey.
The game is the same, but instead of hockey sticks and a puck, kids play with brooms and a ball. You can usually sweep up inexpensive brooms at the grocery or even dollar store.

Use brooms to play hockey as a Halloween party game.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Use brooms to play hockey.

Check out the broom prices in your town before sending out the invites. If they're more than you want to spend on a group of guests, merely add a line to the bottom of the invite that says: "Don't forget your broom! We'll be using them to ride high with some bewitching games."


While kids are gobbling up the witches' grub in the kitchen, you can set up a web of yarn for a challenging, giggly game of Spider's Web in the party room.

For each child, cut a very long piece of yarn -- make sure each piece is about the same length. Wind each piece of yarn around, through, under, and over the furniture and other pieces of yarn in the room.

To play, each child will be placed at the end of a long piece of yarn. The child must follow his or her yarn to its end. Untangling this complicated web takes some inventive movements -- crawling under, jumping over, or winding around and around is usually the seeker's spidery trip.

Witch Hunt

Unleash your guests on a scavenger hunt for all the ingredients young wizards need nowadays.
If you're sending kids out into the neighborhood, team up 3 or 4 with an adult. For guests too young to cross the street, hide these ingredients around the house or in the backyard. Challenge them to find, in an hour (half hour for younger seekers):

Send kids on a witch hunt as a fun Halloween game.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Send kids on a witch hunt.

  • Eye of newt (dried bean)

  • Bat hair (dryer lint)

  • Snake teeth (grains of white rice)

  • Invisible cloak button (clear plastic button)

  • Mouse kidney (kidney bean)

  • Owl feather (colorful craft feather)

  • Dusty corpse (baking soda in small plastic bags)
Reward the winning team with fancy pens or pencils (look for ones topped with a feather or shoots of cellophane) they can use to write down their special spells.

For the grand finale, make a big production of dropping each find in a "cauldron" in front of your audience. Hide a small bowl with 2 cups of vinegar inside the cauldron, and toss in all the dusty corpse collected. (It may be wise to have some baking soda -- dusty corpse -- on hand if you don't get much from the kids.)

The chemical reaction you'll get from the kids will be totally explosive. As for the chemical reaction in the cauldron, it just safely bubbles and froths.

Bewitching Creations: Halloween Crafts

Charmed, I'm Sure

With enough practice, the kids will be casting spells like old pros. Help them along by giving them what they'll need to keep their powers close to their heart: witch charm bracelets and necklaces and wizard amulets.

To create the necessary clay, mix:
3 cups flour
1-1/2 cups salt
1-1/2 cups cornstarch
warm water

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Add warm water by drizzling it slowly from a cup until the mixture becomes moist enough to be kneaded. The dough should be sticky enough that it can be made into small beads by rolling the dough into little balls. The kids can also cut small charm shapes, such as moons, stars, bats, and witch hats.

Pierce the balls and charms with toothpicks so you can string them, and bake them in a 200
°F oven during the party. Because the sizes and shapes will differ, you'll want to check the progress of the jewelry every half hour.

These bat bracelets are easy and fun Halloween crafts.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
These bat bracelets are easy
and fun Halloween crafts.

When the clay is cooked, let it cool. Then let the kids paint their clay pieces with acrylic paint, which dries quickly. When the paint is dry, the kids can string their creations on rattail cord, lanyard cord, ribbon, or fishing line.

Sound too complicated for a busy parent at the helm of a party? Just make the clay, roll an assortment of balls, and cut out some charms before the party. Let the clay dry overnight. Then the kids can paint the pieces, add some glitter, and string their necklaces. If you'd like to give their work an extra shine, spray the painted clay pieces with a coat of glossy acrylic finishing spray.

Bat Crafts

Send kids flying over the moon by helping them create bat-wing bracelets.

To make, cut out 2 or 3 bats from black construction paper per child. Supply the kids with puffy paints, glitter, and glue or glitter pens so they can personalize the wings of their bats. When the bats are completed and dry, stack each kid's bats and turn the stack over. Staple the bats together in the center.

Send kids home with a ghostly goodie bag when throwing a Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Send kids home with a goodie bag.

Place a rubber band over the staple, and staple the rubber band and bats together. Kids can slip the bat bracelet on their wrists and flap, wings. The layers of bats make a fluttering sight the kids won't be able to resist.

Ghastly Gifts: Goodie Bags to Go

Beside their wand and batty bracelets, send each witch or wizard off with a pile of magical party favors.

Give tiny spell books (colorful miniature notepads), fun stickers, candy, a witch figure, and a lollipop ghost. (Cover a round lollipop with a tissue, and tie the tissue below the lollipop.)

If you're feeling charming, compose a few fun friendship, love, or study spells for the kids to cast.

There's another great themed party if your witches and warlocks are excited about spells. Create even more magic with the "Spellbound" Halloween party in the next section.


'Spellbound' Halloween Party

No need to cross your fingers or break your overworked back; superstitions and the supernatural make this magical party just plain super -- for kids and parents alike.
Cauldron Calling: Halloween Invitation

Add one part ease, two parts imagination, and a pinch of glitter, and what do you get? An invite so enchanting that guests will be counting the days until they can fall under the party's magic spell.

To create this bewitching invitation, purchase the number of black square envelopes and a piece of black and a piece of red paper equal to the number of your guests. On cardboard, draw a witch's hat shape that is a bit smaller than the envelope size.

Cut the shape from the cardboard, and use it as a pattern to trace the hat on the red paper. Then trace the pattern on the black paper, but cut about 1/4 inch inside the line. Glue the black hat on top of the red hat.

Using a silver gel pen, write on each invitation hat: "Something's brewing at Dana's House! Fall under Halloween's magic spells on Saturday, October 25, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Edible concoctions, enchanting wizardry, and electrifying fun await! Come attired in your most powerful magic hats, capes, charms, and costumes. Find the magic at 1235 Maple Lane. RSVP at 555-1234 by Sunday."

Create witch hats for enchanting invitations when throwing a Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Create witch hats for enchanting invitations.

Slip each hat into its envelope for an invitation that is a witch's dream.

Magic Castle: Halloween Decorations

Help guests suspend disbelief with a charming scene of Halloween decorations when throwing a Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Help guests suspend disbelief
with a charming scene.

Ensure that guests suspend disbelief at the door by elevating their imaginations with a charming scene that suggests they're stepping into a mystical dream.

Begin their walk into this enchanted kingdom by draping a row of purple streamers over the entryway. On one side -- the party room -- turn on a black light for guests who aren't afraid of the dark. Extend that ethereal feel by hanging stars wrapped in white paper or foil from the ceiling. (Under a black light, white-papered stars glow purple; silver shines in any light.)

Create a book of spells by picking up an old dictionary or encyclopedia from a thrift store and pasting two tea-stained pages to the open pages. Employ your most spidery handwriting to scratch out a spell or two, and leave the book open for the curious.

Pick up some black and silver balloons from the party store the day of the party. Have them filled halfway with helium and the other half with a mix of helium and air. Scatter these throughout the house for a cool levitating effect. Tape stained-glass cellophane onto your windows for a fun castle feel.

In the kitchen, black rules: A black tablecloth and black paper dishware are a nice start to a magical table. Hook eight black chenille stems through the edge of each guest's paper plate to create spider plates. Toss a handful of shiny sequins across the cloth, and in the center, create a crystal ball by stuffing an overturned fishbowl or round vase with silvery ribbon. No bowl or vase? No problem. Cover a sport ball (a basketball or soccer ball works great) with foil, and set it in a small bowl to keep it from rolling.

Whenever spells are in the air, superstitions are, too. Keep kids on their toes by leaning a ladder against a wall (have adults keep watch so kids don't try to climb), and set out a stuffed toy or cardboard black cat so all the kids have to walk past it. Leave a spilled saltshaker on the kitchen table.

Have a few prizes ready for any kids who recognize the superstitious possibilities and avert misfortune! Help out little ones by setting a few spooky signs near the potential misstep, warning of the old wives' tales they're about to encounter. For example, next to a piece of tape laid across the carpet to resemble a crack, hang a sign that says, "Step on a crack, break your mother's back."

Creating Magic: Halloween Crafts

It doesn't take a witch or wizard to provide fun for kids -- all you need is a little glue and some craft supplies.


Take composition books and turn them into books of spells as an easy Halloween craft.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Take composition books and
turn them into books of spells.

What kid doesn't need a special place to sketch out spells, secrets, and dreams? Give each a chance to personalize a book of spells for which any witch or wizard would wish.

Purchase bound composition books (from the dollar store) or spiral notebooks, sequins, flat-backed rhinestones, glitter, craft glue, construction paper, feathers, etc. Let kids unleash their creativity by decorating the covers of their spell books. Offer a few silly love spells or homework spells to start them off:
  • Higglebee, wigglebee, do vo voom, / May the one who loves me walk into the room.

  • Teacher's eye and textbook row, / when I wake tomorrow, everything I'll know.
Worms of Endearment

The worm is as essential to a magic spell as is eye of newt. Save kids a trip to the backyard by giving them all they need to create a magic worm of their own.

Cut sheets of foam in half. Have kids draw a worm shape on a piece of foam and cut it out. They then use the first worm as a pattern to cut out another worm from another piece of foam. Have them lay a chenille stem down the center of the worm and glue the two pieces of foam together. Place all foam scraps in the middle of the craft table.

Worm are important for spells. Let kids make their own in this Halloween craft.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Worm are important for spells. Let kids
make their own with this craft.

While waiting for the pieces to dry, kids can cut designs from the leftover foam pieces and glue them, along with wiggle eyes, to their worms. After one hour, the glue will be set and the worm can be bent into different shapes.

Magical Machinations: Halloween Games and Tricks

Out of the Question

A sour future takes on a whole new meaning with this fortune-telling trick.

Shortly before kids are gathered, use a cotton swab dipped in lemon juice and, on different scraps of paper, write the words, "Believe it," "Never!," or "It is so." Allow each child to ask a yes or no question about his or her future, then have each choose one of the pieces of paper. Have an adult hold the paper close to a "magic" lightbulb (at least 60 watts). The warmth from the bulb will make the answer slowly appear.

Which Witch Is Which?

Smart kids might not believe in superstition, but they won't ever pass up a chance to test their brainpower. Give them a shot at this mind bender.

Arrange kids in a circle around a cauldron. (A large soup pot will do.) Hand the host child a witch hat to wear, and have him or her name one bewitching ingredient to put in the cauldron (eye of newt, tail of pig, slice of pizza -- whatever comes to mind), then the child passes the witch hat to the next person in the circle.

That person must don the witch hat, name the first kid's ingredient, then add his or her own ingredient before passing the hat. The next kid does the same, each kid having to remember all the ingredients named before. If someone can't remember the list, he or she is out. Last person in the game wins.

Quick Tricks

Hiring a magician is always a good move for kids' parties, but if you (or an older brother or sister) are
willing to wear a cape, consider appearing before your guests' eyes as a mystical person of infinite powers.

Master of Deception Tip!
Practice all tricks before the party; sleight of hand only works when it's smooth.

Egg Head

Your wizard can pull of these enchanting and easy magic tricks at your next Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Your wizard can pull of these
enchanting and easy magic tricks.

Challenge kids to balance an egg on its narrow end. (Hint: Use hard-boiled eggs just in case!) They will find the task impossible. With a pinch of salt concealed in your hand, wave your hand over the egg, discreetly dropping some of the salt to the hard surface of the table.

Wave your fingers dramatically over the surface of the table in order to collect the salt into a small pile. With a flourish, balance the egg atop the granules. The salt -- invisible to the audience's eyes -- will support the egg.

Magic Knot

Tie a knot at one end of a handkerchief, and stuff it in your pocket. To start the trick, yank the handkerchief from your pocket, concealing the knot in your closed hand and letting the unknotted length of the hankie hang below. Tell the kids you are going to knot the hankie using only one hand and a magic word of their choosing.

Pull the unknotted end up toward your closed hand and secure it in place by holding your index finger over it. Say the magic word, and with a snapping motion, release the unknotted side by lifting your finger as you snap. Act confused and request another magic word. Tuck the unknotted end in the same position, and this time when you say the magic work and snap your hand, release the knotted end while keeping the unknotted end secure between your fingers.

Soda Magic

You can make a cup float. Pretend to take a drink from a foam cup, and then place your thumb in a hole in the back (which you made before the show). Move your fingers away from the cup so it looks like you're not holding it anymore.

Raise your hand with the cup attached (your audience must be in front of you). Use your other hand to pretend to try to grab the cup. The audience will see a cup floating, wiggling, and acting like it has a mind of its own!

The Sticky Wand

Tell the kids that you can command a wand to do whatever you tell it to. Grasp the wand in your right hand, with your right shoulder to the audience. Place the wand in your left palm, and close your fingers.

Grab your left wrist with your right hand. Turn so your left shoulder is now to the audience. While you turn, move your right index finger up to hold the wand. With the back of your hand facing the audience, command the wand to stay -- and open your left hand. The wand stays put.

Bag o' Tricks: Halloween Goodie Bag

Don't send your guests back into the real world without fantastical and mystical surprises.

Cook up a cool cauldron for goodies. Buy inexpensive black bowls (or paint the bowls black) from the dollar store. You'll also need a black chenille stem and 3 wood knobs for each bowl. Paint the knobs black, and glue them to the bottom of the bowl. Attach a chenille stem to the top as a handle. Fill the bottom of the cauldron with black plastic Halloween "grass" to look like smoke (white fiberfill would also work).

Give kids these cauldron goodie bags at a Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Give kids these cauldron goodie bags.

Here are some ingredients kids will need to brew up their own sweet magic: fancy pens for their spell books, magic trick items, colorful bone-shaped candy, and other Halloween goodies. You could also add gummy worms, eyeball candies, plastic spiders, raisins (label them "shriveled eyes"), wax teeth, and taffy (label it "tongue of monster").

Halloween parties don't have to be scary. In the next section, we'll show you how to throw a grown-up "Historical Halloween" party.


'Historical Halloween' Party

Pay tribute to the traditions of Halloweens past by inviting guests to a timeless celebration of the autumn season. This Halloween party isn't scary and just as enjoyable for adults as it is for kids.
Some backstory about Halloween: When the Romans adopted Halloween as an official holiday, they merged it with their October holiday honoring Pomona, goddess of trees and fruit. Her symbol is the apple. This is said to have inspired the Halloween tradition of bobbing for apples.

One of the best aspects of this Halloween party is that it celebrates the treats of life, instead of focusing on the tricks of the day. It's an excuse for beautiful old-fashioned Halloween decorations, crafts, and games.

Halloween in a Handbasket: Halloween Invitation

It's an old-fashioned gathering, so keep it simple: Baskets and bows -- not ghosts and potions aglow -- are all you'll need to create this effortless invitation.

Craft stores carry rows of darling baskets. Purchase one for each guest and decorate with a fall flower, papier-mache gourd, and raffia. Add an invitation that reads:

"Ye Olde Invite. You're invited to celebrate the season! Please bring this basket to 1234 Maple Lane, and reap the rewards of an autumn harvest on Saturday, October 25, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. We'll eat a feast, kick up our heels, and hark back to the Halloween of yore. Please RSVP to 555-1234 by Sunday."

This invitation basket is a beautiful way to let guests know about your Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
This invitation basket is a
beautiful way to let guests
know about your party.

For a truly authentic feel, drop the invitation baskets at each guest's front door.

Rustic Scene: Halloween Decorations

Step back in time to the days before plastic pumpkins sat in the yard and real ones came pureed in a can. These decorations will take you back to basics and your guests back in time.

There's nothing artificial about displaying the fruit of fall's labor. Gourds, pumpkins, and apples make a beautiful display when stacked around the house. For a down-home look, set them on shelves, next to the front door, then roll in the wheelbarrow or small wagon and stack them inside.

Wood baskets and crates -- you can usually get them for free at your grocery store -- make great fruit and veggie showpieces, too. For that warm harvest gold glow, set out a few electric lanterns or dig out your electric candles from the Christmas decoration stash. Use pretty rust-colored ribbon to tie dried bunches of wheat or Indian corn around the room.

Create a beautiful hearth with fall decorations for this historical Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Create a beautiful hearth
for this Halloween party.

While you're bringing the outside in, why not prop a scarecrow in the party room? Stuff an old shirt and overalls with newspaper, and knot a few bunches of raffia and let them dangle out of the sleeves and pant cuffs. Give a nod to the tale of Ichabod Crane and his Headless Horseman by leaving this scarecrow empty from the neck up.

Or, if your young crowd requires a noggin, tie an old dish towel over a balled up bunch of fabric -- rags or T-shirts will do -- and use a permanent marker to draw a cheerful scarecrow face. If you have enough raffia, tie it around small boxes to create hay bales.

Give the kitchen an old-world feel by draping an autumn-colored tablecloth or runner across the table, then spice up the color scheme with vibrant green, yellow, or orange napkins and dinnerware. Got a rustic salad bowl? Surround it with coffee cups and fill it with hot apple cider.

Make a beautiful centerpiece by trimming twigs so they are equal in length, then hot glue them to the sides of a clean aluminum soup can (with the label removed). When the glue is dry, tie raffia ribbon around it and set some dried flowers inside. Scatter leaf cutouts or dried leaves about the table and even on the floor. Simple paper chains made of orange, brown, and yellow construction paper complete the old-fashioned effect.

Old-Fashioned Fun: Halloween Crafts

Pocket Pals

Buy a bag of doll clothespins at your local craft store. While you're there, pick up yarn (or use up all those yarn scraps) or embroidery floss, craft glue, markers, and felt or cloth scraps. Kids can draw faces on the knob of the clothespin and fashion hair by gluing yarn or floss to the top of the head. They can use markers to draw clothes on their dolls, or they can cut out felt or cloth garments and glue them to the dolls.

These old-fashioned yarn dolls are great Halloween crafts for a historical Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
These old-fashioned yarn dolls
are great Halloween crafts.

Rhythm Section

These wind chimes are an easy Halloween craft.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
These wind chimes are an
easy Halloween craft.

Kids can sway to the whisper of the autumn wind with this easy-to-craft wind chime.
Have kids use a chenille stem to thread a 20-inch piece of floss through the hollow center of a bamboo piece. (An adult may need to drill holes through the middle of the bamboo pieces if they aren't hollow.) Tie some beads on the ends of the floss, and then tie the ends together for a hanger. This is the horizontal bar of the wind chime.

Cut five 12-inch pieces of floss. The kids thread a piece of floss through a bamboo piece. At one end of the floss, the kids string beads, then knot the end to secure. They tie the other end of the floss around the horizontal bar. Repeat for all remaining bamboo pieces. For added beauty, supply fine-tipped markers so the kids can personalize each bamboo piece with designs.

Remember Your History: Halloween Games

Moonlight and Memories

Let the guests test their memories by passing one or more "moons" on an fast-paced orbit. It's one small idea for parents, one giant feat for unforgetful kids.

Arrange the kids in a circle and start with one soft, plastic ball. Although kids go over the moon for an orb that glows in the dark, white or colorful balls are OK, too. In any case, the ball for little kids should be light and easy to handle.

To play, one kid (the starter) calls out the name of someone in the circle (say, Billy) and tosses the ball to Billy. Billy calls out the name of a person who hasn't yet received the ball (say, Sally), then he tosses the ball to Sally. Kids go on like this until everyone has caught the ball once. The last person must toss the ball to the starter, and then the ball must make an identical orbit around the circle again, following the same passing pattern. (To make the game harder for older kids, have them stop calling out the names as they throw the ball.) If someone drops the ball or throws to the wrong person, he or she is out.

Once the kids have the pattern down (usually in about 3 to 4 rounds), toss in a second, different color ball. Kids must keep the same pattern going with the two different balls. This gets a lot harder because things are moving much faster.

Keep going until kids have three balls going at once. If the players are less than seven years old, don't call anybody out; let them all stay in and focus on keeping the pattern going.

Celtic Cards

Keep kids guessing by playing this game, inspired by the Halloween card games of the Irish.
Slip a piece of candy or a small toy under one of three halved walnut shells. Then instruct each player to watch carefully as you slip and slide the halves around the table into new positions. A correct guess wins the guesser the prize underneath the walnut half; an incorrect guess moves the guesser to the back of the line.

Of Hearth for Home: Halloween Goodie Bags

Give guests these old-fashioned goodie bags at a historical Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Give guests these goodie bags.

Before your guests get out the door, make certain they're ready to brave the crisp fall air with a belly-warming gift bag.

Fill the kids' personalized treat bags with candy corn and creme pumpkins. Keep their imaginations ablaze by sending them off with seasonal coloring books and crayons, stickers, and other traditional Halloween fare. You could also include cinnamon sticks, instant apple cider mix, and a wrapped caramel apple.

Goodies Galore

Or, give your guests the goods to design their own goodie bags. This project is sure to be a real treat.

Purchase inexpensive craft supplies such as felt, markers, glue, and chenille stems, along with white or brown paper gift bags with handles. On a table covered with newspaper, let the kids' imaginations and ink run wild as they decorate gift bags to take home. If the kids are young, you may want to cut some basic Halloween shapes from the felt to get them started.

Because of many commercial movies, a pirate party is a guaranteed success.  We'll show you how to make a pirate Halloween party in the next section.


Pirate Halloween Party

Flounder for a party no more. We've uncovered a trove of Halloween fun that'll hook yer little landlubbers on a ghostly galleon party they'll always treasure.
Aye, Thy Excitin' Invite: Halloween Invitations

Who says message-bearing bottles only turn up on the seashore? Sail these spooky invites straight into your guests' mailboxes.
These invitations are meant to look like they've sprung from the depths after decades at sea, so you'll want them to look aged.
Remove the labels from water bottles (1 per guest). Sponge the bottles with green and blue paint to look like algae. Paint the cap also, and tie raffia around the neck of the bottle. Glue a shell on the raffia.

If you can't find aged-looking paper at a craft or stationery store, make your own. Tear the edges of some medium or heavyweight white paper (one piece per guest). When the edges are roughed up to your liking, crumble each piece into a loose ball. Boil four cups of water, and pour into a heatproof bowl over eight tea bags.

When the tea has cooled, squeeze and remove the bags, and dip each crumbled ball of paper in the water until the paper is stained to your liking. 

Create these messages-in-a-bottle for pirate party invitations.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Create these messages-in-a-bottle
for pirate party invitations.

Swirl paper in water to catch any tea leaves that escaped the bags to add extra dark, texturizing stains to the paper. Gently uncrumple each ball.

Roll them up scroll-style, unroll them, then let them air-dry. This will keep the edges slightly curled so the paper is easier to roll later.

When the paper is dry, use a black or brown marker to write: "You're Invited! Brave the gales of Halloween, and set sail for a spooky shipwreck celebration at Jay's house. Don your best pirate costume, and enjoy grub and games galore inside the ghost ship. We set sail Saturday at 3 p.m.; Neptune willing, we'll return at 5 p.m.
X marks the spot: 1234 Maple Lane. RSVP at 555-1234 by Sunday."

When all the invitations are complete, roll each like a scroll and tuck into a bottle. Aye, aye, then it's time to pass them out to the swabbies.

Lost at Sea Scape: Halloween Decorations

Want to plunge guests to the depths of the sea? Go where only sunken ships and sailors dare to tread.

Decorate your party room to look like a pirate's ship.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Decorate your party room
to look like a pirate's ship.

The first step in submerging your party room to the depths of a watery grave: Plug in a black light. It'll cast an eerie underwater glow and highlight colorful but spooky cutouts of octopus, sea creatures, and ghost-shaped seaweed. Use clear fishing line to float a few cutouts or fish from the ceiling, and stick some cutouts behind poster board "portholes" hung low on the party room walls.

Because captain and crew go down with their ship, hang and lay plastic or cardboard skeletons around the room. Decorate a few skeletons with deflated inflatable life rings, pirate eye patches, and scarves. Drip fake pearls and costume jewelry from the skeletons' hands. Hang sea netting (found at party supply stores) on the walls, and hang starfish or a snagged pirate from it. A skull and crossbones flag will add more pirate-y charm.

Pirate bounty Halloween decoration.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Pirate bounty.

Buy inexpensive Mardi Gras and pearl beads and mix them with gold-wrapped chocolate coins. Scatter them across the serving table for pirate booty. A treasure chest is a great centerpiece. Find one at a Halloween or craft store, or create your own by papering a shoe box with brown construction paper; make the "hinge" with silver or black tape. Fill it with old costume jewelry and trinkets, and leave it open. Or, for giggles, "lock" it with a big buckle from an old belt but hide a spooky surprise inside, such as a skull. Curious kids will love the gag.

Lay seashells around the rooms. To complete the ambience, play a nature CD of the sea: lapping oceans waves or storm sounds work well, but haunting whale calls will hook captains craving the creepiest sounds.

When kids arrive at the door, blindfold each and invite them to step into the deep by walking the plank, which is a board set on the floor at the entry to the party. Will they take the plunge?

A Bounty of Fun and Games: Halloween Pirate Games and Stories

Captain Kidd's Folly

Use the treasure map to tell Captain Kidd's story when making a pirate-thtemed Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Use the treasure map to tell
Captain Kidd's story.

Share the following story before handing each guest a secret map, which you can make using the recipe for tea-stained paper invitations. If you're creating identical maps for all the kids, photocopy the map before dipping the paper in the tea, and bury or hide a box filled with at least one treasure per child. If you're willing to draw a new map for each child, do it after the tea-dipped paper has dried, and bury or hide each child's treasure separately.

More than three centuries ago, Captain William Kidd, a famous Spanish privateer, was hired by the King of England to attack and pillage enemy ships. Captain Kidd attacked many a pirate ship, most from France, England's enemy at the time, and he earned a load of loot. But some say his heart was greedy, and word got back to England that he was pirating England's ships, too.

Angered by the pirate's betrayal, the King of England demanded Captain Kidd's head -- and with it, Kidd's ill-gotten stash. But the wily Captain was on the run. After he killed one of his own men, Kidd's crew mutinied. Soon he was alone and adrift in America. After burying his loot up and down the Atlantic coast, Kidd hid himself from the King and certain death in the shadows of Boston. He did a good job hiding his treasures. But Captain Kidd was found, arrested, shipped back to England. Though he protested his innocence, Kidd was hanged.

Nevertheless, Captain Kidd got the last laugh: The King found little of the pirate's loot, and three centuries later, treasure hunters around the world are still searching for it.

Captain Kidd, Hanged Man

This is a great game to play after telling the story of Captain Kidd. It's played like hangman--where kids take turns guessing the letters of a mystery word (the number of letters are marked by spaces on a chalkboard, dry erase board, or piece of paper).

The only difference? Instead of drawing a limb of the hanged man for each incorrect letter, a part of a disassembled cardboard skeleton (find a hinged one at a party store) is added until the skeleton is complete or a child solves the puzzle.

Swim with the tide of the party and use a mix of easy and difficult seafarin' words. Some good ones? Ghost ship, booty, peg leg, Captain Hook, ahoy, sunken treasure, gold coins, maps, drowned, sharks, scuba, mermaid, waterlogged.

Tales From the Deep

A Halloween party is the perfect time to creep out a crowd with ghoulish ghost stories. Lucky for you, there's a heap of haunted tales about ghost ships and shipwrecks. Look for books at your local library, then gather the group, dim the lights, and in your most gravelly, gruesome voice, read them a chapter or short story that'll set their imaginations to sail.

Rescue the Maiden

Since this game involves speed and needs a running start, it's best played outside in the yard, though it can be played indoors in a large living room or basement cleared of furniture and breakables.

Have one child stand across the floor or yard, at least ten feet from the rest of the group. He or she is the guard of the maiden (use a doll or stuffed animal for the maiden). Place an empty box behind the group. On "Go!," members of the group try to retrieve the maiden and run it back to the goal (the box) without being tagged by the guard. If a child is tagged by the guard before reaching the maiden, that child is out.

If a child is tagged by the guard while racing the maiden back to the box, he or she becomes the next guard. If a child rescues the maiden and makes it back to the box, he or she wins a prize.

Ghost out of Water

Place the blindfolded child in the safe zone.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Place the blindfolded child
in the safe zone.

Name a territory a safe zone, such as a section of carpet in the living room, a porch in the front yard, a chalked area in the basement, or someplace else it's suitable to play. Choose one child to be "It," and blindfold and place him or her in the middle of the safe zone. It counts to ten. All players have until ten to move around as quietly as possible and find a spot within the "water," the area surrounding the safe zone.

On ten, players freeze. It has 30 seconds (allow more for younger players) to feel around to find and tag someone, who then becomes It. Frozen players can bend and duck out of the way, but their feet can't leave the spot, unless they can tiptoe into the safe zone. However, if It hears them moving toward the safe zone, It yells "Ghost out of water!"

The player who was caught becomes It. If It doesn't tag or call anyone after 30 seconds, he or she is It for another round.

Use a sock as a pirate's goodie bag when throwing a pirate-themed Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Use a sock as a pirate's goodie bag.

Pirate Boot-y: Halloween Goodie Bag

Decorate kid-size socks with jewels, beads, silver chenille stems, and seashells for a galleon of fun. Fill each with gold-wrapped chocolate coins, jewel ring candy, a skeleton straw, and a seashell necklace.

You could also include a "treasure" map. City or town maps or maps of area parks are usually free at your local chamber of commerce or visitor's center.

Pirates, while fun, are generally seen as bad guys. In the "Good, Bad, Ugly" Halloween Party, your guests can sort out the difference between good and evil. Learn how to create this Halloween Party in the next section.


'Good, Bad, Ugly' Halloween Party

It doesn't matter if autumn blows into your town looking good, bad, or ugly. Your guests will be ready to meet it head on if they don their favorite face -- good, bad, or stomach churning -- for a party that lets them dabble in all three Halloween dimensions.

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

Halloween Invitations: Wheel of...Misfortune?

Who knows which way the wheel of fortune will turn when October winds blow? Your guests will if a gust blows this three-way invite into their mailboxes.

To make, cut a black 51/2-inch card stock circle and a white 6-inch card stock circle per guest. Cut out a triangle, about 1/4 of the pie, from each black circle, leaving at least a 1/2-inch border at the outside edge. (Make a triangle template, and trace it onto each circle. Then cut out the triangles.)

Cut out 6-inch circles from green, red, and black construction paper. Fold circles in half, then in quarters. Cut circles into quarters using folded lines as guides. Glue a green, red, and black circle quarter on each white circle, leaving a quarter white.

Use a brass fastener to secure the center of each black circle to the center of each colored large circle. Slowly turn the small circle until it spins easily. On the smaller disk use a silver pen to write: "This Halloween, will you be one of the good, the bad, or the ugly?"

Create these wheels of misfortune for invitations to your Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Create these wheels of
misfortune for invitations.

In the white window, write: "Feeling good? You're invited to don your cheeriest costume and step into the happiest Halloween dimension." In the black window, write: "A bad moon is rising. Wear your spookiest costume for a walk on the dark side." In the green window, write: "Calling all monsters! Put on your ugliest scare-wear for a horrifically good time." In the red window, write: No matter which side you're on, you're invited! Come to Casey's house, 1234 Maple, on Saturday, October 25. The party is from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. RSVP at 555-1234 by Sunday."

Three-Dimensional Decorating: Halloween Decorations

If you can't decide on one Halloween decorating scheme, shoot for the tri-angle: One part good, one part bad, and one part perfectly horrifying.

This party looks best when you have three areas to decorate. Three rooms work best, but if you don't have the space, divide a large room into three distinct areas.

Divide the room into different areas for good, bad, and ugly when creating Halloween decorations for a Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Divide the room into different
areas for good, bad, and ugly.

For the dark side, turn the lights low or close the curtains to create a nightmare feel. Tack a foil-covered moon to the ceiling or wall, toss some creepy plastic spiders about, and drape black crepe paper and spiderwebs (find them at a party store) over anything that doesn't move.

A tombstone against the wall is wonderful, but go the extra mile and tape a doll's arm at its base so it looks like it's rising from the ground. If this nightmare scene has a room to itself, put some werewolf howls on the CD player (check out a CD of coyote calls from the library).

The ugly room should look a bit like Dr. Frankenstein's lab. Scatter with broken doll parts and plastic jars and bottles of all shapes and sizes. If you have kids coming who appreciate gruesome sights, fill some of the jars with colored water or corn syrup and a few doll limbs.

Hang lightweight, shiny dryer tubing from wall to wall by running string through the tubes and attaching the string to the walls and ceiling. Cut out different facial and body features from magazines, and let the little ones paste the pieces together on poster board. Voila! Instant blueprints for Dr. Frankenstein's hideous monster plans.

Since good moods make for good digestion, make the serving area (or kitchen) the kids' dreamscape. Open the curtains, and let the sun shine in. If it's connected to the party room, hang white streamers on the heavenly side of the door frame and black on the dark side. A light blue or white tablecloth set with white plates and goblets and scattered with silvery star confetti can decorate the table.

Tape clouds and rainbows on the walls and dangle them from the ceiling. Make clouds by cutting out cardboard shapes and gluing cotton batting to the outside. Want your guests to sit on a cloud? Lay cotton batting over each seat. Elevate the ethereal feel by hanging foil-wrapped stars. Complete the heavenly effect by playing some tinkling music, such as harps or flutes. You can find it in the classical music section of your local library.

Halloween Crafts

Heavenly Halos

Angels and devils can make their own headbands at this Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Angels and devils can make
their own headbands.

Angel lovers can make a halo by entwining lightweight silver gift ribbon with a white, pink, or lavender chenille stem. Bend the two into a circle. Parent helpers can use wire cutters to attach the circle to an inexpensive headband by twisting a 4-inch length of 20-gauge wire around the headband and the halo. Kids can also add ribbon streamers for a more angelic look.

Devilishly Fun Headbands

Those who'd rather wear a little devil on their heads than on their shoulders can create devilishly good horns. Coil red chenille stems around the pointed end of a funnel to make the horns. Using a cool-temp glue gun, adults should help the kids attach the horns to an
inexpensive headband.

Monstrous Masks

For the kids who want a face only a mother could love, parents should prepare several milk jug masks before the party. Here's how: Gather one empty, washed gallon milk jug for every two guests. Cut along the side seams of each jug, starting from the mouth of the jug.

Create monster masks out of milk jugs when throwing a Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Create monster masks out of milk jugs.

Shift direction toward the center of the jug (toward the handle) when the scissors are about even with a point roughly one inch below the handle (the end farthest from the jug mouth). Continue cutting across the jug until you reach the seam on the other side, then cut back up along that seam toward the mouth until the jug is in two pieces. The handle piece, with its built-in "nose," will be smaller.

To finish, cut the mouth part of the jug from each piece, making a slightly rounded cut after it is removed to echo the shape of the chin. Trim any rough edges. On the larger piece, the jug bottom is meant to sit atop the child's head and the longer side against the child's face. Cut the shorter side so the opening is large enough to slide comfortably over a child's head.

Using your child as a model, mark dots on each mask for eyes and mouth holes. Remove the mask, and cut out large eye holes -- at least twice the size of your child's eyes. Make evil upturned eyes, as well as wicked grins, crooked smiles, and gaping-gasp mouths. Tape the outside edges of the mask with colored electrical tape to prevent scrapes or cuts.

At the party, provide permanent markers or acrylic paints with which the kids can decorate the masks. Yarn can be glued on for hair. Use a hole punch and elastic string to secure the masks to each child's face.

Halloween Games

Angel Toss

In the Halloween game Angel Toss, kids try to throw the halo onto the peg.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
In Angel Toss, kids try to
throw the halo onto the peg.

Use strong tape to attach a plastic ruler to several kid-size hats (baseball caps and winter headgear work great). Make halos out of silvery chenille stems (you will need three halos for every two children). Half the kids don a stick hat. The other half have three halos each. Each team of two -- a halo tosser and a catcher -- stands ten or more feet apart (depending on age) and has three turns to toss and hook the halos. Hatted kids can run and wiggle or stand perfectly still to hook their partner's halos. Let the teams who hook all three halos compete for the winner's title.

Monster's Moat

Buy 9 x 12-inch squares of felt: You'll need three times the number of squares as there are children. Lay the squares around the party room or yard, creating an obstacle course. Be sure the squares are laid at varying distances, but all need to be within jumping distance of at least one other square. The area surrounding the squares is the hot zone.

Designate a child to be the monster. He or she must try to tag the kids, who are trying to jump from square to square, when they land in the hot zone. If they fall, get tagged, or get bumped from a square by another jumper, they join the monster. One caveat: Players must keep moving at all times. Although a referee helps, kids are usually quite anxious to point each other out. Last kid jumping wins.

Devil's Gate

Carry the good, bad, ugly theme into the Halloween goodie bags.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Carry the good, bad, ugly theme
into the goodie bags.

Play this game outside. Divide the players into two teams, and have each team stand about 50 feet apart, arms linked. The first team starts the game by yelling, "Devil, Devil, get me out of this place!" The second team picks a child from the first team by yelling, for example, "Billy, Billy, it's your turn to run the race!" Billy must then run across the field and try to break the second team's chain. If he breaks through, he can go back to his team. If he doesn't, he must join the other team. The last person to join a chain is the winner.

Sugar, Spice, and Not-So-Nice: Halloween Goodie Bags

Provide colored paper sacks and markers so kids can decorate their own goodie bags as an extra craft or during a lull in the party (such as when some finish eating or crafting earlier than the rest). Before kids leave, fill their bags with good, bad, and ugly fun: some sweet treats, a fluffy pencil, devilishly fun craft supplies, and monstrous Halloween toys.

It's hard to find the right balance between scary and fun for little monsters. In the next section, we'll show you how to throw a few themed Halloween parties for the younger crowd.

Halloween Parties for Younger Kids

What's a parent to do when kids are too young or too cool for monsters? Skirt the standard scary scene and unearth a Halloween party for younger kids that is full of creepy crawlies. The party ideas on this page will help you throw a Halloween party for younger kids.

Crowd Cultivation: Halloween Invitations

Remove the real seeds from each packet, and replace them with the party information seeds. Cut a piece of construction paper the same size as the packet plus 2 inches (one per packet). Fold the 2 inches over to make a flap.

Plant a seed in your guests' heads that this celebration will breed fun in full bloom. How? Sow these invitations with a little drop of creativity. We promise: The kids'll dig 'em.

All you need to create these garden-themed invitations are several sheets of orange and yellow construction paper, a black fine-tip marker, a stapler, and a pumpkin seed packet (1 per guest).

For each seed packet, cut out six seeds from construction paper (about the size of small eggs). On each construction paper seed, write a detail about the party: "You're Invited to Ella's Haunted Garden Party. Harvest begins at 3 p.m. and ends at sundown, Saturday, October 25. Plant yourself at 1234 Maple Lane.
Join us for bushels of food, fun, and games. Come dressed as a mad botanist, a wild flower-child, a wacky wood sprite, or a funny farmer! RSVP at 555-1234 by Sunday."

halloween party
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Use seed packets to invite guests.

Place the seed packet between the fold. Staple the paper to seal, and write each guest's name on a packet top.

Everything's Coming Up... Dead Roses: Halloween Decorations

Go beyond the garden gate to transform the party room into a haunted garden. Twist orange and green streamers in loose loops along the walls and ceiling or use camouflage netting. Use the same colors for tableware. Signs that say "Beware of Man-Eating Plants" and "Please Don't Feed the Wildflowers" won't keep kids off the lawn but will keep them giggling if you stick them in and around your houseplants.

Since man-eating plants are always bloodthirsty, keep watering cans at the ready and drip long, stringy licorice from the spouts into small white cups stenciled with the Red Cross logo.

Decorate the party room like a haunted garden.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Decorate the party room
like a haunted garden.

Spread plants along high shelves and bookcases of the party room, and position a lively looking one as a centerpiece on the kitchen table. Place snack-size sealable plastic bags filled with cinnamon candy (to look like blood drops) at each setting. Attach plastic tubing (find it at a hardware or pet store) from the bags to the plant to look like IVs.

Scatter plastic bugs, spiders, and other garden pests around the table. It's only natural that gourds belong at this garden party, too. Pile a few by the door; you could even carve or paint gaping mouths on them. A fog machine adds chilling special effects.

Cute But Deadly: Halloween Crafts

If you've ever seen the film Little Shop of Horrors, you know that Audrey, the bloodthirsty plant that made the flower shop so horrifying, was hardly a houseplant you'd want to bring home to mom. But with just a few supplies and a little creativity, your kid's guests can make crafts that even a mom will love.

Mini Maneater

Before the party, an adult should use a craft knife to cut a 2-inch hole across each tennis ball for the plant's mouth. Also, cut out different petal shapes from the felt.

At the party, the kids can decorate their man-eating flowers with evil eyes, luscious lips, nefarious noses, perfect petals, and sinister stems.

It's Alive!

These cute seed pots are great for little hands.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
These cute seed pots are great
for little hands.

Before the party, pick up a small bag of potting soil, small clay pots (21/4- or 3-inch pots work well), and inexpensive packets of quick-growing cat grass. (Cat grass seeds can be found at garden or pet stores.)

At the party, give kids acrylic paints and brushes, and invite them to paint a silly or spooky face on their pots. When the paint is dry, have them line their pots with aluminum foil. Then help them scoop soil into their pots and plant the seeds according to the packet directions. The grass will sprout within a week or two, making silly hair for the pot people.

Farm Fresh Games: Halloweeen Games

Heart Like a Wheelbarrow

Divide kids into teams of two, and mark a line at least ten feet away from the starting line. On "Go!," one partner holds the second partner's ankles in the air as the second partner races forward on his or her hands toward the other line. Once they reach it, they switch positions and race back to the starting line. The fastest team wins.

This wheelbarrow game is fun for kids of all sizes.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
This wheelbarrow game is fun
for kids of all sizes.

Hunger-Pain Rain

Cut out large petals and leaves from colored paper, and tape them around a large bowl (don't use glass). Have all the kids stand in a circle around the flower bowl, starting about three or four feet away, depending on the children's age or skill level.

Give each kid a cup full of candy; each cup of candy should be a different color or type. On "Go," all kids toss a piece of candy into the bowl to feed the flower. Kids who miss the bowl are out. Kids who get their candy into the bowl take one step back and toss again. Continue moving the kids back until all but one player is eliminated. The last player standing wins the bowl of candy.


A movie makes a great diversion for kids tuckered out from fast-paced games, and at this funny farm party, you can't go wrong with a showing of Little Shop of Horrors. It offers lots of laughs, lots of songs, and just a smidge of fright. It's a perfect party movie for kids of all ages. Even if there's not enough time for a complete viewing, the fun music and sounds make for great background noise.

Cups of Fun

Nothing says, "I just came from a killer garden party" quite like a slithering cup of goodies.
Decorate clear plastic cups with foam or felt and markers. Glue on snakes for spine-tingling fun! Fill the cups with red hot candies (blood drops), goofy garden pests, and other Halloween treats. Some other fun things to include could be pumpkin seeds, creepy-crawly toys, and pumpkin candies.

Harvest Halloween: Another Party Idea for Younger Kids

Are your guests too young for terror?  Don't kill your plan for a killer party. Breathe life into the Halloween spirit by unearthing the nice and natural side of the Halloween season. Wee beans and preteens will love you for it.

Natural Request: Halloween Invitation

Cultivate a cool party crowd by sending each guest a pumpkin invite.

These pumpkin invitations are actually orange peels.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
These pumpkin invitations
are actually orange peels.

Biodegradable and just plain cute, these pumpkins are actually orange peels. To make them, simply cut off the top quarter of an orange. Scrape the pulp from the "lid." With the top removed, carefully hold the orange in one hand and scrape out its pulpy inside using a spoon. As you would on a pumpkin, use a knife to gently cut out the eyes and mouth of a jack-o'-lantern face. Press some cloves into the inside bottom of the orange to keep it smelling delicious. Let each orange and lid dry out for at least two days.

When they're dry, glue a cinnamon stick and autumn leaves to the lid. Inside each place a rolled invitation: "The time is ripe for Jenny Helm's Harvest Halloween party! Please join the fun at 1234 Maple Lane on Saturday, October 26 from noon to 3:00 p.m. We've got lunch, desserts, crafts, and games that are sure to grow on you... RSVP: 555-1234"

Your child can hand them out as is, or you can get extra fancy by placing them in craft moss and dried leaves or flowers at the bottom of small gift boxes.

Fall Into Decorating: Halloween Decorations

These darts are a fun Halloween game for a non-scary Halloween party.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Decorate the party room
with straw and fall leaves.

Bring the season to your party room by stocking up on raffia. This crumpled paper ribbon resembles hay and can be found at any craft store. Make a scarecrow head by bunching up old newspaper and covering it with raffia. Use hot glue to hold if needed. Leave the head like this, or decorate it with button eyes, a cutout nose and mouth, and a real corncob neck. Top the head with a straw hat. Set the head on top of an outfit stuffed with clothes or newspapers that you've positioned in a chair, and then stuff the arm and pant cuffs with a little raffia. You can also wind a couple layers of raffia around small boxes to create indoor haystacks.

Fall just isn't fall without falling leaves, so string some leaf-shaped accordion streamers (find them at party supply stores) along the walls, windows, and door frames. Don't want to buy any? Make your own streamers by gathering leaves from the yard. Soak curled ones in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to soften, pat dry with paper towels, and then press them in a book for a few days. Tie the stems onto a length of ribbon to make a garland.

For a more permanent garland, lay each leaf between 2 squares of waxed paper, smooth a dishtowel on top, and then press an iron (set on low-heat, no steam) onto the towel. The waxed paper will seal the leaf inside. Cut around each leaf, and string them using a needle and embroidery thread. Then hang the garland around the room.

While you've got the ladder out, hang a yellow poster board harvest moon outlined with gold glitter, as well as some silver stars. Arrange some colorful gourds for the table centerpiece.

Seeds of Creativity: Halloween Crafts

Harvest Fun

Use pumpkin seeds to make this Halloween craft.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Use pumpkin seeds
to make this Halloween craft.

Inside each pot, plant a packet of pumpkin seeds, pumpkin candies, candy corn, halloween pencils, and other small seasonal toys.

Seedy Crafts

Have some pumpkin seeds you didn't manage to eat? Mix them with some dried beans and unpopped corn kernels for a cool art project.

Kids can use tacky craft glue to stick the beans, kernels, and seeds to foam balls. Attach a length of ribbon to each ball with a jeweled pin for hanging. Kids can make jack-o'-lanterns or just a neat design for a cool autumn ornament. For younger kids with less patience, use craft glue and colored cardstock instead of foam balls. For preteens, get some autumn-colored beads and ribbons for sparkly fun.

Homegrown Games: Halloween Games

These darts are a fun Halloween game.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
These darts are a fun Halloween game.

Farm Fresh Darts

Use an orange marker to color small foam balls orange, and then, imitating the pattern of a pumpkin's lines, wrap thin strips of black, adhesive-backed hook-and-loop tape (use the scratchy side) around the ball. Glue or staple a large circle of felt to a piece of cardboard and use a permanent marker to draw point zones that get higher closer to the bull's-eye. Inspire better aim and plenty of giggles by making the bull's-eye a goofy face.

Find the Pumpkin

If the weather allows, let kids test their sleuthing skills.Place mini-pumpkins and imposters (navel oranges) in different hiding spots before the party. Consider high tree branches (no climbing; tell the kids they have to shake the trees), the mailbox, sandbox, underneath overturned buckets, etc. The child with the most pumpkins wins. Oranges don't count.

The key to a fun Halloween is to know your audience. If your guests are younger, you don't want to throw a scary party. Older children will appreciate your attention to detail as you act out their nightmares with these Halloween-theme parties. No matter which Halloween-theme party you choose, have a frightful and fun Halloween.

Publications International, Ltd.


Linda Twardowski is a freelance writer who specializes in the child and teen market. She is the author of Birthday Parties for Kids and Face Facts: How to Bring Out the Beautiful You, as well as several pop culture books. Twardowski is also an instructor at the Institute for Children's Literature.

Contributing craft designers: Phyllis Dunstan, Sherri Osborn, Ed Smith, AIFD, and Alesha Whitney.