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How to Throw a 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.

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

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.