It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Nope, not Christmas - Halloween! I have loved Halloween since I was a wee. Maybe it was the fact that you could go door to door and people would give you candy. I mean, that was good but for me, but it was the excitement of deciding who I wanted to be for Halloween and how I was going to make the costume with my mom (and winterize it for Canadian weather, of course). It is my absolute favorite time of the year because it is a time when kids of all ages can be anyone they like. It’s just so fun!
Now I do theme parties for a living and for me, Halloween is the greatest theme of all! There are so many ways you can go with it - from fun and playful to cartoony to autumn-focused to gross and disgusting to scary - and there are all sorts of levels of scary, too! This is where I recommend you start as a family. Decide what type of Halloween you want to celebrate: whimsical or terrifying! No matter what you choose, there are so many creative ideas with food, drink, and décor to wrap your theme up tight like a mummy!
A great family activity to start off your Halloween fun is to decorate the house together. Start with your front door because that is where all the action is going to take place on Halloween night. If you’re thinking scary is the way you’re going to go, get yourself a ball of black yarn and spin a web, perfect for a giant black spider you can make out of either a big bowl or a beach ball covered in black electrical or duct tape. For the spider’s legs, use wire and fake black fur, pop on two giant googly eyes and voila! A terrifying giant spider. A super easy craft that can be made together as a family.
For something a little less scary, grab a couple of apple baskets. Fill one with apples and create a sign that reads ‘Poison Apples for Sale’ and in the other basket, put a pair of witch’s legs. Stuff a pair of striped tights with fabric wrapped around a wooden dowel for each leg, pop on a pair of old boots and prop them into the basket with more apples to hold them in place. It will look like the witch fell into her apple basket. The best part about both these front door décor ideas is that most of the items are reusable afterward.
If hosting a dinner for extended family or friends, create boo-tiful chair covers with white sheets and pin felt eyes and mouths to them for scary ghosts for your guests to sit on. If dining just as a family, the kids will love these fun new dinner guests. Plus, cleanup will be a breeze; throw the sheets in the laundry - likely with a little bleach - and you are good to go. Let’s talk food! There are so many options I could go on forever! Here are some of my favorites, and I have tried to hit a variety of themes so there should be something for everyone.
For those who want to be grossed out, use chocolate chips for the spiders and place them all over chocolate chip cookies. Then use a little piped chocolate for the spiders’ legs. Buy squid ink pasta and add sun-dried tomatoes for a little witch’s hair with bloody scabs. Create eyeballs out of lychee fruit and pop in blueberries for pupils and cover in a raspberry sauce for a frightfully disgusting dessert. Stuff cherry tomatoes with pesto or cottage cheese for pimples in varying stages of infection (these will definitely get an ‘eeew!’ or two).
Lightening things up a little, we go to the fun, whimsical part of Halloween with candy corn jello shots, just by layering orange, lemon, and white jello into a shot glass. And finger foods are the best way to go for Halloween because you don’t need any cutlery and if it’s a bigger party, you save on single-use plastics. If it’s finger food you need, why not make fingers! Whether they are skillfully carved hot dogs with onions as nails or sculpted cookie dough with almonds as nails, these fun foods will grab your guests’ attention! My favorite thing to do for all parties is to have an interactive component. We’ve seen the sundae bars and the make-your-own baked potato bars, but how about a caramel apple nachos bar! Use sliced green and red apples as your ‘chips’ and then offer a variety of toppings to your guests like caramel and/or chocolate for the cheese. Offer cranberries, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, or anything you want as the toppings; a guaranteed kid-pleaser.
To scare it up a bit, make a witch’s potion station (also another great interactive activity). Add a little dry ice to decorative containers (not for consumption) filled with colored liquids. Take a variety of pops or juices and put them in interesting glass containers, like beakers or carafes, and let the kids mix up a magical potion.
A creepy way to create a charcuterie, or I should say, char-boo-terie board is to take all of your favorite deli meats and sausages and build your own skeleton. Use olives for the eyes, chutney or a cheese ball for the brains, and your char-boo-terie board should get more ‘likes’ than Lady Gaga’s meat dress.
Round out your night with some fun games and activities with old-school favorites like bobbing for apples, carving Jack-o’-lanterns, or making ghost poo out of marshmallows that you squish and mash together until it looks like the Pile of Poo emoji, only white. Create your own games like pin the wart on the witch or Halloween Pictionary with all Halloween-related items. If you are celebrating on Halloween night, create a game with all of the trick-or-treaters that come to your door, like choose a secret word and see who can get the trick- or-treaters to say it first or how about a memory game? Two people go to the door to hand out candy and they must remember how many kids were at the door and what costumes they were wearing.
The options are endless when it comes to Halloween, which is why I love it so much. Get creative, think like your kids, and have fun together (if you get stuck, you know where to find me)! Happy Halloween!
Tanya is the Head Curator at Menagerie Parties & Cakes, handcrafting boutique party experiences through custom décor, engaging activities, and show-stopping sweets for people living full, productive lives wanting to celebrate life to its fullest. It’s a Party in a Box! For more information, visit menagerieyyc.ca and follow her on Facebook and Instagram @menagerieyyc.
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