Host the best kid’s Halloween party ever with these lucky (or unlucky) 13 games
Planning a Halloween party for kids but don’t know where to start? Don’t despair. Here are interesting and unique party games that will please trick-or-treaters of all ages. Pamela Layton McMurtry, the author of “A Harvest and Halloween Handbook,” and Jessica Fauster, a party-throwing mom whose annual Halloween fêtes are the toast of the town, share their best bets for creative Halloween fun. (Need an extra set of hands to help out during the party and run games? Hire a babysitter for a few hours.)
The Fishing Game
Any good party begins with a theme. “It’s easier to coordinate games when there is a theme in place, such as ‘Halloween in the Enchanted Forest,’“ McMurtry says.
A game she recommends, which can be tied to any theme, is the Fishing Game. Set up an area with a short curtain or barrier to hide a helper sitting behind it, and have assorted small toys and cute objects that match your theme on hand as prizes. Give each child a fishing rod made of a bamboo pole with a string and a clothespin. Have the children cast their lines and the hidden helper attach a prize for each child to reel in.
Halloween Treasure Hunt
One of McMurtry’s go-to activities for children’s Halloween parties is a treasure hunt. Buy a thrift store dollhouse, decorate it in Halloween colors and call it a “Fairy House.” Then hide it in the yard or other party location and fill it with bags of treats. Decorate the area with Halloween items like jack-o’-lanterns, fake spiders, owls, fairies, elves and wreaths hanging on trees, and make up clues to direct the children from place to place as they solve riddles.
Gather the kids and explain that the fairies have hidden a treasure in the house -- and hidden the house, too! Have them find the first clue and start the hunt; the final destination is the dollhouse and the treats.
Instead of an Easter egg hunt, throw an eyeball hunt! Purchase bags of plastic eyeballs from a party store and hide them in a room or your backyard. The child who finds the most wins a prize.
Set up a target area, decorated like a haunted forest, magical ocean or spooky graveyard. Place targets that match the scene in place, and use beanbags to knock off the targets.
Pin the Tail on the Goblin
“Some of the most old-fashioned games are still very popular, especially with kids who are unfamiliar with them,” says Fauster. One of her favorites is this take on the retro Pin the Tail on the Donkey game.
“Have small children draw a life-sized Goblin creature, like the ones featured in the Maurice Sendak classic ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ which an adult can attach to the wall. Blindfold and spin each child in turn, who will attempt to pin the Goblin’s tail to its gruesomely goofy body.”
Ask each party goer to bring a hat as part of their costume (tell them the hat will temporarily be shared with other kids at the party). Set up an indoor or outdoor area for musical chairs and have the children place a hat on each chair. As the music stops and children find their seats, they continually change hats, winding up with silly variations of their costumes.
Supply each arriving parent or nanny with a ghost-like sheet that will cover their entire body and the back of their heads, with a hole cut out for their faces. Have children make ornate, adult-sized masks at the beginning of the party. They can be in the likeness of the animal or creature that most reminds them of the adult they’re with (monsters, zoo animals, etc.) Set out a wide variety of supplies, like feathers, felt, glitter, child-safe scissors and at least one hole punch with string, to fasten the masks on with. Let the adults put on a mask they pull out of a grab bag in another room. Then children have to identify their grown-up.
Choose spooky books or Halloween-themed movies and sayings for a scary round of charades. Give the winner of each round a small treat bag.
Slimy Monster Snack Attack
Make homemade slime by combining green mint or apple jelly with water. Watered-down lime Jell-O also makes a great, slimy substitute. Once the consistency of your slime is sufficiently gross, throw in orange slices, gummy worms, raisins, candy corn or other unwrapped yummies. (You can also include plastic bugs like spiders and other crawly, icky things.) Have the children close their eyes and reach in to grab what the slime monster left behind and guess what it is. Chowing down on the found goodies is optional, but make sure there are no chokable pieces floating in the slime if small children are playing.
Magic Number Guessing Game
Decorate and fill a jar with plastic eyeballs, candy corn or other fun objects. Have the children guess how many objects are in the jar. The child who comes closest to guessing the magic number wins the jar and its contents.
Look Ma, No Hands!
Everyone has had their share of soaking-wet hair from bobbing for apples. A number of other, hands-free games can be just as much fun, but less soggy. Try a round of Pass the Apple, having the children run a relay race with an apple tucked under their chins. Hang apples or doughnuts from strings and see which child can finish first. Enjoy the slightly messier (and sweeter) no-hands, apple pie eating contest -- Dads love competing in this one, too!
Telephone Tag, Halloween Style
Have the children sit in a circle and start this improv game by whispering a nonsensically-spooky saying into the first child’s ear, such as, “Frankenstein eats bugs for breakfast, but I prefer brains.” Have each child whisper the saying into the next child’s ear until the circle is complete, with the last child in the circle sharing the saying aloud. Typically, the end result is scarily different! Start again with a different phrase, going around the circle in the opposite direction.
Treat or Dare
Have the children write down a treat (get a candy) or a dare (howl like a werewolf) on a piece of paper shaped like a witch’s hat, pumpkin or other Halloween symbol. Place all of the papers into a caldron or large witch’s hat. Have each child pick a paper and either get a treat or act out a dare.
Halloween is a joyful time for kids and the people who love them. Cavities aside, a little imagination, planning and unique games like the lucky (or unlucky) 13 activities listed here, can turn the average, ghostly get-together into the most fun fright-fest of the year.
Corey Whelan is a Contributor for Care.com, the largest online care destination in the world.
Published: October 2013