A Halloween Party with kids
September 11, 2019 10:14 PM   Subscribe

I would love to throw a Halloween party and this year we have space to actually comfortably host more than 2 other people. And I realized I have no idea how to host a party with kids. And something tells me my old standby of copious amounts of beer, food, and music might not cut it with the under-5 crowd.

My ideal version would be the adults could chill and enjoy themselves while the kids have fun. I'll note that the Toddler will be 14 months in October and we've done a bunch of child-proofing. The kids will be from 1 - 5 years old. Maybe about 6 kids would be attend.

Have you attended/thrown a party that was fun for all ages? Any tips for a good kid-friendly, but also adult-friendly Halloween party? Any suggestions to entertain toddlers/young kids aside from movies (I have at least one anti-screen family in the list). Any Halloween-appropriate party recipes? Drinks? Activities for all?
posted by later, paladudes to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My family did this all the time. Both adults and kids love novelty themed foods and drinks. Eat The Dead is a cooking blog with all kinds of recipes that will be full of things adults won't have seen before. Not just the bog standard witch fingers, eyeball punch, etc. Kids will like it all.

You'll need some activities to keep the kids busy while adults chat and get their own hijinks in on-the-sly. Some activities, like dunking for apples will be enjoyed by adults and kids. Others maybe not. Plan a scavenger hunt if you have the time/energy to do so. That will keep kids engaged for as long as you can make the thing and it's fun for adults to help out or just watch the kids run around. Make it halloween themed. Costume contest is another good one for both kids and adults. Pumpkin carving is another thing all ages can enjoy. Don't forget about the classic "feel box" activity. That's always fun for the adults to watch.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 10:38 PM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Really young kids can draw on pumpkins with markers instead of carving. Everyone loves dry ice bubbling in punch. Hidden candy. Gross looking snacks are always a hit.
posted by kerf at 10:49 PM on September 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

Cookie decorating for the kids! Make (or buy) some cookies in Halloween shapes (bats, etc) and have icing and sprinkles on hand. It will keep the kids very occupied while the adults imbibe.
posted by sacrifix at 11:23 PM on September 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Blow up a load of balloons, put them in a room without anything breakable in. This should entertain them for at least an hour, in my experience.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:53 AM on September 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yeah, have a bunch of stuff for the kids. Some themed activities are good, but even just a big pile of toys they haven't seen before is going to help. Markers and paper for coloring (outlines of pumpkins so they can draw faces on them!), a big pile of blocks, a bin of cars. You want activities the kids can do without adult input so the adults can mingle on the other side of the room.

Pro tip on any kids party--get 30 balloons, blow them up big, and put them on the floor. I have seen kids spend an entire party just throwing them at each other, playing volleyball, seeing who can hold the most, etc. This works for ages 4 to 10 at this point; I'll let you know in a few months how it works at 11.
posted by gideonfrog at 4:18 AM on September 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

Pro tip on any kids party--get 30 balloons, blow them up big, and put them on the floor. I have seen kids spend an entire party just throwing them at each other, playing volleyball, seeing who can hold the most, etc. This works for ages 4 to 10 at this point; I'll let you know in a few months how it works at 11.

Went to a birthday party last month for a friend's daughter. Can confirm that it still works for a bunch of 13-14 year olds.
posted by jenny76 at 5:26 AM on September 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

With kids that young, just toys do the trick. In my experience, set activities usually involved more effort and less fun on everyone's part. However, something like reading a book to all of them a few times throughout the evening can give everyone a little bit of a break/ reset every once in a while. And if it's after dark, a lantern parade can be super cool for them. They can make lanterns if you want a craft activity available, but pretty much anything with an electric tea light or glow stick can be cool for them.

I was vehemently anti-screen when my kids were little, but when they were older, I got a TV and honestly loved how it kept my friends' kids from being annoying at parties. If you can have it going in a different room from the main event, it could be very much appreciated, and the anti-screen family can keep their kid away from it if they care that much. TV shows on autoplay worked best in my experience because it was easy for them to tune in and out. (Phineas and Ferb was awesome; in your age group, Peep and the Big Wide World or the like might be better.)
posted by metasarah at 5:31 AM on September 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

I would NOT do balloons if you have kids under four coming - swallowing a piece of broken balloon is a choking hazard. Once they are older, go for it.
posted by sestaaak at 5:49 AM on September 12, 2019 [6 favorites]

If you know any trustworthy teens who might be interested in being a party babysitter/kids’ activity coordinator during your party, you can buy yourself (and the other adults) an opportunity to actually have a conversation /finish a drink/relax for a few minutes.
posted by little mouth at 6:04 AM on September 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

We've had Halloween parties with adults and a similar number of kids of that age range, so here's what we did:

Food-wise, themed foods are great but no need to go overboard. Even if it tastes like the same cupcake a kid is used to, if it looks too weird, they will turn their noses up at it. Go for 'spoopy' over elaborate for their food.

Activity-wise, have a bunch of Halloween decorations on hand that they can play with. We had a bunch of 5 year olds build an altar under the kitchen table with a plastic skull and electric tea lights (Their idea! But we had already broken out the ghost hunting equipment to go on a ghost hunt and then paper to make ghost wards to protect the house), your activities may vary by weirdness. Sheets of paper, coloring supplies, and masking tape are great ways to let the kids 'decorate' the house - draw a ghost and we'll put it up on the wall!

If the kids are coming in costume, have the adults draw straws to see who gets to lead the Halloween parade. If you have a neighborhood that does it up, take them around to see the sights. Manage expectations that they are not trick-or-treating, but have a goodie bag of candy ready for them when they get back. If you have an excess of costumes/dress up materials, have them 'prank' the adults by switching clothes and trick or treating the same door again and again.

Viewing-wise, if you can put Curious George's Halloween Boo Fest up on a big screen, you have bought yourself and hour of peace.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:12 AM on September 12, 2019

Please show them Garfield's Halloween Adventure. It's on youtube, prime, and dvd. I showed this at a library Halloween party a few years back, and the kids had never heard of it and loved it. Some watched it twice!
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:45 AM on September 12, 2019

Second little mouth. We always had a neighbor girl to help with the kids at our parties when they were small.
posted by gryphonlover at 7:30 AM on September 12, 2019

It can be done! My friends throw a Halloween pumpkin carving party every year since my kids were wee (and before they had kids). Since it's pumpkin carving, it's done in two sets: first set of kids (smaller pumpkins, stickers and markers to decorate); second set is adults (usually one parent carves) and then kids play in all the pumpkin guts. They serve beer, cider, mulled wine on the bar counter, and then soup and bread for everyone. Guests bring desserts.

The party has been happening for over 15 years and we've had a few snafus, but it's been fun for both adults and kids!
posted by alathia at 1:33 PM on September 12, 2019

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