Parties & Entertaining

Fun & easy Halloween party ideas for kids

By Nancy Livingstone
Info Guru,

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Good Halloween party games aren't necessarily expensive or a lot of work; just use your imagination.
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When you have time to prepare

When you think of kids and Halloween fêtes, bobbing for apples and haunted hayrides usually come to mind, right? But the thought of a communal, shared tub of non-chlorinated water between several runny-nosed toddlers makes many a parent shudder, and not everyone has a farm and a tractor wagon. Fear not! There are plenty of safe, relatively simple Halloween party ideas for kids to keep your little terrors entertained for many a ghoulish hour.

Games that take some extra preparation

Gourd Fishing, aka the Alternative to Apple Bobbing. You fish with a child-safe rod with a plastic hook on the end, and you use gourds instead of apples.

Gourds—at least the ones smaller than your shoe—should float if you don't puncture them, and if you have any dried out ones that don't have holes in them, so much the better. Test the gourds in your kitchen sink first. Really! Gourds are great. I would try to integrate them into as many Halloween party games as I could in a few pages, but alas, many people have yet to discover the Magic That Is The Gourd. Perhaps another time...

You can decorate the gourds with waterproof paint (gourds look so cute with little monster faces painted on them!) and attach those disposable plastic coat hooks onto the sides of the gourds that float face up in water. Various other devices like string, rubber bands or knobbed wooden hooks will work, but hooks with the super sticky pads have larger, flat bases that parents can superglue to the gourds beforehand.

Using a kiddy pool or a plastic tub, you can dye the water dark green with food coloring and decorate the gourds to fit a theme, such as bog creatures or toadstools. Write a number on the facedown side of each gourd, and make the numbers correspond with prizes. Voilà! Bobbing without the germs and with less mess. Well, it's not exactly bobbing, per se, but the principle is the same. Fetching moving objects out of a tub of water requires a certain skill, you know.

Pin the Wart on the Witch's Nose, aka Pin the Tail on the Black Cat, aka Pin the Spider on the Web

Fairly self-explanatory. Personally, I think the spider web is the coolest scene. Who wants to wart-ify an old hag's nose? Kids don't spread acne like the Plague! That went out of vogue in 1702! Is that really a lesson you want to teach your toddler? Right, then. Spider's web it is.

Draw, paint or otherwise color a background onto a corkboard or the like. Poster board works very well for this, and you can even buy it in Halloween party colors like orange or black. If you're on a tight budget, double up some flattened cardboard boxes. It's better if you draw the web and the kids draw the spiders. Alternatively, you could use colored paper cut-outs of the same spider shape over and over and let the participants add on googly eyes and macaroni. Macaroni shells, like gourds, are good for almost anything.

Make balls of Scotch tape and attach them to the backs of the spiders, and blindfold each child on his or her turn. If you have an adjustable eyeshade cover, use that as opposed to a handkerchief—it's contoured to your face for a reason. I played this game when I was five or six, and the mother or the hostess didn't use an opaque enough blindfold. I could have won without cheating, but a bird in the hand, as they say...


Quick Halloween party ideas for kids with little to no preparation

Pumpkin Bowling

Bowling with Pumpkins is just what it sounds like: find an appropriately sized pumpkin (or five) that the kids can roll like a ball. Gather up ten empty, plastic half-gallon or quarter-gallon containers and fill them with enough water to require a rolling force to knock them down. You'll have to test the "pins" before the children do to make sure you've properly weighted them and sealed their lids shut. Another no-brainer: this game should be played outside. "Brains! Neeeeeeeed brrraaaaaaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnns!"

Duck, Duck, Ghoul!

Yes, it's just what it sounds like, but kids think it's that much cooler when you don a costume and rename it.

Ghost in the Graveyard

Play this game at night during good weather, in costumes, within set parameters in a safe neighborhood, park or enclosure, and with lots and lots of people. This game is simple and much more fun for older kids. One person begins as the Grim Reaper. He or she is "it" and must hide while the crowd counts to 50 at home base, or 100, depending on the size limits of the environment.

Whoever finds the Grim Reaper shouts "ghost in the graveyard!" as loud as they can, and everyone who isn't the Grim Reaper makes a mad dash for home base. Touching home base is safe; the Grim Reaper touching you is out. At the end of each round, the "victims" are tallied and added to the "it" roster of Zombies, which means they hide as well on the next round, and people should treat them as they do the Grim Reaper. Thus, the number of innocents dwindles until the last person standing wins.

BUT—after the Grim Reaper has created four Zombies, the entire group of the undead vote for one person to be the new Grim Reaper. Parents can designate one if the decision becomes heated or confusing. Ideally, the Grim Reaper elected should be the fastest runner. In the next round and every round following that one in the game, anyone the Grim Reaper touches is out for good until there's a winner and everyone starts over. Zombies are now the ones who turn others into Zombies.

As you can guess, there are a million, trillion, gazillion ways you can improvise on fun, standard fare activities and turn them into scary Halloween party games for kids to enjoy. The fun isn't just in the execution (pun intended), so use your inner dark side and turn games into creepy, crawly fun with these Halloween party ideas for kids - and adults too!

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