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Secrets to the Perfect Halloween Party

As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, my husband and I throw a Halloween party for our sons each year as one of our Garcia-Conrod family traditions. With each passing season, the party becomes bigger and louder as our boys grow and our circles expand. Since our boys are still young, the festivities are more silly and fun than scary. Usually I pick a theme and let that guide my party planning. For younger kids it can be all about jack-o'-lanterns, spiders and skeletons. For slightly older kids you can make it about witches, ghosts and haunted houses. Whatever theme you choose, and no matter whether you're throwing a party for toddlers or teenagers, all parties really come down to a few basic elements: décor, music, games and food.

Décor

I like to decorate in a fun haunted house theme by dimming the lights and using fake cobwebs, plastic spiders, glow-in-the-dark fangs and homemade ghosts. I convert my powder room into a spooky playhouse with ghosts in the mirrors, electric candles and eerie music. To add to the fun/fright factor, I have a friend dress up as Frankenstein and surprise the kids in the middle of the party. If your kids are not ready for Frankenstein, you also can ask a friend to dress up as a fortune teller and read the kids their fortunes over a crystal ball.

Another quick and easy decorating idea is to create a template of black and orange (the tablecloths, napkins, plates, balloons, etc.). Then you can throw in special touches according to your children’s likes or your chosen theme, like flying bats or black cats or witches' hats.

Whenever I am looking for new ideas and finishing touches, I always turn to Martha Stewart and Pinterest. Those two sources will never fail you!

Music

There are several playlists and albums on iTunes labeled “Kids Halloween Party Mixes,” such as this one. Personally, I prefer to play classic Halloween music so my sons can attach nostalgia to these songs and look forward to hearing them year after year. Plus, the adults won’t be pulling their hair out when they hear "Monster Mash" sung by anybody other than Bobby Pickett. Some of my favorites include:

  • "Monster Mash" by Bobby Boris Pickett
  • "Thriller" by Michael Jackson
  • "I Put a Spell on You" by Screaming Jay Hawkins
  • "Purple People Eater" by Sheb Wooley
  • "Ghost Busters" by Ray Parker Jr.
  • "People Are Strange" by The Doors
  • "Addams Family Theme"
  • "Munsters Theme"

If you don’t have time to make a playlist, or if it simply isn’t long enough, Pandora has a station completely dedicated to Halloween party music.

NEXT: GAMES & ACTIVITIES

GAMES & ACTIVITIES

Bobbing for Apples:

The most classic, most fun Halloween party activity of all. It’s really not a Halloween party without it.

Pin the Bowtie on the Skeleton

This is a fun variation on the classic Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Depending on your theme (and your drawing skills) you can switch it up to Pin the Spider on the Spiderweb, the Pin the Nose on the Jack-o'-Lantern, etc.

Pumpkin Decorating

See last week’s blog for tips on pumpkin painting, which is always a fun and popular party activity. For a more sparkly version of that craft, show your guests how to create magical glittered pumpkins.

SNACKS & POTIONS

There is no end to the wild, wacky Halloween recipes out there. You can find recipes for vomiting pumpkins and severed hands. It all looks very cool, but most often kids will turn their noses up at foods if they don’t recognize them. I like to get creative, but still keep the foods identifiable. Click here for fun ideas for spooky (and delicious) Halloween snacks.

What are some of your favorite party ideas? I am always looking for more!

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