1. Parenting

A Family-Friendly Halloween Party

Throw a Halloween Party for Adults and Kids

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Halloween is the perfect time to throw a party that includes adults, teens, and kids. For your next Halloween bash, include the kids and start a great tradition for your family and friends.

Instead of trick or treating, your neighborhood might get together for a Halloween block party. Or, if lots of your friends have children, bring them all together at your house for this family-friendly party.

The key to this party is that everyone contributes. The host and hostess provide the decorations and Halloween atmosphere. Other families bring a dish, a pumpkin for each child in their family, a gift or prize, and of course, Halloween treats for the kids.

Get four or five couples together to plan the party invitations, activities and food, and to decide on the guest list. When you send the invitations, tell each family what they should bring to the party.

If your friends are like mine, you can trust that they'll bring creative and delicious food. A mix of heavy appetizers and sweets will suffice for the night. If your crowd likes cocktails, then by all means, serve them to the adults. To be safe, mention on the invitation that cocktails will be served and that everyone should bring their designated driver. If you think it might be inappropriate for some families, then keep the alcohol to a minimum or go alcohol-free for the evening.

Activities for Your Halloween Party

Best Halloween Costume Contest
Need: Plastic pumpkin bucket for the ballot box; prepared secret ballots; pens or pencils; prizes for each costume category

Prepare the ballots with categories such as Best Adult, Best Child, Scariest, Funniest, and Most Creative Costume. Set up the ballot bucket on a table and let partygoers make their picks through the evening. To avoid ballot stuffing, have each person sign their ballot. Later in the evening, bring everyone together to announce the winners and award the prizes.

Halloween Pumpkin Decorating
Need: Acrylic paints, brushes, paint pens, other art supplies for decorating pumpkins

Prepare the pumpkin decorating table in an area that is safe for painting and messes. The garage might be the ideal place for kids to bring their pumpkin to paint and decorate to their heart's content. You'll need a group of teens to supervise the painting area, so recruit some before the party.

Halloween Party Trick or Treat
Need: Treat bags, lots of candy and treats from each family

For a Halloween party treat bag, I like to use plain gift sacks that come in Halloween colors. Get good-sized sacks with handles that can stand up on their own. Let kids decorate their sacks at the Pumpkin Decorating table. Make sure each child's sack has his or her name on it. As families arrive with their treats, fill sacks for the adults to hold to give a treat whenever a child approaches them during the evening and says "Trick or Treat".

Cupcake Walk
Need: Cupcakes; music, numbers taped in a circle on the floor; matching numbers in a box for drawing

A cakewalk is always the favorite activity at school and church carnivals. Bring the cakewalk down to size with a cupcake walk at your party. It's just as much fun and a bit more manageable at home. Each player starts on a number and walks around the circle while the music plays. The game leader stops the music and everyone finds a number. Draw a number from the hat and the player on that number wins the cupcake for that round.

Halloween Bone Hunt
Need: Bags of small plastic bones; prizes

Get enough bones for each child at the party to find several. Mark some of the bones as prize bones. Before the party, scatter the bones throughout the party area. When the kids start to show signs of boredom, announce the Halloween Bone Hunt. On the Start signal, kids run around finding bones and putting them in their treat bag (Easter egg hunt style). Award a prize to whoever finds the most bones and smaller prizes to everyone who finds a prize bone. Hint: If you don't have enough prizes, a dollar for each prize bone will thrill the winners.

Halloween Movie Time
Need: age-appropriate DVD with a Halloween theme

If you have children of different ages, set up a movie room for the little ones nearby and one for the older kids in their own space. Settle the kids down with movie time so the adults and teens can party a little bit longer without having to entertain kids.

What about teenagers at the party? Teenagers will find many of these activities too juvenile. Ask them to help supervise some of the kids' activities early; and then, let them load up plenty of food and head off to their own space where you've provided seating, music, movies, a place to dance, or whatever they enjoy. If they have a place where they can get away from the little kids and adults if they choose, they'll be happy. Be sure to give them a special gift or money for helping at the party.

Find more ideas for Halloween party food, invitations, and games around the web.

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