The partiers (minus a few who had gone home for naps)
What do you get when you combine Halloween costumes, spooky treats, crazy games, and 20 preschoolers? Chaos! A whole lotta fun! (And one pretty exhausted mama.) This morning was our play group’s annual Halloween party. For the last four years, I’ve been a member of the East Valley Catholic Stay-at-Home Moms’ Group (yeah, we have a long name) and had attended this annual event at my friend Marsha’s a couple of years ago. Her effort and creativity are the envy of everyone in the group…and oh yeah, she’s also an environmental scientist. Did I mention she’s awesome? Last year she made 40 Halloween gingerbread houses for the kids to decorate. Dedication, I tell you! So this year, since she moved into a new house only weeks ago, I volunteered to host the party at my place–with a lot of help from Marsha, thankfully! I have to say I think the event was a success. (And get ready–this is a long post.)
Once the dozen or so moms and their little ones gathered at our place at 10, we started out with a craft. For preschoolers, I’m a believer that simpler is better. This craft was decorating an orange paper plate with stickers to make it look like a jack-o-lantern.
Or at least an approximation of a jack-o-lantern…
Next, we headed to the backyard for some games. The lineup was:
1. Pumpkin Penny Toss
This is basically skee-ball on a much smaller (preschool) scale. Have the kids stand behind a line and do their best to toss pennies into the different point level spaces. Super easy!
2. Pin the Nose on the Pumpkin
It’s not rocket science, but it sure is fun! This game was store-bought, but you could easily DIY with some tagboard, markers, and double-stick tape.
3. Tootsie Ghost Hunt
The Halloween version of an Easter egg hunt! Kids searched for Kleenex-wrapped Tootsie pop ghosts hidden throughout the yard. The good thing about this kind of hunt is that even if you find the missing Tootsie pops 6 months later, they won’t be rotting in a pile of stinky goo like eggs.
4. Mummy Surprise
What, you may ask, is mummy surprise? Good surprise or bad surprise? For this activity, I wrapped prizes (small Halloween foam stamps) in strips of an old white sheet, trying to make the wrapping as convoluted as possible. Kids had to unravel the strips to reveal their prize.
5. Donut Dare
This was, without a doubt, my favorite part of the party. I played this game at camp in junior high and have wanted to play it again ever since. Tie a donut on a string, then hang it from the ceiling with a thumbtack. The idea is for the kids to eat it without using their hands–it’s harder than it sounds and hilarious to watch!
After the games were done, everyone headed inside for a lunch of creepy Halloween-themed treats. (I said the donut game was my favorite part…but this might actually be my favorite part.) Dividing the work with Marsha made for a much lighter workload when it came to feeding 20-25 people a themed lunch. So let’s get down to the real business: the food!
Pumpkin-Shaped Cheese Ball with Crackers and Veggies (recipe here)
Spider Deviled Eggs (recipe here)
Pumpkin-Sage Flatbread (recipe here)
(No pics of any of these–sorry! I guess I was busy supervising children eating donuts on strings.)
These were adorable…yet tragic. I had pre-made these and frozen them. In getting ready for the party, I unwittingly set them out too early and they got bent and slimy and basically inedible–more like banana worms than banana ghosts. Lesson learned: either eat these fresh or, if you freeze them, eat shortly after taking them out of the freezer.
To make these, slice a banana in half and insert a popsicle stick. Press two chocolate chips in the top for eyes. For presentation, I wrapped blocks of flower foam with patterned scrapbook paper and stuck the boo-nanas into them.
Eyeball Grape Salad
Cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla, grapes–that’s all it takes to make Eyeball Grape Salad. (Adapted from allrecipes.com)
Ham and Cheese Pumpkin Pockets
I got several recipe requests for these, so I’ve posted the recipe here. They were a hit!
Pumpkin Chocolate Cupcakes (pictured on the left)
I baked this delicious recipe in a pumpkin-shaped cake tin. Yeah, it was apple in the shape of a pumpkin. You got a problem with that?
Witch Hat Cookies
Super cute and super easy: take an upside-down Keebler chocolate shortbread cookie, frost with a little bit of peanut butter or orange frosting, top with a Hershey’s kiss.
Chocolate Pretzel Fingers
For this one, you need a mold to get the bony finger effect (pictured above on the right). Experience has taught me that any time you use a mold, SPRAY the dickens out of it with cooking spray before filling. I used chocolate with a little vegetable oil to fill the mold, then added a pretzel rod and coated with the chocolate mixture.
Whew! You still with me? Hopefully this crazy-long post provides some inspiration if you’re looking for Halloween treats and activities. Our little party was some good, wholesome fun for some adventurous preschoolers. And if you ask me, that’s way more enjoyable than the give-you-nightmares-for-a-week variety of Halloween. I’m for it. 🙂