How to Throw a Halloween Party - Tips From a Self Appointed Pro
I'm pretty sure in my other life I was a party planner. I love to throw parties, and themed ones for kids are my favorite. Every year I throw a pint-sized Halloween party. This annual tradition started when my daughter was about 9 months and this October will be our 5 year party anniversary. After throwing my own parties, not to mention attending a bazillion, I have learned a thing or two.
1) Goodie bags - take everyone into consideration.
A good hostess considers all the angles. Each guest is a delicate little snowflake. A good take home gift for a 5 year old might not work out so well in the hands of a 2 year old. When my daughter was younger I hated leaving a party for someone turning 1 finding a goodie bag full of choking hazards I had to take away from her. I try to make at least two batches of goodie bags - one for older kids and another for the younger set. Label your goodie bags so that you remember who gets what bag.
Speaking of goodie bags I like to keep them out of reach during the party. Kids know parties mean goodie bags and they want those suckers the minute they walk in the door. This means that their toys will be spread all over your house and then they will be sad when they leave and there is nothing to hand them. Last year after the party was started I placed the goodie bags on my front porch and let people grab them as they left. I gave out bookmark kits and Halloween books. Note there were board books for the wee ones and early readers for the Kindergarteners.
Always make extra goodie bags. I remember one of the first years I had my Halloween party I checked my Evite not once, but twice to count the number of RSVPs. When it comes to a party don't believe what you read. There will always be those guests that RSVP yes and never show, but on occasion there is that straggler that never bothered to RSVP at all and then shows up on your door step. Try looking that kid in the eye and explaining why you don't have a goodie bag for them. It sucks. There were tears involved. Make extra goodie bags, trust me on this one.
2) A Picture is worth a thousand words.
The best money I spend every year is on a photographer. If you are the hostess, you are never going to find the time to fill the snack bowls, wrangle your kids, enjoy yourself and take stellar photographs to document your event. Hiring a photographer is cheaper than you might think and worth every penny. Most of these beautiful pictures were taken by Jennifer M. Ramos. I am having tons of fun sharing them this year.
Have a photo-op area established at your party. I always say it didn't really happen if we can't document it on Instagram. Hell I might even create my own party hashtag this year for people to use when taking pictures at the party. Last year we used my husband's 1963 truck filled with hay and pumpkins as our party picture backdrop. Sure the photographer and guests took oodles of candid shots, but it is fun to have an established photo op area. BlogHer has tons of different backdrop suggestions.
You paid good money for those photos, now use them. I always have my Halloween photos playing as a slideshow on our flat screen TV during the party. On top of this I have a yearly collage poster printed, framed and hung. It is so cute to look back at the kids that have been coming yearly to the Halloween party and see how much they have grown. Also, remember the items on your walls and shelves are not attached with super glue. Don't be afraid to rearrange and rotate collections. I have a soft spot for seasonal picture frames and come Halloween, some might call it an addiction.
3) Hosting a children's party is much like circuit training at the gym.
I try and have several activity stations set up throughout the house during parties. In years past I have had Play-Doh with Halloween cookie cutters and Halloween-themed coloring books with matching Halloween shaped crayons. Sensory bins are a staple at my parties and are always a big hit. A bubble machine is a cheap and wise party investment. Keeping kids busy and entertained is key. Pinatas, pumpkin painting, pin the nose on the jack-o-lantern - the more for kids to do the better. Idle hands are the Devil's playthings. I for one do not want my breakables used as playthings by a house full of bored kids.