Americans spent an average of $56 each on Halloween costumes, candy and decorations in 2009, according to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation. Most of us don’t need surveys to tell us that Halloween is a big deal, especially in the lives of our children, who often start planning their costumes back in June. Make the holiday mean more than just candy and costumes by stocking your Halloween party with fun games.
The first thing to consider when planning fun Halloween games is to consider the age levels of the children who will be at the party. Young children will be easily frightened by gory or gruesome games, whereas most preteens and teens will get a thrill from games involving guts, blood and brains. Even games that require going into a dark place may be too scary for little ones. Consider also the inability of young children to understand elaborate directions or to read for themselves. In general, a good rule to follow is the younger the child, the simpler the game.
Small or Large
Next, determine how many children are coming to the party. Some games are not the best for large groups of people. Bobbing for apples, for example, is a classic Halloween party game, but it can get tiresome for the long line of children who are waiting for their turn to bob. Any game that requires waiting in line, or requires taking turns, should be limited to small groups of children. Activities, such as Ghost Tag and scavenger hunts, on the other hand, are perfect games for large groups of kids.
Short or Long
Also consider how long the game or games will take to play. Many children want to go straight to the fun of trick-or-treating (or eating the candy), rather than playing an elaborately long game. For other children, especially older children, the game can be the high point of the party. In general, planning two or three short, simple games is best for a Halloween party with young children. One or two intricate, long games is best for a party with preteens or teens.
The Fun Factor
Prizes are a must for young children. The fun in the game for these little ones is to win a prize, whether that prize is a piece of candy, a sticker or a fake set of vampire teeth. Older children, on the other hand, can understand that not everyone needs to win a prize to have a good time. For these kids, the fun may be in simply winning the game, especially if it means outsmarting the other people playing the game.
Fun Halloween party games for young children include “Bite the Bat.” Hang sugar cookies in the shapes of bats (available at many grocery bakeries) from the ceiling, and have each child bite his cookie without touching it with his hands. This allows all the children to play without having to wait (and it also minimizes the spread of germs). Or, play “Catch a Pumpkin.” In this game, use spray paint to paint white golf balls orange. Draw jack-o-lantern faces on the balls with a black permanent marker. Then, toss them into a toddler pool or water table and let the kids try to scoop them up with a net or strainers. The “prize” is your own tiny little ball pumpkin.
Older children enjoy scavenger hunts. Create a list of items that preteens and teens can ask for rather than candy. Then, send them trick-or-treating (in pairs, for safety reasons) and see which pair of kids can come back with every item on the list. Not only does this cut down on candy, but it provides a fun way for older children to trick-or-treat when they are starting to outgrow the tradition.
- fancy dress party time! image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com