Kids love Halloween, and while 4- to 10-year-olds can be creeped out rather easily, they do love some mild chills and thrills. Children this age also enjoy the dressing up and the decorations, and who doesn't love Halloween treats? Halloween parties are simple for children in this age range and fun for everyone.
The key to decorations with children in preschool and early elementary grades is to keep it slightly spooky and fun in mood. Use anything too gruesome or scary and you'll scare off a significant number of your guests. You can feature the usual standard characters such as ghosts, jack-o'-lanterns, mummies and spiders, but just make certain they sport soothing smiles rather than scary expressions. Inflate white balloons with helium and cover with a small section of a white sheet and draw on a not-so-spooky face and hang around the party area. Have pumpkins carved and set out, perhaps adding a plastic spider and a yarn web here and there. Orange and black streamers are simple touches that add to the Halloween theme, and a black light is a fun addition for kids.
Play a Halloween mash-up of tag and Marco Polo. This game, called Zombie Tag, is played by having "it" wear a slightly scary mask and blindfold. In a clear space have the zombie wander about, and when the zombie groans and holds his arms out in front of himself all the other players must follow suit. This is how the zombie zeros in on the others. When he tags someone, that is the new zombie. Another fun game is playing ring toss on a handmade or costume witch's hat. Another simple game variation is to play Pin the Tail on the Black Cat. Hide small witches hats or pumpkins and have the children race about to collect as many as possible.
Make some spooky drinks by simply adding some clean plastic spiders or other creepy-crawlies to kids' drinks, and attach a gummy worm to the straw. Make sure all the items are large enough not to choke on. Make some hot dogs into mummies by wrapping refrigerated biscuits around the dogs, leaving a small space near the top showing the hot dog like a mummy's partially revealed face. Bake, then give the mummy's face eyes by dotting with mustard. Make pumpkin cupcakes with orange icing and brown M&M;'s. Make little witches' brooms by taking pretzel sticks and adding fruit roll ups to the bottom. Snip the fruit rolls to resemble the straw on a broom.
With children in this age range, you don't want to include too many children because the party can get out of hand quickly. All the excitement and treats combined with company can lead to overstimulated guests. Make sure you have enough adults on hand to keep children supervised and occupied. Have activities such as mask-making, pumpkin decorating or even Halloween-themed pictures to color ready for first arrivals. Set the time for a Saturday afternoon or early evening and don't make it last more than two hours for the preschool set, or three hours for elementary aged kids.
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