Before you take your little ones trick-or-treating, throw them a frightful backyard Halloween party with our fun and spooky ideas for eats, treats, and games!
Everything in this slideshow
Halloween Decor: Paper Lantern Pumpkins
Hang orange paper-lantern pumpkins on the ends of shepherd's hooks to guide guests down the pathway to the party.
Halloween Game: Mystery Bowls
Fill separate bowls with baggies of pudding, cold pasta, and peeled grapes, then cover each bowl with black felt and place bowls on a table. Have kids take turns closing their eyes and sticking their hands into the bowls to feel the different "body parts" in each one.
Tip: Take pictures of kids' expressions as they reach into the bowls; send them as party favors after the night is over!
Halloween Game: Bone-a-fied Scavenger Hunt
Paint a bunch of large dog bones white and one orange, then hide them around the backyard. Start a timer and send kids out to find the bones. The child who finds the orange doggy treat wins a special prize, but be sure to give the rest of the kids a Halloween treat for looking!
Halloween Game: Build a Haunted House
Have party guests build their own mini haunted houses out of leftover cardboard boxes. Wrap a few big boxes in black paper and create windows, doors, and a roof with yellow sticky notes. Turn it into a contest to see which team can make the tallest house!
Halloween Game: Ghostly Bowling
Put a spooky spin on backyard bowling with these tricks. Wrap a black basketball in gauze and add large googly eyes. Dress up recycled soda bottles like ghosts by gluing white batting to the top of each bottle lid. Kids can take turns rolling the ball into the "ghosts" to score points.
Halloween Decor: A Spooky Street Sign
Use black paint to write Halloween-theme street names such as Witch Way, Goblin's Gorge, and Pumpkin Place on pieces of scrap wood, then nail the pieces at various angles to a 5-foot-tall garden stake. Stick the stake in the ground or into a large planter.
Halloween Decor: Boo Brooms
Make your own letter stencils using contact paper. Adhere them to the flat surface of the broom's bristles, then fill in with orange spray paint. Lean the finished brooms against the fence in your front yard for a playfully scary message.
Halloween Decor: Pumpkin Dress-Up
These decorated pumpkins are simply smashing! To create some "pumpkin people" of your own, stack two to four pumpkins and press a 3/4-inch dowel through the center. Raid your child's costume and crafts bins for accessories you can use to glue or pin to your pumpkin people.
Halloween Game: Balancing Act
Challenge trick-or-treaters to walk the plank without falling into the spider swamp! Lay a 2x4-inch wooden board over layers of tulle and cheese cloth. Let kids practice tip-toeing across one at a time to avoid the "swamp" below them.
Make the swamp: Toss a handful of oversize spiders, made from painted foam balls and chenille stems, onto the ground near the plank. The more spiders there are, the ickier the whole thing looks!
Halloween Food: Creepy Chili
For an easy dinner dish that's fun and filling, float a piece of bat of spider-shaped cheese on top of a kid-size serving of your favorite chili recipe.
Halloween Food: Halloween Veggies
Kids will forget they're eating good-for-you foods with this healthy tip! Arrange cauliflower, carrots, and yellow peppers in the shape of a candy corn and serve with a side of hummus in a pumpkin dish. Don't be afraid to dig in yourself!
Halloween Craft: Trick-or Treat Bag
Download a spooky tree image and type Trick-or-Treat or another fun Halloween message into the frame. Print the picture onto iron-on transfer paper (Avery-brand available at amazon.com), and transfer it to both sides of a simple canvas tote. This easy craft can help you distinguish your kid's bag from her friends'!
Originally published in the October 2010 issue of Parents magazine.
Easy witch and Spider cupcakes the kids can help make.