With fun costumes, spooky haunted houses, and creepy games, it's no wonder Halloween scares up so much excitement among kids of all ages. If you're planning festivities but don't have a big budget, there's no need to cringe in horror at the price tags at party stores. There are plenty of ways to throw an All Hallows' Eve bash for little (and big) trick-or-treaters that's both fun and budget-friendly.
Burgers aren't just for July Fourth. To turn classic cheeseburgers into frightful Halloween snacks, cut pumpkin faces into cheese slices before placing them on top of patties. Two separate triangles create eyes and a row of triangles serves as a ghoulish smile. Let the kids get creative with ketchup and mustard to decorate their own pumpkin face patties.
Parents may worry about kids having too many sweets on Halloween, but they will likely feel differently about fruit. Peel a bunch of clementines and insert a chopped piece of celery into the middle of each one to make a pumpkin stem. For the ghosts, peel and slice bananas in half. Use mini chocolate chips to make the eyes and add a regular-sized chip for the open mouth.
Use Halloween as an excuse to clean out closets, and fashion old clothes into a scarecrow. This could also become a fun game for the entire family or an activity for kids at a Halloween bash. Use clothes hangers and an old coat rack to create the skeleton, then stuff clothing with rags or newspapers to fill out the scarecrow. Tired plaid shirts, overalls, old shoes, and worn hats all get a chance to scare up some fun before heading to a charitable drop-off in November.
The vegetable platter can seem a little drab when there are piles of candy corn and caramel apples stealing the spotlight. Make the healthy choice look fun and tasty with a veggie skeleton platter. Wash and chop peppers, mushrooms, carrots, celery sticks, and cucumbers, then assemble them into a skeleton shape (hint: slices of bell pepper make great ribs). Serve with a bowl of dip as the head. For some DIY fun, give kids their own bowls of chopped vegetables and let them assemble their own mini-skeletons.
Halloween costumes can cost a bundle if they're purchased last minute. Inspire some pint-sized imaginations by hosting a costume-building party for the kids. A trip to the local dollar store or big box retailer will yield a bounty of tissue paper, glue, construction paper, and other arts and crafts supplies. Let the kids design and create their own costumes, whether that turns out to be a pretty blue tissue-paper dress worthy of Queen Elsa or a scary mummy outfit made of bandages.
Here's a fun dessert idea for kids to assemble themselves: an upside-down ice cream cone transformed into a spooky witch face. Organize ice cream cones, chocolate chips, licorice lace, and gummy candy into stations. Give each child a scoop of ice cream on a plate, and let them create witch hats and faces -- but quickly, before the scoop melts! If the kids are so inclined, they can add shredded wheat as hair.
Looking for a snack even toddlers can help create? Try these healthy, easy banana spiders with pretzel legs. After slicing bananas into chunks to make the body of each spider, kids of all ages will enjoy using raisins to create eyes and short pretzel sticks for spider legs. As an added treat, draw large spider webs with peanut butter on a plate and let the kids organize the spiders on the web.
Get spooky with monsters and skeletons for a giggle-inducing spin on Pin the Tail on the Donkey. The materials required include construction paper, scissors, markers, and push pins. After creating different body parts -- eyeballs, hair, ears, arms, tongues, and more -- out of construction paper, tape a blank monster face to a bulletin board. Push a pin into the top of each part, spin the blindfolded kids around a few times, and let each take a turn to try pinning the body part in the right spot.
If the kids get tired of arts and crafts at your Halloween party, pull out a couple of plastic pool diving rings for a challenging and entertaining ring-toss game with a Halloween theme. Make witch hats by hot-gluing black party hats to circles of black poster board. Group kids into different teams, assign points to each hat, and use different sized hats for different skill levels. Set a time limit to make the game more challenging.
The toilet paper mummy race is an oldie-but-goodie sure to appeal to the whole family. Take a few rolls of toilet paper, then let kids and adults play in pairs, with one half of the team wrapping the other like a mummy. The mummified player must hop to a predetermined finish line without breaking the wraps. If the paper tears, it's an automatic restart. To make the game even more visually appealing and silly, provide decorations like witch hats, masks, or wigs for each mummy creation. Remember to take pictures.