Spooktacular Ideas For a Family-Friendly Halloween Party
Invite your favorite ghouls and zom-boys over for a soiree that's more silly than scary.
Margo Gothelf and Sarah Burns
Happy Halloween! This year, extend the trick-or-treating and marathon candy-eating into an all-day celebration with a Halloween party. Don't worry about freaky ghosts or scary witches showing up! Only friendly ghosts and trusted zombies have an invite. These family-friendly Halloween party ideas make it easy to host a gathering that's more sweet than scary and more fun than frightening.
Cue Up Casper’s Greatest Hits
Halloween music tends to fall into two categories: Playful songs about monsters and dressing up, or dark pipe organ melodies that make you want to run and hide from all of the ghosts. For a family-friendly Halloween party playlist, stick to the first category and keep the seasonal tunes playful. Curate your own Halloween playlist or head over to Spotify and hit play on their Halloween party or Disney Halloween playlists.
Haunt Your House
Everyone's dressing up for Halloween — including the house! Think of your Halloween decorations like a giant costume for the house. Fill the walkway with pumpkins and haystacks, add a welcoming committee of friendly ghosts near the front door, and set up a giant jack-o-lantern balloon arch. If you want to add in more spooky decorations, keep them extra playful. Instead of skeletons roaming around the yard, set them up by the door enjoying a cup of coffee.
Jack O'Lantern Central
Is it really Halloween if you didn't carve at least one pumpkin? For a party of smaller pumpkins, though, painting jack o'lanterns is the way to go — it's less messy than scooping out all the pumpkin guts, involves no sharp tools, and is just as creative as carving! Set up a pumpkin painting station with paints and brushes on a colorful (disposable) tablecloth. Print out some jack o'lantern stencils, just in case your guests need a little spooky inspiration.
Burn off all of the energy from that trick-or-treat candy with some Halloween-themed games. Split into teams and see who can wrap their mummy first with a full roll of toilet paper in a game of mummy race, aim for that strike in ghost bowling, or see who can find all the bones in the skeleton scavenger hunt.
While the main food group on Halloween is candy, there is so much more to eat than super sugary treats. Give the candy a rest — for now, at least — and snack on mummy wrap hot dogs, ghost pizza bagels, and jack-o-lantern quesadillas. If you haven't reached your quota on sweets and want something other than candy, try out Halloween bark, poisonous candy apples, and ghost meringue cookies.
I Vant to Drink...Something Other Than Your Blood, Plskthx
Blood of the vampire not quenching your thirst? Keep all of your guests hydrated with a drink bar full of spooky options. Fill it up with glow-in-the-dark skeleton juice, witches brew punch, and creepy Shirley Temples. Keep the staple drink options of water, juice, and soda around too, but make it fun with jack o'lantern cups.
Tell a Just-Spooky-Enough Scary Story
Not all ghost stories have to scare the pants off of you. Some ghost stories can simply be about spooky characters doing pretty funny things. Depending on the age of your guests at the party, tell a few of both. Set up a fake campfire with a lanterm or flashlight surrounded by comfy seating, and gather around to share Halloween tales. Start off with some funny ghost stories, read a kid-friendly Halloween book, and mix in some spooky-funny tales for older kids.
Watch a Family-Friendly Fright Flick
Take the party out under the stars and set up a projector for a movie marathon of your favorite Halloween films and shows for kids. Set up some chairs and blankets on the lawn and grab some popcorn (pro tip: add some of your Halloween candy to the popcorn. You can thank me later!). Then hit play on some Halloween favorites like Hocus Pocus, Casper, Beetlejuice, or Halloweentown. Let the older ones stay up a bit later and turn the night into a double feature with a scary movie of their choice.
Make Haunted Gingerbread Houses
Give a favorite Christmas tradition a spooktacular twist this Halloween. Instead of decorating gingerbread homes to be jolly, go the opposite route and turn them into haunted houses. You can use the same basic ingredients, but with an ominous twist: Add ghosts in the windows, swap out flower beds for graveyards, and drape frosting cobwebs over the roof. You can even use your extra trick-or-treating candy to get creative and add on the finishing touches. No time to bake gingerbread? Graham crackers work just as well for haunted plywood. And there are some cute, affordable haunted cookie house kits out there too — if you want to save your Halloween candy for eating, not decorating.
Serve a Spider Surprise
Every good Halloween party needs an unexpected spook. Surprise your guests with (FAKE!) spiders in their drinks. So how exactly do you get the spiders in their drinks? It's all in the ice cubes. The day before the party, freeze mini plastic spiders in an ice cube tray. At the party, simply serve the chilled beverages like normal and wait to see your friend's reactions. (You can also do this in a less scary version and still keep on theme with mini pumpkins or bats frozen in ice.)
Go Candy Ghost Hunting
There's no such thing as too much candy on Halloween. Keep collecting the treats even after the sun has gone down with a black light Halloween candy ghost hunt. The hunt is basically like an Easter egg hunt, but with glow-in-the-dark ghosts instead of eggs. Wait until the sun has fully set to get the full ghost hunting experience. If it's too chilly to keep the activity outside, bring the adventure inside and hide the ghosts around the house. When you're ready to start hunting, shut the lights off and see how many you can find.
Snap Some Ghostly Memories
Test out the theory of ghosts showing up in photos with a Halloween photo booth. Snap a few pics as skeletons, document your escape from a haunted house, or turn into witches with their signature hats. Stock the booth with a few Polaroid cameras, so you can instantly see if any ghosts have come to join the party.
Candy Break Craft Station
For when you've hit your sugar quota and need a break from all of the candy eating, set out the craft station to keep the Halloween activities going. Set up an area where friends can make clever Halloween crafts. Make your jack-o-lanterns last extra long as mason jars, turn toilet paper rolls into scary (or goofy!) monsters, and see how you can take a paper cup and turn it into a witch fly through the night sky.