Are you throwing a Halloween party? I love gathering with friends on Halloween, just a few families for dinner and wandering the neighborhood.
We have friends who live in a neighborhood that is crazy for Halloween decorations and lights. We arrive at their house when it isn’t quite dark, and we all eat dinner. As the sun goes down and the lights come up, we join the rest of the neighborhood in wandering from house to house.
I’ve pulled together a few ideas for games you can play while it’s still light then more traditional activities that ease your Halloween into a Samhain celebration of the end of harvest.
Finish the Harvest
Before party time, gather the last of the food from your garden and clean up the yard. Make a wreath from your own garden. Mine will include a lot of grapes from this year’s bumper crop.
Fun Halloween Games for Kids
You don’t need more than two or three games for kids. If they are in costume, they can make their own fun. Here are a few simple games to bring them back to occasional focus.
Bones relay. Cut out simple outlines of bones to create a full skeleton. Put a piece of tape on each bone. Depending how many children will be at the party, you could have more than one set of bones. Start each skeleton with a skull on a wall or a large board. Put the pile of bones at least 10 feet away. Have one child start by picking a bone and running to the board with the skull to add the bone. Then, the child runs back to touch the next person, who chooses a bone and runs to put it on the board. The relay continues until all of the bones are stuck on the board.
If the kids don’t know how a skeleton fits together, it’s OK. Guessing works just fine. The fun is in seeing how wild the final skeleton can get.
Any party game involving the harvest is perfect for this end-of-harvest-season celebration.
Bobbing for apples. Fill a metal tub with slightly warm water. The cold weather will cool it down, and you want people to stick around long enough to get an apple. Have kids gather around the tub. One at a time, have them hold their hands behind their back and bite at an apple using only their mouth. It gets very wet!
Squash bowling. Put 10 tall, flat-bottomed squash at one end of a lawn in triangular, bowling configuration. Butternut squash are perfect for this. Then, give each player a small round squash (like a pumpkin), small enough to hold with one hand, and let them roll it across the lawn to knock down the squash pins. You don’t need to keep score because everyone has fun with this one.
Carve a Traditional Jack-o-lantern
If your children are going to prowl the neighborhood for treats, how about using traditional jack-o-lanterns?
Carve jack-o-lanterns not just from pumpkins but from turnips and beets as well. You could do this activity earlier in the day or even the day before. (They dry out if you do them too far in advance.) Suspend the small lanterns by strings hanging from sticks. You can either put a tea light or a battery light in each. Carry these around to light your night. Leave them lining the walk when you get home to light the way for the ghosts who return that night to find their way home.
End with a Bonfire
When the kids get home and the parents just want to sit in a circle and talk, it’s a perfect time for a bonfire. Tell stories. They don’t need to scare the children, but it is traditional to tell stories about your own dead friends and relatives.
Be sure to leave an extra, empty place setting inviting the dead to join you. Welcome the dark half of the year with the fire. The fire is orange; the night is black.
Have a bountiful end of harvest.