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How to Plan a Halloween Party for Kids

What do you do when the moon is full and things start getting spooky? Plan a Halloween party of course! Kids love to celebrate Halloween, with its costumes and its free candy, but you need something a little more substantial for your event.

There are tons of ways to have all your little monsters and ghouls laughing and enjoying the spirit of the season. Whether it’s a private party or a big Halloween bash, you can learn how to throw the perfect event. If you’re stuck or need extra Halloween party ideas for kids, just take a look at some of these great tips.

Part 1: Planning

Create a guest list or estimate event size

For a private event, compile a list of who will be invited. Are parents simply dropping their children off, or will you be sitting in another room to chat and enjoy yourselves as well? Make sure you have home or email addresses for everyone you want to invite, so you can send them all the party details with at least a week’s notice.

At a public event, it’s important to estimate the attendance numbers so you can plan accordingly. Are you having the party on Halloween itself, or at a time where kids might be out trick or treating and not available? What was the attendance at similar events in the past?

Choose a venue

Once you’ve figured out how many people you think are coming, you need a venue that can accommodate you. Invite your child’s friends into your house to enjoy a day of fun, rent a larger venue to host a large group, or hold a public event at a school, community center, or park.

Halloween is a tricky time of the year for outdoor planning, so make sure you keep a keen eye on the weather if you’re looking to host outside. Make sure you have a backup area to retreat to, in case of storms, very cold temperatures, or even snow! You can move a backyard party into your home or head to a local restaurant for a meal in a pinch.

Set a budget

Once you know how many people you expect and how large a space you need, you can also set your budget. You may need to revise your venue ideas, but they’re a great jumping off point.

  • Venue: If you’ve grown too large for an at-home party, this is probably going to be a good part of your budget. Look into space rental fees early and see if you can score a good deal. Not planning for the exact date of Halloween may help defray costs.
  • Food and Drink: No one wants the kids to go hungry at their event. Decide whether you’re serving a full meal, like pizza, or just sweet treats.
  • Activities: Make sure you have things to do! Judge a costume contest, hire a face painter, or do some spooky arts and crafts to keep kids entertained.

Make sure to set aside some emergency funds! Keep a little extra for if you run out of food or treats, need more art supplies, or have more guests than you anticipated.

Part 2: Preparation

  1. Venue: Finalize the location of your party. For a rental, make sure you have all necessary paperwork submitted and fees paid on time. At home, start cleaning up any major messes, so you only need some basic straightening up on the day. If your party’s outside, make sure you have a tent rental and/or tables and chairs.
  2. Invitations: With your venue set up, send out invitations with date, time, and place. Email and paper invitations are both perfectly fine, but try to have the basic info all written down in one place, to minimize questions and the chance of people forgetting. Kids might enjoy paper invites with fun pictures.
  3. Activities: Figure out what you want to do at your party and when, so you can make sure activities don’t overlap. Leave some room for things to run over, if the kids are enjoying themselves or take longer than you expected. And keep in mind, kids’ attention may wander, so have some backup plans!
  4. Decorations: How over-the-top do you want to go? The sky’s the limit! Get fancy balloon columns in black and green, set up streamers and paper cutouts, even fun props like a skeleton. Don’t go too spooky, though; remember to make the decor family-friendly so you don’t scare off any little guests.
  5. Food: Halloween is a holiday of treats! Supply things like candy, caramel apples, doughnuts, or popcorn straight from a machine. Make sure the little critters aren’t going thirsty with water, cider, or other drinks. If your event goes over a meal time, try a party classic like pizza or hot dogs.
  6. Supplies: Now that you’ve planned what you want at your party, you have to gather all the supplies! Make sure you have plates and napkins as well as appropriate storage for food. Buy the invitations and decorations from a party store. Figure out what supplies each activity needs and get them together.

Part 3: Buildup

  1. Plan your look: Make sure you’ve decided how you’re going to dress on the day! Whether it’s a full-on costume or just a festive Halloween shirt, make sure you have all the outfit pieces you need. Also ensure that your costume isn’t overly scary; this is a kids’ party. If your child is involved, make sure you have their costume as well!
  2. Prepare the venue: Know what things you want to put away with guests in the home, plan how to move furniture to accommodate guests, or put up some of the decorations in advance. If your venue is outside the home, check traffic at the time of your event and make sure the space is ready for you.
  3. Order any catering: If you’re ordering outside food in large quantities, make sure you submit your order a few days in advance to give the suppliers time to prep. Make a plan for when food will be delivered or when you’re going to pick it up, and make sure you have an appropriate place to store it at your venue.

Part 4: On the day

  1. Eat! Make sure you’re eating meals throughout the day, so you have the energy to keep up with your young guests and to keep the party going. Nothing’s more important than keeping yourself fueled for the day.
  2. Supply checks: Retrieve any day-of pickups or last minute additions to the party. Make sure everything that any deliveries are ready to go and will be on schedule. If any of the guest’s parents are supposed to bring anything, make sure they have the transportation necessary.
  3. Decorate: Put up any remaining decorations and make sure the space is clean and ready for guests. Set out table covers, plates, bowls of candy, and other party pieces. Check any decorations set up in advance to make sure they’re still neat and undamaged.
  4. Check the weather: If you’re partying outdoors, make sure the weather is still cooperating. Decide whether the party is still good to go outdoors or send around some emergency updates to the guests. Make sure everyone knows the new location if the party is being moved and ensure kids have a way to get there.
  5. Go with the flow: Kids are unpredictable! If an activity is more popular than you were expecting, find a way to extend it. If kids are getting restless, move on to something different. Don’t make your party structure so rigid that kids won’t have fun. But also keep one eye on the clock so you don’t run out of time.
  6. Bring out the food: If the kids’ attention is flagging, bring out the food! They’ll instantly be interested in the treats you have to offer. If you have food or candy out for them to grab at will, make sure the plates and bowls stay full.
  7. Provide water: Kids probably won’t choose water first, but they’re going to need something to cut all the sweetness. Put out water so they can stay hydrated throughout the party.
  8. Take pictures: With all the cute costumes around, this is the perfect place to take lots of photos. Whether you rent a photo booth or just take pics yourself with your phone or camera, you’ll have tons to share.

Part 5: Once it’s over

  1. Clean up: It may not be anyone’s favorite part of party planning, but make sure you neaten up your space in the aftermath. Whether that’s taking down decorations and cleaning up plates and food bits or collecting the trash bags for the venue, it’s important to clean up after yourselves. Even if a venue has a cleaning crew, try to leave the space free of disastrous messes. Make sure you take home any party supplies that you brought with you!
  2. Share photos: Parents will love seeing kids all dressed up with their friends. Get an email address to forward the picture files or send print photos in the mail. If you’re looking to post pictures to social media, make sure you have parental permission first. If other parents were around, ask everyone to share their photos so you can make a collection or album to share.
  3. Send your thanks: Send out thank you cards to the guests at a personal party. Make sure to mention any help you may have gotten from the parents, such as picking up food, driving extra kids, or bringing a dish. For a public event, send out a thank you on social media, with some pictures that highlight the event. Everyone likes a nice shoutout, so include thanks for any special helpers.