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Spooktober is here! Well, if I missed celebrating Halloween last year (stuck at home with 20-day old Jason), I am not going to skip on the fun this year. And keeping the kid in me happy won’t be my usual excuse for doing so. I’ve got a curious one-year old now, whose main job is to learn, explore and experience everything that is new to him. I am also lucky to have a bunch of close mommy friends with toddlers to join in the party. So, I thought that it would be a good idea if I shared out loud with you some tips and ideas on how to hold a Halloween party for toddling bubs who don’t end up spooked up, crying their eyes out amidst the ghost hunt game.
Planning is a key to any successful venture. And considering that your gathering involves children of an age group that is fragile and unpredictable, you should do your homework in advance. Prepare and send out fun invitations that both parents and tots will appreciate. You will be surprised but kids even that young comprehend and value personal attention. Moreover, pre-empting a future fun event is a learning curve that enriches their skill set for anticipation, motivation and patience. Some theme-inspired colourful hand-made invites, such as pumpkin-shaped cards will do the job.
Also, to avoid unexpected trick-and-treat visits from older neighbourhood kids, keep the decoration strictly indoors. It’s just too easy to get carried away with your Halloween trimmings and ornaments spilling out into the garden. You may not be aware of the Australian spooktober code tradition but if your garden gate is dressed with orange balloons, this screams “Come and get your lollipop now!” And you want to be focused on your tottering guests, right, instead of being interrupted by a gang of 10-year old gory ghouls.
There’s no need to go wild here. As long as you keep the colours right, where orange dominates the scene, you’ll be fine. Also, think cute, not creepy. The days of creating your own scary house when you were a teenager are long gone. Thematic cuddly toys, balloons, lanterns and paper-cut Halloween motifs are perfect for the occasion.
Young children’s reaction can vary when confronted with different stimuli. Therefore, play safe and say “No” to any decorative images that might be perceived as frightening.
(And it’s not what you think!)
You won’t have much control over how other parents decide to dress up their children unless you discuss the issue with them beforehand. It’s best if all adults coordinate ideas and come to an agreement that even older kids (brothers and sisters) should avoid dressing up as skeletons, covered in ”blood” ghosts or scary witches with a face smeared in heavy green and yellow make-up. I should know this from experience…
A couple of years ago, I witnessed havoc of a kids birthday Halloween-themed party at my sister’s, where my young niece ended up having nightmares instead of going to bed with a smile on her face. A couple of pre-schooler guests came along disguised as dead men from Pirates of the Caribbean and the poor 3-year old birthday girl just hid and cried in her bedroom. It was very embarrassing and sad.
I’ve got a bucket of ideas about what to make for little Jason’s first Halloween do. You can also “rummage” through recipes on the Internet and get inspired. From eyeball truffles, mummy sausage rolls to banana ghosts, the choice is vast. I won’t be buying ready-made sugary treats and candies, that’s for sure! Here’s my healthy Halloween short and simple snacks menu, suitable for young and growing kiddies:
1. Halloween cocktail sandwich bites:
Just cut out small bread circles and decorate as you wish with sliced carrots cucumber, tomatoes to create topical “scary” faces.
2. Ginger ghost cookies:
Use your favourite gingerbread cookie recipe, but shape the biscuits accordingly and decorate with chocolate buttons.
3. Homemade kiwi jelly slops:
A pound of ripe kiwifruit, honey, some lemon juice and gelatine is what I need to make my monster jelly slops.
4. Boiled egg ghosts:
Just cut out three little holes into the boiled egg and wedge in black olive halves to act as eyes and an open mouth.
5. Clementine pumpkins:
Just stick a white grape in a peeled clementine to make it look like a pumpkin.
6. Spiderweb cupcakes:
I am going to make vanilla cupcakes and ooze some melted chocolate cobwebs on top.
It’s quite hard to keep toddlers focused on an activity or a game for more than 15 minutes as their concentration span is quite limited. Still, there are plenty of things that you can do together to keep them busy and entertained:
Just be prepared for things not going as planned and improvise if the excitement gets too much! Young kids can so easily get tearful and cranky over little things during a game. So, if this happens, just hand out the cupcakes!
It is always nice to take something home from a party. And if you don’t have time to make individual goody bags beforehand, you can always pack the piece of craft each child made that day together with a left-over snack and a balloon from the decoration display.
I hope this post stirs up your imagination and gets you in the mood for Halloween! Don’t be shy and share it if you find the ideas helpful!