Idea No.


Spooky Halloween 10yr - Dancing Ghosts



October 2006


Kathy in Wilson, NC, USA

October 2006 Winner

Halloween Party

We had a Halloween Party for our 10yr old daughter and it was a great success! 

We decorated the front yard using two simple ideas:  we made an upside-down pumpkin man by placing a hat on the ground beside a tree, put a pumpkin on the hat (with face drawn on it), then attached the 'body' (we stuffed trash bags with newspaper and placed them into a flannel shirt and pair of overalls).  We attached the body to the pumpkin using wooden skewers.  We tied the bottom of the pants to a branch in the tree, added some gloves for the hands, and it looked like he was doing a hand-stand beside the tree. 

Around another tree, we placed five "dancing ghosts".  We used styrofoam balls for the heads, stuck wooden dowels into the balls, covered each with a large piece of white sheeting, drew a happy ghost face on each head with permanent marker, and staked them around the bottom of the tree.  Then we tied the ends of the sheets together to make it look like the ghosts were holding hands and dancing around the tree. 

We then placed a "crashed witch" in the middle of the yardj (from Oriental Trading) and put spotlights on the props to light them up at night.  Neighbors kept slowing down in front of our house to look.  We set speakers outside and played Halloween music (old songs like the Monster Mash, etc.) We decorated the inside of the house with spider webbing, candles, dollar-store spiders, bats, rats, etc.  We replaced our regular light bulbs with orange bulbs, green bulbs, and some black light bulbs.  We hung strands of orange and purple lights from doorways, on our mantle, etc.  The lighting gives a great party effect. 

We decorated the bar in our kitchen by covering it with a dollar store "spider web" tablecloth, placed a "Spirit Ball" in the center (a motion-activated talking head inside a globe), added plastic, flashing light skull heads, plastic spiders, and draped it all with spider webbing.  On our mantle, we used strands of purple lights, covered them with a homemade mantle scarf (we purchased 2 yards of spider web fabric from a local fabric store), added candles, white spider webbing, and a talking black cat in the center.  We converted our small kitchen table to a 'witch's table'.  I draped the table with a plastic purple tablecloth (from the Dollar store), covered it with spider webbing, added a black witch's cauldron, a black witch's hat and broom (from a local party store) and added several plastic spiders and bugs. 

In the center of the table I placed the witch's "Spell Book".  This was easy and fun to create.  I used a large book, made a book cover out of a brown vinyl remnant, opened the book and propped it up in my cookbook stand.  I then took some parchment stationery, tore the edges off the paper, used a brown permanent marker on the torn edges to make the pages look old and worn, wrote a witch's "potion" recipe on one page and the party "Guest List" on the other (in black caligraphy).  I laid the parchment pages on the opened book and secured them by adding a bookmark, (made from the same vinyl, covering a rectangular piece of cardboard, added some halloween bat stickers and a tassel) and laid it in the middle of the open book.  I perched a black crow on the top of the book, and added some gummy worms, rubber bats and plastic spiders.  I made shrunken heads out of apples 2 weeks earlier.  You peel the apples, dip them in lemon juice and salt, carve a face in them, and place on a rack to dry for 2 weeks.  The faces harden, wrinkle and shrink to look like ghastly shrunken heads.  I placed several of these on the witch's table.  We added some dry ice and warm water to the cauldron and had a bubbling potion which made the guests "oohh" and "ahh". 

We made several floating ghosts by purchasing a dozen white helium balloons, covered them with a piece of cheesecloth, drew a ghost face on each and let them float to the ceiling.  On our deck, we placed several hay bales to use as seating, added some pottem mums, a halloween tree (we made the tree using several dead tree branches, spray painted them black, and stuck them into styrofoam blocks.  We placed the blocks into a galvanized tub, covered with dead leaves, and hung strands of lights on the "tree" and added dollar-store creatures on several branches…bats, spiders, cut-out foam jack-o-lanterns, etc.  It turned out very cute.)  We draped orange rope lighting around the deck rails. 

For food, we served lots of halloween-themed treats.  We covered the table with a black plastic tablecloth, covered that with a spider web tablecloth, and added a centerpiece "Tootsie Pop Tree" (we covered Tootsie Pops with white and orange tissue paper, secured it around the base of the pop with a piece of pipe cleaner or a bread tie, and drew a face on the "ghost" or "pumpkin".)  We stuck them into a styrofoam cone and placed the cone on a flat styrofoam circle by attaching it with toothpicks.  Around the edge of the circle we stuck Tootsie Pop spiders (covered with black tissue paper, twisted pieces of black pipe cleaner around the stem for spider legs and glued google eyes on the tootsie pop).  We made 2 platters of witch's hats one made with Ritz crackers with a dollop of canned squirt-type cheese in the center and attached a "Bugle" chip.  The other was made with Hallooween Oreos with orange filling we separated the Oreos, & added a Hershey's candy kiss to the orange icing. 

We made witch's brooms by cutting a 2" length of "Fruit By The Foot", wrapping it around the bottom of a thin pretzel stick and pressing it to seal, then used scissors to cut several shreds in the fruit wrap to make it look like broom bristles.  Very cute!  We made our own tortilla chips by using halloween cookie cutters to cut out shapes on flour tortillas, baking them in the oven for a few minutes, sprinkling with salt and served them with salsa.  We made cupcakes decorated with Halloween sprinkles and "Boo Brownies" (brownies with a marshmallow on top, drizzled with some warmed white canned frosting, and using black writing gel to make a ghost face on the marshmallow.)  We served an easy punch by using "Party Punch Sherbet" (from Walmart) and ginger ale.  2 days before the party, we made a frozen hand by pouring some colored Kool Aid into a latex surgical glove, secured it with a rubber band and placed in the freezer.  When the punch was served, we loosened and removed the glove by running briefly under warm water and we placed the ghoulish-looking hand in the punch.  A great effect!  We tossed some candy corn, eyeball candy and gummy worms on the table for more effect. 

The games we played were a huge hit.  We went out onto the deck and let the children bob for apples.  Many had never done this before and they loved it!  Have plenty of towels ready!  For those who were hesitant about getting wet, we tied a rope across the width of our yard (from the deck to our back fence), used pieces of twine and tied them around the stems of apples and tied the twine w/the apples on the hanging rope, spacing them a few feet apart.  We began with five apples on strings and five children.  We had them place their hands behind their backs and when we shouted "GO!" they had to try and bite their apples.  This was hilarious the apples swing and are very difficult to "catch".  We then went inside and played "Pin the Tail on the Cat".  My husband drew and cut out a large black cat with an arched back, and glued it onto a posterboard.  He cut out enough cat "tails" for each child.  This is a fun version of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey".  Before starting the game, prepare a yucky mix of flour and water until it is gooey.  Put it into a round cake pan.  Don't let the children see this.  To begin this game, you only allow one child in the room to play at a time.  The others can sit outside the door of the room and wait for their turn.  You blindfold the first child, hand them a cat tail, spin them around and tell them to try and pin the tail on the cat.  As they get closer, encourage them and cheer them on, and have another person standing by with the pan of "goo".  That person has to place the pan right in front of the child's hand just as they approach the cat, and the child will stick their hand into the gooey mess.  They will squeal and scream at the unexpected surprise and the other children outside the room will wonder what is going on.  Give the first child some wipes to clean their hand and tell them they must keep the surprise a secret.  They can stay in the room and watch the next child, and so on and so on.  This game brings lots of laughter! 

The next game is one my mom used to do at my Halloween parties when I was a child.  I had my now 79 year old mother come into town to perform the same hit routine she did for me 40 years ago!  First, she prepared the props.  Don't let the children see this.  She used 2 identical plates (they should be light enough for a child to hold with one hand.)  She held one of them over a candle flame, moving the plate around to blacken only the center area of the plate.  The other plate was left clean.  She asked the children for a volunteer to be "hypnotized".  She sat 2 chairs directly across from one another, fairly close and facing each other; she sat in one and her "victim" sat in the other.  She explained very seriously to the children that this could not work unless there was total silence and concentration.  She then spoke to the child to be "hypnotized", telling them that they must always look into her eyes and nowhere else.  They must do exactly as she tells them to.  She then hands them the plate with the blackened bottom and instructs them to hold it by the edges above their laps, exactly as she holds hers.  She begins her routine by saying in a deep, slow voice, "Look into my eyes.  Do exactly as I say.  Your eyes are getting heavy and you are falling into my trance.   Now rub the bottom of your plate slowly and begin washing your face like this."  She raises one hand to her face and makes face-washing motions and then rubs the plate again and washes her face again, slowly.  Each time they repeat this, the child's face is getting blacker and blacker from the soot on the plate.  The other children laugh and giggle but the 'victim' does not know why they are laughing.  After doing this for just a few minutes, my mom says, "Now that I have made you wash your face, let me hand you a mirror so you can see how clean your face is."  Of course, when they see their face in the mirror, they scream and squeal!  Have some wipes ready for that poor unsuspecting child! 

This party was a blast and the parents and children loved it!

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