Halloween Party for "Tween"agers

Your kids are too old for trick-or-treating but still young enough to enjoy all the fun and commotion of Halloween. What to do? Help them plan a party that will combine the best of Halloween: crazy costumes and lots of goodies.

First, pick a date for the event. A school night isn’t the best choice so pick a Friday or Saturday as close to Halloween as possible. Decide just how long the party is going to last. Three hours is a good length of time: enough time to eat and have some crazy games but not so long that kids will get restless and start making up their own entertainment!

Invitations can be as simple as e-mail or you can pick up some at the local store. There are also some great on-line resources that will print right on your own home computer. Whatever the choice, keep track of how many invitations are going out. You need to supervise your teen on this or you may end up with the entire 8th grade class at your house!

Help your teen choose a menu. Favorite foods can be “doctored” up to become Halloween specialties. Pizza can be made “moldy” by adding a bit of extra mozzarella that has been colored with green food coloring. Local bakeries have all kinds of spooky desserts: orange and black cupcakes, spider cookies, etc. Carrot sticks continue the orange color scheme and are even better paired with a green “slimy” dip. Add a little extra green food coloring to a sour-cream and onion dip for a little “slime”. Be creative. Most kids don’t have any difficulty coming up with “gross” food ideas.

To keep beverages simple, go for canned soft drinks. Fill up a wheelbarrow or metal washtub with ice and submerge the cans. To add a squeal factor to retrieving a drink, here’s a couple of ideas: Toss cooked spaghetti in with the ice cubes; individual grapes submerged in the ice; if you are lucky enough to have a fake hand – submerge it in the ice. Again, your teen will be a great source of amusing ideas.

Decorate!! If the weather is cooperating, use your backyard and go as wild as your budget will allow. Instead of buying a bunch of throw-away stuff, think about reusable things. After all, you know this is going to be hit and will be repeated next year. Craft stores have inexpensive Halloween fabric that can be made cut into lengths to cover the picnic table. Don’t spend a lot on paper plates that probably won’t be used anyway. Rolls of paper towels or Halloween napkins should be adequate. Strings of Halloween lights are now available at all discount stores. These are cool hung in the trees or off of the deck and even the shrubs. Bales of straw are cheap and provide atmosphere and seating. Take some old clothes and make a scare-crow. Stuff it with leaves or straw.

And of course no Halloween party is complete without pumpkins! Have some carved ones displayed for decoration. One idea is to have the guests each bring a carved pumpkin (or squash of their choice) to the party. Provide small tea lights or, to be safer, get a bunch of those glow-sticks and light up their handiwork. Don’t forget the Halloween music!

There is an abundance of party game resources available. For a minimum amount of money, you can purchase and print games directly from on-line party game sites. There are also lots of free party game ideas on-line also. Make sure your teen is finding age-appropriate ones! They may sound corny but the old fashioned sack races and three-legged races are still a blast.

When the party starts breaking up, have your young host pass out a small party favor to show appreciation to his/her guests for attending. This could be candy bars (not the bite-sized ones), glow-in-the-dark anything. Or try some cool personalized favors. These are actually easy to find on-line and come right to your house within a week of ordering them. Party favors are just a nice finishing touch to any planned party.