Since my youngest started kindergarten, we’ve had a Halloween party. Actually, the Halloween party tradition started when she was in Pre-K in Florida. You see, we lived in Pensacola when Hurricane Ivan hit. Our property had minimal damage unlike many of our friends that lost nearly everything. I’m not sure if you’ve ever lived some place that a major disaster has occurred, but just the daily sight of debris strewn about and the constant reminder of pure devastation grows tiresomeness both mentally and physically. I wanted to offer some kind of normalcy to the neighborhood and the girls’ school friends, so we had a Halloween party! The kids dressed up, we had a parade and played lots of games. Now today, my youngest is a senior, so sadly this will be our last Halloween party (until I get grandkids J). I can honestly say that we’ve had just about every Halloween party theme you can think of. We’ve had a carnival, scavenger hunts, a Halloween parade, a mystery party, you name it, we’ve done it in the past 13 years.
I think my favorite party we ever hosted was a scavenger hunt in downtown Fort Smith, Arkansas. We utilized the Fort Smith National Historic site and the Ross Pendergraft Park. This one did take a bit of preplanning, as I had to go to the park beforehand to snap photos of various landmarks and locations for scavenger hunt items. I spent a few weeks gathering scavenger hunt items like eyeballs, fangs, skeletons, skulls, etc. I made a list of the scavenger hunt items and matched them with the photos that I thought would make the best clue, For instance,
“Find a garden that once belonged to the officers. Some of the officers lost their hands. You could probably use a helping hand, so be sure to pick one up.”
This clue was at the old Officer’s Garden and they had to find a hand. Another clue was a cut up photo of this building and they had to put it together to reveal the location of their next clue. Here’s the most challenging part, we had 30 kids and that meant five different teams. You can’t have 30 kids all going to the same clues because they end up just following one another. To solve this problem, I made five separate lists and arranged the order of the clues for each team, then sealed each clue in an envelope (I had something like 100 envelopes of clues) with the team number and clue number written on the outside. Therefore, I would leave the item they were to pick up at the location and then leave the clue to the next location. Each team got the same Clue #1 where they picked up a bag, a pencil, and their next clue. It took my husband and me about an hour and half to set the scavenger hunt.
To build excitement before the party, we made a series of invitations. After a week or so, we sent out a book of requirements that gave all the rules and revealed a few more details about the part without disclosing the location.
. Finally, the invitations were delivered in person as the original invitation stated. Since all the other details were given previously except the location, we chose to give glow-in-the-dark rubber ducks with the location attached.
Although there is a bit of initial legwork once, the kids get there the party pretty much runs itself. There is nothing worse than 30 sugar-hyped kids and not having enough planned for them to stay busy for two hours!
We kept the food simple since it was a 2:00 pm party. We had easy finger foods like cupcakes, cookies, a veggie tray and chips and dip. Although the pavilion is beautiful, I wanted to jazz it up a bit to go with the theme, so I opted to use purple and black versus the traditional orange and black decorations.
For a photo booth, I used an oversized wooden frame equipped with props for the kids.
We hosted this party about three years ago and my daughter still says that is her all-time favorite! You can easily scale this party down if you would like, you can host it