Who doesn’t love a wonderful party. That is what I love best about Halloween.
I have nine grandchildren and I am proud to say that the family Halloween party is the one that all the kids love the best. Not only is it totally a fun evening for them, but they spend the entire year helping Grandma and Grandpa plan the party for the following Halloween. When you babysit as much as we do, and have the kids in our home almost constantly, planning next Halloween becomes a great activity. It keeps them from otherwise becoming bored with the old people’s company, and a great way to sway their attention away from the television and computer.
We will start with the first big successful party that was planned with all the kids help. “The Grave Digger Party.” Some of the kids ideas were a bit macabre at first but then we dummied it down a bit so as not to cause problems with the neighbors. After all, we are trying to make it a memorable and fun night for all, not trying to warp or scar the kids for life. Let’s break this down into sections and we will show you what we did for this party.
1. Theme: As soon as Halloween is over and the kids are still excited and talking about the party, I sit with each child and ask what they liked best and what would they like to do better for next year. and then ask them all for ideas for a theme for next year. Don’t sell them short. They will come up with some great ideas that you probably would have never thought of.
2. Invitations: Once we had the idea of a grave digger party I started hunting the internet for ideas. I ended up using one of my own photographs and made it very simple.
3. Decorations: This is where you will make or break a great party. Spend some time and creativity to make this evening a memorable one for each person, young and old. For the Grave Digger party of course you will need an outdoor cemetery. Please see these pics for tombstones that we have made and check our tutorials. We are new at this and so if the tutorials aren’t there, they shortly will be. We purchased insulation foam board from Home Depot or Lowes and cut them out. You don’t need a lot to start out with and plan on adding more each year.
Inside decorations don’t need to be anything elaborate but simply maybe lean a shovel or two in corners and old lanterns set about etc. Here are a few pics around our house. Not much inside, everything was concentrated on the outside. I’m sorry I don’t have any good shots of the inside. Four years ago I wasn’t thinking that I would be posting this on a blog. Most of the decorations on the inside the kids made. Which made it all the more special.
The scary part of the evening is done outside and so we tried to make the cemetery as creepy and scary as possible. We also have a gate on each side of our property and so on Halloween night the trick or treaters had to enter one gate, go through the cemetery with their candy waiting for them at the other gate. I hope these pics give you some ideas on decorating for this party.
It is hard to get grandma too much into the costume thing, but I try and dress the part as much as possible with my long gray hair wig and ratty clothes and my shovel in hand. All of our parties are costume optional. We found that most of the parents weren’t crazy about doing all the make up for the party and then again for Trick or Treating. Plus the year before we had two kids ruin their costumes at the party and made it a challenge for the parents. But I feel at least for me as the host, I need to wear a costume to set the stage for the evening.
4. Food: At our family party we try to have a small simple dinner and then a couple of cute treat items. Look in the recipe section for the Graveyard Brownies and Graveyard Jello Worms. The worms were so gross everyone was daring each other to eat one. Once they tasted them, they were gone in about 5 minutes.
5. Activity: After eating dinner the table gets cleaned off and it is time to do some pumpkin carving. We have a large garden and plant a pumpkin patch. Of course the grandkids help us plant them and as the pumpkins start growing they pick the ones they want and before long each pumpkin in the patch has a name. These pumpkins are gathered and everyone has one to make their most creative jack-O-Lantern.
6. Games: I am kind of a Halloween purist and it doesn’t seem right to me to not have a lot of the traditional activities that we always had as kids. Carving pumpkins and dunking for apples always has their place at a Halloween party. Yes, I am somewhat sensitive to the parents that don’t want their kids sticking their heads in water that has been shared by the rest of the family and so we make the dunking for apples a tradition for anyone wanting to try it, but for those that don’t want too, or have parents worried about all that stuff floating in the water then we also offer the string with apples or donuts hanging from it, but remember that they need to keep their hands behind their backs.
With carving pumpkins taking as long as it does, you don’t need too many games to fill the evening. We did play the game of dropping the shovels into the bottle. we cut out craft tongue depressors as shown and standing over a bottle, keeping your body straight hold the shovel on your nose and try and get as many as you can in the bottle out of ten tries.
We also played the game of picking up the shapes with a straw and depositing them into a bowl within a minutes time. Print out several copies of the page of shapes I supplied and have the kids color and cut them out during those days of babysitting for an activity or just print them out on colored construction paper and cut out.
7. Story: It is now time to gather the group together for a good old fashioned ghost story. Of course with this being a grave digger party then what could be better than a grave digger story. In the Ghost story section there are two stories that fit well with this theme. “Frisco Cemetery” and “The Grave Digger.”
8. Candy: After the story I tell the kids that it is time that they try their hands at the grave digging. I give them each a hand shovel and a flashlight of course making sure it is dark outside by this time. As they head out, be sure to remind them of something in the story you told so they can be thinking about it as they stumble in the dark. Anyway, I tell them that out in the cemetery they will find a special tombstone with their name on it. Dig up the grave to find their surprise.
Earlier in the day I took the coffins that I made shown here. I have a tutorial on making them, but I also have them offered in the store if you would like to purchase them.
I put their candy in a zip lock bag. placed it in the coffin and buried it out in the garden with their tombstone marking the spot. Look at these videos for ideas for the tombstones. I sent them out one or two at a time. The younger kids with their parents and the older kids by themselves.
I was totally surprised at how scary this was for them. But with it being a few years later they are still talking about it. And every kid still has their special made coffin on their nightstand or shelves where they keep their favorite little knick knacks.
The funnest part of the party is after the kids start bouncing off the walls from all the excitement and candy, we get to send them home.