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You are here: Home arrow How To arrow Run a Children’s Party as a Halloween Alternative

Run a Children’s Party as a Halloween Alternative


Often called Light Parties or Fall Festivals, these have been instigated to give children an opportunity to have fun without the scary bits of Halloween. Many concerned parents and some church groups have devised ways to help the children to celebrate this time of year without being encouraged to dress up in grotesque costumes and demanding sweets with menaces. Probably fuelled by the opportunism of the supermarkets, 30th October seems to have progressed from an occasion when children were as likely to dress up as Buzz Lightyear or a princess to one where it seems that the scarier it is, the better1.

So what are the alternatives?

Anyone can provide a party for their children, friends and/or neighbourhood that will be just as much fun and avoid the aspects that are of concern to them. It may make it easier to get together with friends and family to host an event - you might want to consider hiring a local hall and even advertising it locally. Invitations or a ticket entrance help with estimating numbers. For larger events you may need to separate the children into different groups and get them to move around the various activities2.

What shape could the party take?

You could look at the Light Party® website and sign up, for free, for ideas from them or investigate American Fall Festivals to get ideas. Since the event is of your choosing anything goes but here are a few suggestions: apple bobbing for autumn parties

·         To decorate the venue simply you could use strings of lights and candles or even autumn vegetables, flowers, fruits and hay bales
·         Encourage the parents and children to avoid the scarier costumes and if a child arrives with a mask suggest that they leave it at the door so they can better join in
·         Provide simple games such as apple bobbing or hanging apples on strings or a treasure hunt for nuts3 or sweets
·         Find crafts that fit with your theme – they may reflect things associated with autumn such as candles, bats, apples, spiders and pumkins
·         Consider decorating lanterns such as jam jars or tea lights with poster, acrylic or glass paints – the decoration could fit with the theme of your event – if you stick a shape on the glass and paint all around it, when you remove the shape there is a shaped window for the light to spill through – easy
·         Have a disco with glow necklaces or bracelets for all of the children snimal on cheek face paint ideaspider face painting for partiesface painting ideas for halloween light party
·         Face painting – small images on the cheek are easier than whole face. For example, bats, spiders, butterflies
·         Serve simple foods such as hot dogs and toffee apples – no need for plates, knives and forks
·         Help the children to build a man or woman from sweets to take home – always popular
·         And, if you still want to go trick or treating you might make it a friendly event for your community, arranging in advance who you will call on so that they can prepare for the children. The children might like to give something nice back such as a thank you card or a picture they have drawn?

 More ideas for party games
  • ·         An old favourite for fun is the flour game where children take it in turns to cut carefully, with a knife, into a flour mountain (formed from flour firmly packed into a basin and turned out, as if from a mould) with a sweet balanced on the top – the one who causes the mountain to fall has to pick up the sweet with their teeth. The skill is in creating an overhang so that it collapses on your neighbour and they get the floury face
  • ·        Another is the dressing up game where the children stand in a circle and take it in turns to throw a large dice and the one throwing a six has to put on the next weird or silly item of clothing
  • ·         Traditional games for younger children include musical chairs or carpets (the latter being played with sheets of newspaper for ‘home’) or grandmother’s footsteps (where one child walks ahead of the others and when they turn around the others must not be seen to be moving or they are out) 
  • ·         A bit more energetic is ‘cat and mouse’ or ‘chase the squirrel’. In these activities the children sit in a circle with their eyes closed and one is selected as the mouse or squirrel. He/she walks quietly around the circle and then selects another child by either touching their back or putting a nut3 into their outstretched hands. The child on the receiving end has to chase the other around the circle back to the empty place – if the mouse or squirrel is caught he remains for another round, if not, the other child becomes the mouse or squirrel.
  • ·         To really let off steam you could run team games:
  • pass the orange - this can be done in rows, sitting on the ground and transferring the orange between your feet rather than in the crook of your neck
  • team races - with bean bags or oranges supported between two foreheads, with an egg and spoon or rolling lemons with tablespoons or to get dressed up in hats, scarves and gloves
  • a dress-making race to dress a team member in newspaper sheets; traditionally this is done with pins but it could be made safer and cleaner with sticky tape and magazine sheets. The teams are judged on the quality of their creations
  • a stepping stone race with two sheets of newspaper for each team,
  • jumble relay – a race to transfer a pile of items from one end of the room to another. The children form lines, the first child runs, picks up an item and runs back, gives the item to the next in line who passes the item back along the line and then runs for the next item
  • an obstacle course
  • balloon basketball - with two teams and a sheet of newspaper hung up for each goal

The Girls Brigade website can give you yet more suggestions for activities

If you don’t like Halloween, you don’t have to conform. Just do your own thing!


1The more ancient history of Halloween is complex: originally a pagan festival marking the end of the year and a Roman festival remembering their dead, it often involved appeasing spirits. Later it was designated as the date for the church to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve, the evening before the day on which the church remembered bygone saints.

2For larger parties you need to have all helpers CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checked and to get the parents to either remain throughout the event or sign a form giving their contact details, any medical information (eg disabilities and allergies) and a signature to authorise what you will do in the event of any problems.

3As with any event you do need to be aware of any children attending who have allergies

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