You planned the cutest costumes for your kids to wear for Halloween, so why not come up with reasons for them to wear them other than the big night? When my kids were preschool-aged we hosted an annual "Batty Bash" for all their little friends. All the moms would make themed food to share and we let them run around in their costumes. We made lots of memories. This was always on a random October weekday before we had "real school" tying us down... those were the days!
Now that the kids are older this has given way to cousin parties. My kids have 7 cousins here locally plus 4 out of state. It's the perfect number of kids and there's just a comfort that comes with a family gathering like this. I offered to host this year and since some of the parents were traveling, I took the easy route. While none of this rocket science, I thought I would share how I do these little parties. Having a bunch of crazy kids over isn't as scary as you think.
First off, the invitation. I can't believe this is the first invite I'm showing on the blog because I am ALL ABOUT some paper invitations delivered by the trusty old USPS. However, this time around I went with one of my favorite apps, Red Stamp. Do y'all know Red Stamp? I love to use it to spruce up a "Happy Birthday" or "Thanks for having me" text.
This sparked a silly text conversation all in rhyme so, mission accomplished. So first tip would be...
Keep the guest list manageable
I used to think if I was going to go to all the trouble to make a cute party I should invite everyone I know. I do love a big party, but now I tend to do smaller groups. I think you can add better touches and enjoy yourself more. So whether it's your Bible study group, your family, or your two favorite neighbors, round up a little group of fun people and don't feel guilty about not inviting the whole school directory.
Make it cute, but also disposable
While I'm a confessed dish and linens hoarder, some days just call for paper plates. That doesn't have to take away from the look of your party by any means, especially kids' parties. Plus, I personally get a little rush at the end of the evening when I know things are going in the trash and not the laundry or dishwasher. Sorry environmentalists.
I love, love beautiful fabric tablecloths but I LOATHE ironing them. When I use plastic ones, I tend to double up so that the color is more vibrant and not translucent.
I adore these Meri Meri ghost napkins! The spider confetti is from Hob Lob.
I also found the Frankenstein vases at Hobby Lobby and put them with one of the mummies I had. The kids and I picked up flowers and we always tend to go for color, but I think white flowers would have been cute in the "Franks" too. Every time I walk by these I smile!
Ok, now for the food because as my friend used to say about bad dates, "Well, a girls' gotta eat." So... wait for it...
Don't make everything yourself
I chose to make a fun punch, a cute dessert and then... order pizza.
I sat at my son's soccer game right before the party and ordered on my phone. I literally "phoned it in." It arrived right along with my guests. Plus, everyone loves pizza. If someone acts like they are too cool for pizza they are lying. As I was writing this post I got an email that told me by ordering all this pizza I've now earned a free pizza. I believe that's what the great philosopher Charlie Sheen would call, "WINNING."
For all of you who are worried I was promoting childhood obesity, I asked my sister to bring a salad and some fruit. Don't tell her but she kind of did all the hard work for this party.
I made the tried-and-true punch recipe of orange sherbet and 7UP. This was just a vehicle for my eyeball ice cubes. I left the punch for a while and came back to find this...
For dessert, I made a trifle recipe a friend gave me years ago. It's basically brownies, chocolate pudding, Heath bits and whipped cream. I saw a photo on Pinterest that inspired the chocolate syrup spider web on top. It's not perfect, but it's festive and I loved that I could make it in the morning before the rush of the day.
Corral the kids
One of the downsides of having a bunch of kids over is of course the potential mess. You clean your house top to bottom only to have it trashed in a couple of hours. I like to think of myself as a delightful mix of both laid-back and uptight about these things. (Somewhere my husband and kids are rolling their eyes.) One way I reduce the stress of this is to keep kids from having the run of the whole house. I either let them play in the basement or the kids' rooms, but not both. That way at least some place is spared the toy tornado. I communicate this to my kids beforehand and they are good to say, "My mom doesn't want us upstairs." I try to be super casual about it while keeping the place from feeling like an elementary school version of a frat house.
Organizing crafts and activities helps too. For this party I made a little game out of the new Six Sisters book. The kids were blindfolded and put their hands in different bowls of items that are supposed to gross them out. Well, they were all too smart and when I said, "Does it feel like eyeballs?!?!?" They were just like, "Um, these are peeled grapes." So that was kind of a fail but I tried. Fortunately they are all too happy to play together and occupy themselves. I was a fun night nonetheless and that leads to me to my final tip.
Party favors are a must!
This is just my personal philosophy. Everyone loves a treat. I try to always to have a favor for guests to take home. That said, it's not my favorite when my kids get a bag of party store junk. I'd rather give one or two quality items. For this party I did Halloween bath fizzies from Bath and Body Works.
I threw in some vampire fangs because my kids love them. I wrapped these up in some cello bags I had in my stash. Favors are always a nice touch, and you can make them ahead of time so they don't add stress on the day of your party.
Of course I couldn't leave out my sweet baby niece, so she got pumpkin baby food.
I encourage you to round up some kids (and parents) you enjoy and throw a little Halloween bash. Trot out those costumes as much as you can! The memories are worth it.