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Halloween parties for big crowds

Halloween for a crowd

"I am in need of some serious help!"

Halloween party

The question

"I am in need of some serious help! I have been nominated to be the 'chair' for a Halloween Party for a Moms Club I am involved with. There is an estimated 200-250 people expected to attend (Moms/Dads/Grandparents and kids) and I am not sure where to begin. The hardest part is there is no money allotted for this. We have to use the Moms in the group for food, decorations, etc. Can you get me going on the right path? As a very new member of this organization I thought it would be a great way to meet the Moms by joining the Party Committee -- I just never thought I would see myself as the chair!"

Many, many thanks!
Brigid

The party expert answers

Dear Brigid,

Yikes! You could definitely use a hand. So, borrow as many items as you can and ask for donations from other parents as you need to fill in the gaps.

First, decorate the place to create a festive atmosphere. Pull out white Christmas lights and hang them around the room. Corn stalks, hay bales and pumpkins are wonderful, additional touches. Any decorations you have on hand, use. The great thing about this, you can have everyone pull items from their own homes for the party day, then owners can claim their décor when the party is over. Not a cent will be spent this way.

Another cheap trick is to announce a Pumpkin Contest. Guests will adorn their pumpkins at home and bring their masterpieces to the party. Make sure names are marked in permanent marker on the bottom. Use these bedecked pumpkins as centerpieces.

Next, you'll want to keep the gang busy. Why? This keeps the bunch from getting restless. You wouldn't want the kids to improvise with their own activities. Believe me, their games wouldn't be as calm as yours.

Since you have such a big crowd, I'd suggest you'd break the partygoers into small groups. Create several areas for the guests to visit. You could put everyone on a time frame of 15 to 20 minutes depending upon how long the party will be. At the end of the allotted time, a bell clangs and the group rotates to the next position, just like in the game of volleyball.

If you're worried about folks not following your system, make nametags for the kids (parents will follow along) and post their designated "party" areas and times to report. Take the total number of kids and divide it by eight -- this is a good number for the time slot. You will need that many activity areas to cover the number of groups.

An example:

Mary Jo Rulnick 7:00-7:15 Harvest Photo Spot
7:20-7:35 Hallowing Bingo
7:40-7:55 Pizza Pies

Allow a five-minute period for guests to move from area to area and a chance to get settled. Assign several parents to circulate as floaters, pointing the kids to the correct areas.

Activity areas

One designated area could include a photo spot. Create a colorful backdrop with bales of hay (borrow these from volunteers), scarecrows and pumpkins. Invite guests to bring their own cameras or ask for a small donation to pay for the instant film.

Make another area where the kids could design their own photo frames. Fold a piece of card stock in half, cut an oval or circle on the front. Tape the photo, picture facing down, on the backside of the front. The smiling faces will be in the open hole. Encourage kids to decorate the cover.

Bingo would make an easy, but interactive game. Token prizes such as miniature candy bars or lollipops work well. Ask parents to donate any leftover carnival or party doodads. Some fast food restaurants will donate discontinued kids' toys.

Another fun game is Pass the Hand. This is similar to Hot Potato and Musical Chairs. Best of all, the kids will have a treat to take home. Fill disposable gloves (the kind without the powder added) with popcorn and tie the top closed with a piece of black or orange string.

If you wanted to go the extra step here, drop a piece of candy corn in the top of each fingertip as a nail. Have the group sit in a circle. Play spooky music on a tape recorder or CD player. Kids will pass the popcorn hand to the next person just like in the game hot potato. When the music stops (you'll stop it at different lengths of time), the person with the hand is out. He gets to take the hand with him. Another popcorn hand goes into the game. Repeat. The winner is the last one in. Award a small prize.

Now, for the fourth station, a make-your-own-pizza pie (use English muffins or miniature bagels) would starve off hunger pains for all. Borrow toaster ovens. Make sure you supply disposable gloves. Set up several bowls containing sauce, cheese, and toppings allowing the trick-or-treaters to build their own pizza. Once made, pop these in the oven for a few minutes and before you know it, the guests will be gobbling their creations.

As an aside, if you could possibly ask for a small donation from every family, you could hire a magician as the main event. Kids and adults of all ages are awed by magic. A dollar from everyone would more than cover the cost. In my area, there are several magicians who charge under $100 for a 45-minute show.

Keep the refreshments simple. If possible, ask another mom to do this. If you can't, sliced apples with camel dip, nachos and cheese, pumpkin roll, fruit cups and cookies are easy. Plus, everyone will enjoy these sure-to-please treats.

Have fun.

Mary Jo
Every Day Should Be A Party Day!

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