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Thrill Chicago kids with a DIY Halloween party

As the weather turns crisp and the sweaters and boots start to make an appearance, it’s time to put plans for a bewitching Halloween party into full swing. After scouring the Internet, consulting party sites and gathering great concepts from friends, I’ve put together some ideas to make this year’s soirée your best yet. From the bigger picture to the minute details, we have you covered.

When planning a Halloween bash, always choose a theme that is versatile, allows for creativity and fits the crowd you plan to entertain. If you’re serving a teen or adult crowd, spooky, scary and downright haunted will probably be your best bet. Creepy, crawly and gross will have grade-schoolers squirming with delight. Fun, fancy and all things dress-up is the perfect option for the smaller crew.

From every day to bootiful

Choosing decor can be difficult because the pieces you choose can set the stage for a night of frightful fun or horrific disaster. Opt for decorations that can be put up easily, do not require a lot of maintenance, and can be used year after year.

Create a haunted house complete with mesh black netting, spider cobwebs, surprise bewitching characters and black cats. Get the whole family in on the game and have them dress up a la Modern Family, choosing famous haunted characters such as Frankenstein or Bridezilla. Use duct tape and paper bags to replicate a “monster” of a front door. The more kooky looking, the better!

Think outside the box when it comes to carving pumpkins. Lessen the mess by having kids add faces like Mr. Potato Head to pumpkins of their choice. Find some great pumpkin bling such as spiral eyes glasses, lips and neon mustaches at Party City. Set up a pumpkin decorating station using variously themed buckets and see what the kids create!

Purples and oranges take the sting out of a spooky party and accentuate a gathering fit for the little ones. Candy corn, split peas and corn kernels layered in a clear glass jar make for a perfect centerpiece. Think big pumpkins with silly faces, scarecrows and hay. Another plus side of harvest decor is that you can leave it up all season, taking you well into November and Thanksgiving.

Gobble up

Once you have the theme and decorations down, shifting gears to food will be a breeze!

Set up a Candy Apple Bar with a variety of apples and allow guests to create a special treat to take home or enjoy at the party. Toppings can be the usual fare like cookie crumbs and nuts, but consider also incorporating creepy crawlies like gummy worms or candy eyes.

Light a bonfire and set up an s’mores station. Erin Skibinski of the Home Everyday blog recommends substituting salty Ritz crackers for the traditional graham cracker, creating a savory and sweet marriage of yum. 

Monster bash

The final element of any successful party is what you plan to have the guests do. A dance-off to Monster Mash and other ghoulish songs might entice your costumed guests to recreate Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Host a costume fashion show in your backyard with paper bag lanterns lining the runway. Make sure your audience knows to cheer for their favorites! If your crowd is feeling brave, turn on a Halloween flick and get the popcorn popping. For a finishing touch, offer prizes for the most creative costume, most imaginative group costume and cutest little goblin.

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