What you need:
- Old clothing
- Craft paper
- Crayons or markers
- Toilet paper
- Plastic pumpkin bucket
- Ping-pong balls or pennies
- Plastic two-liter bottles
- Small pumpkin
- Small prizes for winners if you choose to award them (make sure you have plenty on hand!)
What to do:
- Dangling Doughnuts
Suspend one doughnut per guest from the ceiling or a tree branch, adjusted for each child's height. The winner is the first one to finish eating her doughnut without using her hands.
- Design a Scarecrow
Split kids into groups of three to six and give each team a bag of at least a dozen objects and pieces of clothing (old shirts, hats, wigs, apples, foil, leaves, etc.). One person on each team is the "scarecrow," and his teammates dress him up using all the objects in the bag. Award a variety of prizes (funniest, scariest, silliest, etc.) so that everyone wins.
- Monster Murals
Before your guests arrive, cover a wall with craft paper and trace your child's outline on it three or four times. Divide kids into teams of two or four, and ask them to draw a monster using the outline within a certain period of time (preschoolers will lose interest after 10 minutes, while older grade schoolers will keep going for 20 or more).
- Mummy Wrap
Divide party guests into teams of three to six, and give each team two minutes to wrap someone up from head to toe in toilet paper, without covering eyes or mouths. Award a prize to the best mummy. For a more eco-friendly option, try using pieces of fabric.
- Ping-Pong or Penny Pumpkin Toss
Form teams of two. One child will hold a plastic pumpkin bucket and the other will be the ball-tosser. Depending on their age, move the kids a few paces away from each other and have them toss the balls into the pumpkin. The first team to get a dozen balls into their pumpkin wins.
- Pumpkin Bowling
This is a great outdoor game. Fill six two-liter bottles with about three inches of water and arrange in a pyramid. Using a miniature pumpkin or gourd, have kids take turns rolling the pumpkin at the "pins." Give each child three tries, and award a prize to the player who knocks down the most.
- Scary Story Circle
Fill a pumpkin with several slips of paper that each contain a single Halloween-related word. Gather kids in a circle on the floor, and ask each child to pull a word out of the pumpkin. After they know their words, dim the lights and start the story with "It was a dark and stormy night . . ." Take turns around the circle, asking each child to add a few sentences using her word at least once.
- Spider Web
Perfect for a group of four to eight kids. Arrange kids in a circle and give each one a golf ball-sized ball of yarn. Help each child tie an end of the yarn around his waist. Taking turns, each player tosses his yarn to someone else in the circle. When they reach the end of the yarn, they've created a web! Now their only challenge is to untangle themselves.