Family LIfe

Host a Haunted Halloween Fright-Fest
by Penny Warner with Balloon Time Helium Balloon Kits

Whether it's super scary or just plain silly, your Halloween Haunt will be a hit with these quick and easy party tips. You can tailor your event to fit a theme, such as Harry Potter, Friday the 13th, Bewitched or Magic and Wizards, or keep it general with lots of creative creepy touches. If there are kids present, tone the frights down a bit, but if it's for fearless grown-ups, kick it up a notch. The trick is to keep the treats handy and the costumed creatures entertained!

Eerie Invitations
Send the guests "Pumpkin Pal" invitations to get the party started. Blow up orange balloons and hold the neck of the balloon without knotting it. Then write party details on the outside of the balloon with glow-in-the-dark pens, deflate and mail to guests with a note to inflate the balloon in the dark to read the surprise.

For an extra thrill, include plastic spiders, rubber snakes, slimy eyeballs or candy body parts in the envelope (inexpensive tricks and treats and Balloon Time helium balloon kits are available at your local party store).

Creepy Costumes
If you choose a specific theme for your costume party, such as "Famous Couples," "Favorite Monsters and Villains" or "Your Alter Ego," ask the guests to dress appropriately. If not, let them use their weird imaginations and dress as they please. When they arrive, offer additional accessories to scare it up, such as fright wigs, garish makeup, wound tattoos, rubber masks and long fingernails.

Decrepit Decorations
Turn your party room into a Haunted House with stations for various activities and games. Begin by erecting cardboard or Styrofoam tombstones in the front yard, personalized for your expected guests. Set up inflated or cardboard cutouts of monsters, creatures and scarecrows. Inflate black balloons using Balloon Time helium balloon kits, and attach to the mailbox, trees and fences to greet the ghoulish guests. Cover white helium-filled balloons with white tissue paper, draw a couple black circles for eyes, add an oval mouth, and place around the yard to look like floating ghosts. Cover the front door with cobwebs and play haunting sounds or music.

Continue the fun inside with decorated stations, such as "Frankie's Laboratory," "Body Transplant Hospital" and "Alien Autopsy." Include "specimen jars" with yucky stuff inside and make sure to include green, purple, and orange helium-filled balloons with the black ones to give the room a creepy yet festive atmosphere. Set up a fog machine, keep the scary music going and add glow sticks throughout the darkened room. Once in a while pop a balloon to give the guests a scare.

Ghoulish Games and Activities

Mummy Wrap
Divide into teams and give players rolls of toilet paper or black and orange crepe paper. Have them select a "mummy" from the group, then race to wrap the mummy (all but the mouth), without tearing the paper. The team that wraps its mummy first, wins a prize.

Alien Autopsy Prepare "body parts" from various foods and other objects, such as cooked spaghetti for brains, peeled tomato for heart, Jell-O for liver, cooked penne pasta for intestines, dried apricots for ears, peeled grapes for eyeballs, popcorn kernels for teeth, and so on. Have the guests feel inside containers - without looking - and try to guess what they're really touching! Keep a camera handy for those wicked facial expressions.

Pumpkin Creatures
Divide into teams or couples and have them creatively carve their own pumpkins. When everyone is finished, award a prize for "Cutest," "Ugliest," "Scariest" and "Funniest."

Give everyone a helium-filled orange balloon and a permanent marker. Place names of guests in a hat, and have players each draw a name, without revealing it. They must draw the person's face on the orange balloon. When everyone is finished, show them in a circle and have everyone try to guess who each Pumpkinhead is.

Fearsome Refreshments
You could always serve the "body parts" as appetizers or snacks - as long as they haven't been handled by all the guests first! Include Vienna sausages for fingers, deviled egg for eyeballs, and cow's tongue for an added (and frightening) delicacy.

Spiderweb cupcakes are fun and easy to make. Frost chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting. Put a teaspoonful of white frosting in the center and using a toothpick, "pull" lines from the center to the outer edge of the cupcake. Dip the toothpick in more white icing and draw concentric circles around the cupcake to create a web. Add candy or gummy spiders and serve to unsuspecting guests.

Worms in the Dirt are fun to make and to eat. Buy chocolate pudding cups, remove lid and sprinkle on crushed chocolate cookies to look like dirt. Add a couple of gummy worms and stick a fake flower in the center to look like a potted plant gone bad.

Serve Witch's Blood - blood red punch - in a caldron, with a green floating "hand," made by freezing green tinted water in a rubber glove. Remove rubber glove "hand" at serving time by running lightly under warm water, and peeling back the glove. Place ice cubes in guests cups, tinted green, with a gummy worm frozen inside!

Frightening Favors
Send the costumed creatures home with:

  • Glow sticks
  • Mini flashlights
  • Vampire teeth
  • Fake fingernails
  • Tattoos
  • Wax lips
  • Gummy worms
  • Costume accessories
  • Stage makeup kits
  • Slimy eyeballs
  • Creepy candles
  • Halloween CDs

For more Halloween ideas, visit

About the Author:
Penny Warner has more than 25 years of experience as an author and party planner. She has published more than 50 books, including 16 specific to parties. Additionally, Warner writes a weekly newspaper column on family life, penned a column for Sesame Street Parents magazine and has appeared on several regional and national TV morning programs.

Balloon Time is the leading brand of consumer helium balloon kits in North America. Balloon Time kits feature a helium-filled tank, latex or foil balloons and ribbon, and are available for $20-$30 at mass merchant, party goods and grocery stores nationwide. For more information, visit

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