Pick your poison: Tips for Throwing a Kid or Adult Halloween Party

For anyone planning a Halloween Party…for adults…for kids….for your kid’s class at school….I’m reposting this interview  – I thought Amy had some really great ideas and tried a few in my daughter’s first grade class party last year and had so much fun!—————————————————————————-

Look, I might not love the over-crowded pumpkin patches in our area, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love Halloween. I actually really love Halloween.

Beautiful display from MarthaStewart.com Photo Credit: Johnny Miller

And many of you know I love a good theme, so what better time of year to throw a creative party, than now? For today’s WM expert series, I spent some time with Amy O’Brien, a local mom, co-founder of an amazing area boutique catering company, Foodie Event, and Halloween-party hostess extraordinaire. Amy and her business partner, Suzanne, actually realized the opportunity they had to start their own catering company based on the growing success and feedback from their annual Halloween parties. So for some original, creative and fun ideas to throw your own bash this year or in future years, read on.

Q: Tell us about your Halloween parties in, let’s call it, the early years because I know they have since evolved from one party to two parties.

Yes. Initially I put together a Halloween party for kids and adults and that eventually grew into a nightmare because it became too big. There were just too many kids. After some time, I broke it up into two parties, one for the kids and one for adults. This also helps the adults stay longer because when your kids are there, so many people tear out of the party so early in the night to get home to put the kids to bed.

Q: Totally agree. So tell us how you organize and plan for a kids Hallowen Party.

This does look really cute

I like to throw the kids party the Saturday before Halloween. And I firmly believe a kids party should last 90  minutes. I’ve found that a 2-hour kids party is suicide. After 90 minutes they just get tired. I organize the flow of the party well in advance, so I know each step and what game comes next. After the kids have some time for free play and admiring costumes after arriving, I move into a couple of games. One game that’s always a big hit is the donut on a string. Think of it like a clothesline of donuts, with each donut  hanging at different levels, and the kids have their hands behind their backs while they eat these little donuts. The first one done is obviously the victor and it’s a hilarious game to watch all these kids participate in with their costumes on. I also like to do it in 2 waves which makes it more fun for the kids because they then cheer their other friends on. Other games that are classic party favorites are pin the nose on the pumpkin and the beanbag toss into the cauldron. Another idea is to blow up orange balloons and black balloons, stick glitter or small prizes in the balloons before blowing them up, and then tape  them in the shape of an orange pumpkin or black spider to the wall. If you are doing the black spider version, I like to affix streamers to the balloons for the spider’s legs. Each kid then gets a pin and gets to pop the balloon. If they pop a glitter balloon, it’s a fabulous colorful explosion but they get to pop another until they get a surprise. Bottom line is, I’d plan for about 3 games for a 90 minute party.

Q: I love those ideas, especially the donut on the string one. Now how about food and decorations?

Keep it simple. I keep the food out the whole time and fill glass cylinders with pirates booty, goldfish and then have a simple cupcake theme. Then I like to end the party with a costume parade and the adults can all watch and cheer on the parade. One year we also had a “Haunted Hike” in our back yard. Different parents were dressed up in costume and would hide scattered around the backyard and then would hop out and make scary noises as the kids came by, like hissing like a snake or howling like a Werewolf. We told them spooky scary stories as we walked through the backyard. The kids loved it and it’s so fun for the adults because kids will believe anything. As for decorations, I usually make my own and supplement with things from Target or Oriental Trading. You can also find a lot at the Dollar Tree on Rockville Pike next to the Trader Joes. There’s so much you can do with just draping cheap white sheets, putting out test tubes to make a Mad Scientist Lab and throwing a crow in a tree.

Q: Love those ideas. Now let’s move on to the adult themed party. Tell us about your adult-only Halloween party from last year because I am sure you aren’t divulging your secrets for this year’s party. And let’s start with invitations – paper or electronic?

So last year the theme was Studio 54 which was really fun because there is a certain mystique to the theme.  I’ve also found that you need a theme for adults because everyone wants something to latch onto. Plus they know you are serious about dressing up when you assign a theme to the party. Parties are what I do, so I just don’t care for electronic invitations. I am always going to head to Paper Source and make my own paper invitations. And the prices are so reasonable at Paper Source, I think I got 200 invites with reply cards for $200. The iconic theme of Studio 54 was “Throw caution to the wind and glitter in the air,” so much to the chagrin of many adults, of course I added gold glitter to invitations. But really – when do we as adults ever get invites with glitter?

Q: I absolutely love it – and totally agree that paper invites are the way to go. So how did you decorate and what sort of food did you serve, Halloween themed or Studio 54 themed?

For decorations, we made some trips to our favorite Value Village for period furniture. So ended up with a little black sofa for one corner, a pit of pillows area with fur, end tables with fondue on them, and 2 gold square tables with finger foods. In terms of food, we stuck with the 70s theme, not the Halloween theme. We did Halloween food the year before but decided it was macabre and ugly. Obviously we aren’t into drugs, but well, we were throwing a Studio 54 party, so we served food on mirrored trays and then took it a step further. We cut pixie sticks, then dumped them in lines on a mirrored tray and passed it around for people, like it was coke. Obviously we had a huge disco ball hanging in my back yard which is still there and I made a playlist to flow with the night. The cocktail hour was chill music, think Olivia Newton John and Barry White and then as the night progressed, we slowly moved through the 70s and 80s to more current music so everyone was really dancing.  What we found is that people didn’t really eat much of the heavier foods so this year we are sticking to more of a dessert theme. And I’ll tip my hat – the theme of this year’s party is Gods and Goddesses.




Why wouldn’t you throw a 70s theme party – you know the Village People will show up

Q: Okay. I love it. The pixie sticks on mirrored trays is absolutely hilarious. And this year’s theme is so creative. Tell us about your business that you’ve recently started, Foodie Event.




Sure. It’s a custom catering and event design business that I started with my friend Suzanne. We are very hands on, we like to meet with our clients to get a vibe on what kind of party they are looking for and then we take it from  there with the food and design. It’s a lot of fun and really did emerge because we realized we were always the people in our group of friends who were throwing the parties.

Make sure you “Like” the Wired Momma Facebook page to keep up with the fun, tricks and treats. Awesome. Thank you to Amy for her great advice today and unfortunately, Amy’s entire computer crashed before we met and she lost her pictures, which is why I don’t have pictures from Amy’s parties included in today’s post. Surely I’m not the only one who is disappointed to miss a shot of that disco ball hanging in her yard and those mirrored trays. Happy Halloween party-throwing everyone!

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