Plan a few easy and lively games that embrace the friendly, silly side of Halloween and your party or family gathering can rival the fun of trick or treating. Children who are too young for scare tactics will especially appreciate activities that incorporate Halloween-themed toys, decorations and treats for an all-around experience that keeps them active and engaged. Showing your little ones that Halloween is nothing to be scared of doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming; it just takes a little preparation and some creative ideas. halloween-games-1

Boo-Ling and Beanbag Toss

With a basic bucket, ball and some novelty bowling pins, the whole party can participate in a game that combines bowling (or boo-ling!) and a beanbag toss that can be played indoors or out. Set up the pins at one end of a room or lawn and use the empty bucket to mark the spot where the bowler will stand. Leave about 8 to 12 feet between the bucket and pins, depending on how easy or hard you want to make the game. Play a traditional bowling game, in which you have two tries to knock down as many pins as you can, or just see how many tries it takes to knock down all the pins. halloween-games-booling For the next part of the game, the bowler crosses the room or lawn to gather all of the fallen pins. Turn around to face the empty bucket — your new target. The game is now to throw the pins, as well as the bowling ball, back into the bucket in as few tries as possible. When you’ve landed all the pins in the bucket, return to the initial set-up and it’s back to bowling. halloween-games-booling-2

Halloween Treasure Hunt

You spent all this time on those spook-tastic decorations, so why not make them part of the fun? Keep the kids amused and active with a treasure hunt incorporating your party’s Halloween decor. Hand the children their own special treat bag and tell them that they already have one treat in the bag. When the children pull out their treat, they’ll find taped to it a printed slip of paper with the first clue in the treasure hunt. It could say something like, “You’ll find clue No. 2 under something that says boo!” and lead them to a ghost decoration where you’ve already taped the second clue. halloween-games-treasure-hunt-clue-2 Hide another three or four clues underneath Halloween decorations around the house. Make the directions easy to guess to keep the game fun and avoid any frustration. Write phrases like, “A lantern named Jack will light the way to clue No. 3” and “The incy-wincy creature with eight legs is hiding the next clue.” halloween-games-treasure-hunt-clue The final clue of the treasure hunt should lead to a special prize, like a Halloween Bear hidden underneath a witch’s hat. halloween-games-bear-and-witch-hat

Candy Jar Guessing Game

Before the Halloween party kicks off, fill a decorative jar with candies, counting the number of candies as you put them in. Write the number down but keep it a secret. Use larger candies or a mixture of mini candy bars and smaller sweets so that the total number isn’t too high or difficult for younger children to guess. halloween-games-jelly-bean-counting-2 Every child at the party gets to have one guess at the total number of candies in the jar. Write down everyone’s guess or leave the jar next to a clipboard for all to write down their names and guesses. At the end of the night, announce the winner — the person whose guess is closest to the correct number of candies in the jar. The prize is the jar and all of its yummy contents. halloween-games-jelly-bean-counting

Fishing for Apples

For a modern, kid-friendly version of traditional apple bobbing, use a plastic kids’ fishing net and call the game “fishing for apples.” Fill a large beverage tub with water and float a dozen or so apples in the tub. Make the game a little tricky by including small, plastic Halloween items that also float, such as spiders and pumpkins. halloween-games-apples-in-tub Explain that the goal of the game is to catch just apple in the net by itself, without any pumpkins or spiders. If you catch a Halloween toy, dunk it out and try again until you get only an apple — which you then get to eat. It’s possible the kids will even be happy to have a nice piece of fruit after all that candy. halloween-games-kids-and-tub

What Are Your Best Halloween Party Tricks and Treats?

Please share some of your favorite Halloween party games for young children. What are your tips for keeping the holiday fun instead of scary for the little ones? halloween-games-3