Despite the dark other-worldliness of Halloween, with its concentration on spooks, witches and zombies, you still want your special party to be remembered for its fun and flair. You want it to be a lively event for everyone, but especially for your younger guests.
The Face Painting
If you are looking for a new way to spice it up, why not hire a face painter? Or perhaps you and one or two other moms have a talent in that direction. Painted faces are a great way to finish off the Halloween costumes the children are dressed up in. Just remember not to start the painting sessions until after the apple bobbing games, or the apples will end up in multicolored water while monster appeal drips away from faces.
Let your invitees know what you are planning so they’ll come in costume but with bare faces all ready for the fun. They’ll come into your ghoulishly decorated Halloween party area all prepared to be terrorized by bats and other ghostly silhouettes, not to mention werewolves and witches, draculas and devils, skeletons and skulls, as well as pirates and pixies.
Play the scary games, bob the apples, fire up the barbecue and fill them up with burgers and beans, sausages and spuds baked in their jackets. But before it gets dark, or in a well lit make-up room, get ready to paint the faces, so everyone will be ready for the pageant or trick or treat time.
If you are doing it yourself, make sure you are prepared with special Halloween face painting kits. You can buy them with designs for witches, devils, Dracula, pumpkins, ghosts, spiders’ webs and so on. You can also get fake blood in gel or cake form, or as theatre greasepaint. And some special kits allow you to add scars or horrific fake wounds to body parts as well.
Here’s a word of warning though. You need to be aware of what each child will tolerate. Most of them love to have a legitimate reason for trying to scare each other, but some are particularly sensitive and could be traumatized by what is meant to be just Halloween fun. Don’t make things too frightening for really young children and make sure they understand that this is all about play acting.
It’s always interesting to find out why we do things as we do, so a little historical pageant explaining the origins of the festival would make a fascinating interlude in your Halloween party. The older children could play the parts in the early scenes, supplemented by adults if necessary.
The first scene would be of people dressed and made-up as Celts in Britain celebrating Samhain at the harvest’s end and the passing of summer to herald a new year. Samhain was the time when the spirits from the next world could fleetingly return to visit the places and people they loved when on earth.
Scene two could be based around Romans worshipping their deity, Pomona, goddess of trees and fruit, including the apples so plentiful at this time of year. They also picked this day both to honor Pomona and to remember their dearly departed.
Scene three could be set on All Saints Day, which was set up by the early Catholic Church to replace the pagan festival of Samhain on the same day. The Christian belief that this was a time when the souls of the departed returned to earth just modified the way that it was thought of by the Celts.
All Saints Day, of course, was to become All Hallows Day. Eventually it was just turned into the brief season of Halloween we celebrate today. So the final scene of your pageant will be all your little rascals having a great time dressed up in their Halloween costumes, and with their faces painted to match.
You can do this on whatever scale you like. It could work with just a few performers or be turned into a grand event that involves most of the community. Perhaps if you start small this year, word would spread and you could find it snowballing in successive years. Anything that brings people together to enjoy each other’s company has to be good.