Last year for Halloween my son and his friends were just under one year old, and we wanted to throw a little Halloween party for babies. Nothing too sweet or scary, just a lot of sensory play, cuddly monsters and friends.
When I think about a party, in my head preparations are usually divided into three parts: what everyone is going to do, what everyone is going to eat, and what everyone is going to take home. Depending on the event and the age of guests in question, the importance of each part shifts: when adults come over, I think more about what to cook and less about what to send home with them. Though I still like to have little party favour bags with small treats. I think it is a lovely tradition… but I am pretty famous for forgetting to give people those bags. They are usually packed beautifully in some corner, and no one notices them until every single guest leaves.
For babies, who at that point had only started exploring the world of solid food, the focus of the party was definitely not on the plates. So I concentrated on what everyone is going to do and then take home.
What to Do
I think that the best activities for babies and toddlers do not require extensive explanations – they are invitations to play and explore. So I set up a few of such invitations around the room.
#1 Sensory Bins. We love sensory bins: I enjoy putting them together, and Budster has fun rummaging through them. We made an autumn sensory bin and a Halloween sensory bin. Dyed rice, gourds and leaves went into the first one; black beans, rice and pompoms were in the second one. Also a little spider made of yarn and pipe cleaners. But the hit of the bin for my baby was always a measuring cup that he could use for scooping the rice up.
#2 Play Dough. Orange home-made play dough with a hint of cinnamon! I added cinnamon and orange food colouring to this recipe by The Imagination Tree, and it was the first play dough I made for Budster. It was a few months before he got really engaged in play dough fun, but it was a start, and he loved punching, squeezing and tearing apart the dough.
This was our play dough corner at the party: all the necessary kitchen utensils, cookie cutters, beans and pasta for decorating.
#3 Room of Horrors. Do not mind the name. It was not very horrible. Only a bed sheet hanging over the table, but for little crawlers it was an exciting place. Inside they could find pillows, flameless candles, little stuffed ghosts I made and Ikea ghost night lamp. It is a night lamp we used since Budster was born.
Did Budster ever love the candles! Meet the fire-breathing boy…
What to Eat
Last fall I tried baking pumpkin cookies, and they were my most favourite recipe for cookies ever since. They are soft, chewy – and have that light pumpkin flavour that makes you think about autumn evenings, crunchy leaves, cuddling on a couch with a book. They were on the menu with fruit snacks!
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (add 2 if you are not big on cinnamon, but my husband loves it more than any other spice)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Combine all the dry ingredients (except sugar): flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, ginger, salt.
3. In a separate bowl cream together butter with sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Mix carefully, running a spatula against the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
4. Mix in dry ingredients.
5. Drop on cookie sheets by tablespoonfuls and flatten slightly with a fork.
6. Bake for about 15 minutes.
What to Take Home
Since sweets were out of question for our baby friends, I played with an idea of making some stuffed felt monsters for them along the same lines as our stuffed ghosts. I do not feel very efficient with a needle, so instead I reached for a paint brush and made a batch of monster blocks.
Here is a tutorial on how to make the monster blocks. After they dried, I put them away in party favour bags – and that time I did not forget to give them away when our little guests were leaving.
For the party, Budster was wearing the costume of a garden gnome. You can find my tutorial on how to make one here. My husband dressed as an Arabian sheik, and I borrowed his cavalier’s costume, drew some whiskers with an eyeliner and turned myself into Puss-in-Boots. I had already dressed as Puss-in-Boots once when I was ten, so that felt nostalgic.
A party is a busy time, but it is also an opportunity to relax with your friends. The combination of the two makes it so that I seldom have any photos left afterwards. Oh well! I do have memories of having fun. The babies were very cautious of the room of horrors at first, but they eventually ventured in there with some giggles and squeals. Rice from the sensory bin was everywhere, and it was just as expected. Adults chatted, and babies crawled around in their bright costumes. It was a good way to have the first ever party for Budster’s friends.
Are you planning to have a Halloween party this year? I would love to hear about it! If you want to stay updated on new stories from Adventure in a Box, consider subscribing to our Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram pages. You may also be interested in exploring the Pinterest board below for more fun Halloween ideas.