How to Host a Halloween Party That Speaks to Both Kids and Adults

Find just the right balance of tricks and treats with these fun-for-all-ages activities.

Creating the right mood at a Halloween party attended by kids, tweens, teens, and parents has its challenges: What's too creepy for the littlest guests is often too lame for the older ones. But rethinking your go-to activities can help you put together a fête that's sweet—and spooky—enough to treat your entire group. "Halloween is meant to be shared with people of any age," says Elisabeth Accardi of Upon a Star, an event planning company that specializes in kids' and family parties. "We all know what's scary, but it's just as fun to make it open for all so everybody can be included." Ahead, how to throw a party that works for anyone in your bunch.

Create a mystical atmosphere.

Instead of a ghostly haunted house complete with light-up animatronics, sound effects, and jump scares, Accardi suggests a modern take on the occult: An oracle station. Set up small tents draped with fabric and decorated with Himalayan salt lamps, bunches of sage, hanging stars, and palo santo sticks to set the mood, and offer guests the chance to draw oracle cards (similar to tarot cards, family-friendly oracle cards provide encouragement and insight instead of predictions for the future). "The right deck of oracle cards will make people feel inspired and hopeful," says Accardi. Add to the atmosphere with take-home bags or boxes teens can fill with a custom selection of crystals and stones believed to have mystical healing powers, and set up a candle-making station for older guests that incorporates dried herbs and fall scents.

kids and parents at halloween party
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Make some movie magic.

Keep guests of all ages entertained with a thoughtfully-styled outdoor movie night, where you can show a marathon of classics or target the films to each age group (think Scooby Doo if your party skews young, Scream or Friday the 13th for teens, and anything Hitchcock for the film buffs). Accardi recommends scattering your space with blanket-covered hay bale-tables set between groups of chairs for easy access to snacks; placing LED candelabras around your yard; stacking extra fleece blankets (perfect for hiding your eyes during the scary parts); and providing plenty of movie-inspired snacks—like a popcorn bar where guests can mix their own flavor combinations and a cider or hot chocolate station with cinnamon sticks, marshmallow stirrers, and spices.

Let the kids go hands-on.

Offering a variety of interactive stations keeps kids occupied and happy while parents mingle, says Accardi, who has a few favorites: Set up a glow station, where kids can take advantage of the dark night to sport neon bracelets, necklaces, and glasses while they play, or create a slime lab where mini mad scientists can mix up classic green, clear, or blood-red slime with plastic eyes, fake teeth, and creepy spiders. Then go back to basics by provide a stack of board games, including some with a Halloween connection—like the murder mystery at the heart of Clue, the tension of Labyrinth, or the candy-themed Beanboozled—and watch as even the teens stop texting for a few minutes. "There's something fresh about putting your phone away and going back to what things used to be," says Accardi. "There's really something for everybody."

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