2020. What is there to say about the year 2020 and entertaining. Railroaded comes to mind.
As in most of the events that we usually host. Gone. Reinvented. Transformed.
We have made in person birthday parties into virtual birthdays or drive by parades. And baby showers have become gatherings around the mom-to-be from a distance.
But the good news is that even though we can’t celebrate as easily in person, we can still make memories and spend time together.
Halloween isn’t any different. Although traditional trick or treating may not be recommended and in person Halloween parties dissuaded, we can still celebrate together. But from a distance.
One idea is to host a virtual Halloween party. You can even invite guests to show up in costume. This gives everyone a chance to still show off their costumes – just at a safe social distance.
Choose a Platform for your Virtual Halloween Party
Whenever you’re hosting a virtual event, it’s important to choose the best online platform. This will help make sure that guests have an amazing time. You’d hate for the platform to have a bad Internet connection or crash in the middle of your celebration.
I usually recommend Zoom – and still do – but after using it for a number of events, I’ve learned that there are some limitations. The first is if you don’t have an account, you can only hold an event for 40 minutes. This may be enough time for some smaller events, but I’ve found that for most of my events, it isn’t nearly enough time.
If you would like to use Zoom, but don’t have a paid account, you could find someone with one. There are lots of people these days that are now subscribed to Zoom. Check with other guests and see if they are willing to set up the party through their account.
Another idea is to let guests know that the event will end at the 40 minute mark and then they need to sign back in to continue the festivities. I found this method a little less successful, though. When I attended a parent happy hour with this system, we lost about half of our attendees when we attended the second session.
If you don’t want to host another event using Zoom, there are other online platforms to choose from. You can host your virtual Halloween costume party via Skype, Facebook Messenger or host a Facebook Live event. If you choose to create a Facebook event, you can also invite guests and manage the RSVPs through this platform.
Send the Invitations
Virtual celebrations are best announced digitally. Choose a Halloween invitation that matches the look and feel of your virtual Halloween party. Then, email or text your invitation to guests.
Or you can set up your party as a Facebook event and invite friends through the social media platform. Using this method is helpful is most of your guests are on Facebook.
I usually send my virtual party invitations (and many in person events as well) via Paperless Post. I love the features on this digital mail system. After sending the invitations, I can manage RSVPs, update information the day of the event (which can be important for posting a link to join your virtual event) and upload creative invitation designs. The platform is also ad free, which makes the event look even more impressive.
When adding the information for the event, if you would like your guests to dress up in costumes, be sure to mention it. I mean what’s a Halloween party without the costumes. And if you plan on having a costume contest with prizes, let guests know that too. They are more likely to put extra effort into their Halloween costume making when there is a prize involved.
Also, remind guests to have Halloween treats on hand so you can share a treat together.
Make sure guests are aware that this is a virtual event – not an in-person one. If you have a link to the event sign in, include that on the invitation. If you don’t have a link yet, let guests know the platform that you will be hosting on or that information will be sent at a certain date.
Get in the Halloween Spirit
Just because you are hosting a virtual event, doesn’t mean that you can simply skip the decorations. Actually, the opposite is true. Decorations make your virtual celebration more festive and visually pleasing to your guests to view from afar.
The difference for decorating a virtual party versus an in person one is that you don’t have to deck out your entire space. This makes decorating a lot easier.
Instead, set up a cozy little corner or area for your virtual Halloween party. Choose a Halloween motif that fits the mood of your event. For little kids, you might select something bright and colorful. Friendly ghosts, happy pumpkins and dancing candy corn. With older kids and adults, you can get more spooky. Witches, skeletons, mummies and flying bats.
When decorating, start by choosing a backdrop to hang on the wall or use a Halloween bunting. Then, set up a seating area. Use a comfy chair or two. Place pillows on the floor where littles might like to get comfortable. Add a tabletop to set the laptop so you can stay completely in view of your guests.
The next step is to decorate the space. Use Halloween decorations that fit the look and feel of your party. If you are hosting your virtual Halloween party for younger family and friends, then keep the decorations less spooky. You can find lots of ideas for hosting a kid friendly Halloween party here.
Plan the Menu
Although you won’t be serving guests any food or drink, you will need snacks to enjoy yourself. Plan a menu for your family to enjoy. Some of my favorite Halloween snack ideas include Halloween Ghost Kabobs and Pumpkin Patch Candy Bark. Or stick with more fall favorites such as this Sweet and Salty Fall Snack Mix.
You will also need some spooky refreshments. I love serving hot apple cider and hot chocolate for the kids. Adults may enjoy additional drink selections such as this Ghostly Halloween Cocktail.
Once you have the menu planned, email guests to let them know what food you will be serving. You can even post the recipes and links. This gives guests the opportunity to have the same foods to share so it feels like an in person party.
Host a Costume Contest
Just because your Halloween party is virtual doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a costume contest. Choose a fun prize for the winner and let guests know that there will be prizes for a costume contest in the invitation. When prizes are involved, I find guests get a bit more involved.
During the event, guests can vote for the costumes that they like best. You can have multiple award categories including “Cutest Costume”, “Funniest Costume”, “Prettiest Costume” and “Most Creative Costume”. Send guests a voting ballot before the party. Then, they can fill it out with the costumes they want to vote for and email it to you during the event. Set aside a specific time for voting to happen. Then, tally up the votes and award the prizes.
Select Some Activities
One thing that I’ve learned about virtual get togethers is that there still needs to be entertainment. It’s always a good idea to choose at least two other activities for guests to enjoy. Here are some Halloween themed activities that everyone can participate in no matter the distance.
Roll a Frankenstein
Have the kids enjoy a few rounds of Roll a Frankenstein. Send guests this free printable game to print out at home. Each guest can make their own Frankenstein game pieces out of black construction paper. During the party, guests can play the game together – virtually. See who can roll an entire Frankenstein first!
A fun Bingo game was always popular with my students when I hosted classroom Halloween parties. You can take this classic game virtual by sending everyone a Bingo card to print before the party. Then, as the host, you can call the numbers. Put the number cards into a bag and pull one out. Then, have guests find it on their board. The first person to fill a horizontal, vertical or diagonal row wins.
Make a Craft Together
As you know, crafting together is one of my favorite things to do. Although it isn’t as much fun virtually, I still enjoy watching party guests get creative.
At your virtual Halloween costume party, plan a craft that you can all work on together from afar. Invite everyone to paint a pumpkin or make a ghost wind sock. Other ideas include painting a t-shirt, decorating cookies or making Halloween cards to send to friends and family.
If you do decide to make a craft, let guests know the details before the party. This way they can get the supplies they will need to participate. You can also drop off craft kits if as a special surprise if your guests are local.
Candy Guessing Game
Celebrating Halloween wouldn’t be quite right without… you guessed it… candy. One fun Halloween party game that guests have enjoyed is a candy guessing game.
To set up, fill a jar with candy. You can use candy corn, chocolate candies or an assortment of packaged Halloween candy. During the party, display the jar to let guests guess. Have them share their guesses with you. The guest with the closest guess wins the candy jar.
Guess the Word Game
This is a fun group game to play either in person or virtually. Ask one person to think of a Halloween related word. Then, have them give clues about the word. The other players guess what word that person is thinking of.
Spooky Lego Build
If all of your guests are into Lego building, this activity is for you. Ask guests to do a Halloween themed build together. They can choose a Halloween motif – pumpkins, ghosts, witches, spiders, etc. Let guests build for a set amount of time. Then, have everyone share out their Lego creations. This a great activity for kids to make together.
Digital Fortune Telling
Do you remember getting out the Ouija board during sleepovers? I think staying up all night to tell each other’s fortunes was one of my favorite parts of being a teen.
Continue the fortune telling fun online with digital fortune telling. You and your guests can consult a digital Ouija board at the Museum of Talking Boards and share your fortunes with each other. Or check out one of these other fun fortune telling methods that everyone can participate in digitally.
Tell Ghost Stories
Another spooky Halloween activity for the older guests is sharing favorite ghost stories. Before your virtual Halloween party, read a few ghost stories that you would like to share.
Keep in mind that there is an art to telling a story. So, be sure to practice telling the story before you share it with an audience.
At the party, you can invite guests to gather around their computers (I know, sounds a little weird) to hear some spooky stories. Then, invite guests to share some spooky tales that they know. Telling ghost stories is a great way to get everyone participating in the Halloween fun.
Halloween Scavenger Hunt
If you are looking for an activity that will get everyone moving, invite guests to participate in a Halloween scavenger hunt. During the party, share a list of Halloween related items that guests can find around their house. Then, send them off on the hunt. See which guest can find the most items off of your list first.
Another idea is to assign guests a Halloween costume such as a witch or Frankenstein. Then, have them search for accessories that are associated with the costume from around their house. Ask other guests to see if they can guess the Halloween costume based on the accessories that were found.
Share Halloween Jokes
Everyone loves a good laugh. During the party, share Halloween jokes. You can find some free printable Halloween jokes here.
Telling jokes is also a fun way to get guests involved. Invite them to share some of their best Halloween jokes. It’s a great way to get everyone giggling.
Monster Freeze Dance
For this fun game, play Halloween music and everyone dances. When you stop the music, everyone freezes and holds that position until the music starts again. If the player does not freeze immediately, they have to hop on one foot ten times before the beginning of the next round.
You can also play freeze dance using this You Tube video. It was quite fun to do, but hard to watch all of the guests participate while you play it. And it doesn’t have Halloween music, so it was also a lot less festive.
Give Everyone Time to Share
One of the lessons that I’ve learned about virtual celebrations over the last few months is the importance of giving everyone a chance to participate. Especially kids.
When hosting your virtual Halloween party, make sure each guest is introduced and has a chance to show off their costume. If you play a game and include an activity, be aware that all guests are participating.
Virtual parties can be hard on kids. Especially those that might be more on the quiet side. As host, it’s important to be aware when someone isn’t participating. Then, you can invite them to if desired. Everyone will feel more included when you take the time to make sure all of your guests have a chance to be a part of the action.
Thank Guests for Coming
Although your Halloween party has moved virtual this year doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t thank guests for coming. After the party (or even before), consider dropping off a goodie bag for guests to enjoy.
Some ideas include giving guests a full size candy bar wrapped in a Halloween themed candy bar wrapper or a bag filled with an assortment of candy. You could also put together a Halloween s’mores kit or caramel apple making kit.
If any of your guests won prizes at your virtual event, be sure to drop them off or mail them. It’s a nice way to say thank you for coming.
Celebrating Halloween with a virtual Halloween party not really your thing? I completely get it. Thanks to the pandemic celebrating together has really changed this year.
If you aren’t sure you want to host a virtual Halloween party, but still want to celebrate Halloween with others you could try some of these other ideas.
Invite the neighborhood to have a Halloween parade. This is a great way to socially distance and show off your costumes to others at the same time. You can find lots of tips for having a Halloween parade here.
Or participate in socially distant trick or treating. Fill goodie bags and place them at the end of the driveway. Then, sit at least six feet away to watch the Halloween fun. This way you can enjoy the kids and their costumes without getting too close. And the kids can still collect an abundance of treats.