When friends ask how our Halloween pumpkin carving party began I tell them the story of the random weeknight just before Halloween-before we had kids- when we were feeling a little competitive and challenged one another to a carving contest. I lost big time, but had a blast so I turned it into a party!
The next year we invited a few family members to join us, once we had kids and we invited the few folks we knew in town. Now, the event is a large outdoor extravaganza where the kids don costumes snack all afternoon, float from games, to crafts to pumpkin painting and create fun for themselves while parents carve, nosh and socialize.
Follow Amazing Matriarch’s tips to plan your own carving party that will please guests of all ages:
- Go potluck
There’s something special about a fall pot luck party. I love the smorgasbord of food that appears and am always interested in seeing what’s a hit (buffalo chicken dip and RIP Reubens alway empty fast) and stealing that dish to bring to friends parties in the future. Beyond that, prepping a couple of simple dishes for a large crowd (chili, pulled pork, sloppy Joe’s, mac n’ cheese) is much easier than planning food for a party that could end up with far fewer guests than planned (kids get sick, things come up and people bail last minute).
2. Spread activities, food & drink around the entire yard
I use every area of outside space for something different.
The center of the patio transforms into a craft area with food and drinks along the edges. Hay bails act as seats for kids while they’re crafting, or later, eating. Parents can check out their art while getting a libation or bite and keep from getting trapped in one location.
The back yard becomes a mecca of mayhem where the kids go wild, taking part in simple games like toss the ring on the witch hat and donut eating from our swings, which is also the site for a black cat piñata this year. Plenty of open space lets them release energy and the strategically placed keg off to the side ensures the dads are on hand to observe.
The garage becomes carving central. Folding tables are set inside with chairs so that when there’s no carving going on people can sit and eat. Some food is set within so that folks don’t have to go far to get a bite, especially when working under the judging deadline.
Spreading things out also ensures that everyone mixes.
3. No one will say boo to BYO
We ask guests to BYO dish to share, pumpkin and carving tools as well as a pumpkin to paint for the kids (although a friend with pumpkin patch access scored enough for the kids coming this year). I’ve collected quite a few carving tools through the years but not enough for all so I continue to add that request to the invitation. I also ask that beyond the keg and hot cider (spiked or virgin) guest BYO booze.
4. If it is on Halloween, offer trick or treating
This year Halloween is on a Saturday and so is our party. Friends are welcome to join us in trick or treating around our neighborhood with our house as home base before, during or after. Because why not extend the excitement of Halloween.
-Just one mom masquerading as a party planning superhero one Halloween at a time, Jess
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