Hosting Your Own Halloween Party
If trick-or-treating options are limited, why not throw your own Halloween party? Here’s a timeline to streamline your organization and keep you sane:
Three to Four Weeks Before
- Decide what age group your party will cater to.
- Settle on the theme. If you narrow it down to a few elements, it will be easier to plan your decor, food, games, and activities. A good starting point would be a television or movie character. Or you could have an all-black insects and animals party with spiders, bats, black cats, and werewolves. Witches, ghosts, goblins, or even just fall elements like pumpkins and autumn leaves also make good party themes.
- Write up a guest list.
- Set a date. Halloween falls on a Thursday this year, so the weekend before or after would be a safe bet.
- Settle on a budget.
- If desired, book entertainment (ideally, three to four weeks in advance).
Two Weeks Before
- Design and send out your invitations with elements of your theme.
- Your invitation might include an RSVP, the dress code, and a request to know about food allergies.
- Shop for party decorations and costumes.
- Plan your crafts and activities and shop for materials. Spread the prep work over several days. Game ideas include wrapping guests in toilet paper like a mummy, treasure hunts, scary musical chairs, and pass the parcel.
- Get your costumes. The younger your children, the simpler the costume can be; they’ll quickly outgrow them or may not want to wear it if they’re cranky. The end of October can already be chilly, so prepare with layers of thermal clothing underneath the costume.
One Week Before
- Confirm your guest list. This is crucial if you are planning crafts. Always have extra for the inevitable tearing up and starting over.
- Decide on the menu. You can serve regular food and give them creative names. A plate of spaghetti with meatballs and tomato sauce might be “Witch Guts and Innards,” popcorn can be “Bat Brains,” and raisins can be “Bloated Black Ants.” Plan alternatives for children with food allergies or dietary restrictions.
- Adjust your child’s costume if needed.
A Few Days Before
- Shop for food. Prepare whatever you can in advance.
- Stock up on treats. Set up several stations within your house where kids can yell “trick or treat.” Consider giving out non-sugary tokens like fake tattoos, stickers, and glowsticks. If you live in an expat compound with its own Halloween celebration, you’ll need to arm yourself with more goodies.
On the Day
- Carve the pumpkin. Doing this too early might cause it to rot.
- Prepare music. Tune into www.halloweenradio.net for a wide variety of kid-friendly Halloween music.
- Have a movie ready for kids who may need some downtime. Corpse Bride and The Nightmare before Christmas are fun for younger ones while Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th are more suitable for older kids.
- Set out candy or other treats for trick or treating.
- Set up designated stations for crafts and activities. Have a sample ready so that children can craft independently when they arrive.
- Have a trash can and some cleaning supplies ready.
- Delegate tasks to older kids or parents who are also attending. One person can be in charge of opening the door, one can keep an eye on drinks and music, another can run the games, etc. Don’t forget to have a designated photographer!
Come Out and Play!
Don’t want to host your own party? No problem. Though Halloween isn’t traditionally celebrated in China, there are plenty of ways to get some ghoulish merrymaking in. For one thing, there’s our very own annual and hugely popular beijingkids Halloween Costume Party. Now in its seventh year, the event has expanded to three different sessions at Hilton Beijing Wangfujing. Tickets for both sessions on October 27 are already sold out, while tickets for the session on October 25 are going fast.
Highlights include a five-star buffet, onsite trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, face painting, costume parades, and free family portraits. Tickets must be bought in advance, with special discounts available for beijingkids Club members. beijingkids editors and staff will be on hand to chat with readers, lead activities, and have fun.
In Shunyi, the larger residential compounds also host trick-or-treating parties:
River Garden Halloween Party
Saturday, October 26 from 4-10pm
The biggest Halloween event in Shunyi; River Garden even closes the compound to vehicles for the safety of trick-or-treaters. The clubhouse is transformed into a haunted house. Younger kids (up to age 6) are welcome from 4.30-5.30pm, while older kids get a spookier version of the haunted hause from 6.30-8.30pm. However, attendees must be invited by a River Garden resident and pay RMB 10 per person for admission to the haunted house. The full Halloween schedule will be released during the week before the party.
Beijing Riviera Halloween Family Dinner and Movie Night
Thursday, October 31 from 5-9pm
This Halloween party features a parade and trick-or-treating around the compound from 5-6.30pm. There’s also a buffet dinner from 6-9pm (free flow soft drinks and beer included) and a movie screening at 6.30pm. Registration is required by October 30 as there’s a maximum capacity of 200 people. RMB 188 per adult, RMB 94 per child (ages 4-12). To find out more, call 8450 6888.
Other compounds such as Yosemite, Capital Paradise, and Lane Bridge host events as well. Stay tuned on the beijingkids website for upcoming details.
There’s also the fifth annual Halloween Jack O’Lantern carving
contest at The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu. On Saturday, October 26 from 2-4pm, participants can select and decorate a pumpkin for a chance to win a birthday party, sleepover, or weekend getaway package at the inn. The creations will be judged by The Schoolhouse’s team and displayed at the Saturday Fine Dining. Categories encompass children up to age 12, teens up to age 17, and adults. In addition, any young guest who wears a costume while dining (11am-6pm) will get free dessert from the a la carte menu and any adult who wears a costume during Saturday Fine Dining (6-9pm) will receive a free bottle of house red or the equivalent credit towards another wine to be served with dinner. For more information, call 6162 6506 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put Your Game Face On
Though Taobao abounds with costume options, there’s nothing quite like hunting for the perfect costume in person and trying it on for size. Here are a number of affordable local options to turn your little one into the perfect witch, zombie, or pop-culture reference:
This Shunyi toy store usually stocks Halloween costumes for less than RMB 200, including witches’ robes, masks, and capes. Daily 9am-7pm. 701 Pinnacle Plaza, Tianzhu Real Estate Development Zone, Shunyi District (8046 4572) 顺义区天竺房地产开发区荣祥广场701号
Tianyi Market 天意市场
Located in Fuchengmen, Tianyi Market is the largest wholesale market in Beijing. You’ll find masks, pumpkin lanterns, wigs, decorations, hats, spooky candles, full costumes (including witches’ robes) and more packed into over 11,000sqm of space and 1,550 stalls. Daily 7.30am-5.30pm. 259 Fuchengmen Waidajie, Xicheng District (6832 7607) 西城区阜成门外大街259号
Tian Le Toy Market 红桥天乐玩具市场
Located within Hongqiao Market, Tian Le has more than 300 stalls with similar offerings as Tianyi Market. Be warned; you will be overcharged unless you bargain hard. Daily 8.30am-7pm. 136 Fahuasi Jie, Chongwen District (6711 7499) 崇文区法华寺街136号
Tot to Teen 红马车儿童用品商店
This clothing store for ages 0-15 stocks Halloween costumes averaging RMB 150, including pumpkin heads, Batman, Spiderman, capes, and the Seven Dwarves. 1) Daily 9am-7pm. 703 Pinnacle Plaza, Tianzhu Real Estate Development Zone, Shunyi District (8046 4419, email@example.com) 顺义区天竺房地产开发区荣祥广场703号; 2) Daily 10am-7pm. Stall 102, 30 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6417 9640) 朝阳区三里屯路30号102商店
photos by Dana Cosio-Mercado and Mitchell Pe Masilun
This article originally appeared on p38-39 of the beijingkids October 2013 issue.
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com