Plan an Outdoor Halloween Bash!

Tanya Koob

We used to have an annual Halloween Bash at our house until I sat down to start planning a couple of years ago and realized it took the same amount of effort as throwing a huge birthday party! The carpet would get trashed; juice would be spilled over the floor (and wine more often than not,) with chip crumbs scattered everywhere throughout my house. Time to take it outside! (Into the snow on the first year)

Our first outdoor Halloween party was a simple affair with a snowy day hike through a beautiful canyon, the kids dressed in costumes, and frosted cupcakes as a special treat. Last year’s party jumped in scale, and we ended up hosting our first real outdoor Halloween party complete with piñata, wiener roast, and marshmallows. I originally thought we’d just do a short little costume hike with bonfire after, but then the numbers started to climb, and I realized we were going to have approximately 20 families coming.  With children, we were looking at a group of 80 people coming out to the party.  How do you plan an outdoor party for 80 people at a time of year when there could be snow, rain, temperatures well below freezing?

Fortunately for us, we totally lucked out, and it had to have been one of the warmest days on record for late October here in the Canadian Rockies.  The temperature was close to 70 degrees Fahrenheit by mid-afternoon, and we were all in shirt sleeves running around in the warm fall sunshine.  I even got to wear flip flops!  Contrast this with the previous year when we had a foot of snow already and did our hike with sleds, bundled in winter clothing and wearing boots.

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Our experience isn’t unique – planning a Halloween bash outside is a simple way to get kids together, get fresh air AND run off some of that sugar!

Plan an Outdoor Halloween Bash!

Tips for Planning your own Outdoor Halloween Bash:

The Costume Hike

We like to see the children all dressed in costume, and what better way to photograph them than by catching photos of the kids running through the woods on a short day hike. The key to a successful costume hike with small kids is to choose a short easy trail.  You want to enjoy a fun adventure where the little dragons and tigers can have a good time chasing each other and running around rather than complaining about how far they have to walk.  We also discovered that princess dresses and hoop skirts require a fairly wide trail with no overhanging bushes or branches on the trail.

We also try to choose a trail that all of the children from youngest to oldest can do on their own without being carried.  The parents, after all, want photos of their little bumble bee or ladybug walking/flying through the forest, and it’s hard to get good photos when the children are just riding in child carriers.

Plan an Outdoor Halloween Bash!

The Wiener Roast

Last year I made a giant Costco run the day before the party to get enough hot dogs, buns, and juice boxes for the group. I then asked each family to bring a small amount of cash to cover the basic food and invited everybody to bring other snacks to share.

The result of the invitation to bring other snacks ended up with donuts, muffins, marshmallows, chips, chocolate, cookies, oranges, and a plethora of other yummy stuff.  Definitely a Halloween Party!  The kids loved roasting marshmallows, and I know there was enough food because I couldn’t even think about dinner that night.

This year, I am only bringing a couple of packages of wieners and buns myself, and we have divided up all food so that we don’t have to gather money donations. So far, this is proving to be much easier, and since our event has been created through Facebook, I’ve just had everybody respond with which item they are bringing from a list of food I posted. The list included 6 to 8 packages of hot dogs and buns, condiments and napkins, drinks for the kids, snack items, desserts, marshmallows and firewood. One amazing mom has even offered to bring coffee for the adults.

The “Party”

The best thing about hosting an outdoor party is that there’s really no need for games.  We knew we could just let the kids run wild around the group area we had chosen.  We planned to have our party at a giant group campground that was closed for the season last year. The campground has a big fire pit area, multiple picnic tables, and a giant field for the kids.   Best of all, the campground doesn’t accept reservations or anything so we can just show up and claim the space (which will hopefully be free.) We are fortunate as well in that there’s a hiking trail right below the campground. Otherwise, we’d have to do the hike and then drive to a day use area. (which is our backup plan if we can’t use the campground.)

Aside from the kids eating and running around after the hike, we plan to have a piñata loaded with candy, a few organized games, and one craft for the kids who choose to participate. We’re also bringing a couple of hammocks for the children to play in because a hammock is always party central with kids.

Watching dragons and dinosaurs chase each other through the woods beats a photo shoot at the mall any day, and we are excited to be hosting our second annual Halloween Bash this weekend. Fingers crossed it will be warm and sunny again this year.

Plan an Outdoor Halloween Bash!


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Plan an Outdoor Halloween Bash!

Tanya is the mom of a spunky 4.5 year old boy and lives in Calgary, Canada at the doorstep to the fabulous Rocky Mountains. Her family makes it a priority to get out to the mountains most weekends year round for awesome adventures from camping to hiking, paddling, biking and skiing. Family time is a number one priority for Tanya and you can read about her family’s adventures on her blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies.