Fed up with the school birthday treats? Me too. Here’s everything you’ll need for a quick and easy NO SUGAR school Halloween party. Games, activities, and healthy food plan done for you!
Are you in charge of planning a kids’ Halloween party for your child’s elementary school classroom this year?
Are you low on time and ideas?
Do you wish Halloween (and classroom parties) could have far less sugar and hyped up children than they do?
I’m here to help.
We had a blast with a one-hour zero-white-sugar Halloween party in a second-grade with this plan, and I’ve tweaked and reused it a few times since then too, for kindergarten and fourth graders!
No White Sugar Halloween Party Food
A few parents thanked me for planning food that didn’t include a bunch of candy, and I didn’t hear any kids say, “Hey! Where’s the cupcake with inch-thick frosting and a sugar cookie as big as my face?!??”
I’m thinking the food went over well.
Here’s a real food menu for a Halloween party, complete with some dramatic presentation – because I love to show kids (and adults) that healthy food can still be FUN and we don’t need to drown ourselves (and our kids) in sugar!!
Jack O’Lantern (Pumpkin) Muffins
This is my absolute favorite and EASY pumpkin muffin recipe, and it uses whole wheat flour, sucanat as the sweetener, real pumpkin puree (and here’s the gluten-free pumpkin muffin version). Call them Jack O’lantern muffins and you have yourself a healthy Halloween treat!
Jack O’Lantern Cookies
As an alternative to Jack O’lantern muffins, how about Jack O’lantern cookies? The first Halloween party I hosted I actually made both the muffins and the cookies, but now in my wisdom of later years, I’ve realized that a school party should have no more than 3 food items, or a lot of good food gets tossed in the trash.
I usually opt to skip the muffins and keep the cookies since there’s less sweetener (only 1/2 cup honey for 6 dozen cookies!) and kids think “cookies” are more fun!
Carrot Witches’ Fingers & Slimy Eyeball Grapes
When I presented these funny snacks to the group of kids, I explained that I had invited a group of witches to do a singing and dancing number for the class, but instead of witch singers somehow a box came with just witch fingers. 😉
They’re baby carrots with a sunflower or pumpkin seed stuck in the end – and they look just as good with shelled sunflower seeds too.
Then I held up a sticky eyeball toy and asked if anyone would like one on their plate, then sent a dad around with a bag marked “EYEBALLS” to serve. (They’re peeled grapes. I recommend peeling one per child for the touchy-feely experience, then offering extra unpeeled grapes.)
Buttered Popcorn (Skeleton Vertebrae)
I said I had also invited a skeleton to do a comedy routine, but the parking lot was so busy with parents that when he got out of my van and rushed out without looking both ways, he got hit by a car! I could only collect his vertebrae in the bowl…
The popcorn is popped in coconut oil and covered in about a stick of butter per cup of unpopped popcorn kernels…it was so good I had parents asking how I did it! Full instructions in Healthy Snacks to Go.
Cheesy Ghosts & Pumpkins
Take individual slices of white cheese and cut them into ghost shapes with a Halloween ghost cookie cutter (or freehand with a knife). To make them easy to pass out to kids, use pre-wrapped slices and wrap them back up. You could use the same idea with orange cheese and a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter!
Beverage: 100% White Grape Juice with a Gummy Worm…
Here’s where the only white sugar at our party entered. I apologized to the kids and said that I had been gardening before coming to the party, so “I’m terribly sorry if anything out of the ordinary got in your cups from the garden…”
It was fun.
But if I really had my druthers, I’d just serve water. In general, I’m not a fan of juice, and I’ve since gone to only water when I help plan parties, usually with something fun about it like the Christmas ice cubes we made for that party. Here are some Halloween themed ice cube trays if you want to make a glass of ice water extra fun!
Skip the gummy worm and you also have a party without any artificial colors, another amazing feat worth celebrating.
Simple Halloween Kids’ Party Games
Ask the children to bring in recyclables or (clean) trash for this activity. An email from the teacher will be a great quick reminder to parents.
Either in groups or individually (we introduced it as a group activity but most kids wanted to make their own, and there were lots of parents to help), tell the kids they’ll be creating monsters out of trash.
Kids can try to build the largest, scariest, most creative, etc. monster, using cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, bottle caps, oatmeal canisters, plastic bags, and whatever else you can drum up.
Be sure to tell them that if they finish early, they should make a friend for their monster, a baby monster, a pet monster, or whatever, rather than run around and bother others.
Optional: Have a “show and tell” where the groups/individuals get to share their monsters and tell which “-est” they made (cutest, ugliest, etc.).
- trash and recycling (everyone contributes)
- duct, masking and packing tape
- string and yarn
- permanent markers (if kids are old enough, to draw faces)
- optional: embellishments like pipe cleaners or foam stickers
Time: give at least 20 minutes to build, maybe more, plus sharing time
Extra Benefit: We’re told kids don’t get a lot of creative time these days AND that life can get too competitive…but this open-ended project with no real winners is perfect!!
Apples on a String
Here in Michigan, we had an apple shortage the year I first used this healthy Halloween party plan. I told the kids there just weren’t enough apples to bob for apples, alas, so we would make the apple fly instead.
Bonus: This method is quicker, needs no water, and has far less germ sharing than actually bobbing for apples.
Children paired up, and one child held an apple SLICE on a string while the other tried to eat it as fast as they could – without using their hands. Emphasize that rule a few times. I would say, “Without using your —” and wait for the class to fill in “hands.”
If you can, have another parent or two passing out the apples while you’re explaining the rules.
Choose a winner for round one from the whole class OR a winner from each row/table/group of desks.
Be sure to explain from the start how the winner is chosen – do they need to have the apple gone as in “in their mouths,” or do they need to run up to a leader and show that they’ve swallowed the apple, etc.
Round two is simply switching places. Kids might ask, “Can we move the apple around?” and the simple answer is that if you make it hard for your partner, they’ll probably make it hard for you!
Give prizes to any winners OR have a championship round in the front of the class where the 2-8 winners from both rounds compete for one big winner. You can be silly and have adults hold the strings and purposely make it difficult, if the class has that personality.
- apples sliced in eights (enough for one for each student plus extras for a championship round and the ill effects of gravity)
- 3-foot lengths of string tied around the middle of the apple
- prizes (or not…)
Time: 10-15 minutes
Note: Tie the strings tightly enough to make a dent in the apple or you’ll end up with many on the ground. This game can also be done with pretzel rods, but that’s decidedly less healthy.
Divide the class into groups of four kids.
Each team will wrap “mummies” using a roll of toilet paper. They can have a child hold the end and spin around, or the kids can walk around the “mummy” to wrap him or her.
Any time the mummy gets dizzy or wants to switch, they can just tear the paper and start a new mummy on another child. In this way, all the kids can really participate and be silly, and there’s some decision making about how to be fastest. Also, hopefully no one gets toooooo dizzy. (I recommend doing this game before food, not after!)
The first team to use all their toilet paper wins!
- rolls of toilet paper, enough for each group of 4 to have one
Time: 10-15 minutes?
We didn’t actually have time for this game, but we’ve decided to make it a Christmas game of “putting garland on a spinning Christmas tree” like in a department store. We’ll put a bow on their heads as they play to keep it festive!
Backup Activity: Halloween Word Play
This is a good 5-minute game that takes zero prep and can be inserted if you don’t have enough time at the end of the party for the Mummy Wrap or have a bit of extra time to kill.
Simply write “HAPPY HALLOWEEN” on the board and set a timer for 3, 4 or 5 minutes. The kids work independently or in groups to make as many words as they can using the letters in Happy Halloween.
They may use letters more than once, but not in the same word.
For example, having both “low” and “wall” on a list is fine, even though there’s only one “w” available.
The word “wool” would not work, because there’s only one “o” to use in each word.
I recommend this game for 2nd grade and up, maybe first grade if it’s a pretty bright class.
Award prizes to the top 3 (or more) with the most words; bonus prizes for the longest word.
- paper and pencils
time: 5-10 minutes
Backup activity: Holiday Word Ball
This is a little twist on “quiet ball,” that rainy day school game where kids sit on their desks and toss a ball around. Anyone who misses or is not quiet has to sit down on their chair.
In this version, the leader chooses a category related to the holiday. For Halloween, I had prepared:
- orange things
- things made of pumpkin
- scary costumes
- Halloween TV specials
- Halloween decorations
- Halloween animals
The leader calls out a category, and when each child catches the ball, they have to say the name of anything that would fit that category. If someone can’t think of anything, they have to sit down in their chair and a new category begins.
For example: “things made of pumpkin” might include cookies, pies, pancakes, muffins, pumpkin seeds, jack-o-lanterns…
When anyone drops the ball after a decent throw – determined by the adult in charge – they are also “out” and have to sit down.
- ball or holiday something to throw – I had a stuffed pumpkin
- list of categories
Time: as short or as long as needed; a good time filler while waiting for the “costume parade” to come around.
Halloween Crafts for School Parties
For younger children preschool through first grade or so, a craft is just as good as a game. Try these two if you have younger children at your school party.
Candy Name Mosaics
Free-hand or print out each child’s name on a regular sheet of printer paper, and make sure the letters are nice and thick so that some candies can fit in the middle to fill them up.
Give each child a small paper cup of glue and a craft stick, and another small paper cup with Halloween candies inside such as candy corn, M&Ms, or Reese’s Pieces.
The children get to make their name out of candy which is, of course, the very best purpose for all that sugar on Halloween anyway.
Bonus: challenge them to make patterns or do counting for extra academic practice.
The Painting of the Gourd
Looking back, I actually can’t believe I did this without painting smocks, and I hope the parents weren’t too upset with me because their child’s costume got paint on them.
Here’s what you need for this craft:
- white potatoes
- small gourds
- tempera paint
- styrofoam trays or another way to hold the paint
- white printer paper
- painting smocks
This craft works great as a station, where about five or six kids are working on it at once and rotating through some other activities.
Pour the paint onto the styrofoam trays and allow the children to simply explore what sort of textures and patterns can be made with various sizes and shapes of gourds.
For added fun, I cut white potatoes in half and made them into jack o’ lantern stamps. Hollow out two eyes and a mouth deep enough so that the paint doesn’t really fill it and it will create a void on the paper as long as the children dab the paint and don’t put it on too thick.
If you’re very crafty, which I am not, you might also be able to shape ghosts or cat faces. In this case, our kindergarteners had so much fun with the paint that it didn’t really matter that my detail left a little to be desired.
Be sure to find a place in the room where the children’s artwork can dry and of course okay anything messy with the teacher well in advance.
Other Halloween Posts:
- 8 Ways to Have a Greener Halloween
- How to Naturally Get Halloween Face Paint Off
- Real Food Halloween Dinner: Spooky Shepherd’s Pie
- Sweetless Trick-or-Treats: Alternatives to the Sugar Fest
- How to Make Pumpkin Seeds Yummy
- Candy Corn Finger Jello Recipe
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