Friday, October 8, 2010

Costume Party #6

For the past six years, I have been hosting a costume party for my son and his friends. It began when I first moved to Mountain Lakes, just after my son had entered his first and only year of preschool, at Smoke Rise Cooperative. We moved into a place called the Village, known first as G.I. Village (the homes were originally built to be affordable for G.I.s returning from the war), and later as Diaper Village. Now it's just the Village. In my town of enormous multimillion dollar homes, the village is a five block collection of Capes, sitting close together, that range for somewhere around a half million dollars. Actually, they were Capes, but many people have built additions or just plain ripped them down and rebuilt. They still have a better price tag than many of the other homes in town.

On Halloween, the Village reigns supreme. Our neighborhood is set up in such a way that kids can easily get from house to house, without dealing with sloping lawns or two lane streets to cross. Our town closes off certain areas made exclusive to trick-or-treaters, and the village is one of them. They don't allow cars to drive though, and police monitor everything on bicycles. Homes have parties of all sorts, and tailgate, offering trick-or-treaters and friends food like chili, sandwiches, and bagels. Some pass out cups of sangria, bottles of beer. In years past, I made Cuban sandwiches, and pressed Italian sandwiches. Trick or treating officially begins at 4 p.m. and goes until 8 p.m.  and we get between 500 - 700 kids in that time, depending on the weather.

In celebration of Halloween, I stared hosting an outdoor costume party. My house can't comfortably fit 30 kids, but my yard sure can. I had it catered, and since the kids were so young, the parents stayed. The party was a hit, and continued year after year. I do it a few weeks before Halloween, both to kick off the holiday season, and to have plenty of time for a rain date option.

Walt Disney World used to have an Easter egg hunt annually that was basically a grassy yard full of yummy candy and big, swirly lollipops.  I so looked forward to that every year (we spent every Easter break in WDW). Giant lollipops sticking out of the ground, just waiting to be grabbed. Of course, those same lollipops were also available in the WDW Village Market for a few dollars, but it was far more fun to claim them on the festive, green lawn.
The Disney Easter hunt made such an impression on me that I decided to try and replicate it at my house, but on a smaller scale. The first year I did the hunt, it was every one's favorite part of the party. It beat out the entertainment, the games, everything. And so, it continued. This year, (spoiler alert) I went shopping for hunt items and got skulls, giant pencils, masks, candy, fangs, spider rings, and those big giant lollipops. On the day of the hunt, we put the goodies out just an hour or two before the party starts, so that animals - bears, especially - don't come for a picnic. And so that nothing melts. (One year, I put out 20 giant Hershey's bars, all of which melted in the early afternoon sun, all over the lawn.)

The pile of party stuff. The skull is 2' high and the cat is a beanbag toss.

Our party this year is set to start in the late afternoon, so that it ends just around dusk. The kids are older now, fourth graders, and it's time to tween things up. In lieu of kiddie entertainment, as I was hard pressed to find anything suitable for kids my son's age, I decided to do an old fashioned Halloween party, sans formal entertainment. We are going to have three legged race, do bobbing for apples, and mummifying each other. Fun stuff, for kids who aren't so little anymore.

I have a giant, green glittery skull, about 2" high, for the table, and I am going to go get pumpkins tomorrow with the kids and Ward. The party comes up slow but is over quickly, so its important that we make the most of it, both in advance and on the day of the party.

Because if you blink, you just might miss it.

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