There are several games traditionally associated with Halloween parties.
The most common is dooking or bobbing for apples, perhaps derived from the Roman celebration of Pomona.
Apples were put into a barrel that had been filled to the brim with water and an individual would have to catch an apple by catching them in their mouth with out using their hands. Once an apple had been caught, it was traditional to peel the apple and drop the peelings into the barrel to see if the peel would spell out a letter. Whatever letter the peeling formed itself into would be the first initial of the participant’s true love.
A variant involves kneeling on a chair, holding a fork between the teeth and trying to drop the fork into an apple. Another common game involves hanging up treacle or syrup-coated scones by strings; these must be eaten without using hands while they remain attached to the string, an activity which inevitably leads to a very sticky face.
Some games traditionally played at Halloween are forms of divination.
In Puicíní (pronounced “pooch-eeny”), a game played in Ireland, a blindfolded person is seated in front of a table on which several saucers are placed. The saucers are shuffled and the seated person then chooses one by touch. The contents of the saucer determine the person’s life for the following year. A saucer containing earth means someone known to the player will die during the next year, a saucer containing water foretells travel, a coin means new wealth, a bean means poverty, etc.
In 19th-century Ireland, young women placed slugs in saucers sprinkled with flour. The wriggling of the slugs and the patterns subsequently left behind on the saucers were believed to portray the faces of the women’s future spouses.
In North America, unmarried women were frequently told that if they sat in a darkened room and gazed into a mirror on Halloween night, the face of their future husband would appear in the mirror. However, if they were destined to die before they married, a skull would appear. The custom was widespread enough to be commemorated on greeting cards from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The Apple Peel
One game involved the peel of an apple. An unbetrothed girl would peel an apple in one long unbroken strand. If the peel broke, then she would have to start again with a new apple until she could peel the entire apple without breaking the peel. Then with her right hand she would throw the peel over her left shoulder. The shape the peel landed in on the floor would indicate the initial of the young lady’s true love. Whether it was the first initial, last initial, or middle initial was often left up to interpretation as the girls often already had a young man in mind.
More Halloween divination games with Emily.
Halloween Kids Games
Whenever you bring a group of kids together for a party, it’s a smart strategy to have a few organized games planned, but especially at Halloween when everyone is revved up from the excitement and candy. These games will work at both home and classroom parties. Just be sure to consider the ages of the children when you select the suitability of the games. Then go ahead and have a howling good time!
Wrap the Mummy
Divide the children into groups of three to five kids. Select one child in each group to be a mummy. Then give the other children a roll of toilet paper or crepe paper. Instruct them to wrap the mummy with the paper, leaving the eyes, nose and mouth uncovered. The first group to be done with their roll of paper, wins.
Halloween Freeze Dance
Play a famous anthem like the Monsters Mash and tell the children to dance. When you turn off the music, they all need to freeze. Whoever is caught moving during the freeze is out of the game. The last person dancing, wins. For a fun variation on this game, tell the children they will need to pose in the Halloween shape you will have called out during the previous freeze. Some fun shapes could be: black cat; pumpkin; broomstick; mummy; bat; etc.
Make the Zombies Laugh
Tell all the children to lie still on the floor like a zombie. Select one child to be “it”. That child’s job is to make the other children laugh. “It” can make funny faces, dance, act silly, whatever inspires him or her. Once a “zombie” laughs, he or she can join “it” in attempting to make the group laugh. Whoever holds out the longest without laughing is the winner.
Pass the Pumpkin
This game is a variation on “hot potato”. Seat the kids on the floor in a circle. Give them a small pumpkin to pass around. Play Halloween party music as they pass the pumpkin, and periodically stop the music. Whoever is holding the pumpkin is out. The game continues until one person is left with the pumpkin.
Pumpkin Penny Toss
Carve out a large pumpkin, making a wide opening at the top. Give each child a handful of pennies. Have them stand an appropriate distance from the pumpkin and try to toss the pennies in, one at a time. For each successful toss, give the child a small piece of Halloween candy.
Just the thing your party needs to get a spooky vibe filling the air! Sit down in a circle with some candles and lights out…then start spinning your scariest story! You can all tell stories one at a time, or you could each tell a little bit of the same story…whatever YOU want!
Pick out some good sized pumpkins at your local market (or have everyone bring their own), get some adult supervision (and a pumpkin carving kit) and get ready to carve! You can either all carve your pumpkins for fun, or you can make a contest out of it! Remember, you don’t have to carve a face! You can carve whatever you want in your pumpkin! Get creative and have some fun with it! Don’t forget to stick a candle inside and set them up on the porch at night!
Halloween Scavenger Hunt
If the kids are bored, try hosting a Halloween scavenger hunt for them. You can create your own list of items they need to find or use one from an existing game like our Halloween scavenger hunt printable below.
Print off this Halloween Scavenger Hunt List and give it to each child so they know what to look for. Each time they find an item, cross it off the list and hand them a Halloween treat or small toy to keep their spirits up!
Who can draw the coolest Halloween picture? Find out by holding a Halloween art contest. Use paints, crayons, markers, lots of paper…and you’re set! Remember, you’ll need a judge!
Rent some scary movies and have a scream-fest! Don’t forget the popcorn!