Not everyone celebrates Halloween. Some of our family friends don’t observe the holiday for religious reasons. My teenage daughter still wanted those friends to enjoy dressing up in costumes along with everyone else, so she decided to throw a non-Halloween painting party. So here’s our how to, on how to host a non-Halloween painting party!
Parties at our house usually center around the pool or outdoor games; but swimming isn’t feasible in costume, bobbing for apples would ruin make-up, and many games place emphasis on the traditional Halloween themes we were trying to avoid. Carving pumpkins – even with a fall flair instead of a spooky look – was right out. No way was I arming a dozen tweeners with knives or battling that many pumpkins guts. Our compromise? Pumpkin painting, which quickly evolved into a potpourri of painting possibilities!
What you’ll need:
- Acrylic paint
- Water cups for rinsing between colors
- Table protection
- Plates to use as palettes
- Objects to paint, go for variety!
My kids are all-in on the rock painting craze, so we already have a houseful of paint. We picked up a few extra high demand colors for 50 cents each at WalMart, along with a $5 pack of brushes to share. We grabbed a long plastic tablecloth from a dollar store, and styrofoam plates as pallets for mixing colors. We cut the tops off water bottles from the recycling bin, using the bottoms as cups for rinsing brushes between colors. I have neither the time nor the inclination to make clever snacks like spider cookies, edible eyeballs or hotdog fingers; and this wasn’t a Halloween party anyway, remember? Two bags of chips and gallons of drinks, and we were good to go…except for something to paint!
This is where I claim mom points for turning a lack of ideas into the idea itself! At $6+ a pop, real pumpkins add up way too fast when hosting a dozen kids for a casual shindig. Instead, we headed to Jo-Ann Fabrics, where their Halloween and fall décor is already deeply discounted to make way for Christmas decorations (lawd ha’mercy). We found a veritable cornucopia of paintable pretties on the cheap. We picked up one of everything, from skeletons to pumpkins, in foam, plastic and wood. With a 20% coupon I found on their website while standing in the checkout line, we paid $1 – $3 per item and had more than enough choices for every kid to paint a unique item to take home! During the party, we drew names from a hat. When your name was called, you could pick whatever you wanted from the remaining items on the table. The rejected tchotchkes are going back to the store.
Once everyone had their most coveted “canvas”, we let them loose. I admittedly started to give (too many) directions about how to blot your brush after rinsing, or how much paint was ideal to squeeze out at once; but a loving and exasperated look from my hubby shut me up. So we just sat on a couch in the next room and let them do their thing. They painted for about 45 minutes, then left their masterpieces to dry while they dug into snacks and kept themselves busy until pickup time. I snapped a picture of each piece and sent a collage to all the moms, challenging them to guess which art belonged to their kid. The kids had taken some unexpected pieces and approaches, which made it all the more fun.
Surprisingly, clean up was a breeze. Aside from washing the brushes and dumping the water cups out, everything else just rolled up in the tablecloth. Our house (intentionally) looks like everything’s been painted, scraped down, then painted and scraped again anyway; so we weren’t terribly stressed over the risk of rogue paint. We covered our only 2 fabric chairs in old sheets as protection, but it proved unnecessary. There wasn’t a drop of paint on them!
This really was super simple to pull off. Each kiddo had a special decoration to take home, we didn’t break the bank, and everyone was able to participate by picking the objects they liked best, be it scary or simply autumn-inspired. Our 2 hour time frame gave parents enough time for a date escape but was short enough to keep the kids focused on fun and not running amok. In reality, the event was a thinly-veiled attempt at inclusion and a hair-brained solution to having no inspiration about activities. But it ended up so successful, I suspect it will be an annual undertaking we’ll all look forward to.