Not quite children and not yet teenagers, tweens occupy a precarious place at Halloween. Many still like to dress up and go door-to-door with their friends, but others might enjoy an evening of alternative Halloween entertainment featuring friends, food and fun.
Host a costumed face-painting party. Many tweens are just starting to get into makeup, so face painting can be thrilling and novel. Have the tweens paint each other's faces, then set up a photo booth. Maybe divide the group into teams, give each several rolls of toilet paper and have them fashion mummy wraps.
Plan a decorated shoes or sock party. Instead of asking guests to wear complete, full-on costumes, invite them to wear Halloween socks or shoes.
Host a movie party. Pop in a couple of Disney movies such as any from the Halloweentown series for a G-rated good time. Or, for a slightly more edgy experience, try "The Watcher in the Woods." It's super scary and suspenseful with no gore. Older favorites such as "That Darn Cat," "Addams Family Values" and "Hocus Pocus" can also be options to consider.
For fun that spreads the joy around, consider a progressive dinner. Have several homes host different meal courses. If you keep them in the same neighborhood, there's no driving involved. Costumed teens meet at the first home for soup and breadsticks. Then, on to another home for crudités with dip or salads. The third stop can be for an entree such as taco salad. Top it all off with dessert around a bonfire or a fireside with Halloween stories.
Send the tweens on a photo scavenger hunt. Since tweens can't drive, turn them loose in the neighborhood with a list of photos they need to capture to win a prize. Many have cellphones with cameras, so have them take selfies with the superheroes, black cats, princesses, pirates, monsters and spider webs. If you want to add a treasure hunt twist, have them return to the house after the photo scavenger hunt to get a list of clues (one for each photo) and send them back out to find the treats you have hidden.
Plan a "Clue" mystery party. Speaking of clues, what about a whole-house version of the popular board game? Players can team up or go-it-alone to solve the mystery and find the weapon, victim and room. Make the clues challenging by having the players have to do math or look up information on the internet. Props can be picked up at thrift stores, garage sales or made out of cardboard. Consider setting a time limit and have the players make accusations to see who is the master detective.
Play Murder in the Dark. This classic party game is perfect for Halloween parties. The object of the game is to try to guess who the "murderer" is before others are bumped off by a wink.
Pass around pieces of paper, all blank except for one that contains a black spot. The guest who gets the black spot will be the murderer, but doesn’t tell anyone.
Collect all the papers for the next round. Lower the lights in the room, so all can barely see each other’s faces. The murderer kills the other guests by winking at them. When a guest sees that he or she is being "killed," they groan and fall over dead. When a guest sees a victim being winked at, they call out “I have an accusation!" and name the suspected murderer. Don't look at the murderer because they could wink you dead before you name them. If the accuser is right, they win. If they are wrong they become a victim and die, as the murderer continues his or her villainous spree.
Serve others. Remind your tweens that there is more to life than their entertainment by helping them do something nice for someone else. Host a Halloween treat-making event, then share the wealth. Whip up some old-school favorites such as popcorn balls, fudge or pumpkin pie with your tweens, don your costumes and deliver the goodies to elderly family members or neighbors.
Or pack a box full of treats and ship them to missionaries or members of the armed forces who are far from home. Help with a carnival or party for young children by hosting the games and giving out prizes. Volunteer at a hospital or library for a few hours.
Pam McMurtry is a wife, parent of seven, artist, designer, caterer and writer with a bachelor's degree in art teaching, drawing and painting. Her "A Harvest and Halloween Handbook" is on Amazon.com and B&N.com. Her website is pammcmurtry.com.