Though I grew up on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, I hold a warm spot in my heart for Brunswick, Maine. Living in Brunswick was the most idyllic setting for a childhood. Even Stars Hollow has nothing on the Maine town. And during autumn? 🍂🍁🍂 No town does fall like Brunswick and its citizens are not even try-hard about it. I have the best memories of celebrating Halloween: Trick-or-Treating, city-wide Halloween parties, and the best Minnie Mouse costume a little girl could ever wish for.
I have been disappointed not to have felt safe enough to allow the Pamper Pirate to enjoy Halloween the way I assume I did when I was his age. Two Halloweens and minimal celebration. However, since he started and completed his vaccine cycle, I decided that it was game on for celebrating the holiday. I did not hold back on any element, though as the party was for a ton of toddlers, I put the kibosh on games. No bobbing for apples around here!
My husband and I wanted to serve two main dishes. In addition to Rachael Ray’s pumpkin pasta, we served buffalo chicken chili. Perhaps most crucial, the chili was started the day before. Low maintenance and delicious.
In addition to the main plates, we served an apple and onion dip with tortilla chips. While I prefer it with original Triscuits, they were unavailable to us. Nevertheless, the dip is most delicious served hot after minimal time cooling in the food processor from the pan. People, this is only a three ingredient recipe!
As a host to a party of toddlers, offering brunch drinks to the parents was a non-negotiable. Adding orange juice to champagne was particularly festive. As an alternate, we used one of the remaining Bloody Mary mixes for red snappers; just substitute gin for vodka. The former truly is the superior alcohol, don’t @ me.
Having a few flutes and glasses pulled out and prepared and prepoured just before arrival of party guests is a go-to move. I think it helps new acquaintances / future friends to feel more comfortable in enjoying a glass right away. Highly recommend pouring a small squad of each upon party start time.
Growing up, I always spied treats like popcorn balls and caramel apples in my mom’s Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. They always looked so seasonal, festive, and delicious. No matter how many times I requested it, my mom declined to treat us to these Americana delicacies.
Guess what? That stops here. Popcorn balls and caramel apples for any guest who desires one, and one of each for the goody bags. Making them was not that difficult and actually fulfilled a childhood dream. The Pamper Pirate can also rest assured that these will be annual treats as long as he enjoys the holiday treats.
In addition to the popcorn balls and caramel apples, my husband baked sugar cookies and I decorated them the night prior. I baked Halloween Funfetti cupcakes and decorated those as well the morning of. Morning of, I also made frozen banana pops dipped in chocolate chunk yogurt and embellished with sprinkles, because I will get the kids to eat fruit. Low effort, high reward desert!
After leading a toddler- (and parent-) friendly craft at the Pamper Pirate’s last birthday ended up being such a huge hit, I knew I wanted to replicate the experience. We kicked off crafts with a nine link paper chain. As I threw the party just two weekends prior to Halloween, the chain allows the littles to be able to remove a link each day counting down to the holiday.
Truth be told, I had a load of black, orange, and purple construction paper that would have otherwise went unused. I cut the paper into strips in the weeks leading up to the party and glued on googly eyes and felt pieces left over from a puppet crafting kit from the Pamper Pirate’s birthday. This was the first activity as we wanted to allow the chains enough time to dry.
I purchased two kits of these darling Halloween mini wreaths from Amazon. Each child (ie mom) could customize the wreath with the child’s trim selections.
First, I have to share the Pamper Pirate’s Halloween costume. He was the cutest little fox I ever did see. It is also a bit of a joke between my husband and I as on a daily basis one of us belts out, “WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?” And the Pamper Pirate responds with “Ahahahahahahahaha,” in the manner of the 2012 viral song.
Second, we did not want to be left with a ton of the treats. I ordered single cupcake boxes, single cookie bags, and single caramel apple boxes, as well as Halloween themed goody bags. I packed the cookies and the caramel apples the night before and packed the cupcakes the morning of, after the frosting cooled.