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These Halloween party games are a perfect way to loosen up your guests before the haunting begins.
Looking to kick off Halloween with a bang, not a boo? This version of a classic carnival game also makes a festive wall decoration, and bursting the confetti-and-candy-filled balloons in this Halloween party game will make everyone explode with laughter.
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An autumnal twist on a childhood favorite, any kid who has played Pin the Tail on the Donkey will pick up this game quickly.
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Substitute fall squash for bowling balls in this outdoor, harvest-themed version of bowling.
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The classic game of bobbing for apples in a tub of water began as a way to predict a player's fortune. In one version of the game, anyone who got an apple would marry. In another, a dime was put in one apple, a ring in a second, and a button in a third, predicting fortune, marriage, and "single blessedness," respectively. Today's kids may balk at such a quaint ambition, but even without mention of marriage, the game's bobbing, splashing, and general hilarity provide plenty of entertainment. If you want to play with fortune-telling, you can change the type of prediction. Or you can just give a prize to the winner. Which brings us to the loser: In many old games, the loser had to perform a "forfeit." This could be a riddle posing as a task, such as, "Leave the room with two legs and come back with six" (i.e., carry a chair back with you).
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Party guests will shriek with delight as they beat this pinata to reveal a shower of sweets.
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Ghost Story Prank: Blackout
No crowd is better primed for a good prank than one listening to a ghost story in the dark. One perfect stunt for storytelling requires hiding a compatriot outside the house; as soon as the tale reaches a crucial, scary section, he starts to rub a well-rosined bow on a violin string that has been affixed to a windowpane. An eerie, weirdly pitched wail fills the room, but its source is inexplicable. For maximum chills, consider adding this trick to the same story session: Candles are placed around the room. As the story nears its climax, they mysteriously go out, one by one, until the room is dark. To achieve the effect, simply cut the candles in two, remove a small piece of the wick from the middle, then join the pieces back together by heating the cut ends. When a candle burns down to the missing section of wick, it gutters and dies.
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Dead Man's Guts with Moist Sponges, Macaroni, and More
Turn to one of the ickiest and coolest of all Halloween storytelling pranks: making your friends feel around in a dead man's "guts." Fill a darkened room with blindfolded guests, then take off on Charles F. Smith's circa-1930s "A Hallowe'en Post Mortem," which he wrote for the Boy Scouts: "The truth it is, and not a myth/That once there lived a man named Smith,/And it became his mournful lot/To murdered be quite near this spot./ We now will pass out his remains,/You first will handle poor Smith's brains...." At this point, "moist sponges are passed from guest to guest." The verse continues, disassembling poor Smith bit by bit -- his hair (corn silk), his windpipe (a length of uncut boiled macaroni), his hand (a glove stuffed with wet sand) -- until little of him is left to distribute. Never let it be said that Boy Scouts lack a sense of the bizarre.
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Apples and Flour
When the lights are back on and the ghosts at bay, it's a good time to jump into some less-scary Halloween games. Because the holiday grew out of Celtic harvest festivals, many old-fashioned games involve the fruit of the harvest, mainly apples and nuts. In the lively "Apples and Flour," a stick about 3 feet long is secured with rope around the middle and suspended from the ceiling. An apple is tied to one end of the stick and a small cloth bag of flour to the other. The stick is set whirling, and each guest attempts to bite the apple end of the stick. Many guests will be powdered white with flour before the first person bites the apple and wins the prize.
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Halloween games of disguise survive in many old sources, and they don't necessarily involve elaborate costumes. In "Nosey," the party guests are divided into two groups and sent into adjoining rooms. A curtain or heavy sheet with a small slit in it is hung in the doorway. One of the players sticks his or her nose through the slit, making sure nothing else shows. Then the game leader chants, "The witches have stolen somebody's nose. Who does it belong to, do you suppose?" and everyone on the opposing team attempts to guess the owner of the nose. If correct, the guessing team scores a point and the opposing team must present another nose for their regard. If the guess is wrong, then the guessing team must now start offering up noses -- which, it should be noted, can be very hard to recognize without any accompanying features!