This article was written by our contributor Carolyn…Celebrations, costumes, candy, scary movie marathons, and spooky decorations – these are the reasons I get so giddy this time of year! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays so when the opportunity arose to be a part of the planning for our annual Toddler Halloween Community Scavenger Hunt, I jumped on the chance! It was really meant to be – the event was aimed at preschool children (the age of my son), there was a costume contest (not to toot my own horn but I am great at costumes – toot! toot!), and there was food…who doesn’t love food! Over one hundred people RSVP’d for the scavenger hunt (including around 60 children). It appeared to be a big task but with a great committee, many volunteers and sponsors, the event was a huge success!
Halloween Community Scavenger Hunt:
For the scavenger hunt activities, participants raced to various businesses in the community to gain a clue for their next stop and then raced to the finish. At the finish line there was entertainment, a craft and a luncheon for the tots and their families. Thanks to the previous community groups, a lot of the groundwork had been done and they had a fantastic foundation for us to work with!
Planning The Event:
There were a lot of elements that the committee needed to consider when planning this children’s event. These included:
- A community grant was provided from the town (isn’t it great when the town comes together like this!)
- Our play group had a Halloween budget of $150
Planning The Route & Stops:
- We had to decide on a starting point that had a lot of area to park and was a generally known place to the community.
- We needed to decide the area and distance of the hunt. Before the event my son and I mapped out the distance using a Fitness tracker app. It was less than two kilometers in distance which seemed perfect for our little trick-or-treaters.
- The town museum had a fantastic haunted house that we could include as part of the route.
Community Involvement by Businesses:
We started off by sending letters to the businesses in the community to ask for their participation in any way they wanted to be involved. This could include donating a prize, food, or being a stop in the scavenger hunt. These activities were considered outside of our planning and we told the businesses they were optional.
We asked for a reply the week prior to the hunt to ensure enough time to create clues and organize donations. Our community really came through! We had thirteen participating businesses – not bad for a small town!
The businesses had the option to hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters and to provide a fun activity for the children before providing them the next clue. It’s always great to see them use their creativity too!
A funny note for future reference, I forgot to put the time & date of the event in the business letters before I printed the 20+ copies. Of all the things to forget! My son is only two years old so I think I still get away with the “mommy brain” excuse, right?
Community Involvement with Volunteers:
The museum curator had helped us in the volunteer department. She lined up a children’s entertainer and asked volunteers to cook lunch for us! We asked other members of the play group to also help where they could including our fellow mom and computer graphics genius who created the scavenger hunt clues that even included a QR code to our play groups Facebook page! Pretty fancy for a small town scavenger hunt!
Posters were put up around town with all the event details including pull tabs with contact information to register. An event page was made on Facebook and the committee periodically shared it on our various community groups. This seemed to be the most popular way we reached people in the community.
Prizes and Treat Bags:
Since most of the participants were three and under, we had to be sure to select prizes and treats that were age appropriate. We wanted all of the treat bag items to be Halloween themed.
With one easy stop at Canadian Tire, we were able to purchase almost all of the prizes for the children at great prices. The prizes included a miniature golf set, a talking plush Grover, travel sized board games and more! The kids were so excited!
Prizes were given in the following categories:
- First, Second and Third Placement in the Community Scavenger Hunt
- Best Costume – Boy
- Best Costume – Girl
- Best Costume – Group
- Best Costume – Adult
We lined the tables with black plastic tablecloths for a Halloween feel and easy cleanup. After a busy day of decorating and playing we didn’t want to spend a lot of time on cleanup. We also wanted to get the most with our budget so we stocked up on items that we can use again next year.
Canadian Tire was also a fantastic place to purchase decorations. We bought tombstones, spider webs, mini spiders, large shiny spiders, plastic ghosts and plastic bag pumpkins (we filled these to plump them up) and caution/danger tape. The Halloween themed decorations brought the room together is such a spooktacular way! Be sure to purchase decorations early as the great deals go fast. We window shopped a couple weeks prior to the actual purchase date, and when we went to do our purchase there were less than half the decorations left! Here’s a great tip – go there again after Halloween and scoop up some amazing deals that you can save until next year!
We had a great surprise the night prior to the event – when the food was picked up from the local grocer we discovered the whole order was donated! What a fantastic feeling of community! After leaving the food and supplies at the hall the night before, we asked the volunteers to finish setting up in the morning. They were so helpful and cooked a great lunch.
As I mentioned above, entertainment was set up by the museum and was provided by Mary Lambert Productions. Her Fun With Fall show was about thirty minutes which was perfect for the short attention spans of our toddlers.
Crafts & Activities:
We put out two tables for toddler-friendly crafts. On one table we had Halloween coloring pages with crayons and on the other we put pipe cleaners and Fruit Loops to make bracelets. You’ll find a lot of fun craft and activity ideas on Oriental Trading’s Free Halloween Fun site.
This year was a new Halloween experience for me and I must say from the “fun stuff” (prize and decoration shopping at Canadian Tire) to the slightly more tedious (writing letters and printing hundreds of sheets of paper), it was amazing to see the hard work of a community come together for a fun day for the children! My heart is full today!
For more ideas for Halloween fun, visit our Holiday Fun page and scroll down to October for the Halloween section.
Thank you to the many community members & businesses who joined together to make this event a huge success and thank you to Canadian Tire for sponsoring prizes and decorations.