Planning the Best Fall-Themed Kids Party

fall kids birthday party

Ah, fall. The crisp autumn air greets you each morning, and pumpkin spice everything pops up in all of your favorite spots. It’s the perfect time to grab some pumpkins, organize some games and throw your kids a fall party. With a little creativity, you can throw the best kids’ fall soiree of the season.

Set the Details

Timing is everything, so before you plan any other details, decide when you want to host your kids’ fall party. Daytime parties typically work best for kid-oriented parties. All your guests will be bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready to party. Avoid the date for trick-or-treating in your neighborhood, as you may have a small turnout if you compete with free candy.

Next, determine how long you want to party. A two-hour party gives you enough time to do all of the fun games and activities without feeling like the party is never going to end. If you’re not sure how long to plan, decide on the other activities first, and then estimate how much time you’ll need for each of those things. Don’t forget to add in some extra time since everything seems to take a little longer with kids.

A two-hour party gives you enough time to do all of the fun games and activities without feeling like the party is never going to end

Another aspect of the initial planning is the guest list. The number and age of guests affect the type of activities you plan. Guestlist size can also affect where you hold the party and how you set up the space to ensure you can comfortably accommodate everyone. Cramming 30 people into your tiny living room won’t create the cozy fall ambiance you’re trying to achieve.

Plan a Theme

Every party needs a theme, and your fall party is no different. Choosing the theme early in the process helps you decide on the other elements, such as the decorations and activities. You can go with a general fall theme, or you can get more specific with a certain aspect of the fall season.

Try one of these fall party theme ideas:

  • Pumpkin patch
  • Apple orchard
  • Haunted house (ideal for older kids who don’t mind being spooked)
  • Harvest festival
  • Thankful for friends and fun
  • Mad scientist
  • Scarecrows
  • Fall forest
  • Goodbye to summer
  • Back to school
  • Football
  • Tailgating
  • Fall carnival
  • Halloween
  • Costumes
  • Camping
  • Forest animals
  • Monster mash
  • Cowboy or cowgirl party
  • Pumpkin cooking challenge
  • Magic, mystery and muggles (Harry Potter theme — don’t forget the butterbeer!)
  • Corn maze
  • Full moon mystery party
  • Flannel palooza
  • Autumn arts and crafts
  • Fall foraging scavenger hunt
  • Woodland wonder
  • Pumpkin carving and decorating party
  • Backyard camping
  • Fall-themed game night

If your child’s birthday falls during autumn, a fall-themed birthday party is a perfect way to celebrate the occasion. Although fall babies might not be able to have a pool party, they can enjoy celebrating the cooler weather and fun autumn activities along with their birthday — and with so many fall birthday party themes to choose from, your child will never get bored with an autumn birthday!

For a fall birthday party, combine traditional birthday party elements with the selected fall theme to make the celebration a huge hit with the birthday child and the guests. For example, a piñata can be a great addition to a kids’ birthday party. A fall-themed birthday party could feature a giant pumpkin, leaf or Halloween piñata. By putting an autumnal spin on the food, games and other activities, you can kick the birthday party fun up a notch. To get your creative fall-themed birthday party juices flowing, check out our fall birthday party food, decorations, games, crafts and favors suggestions below.

If your child's birthday falls during autumn, a fall-themed party is the perfect way to celebrate

Choose a Location

The location of the party helps you determine what type of activities will work and how you’ll set up the space. Your home is an obvious choice for the party. This option saves money on the party budget. Plus, you can start setting up as early as you want. The drawbacks of having the fall party in your home include the cleaning before and after the party, limited space and the possibility of things getting broken.

Another option is to rent a party room, community center or similar space. This option keeps the mess out of your home, and you won’t have to spend hours cleaning your home before the party. However, you will need to factor the extra cost into your party budget. Another consideration is that you likely won’t have access to the space until shortly before the party starts, so you’ll have to set up quickly.

If you want to make the most of the fall weather, host your kids’ party outdoors. The cooler weather of the season lets you play outdoors comfortably. If you don’t have your own outdoor space, consider a neighborhood park. Have a backup location indoors in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Make the Invitations

You can buy pre-printed invitations, but making DIY fall party invitations makes your event extra special. It’s the perfect way to get the young guests excited about the fall bash.

You can buy pre-printed invitations.

A simple way to create invitations is to cut out a shape related to the theme from cardstock. Add decorative detailing, such as pipe cleaner stems on pumpkins or wiggly eyes on a ghost. Write the party information on the cutout, and your invitations are ready for delivery.

If you’re looking for something a little more creative, try one of these options:

  • Artificial or real fall leaves
  • Strips of white gauze to simulate mummy wrap
  • Mini pumpkins
  • Simple masks with details written on the backs
  • White balloons with ghost faces drawn on them or orange balloons decorated with jack-o-lantern faces with the details written on the back
  • Clear vials with invitations rolled up inside the bottles

Organize a Menu

Food is a central part of the kids’ party. Hungry kids won’t stay happy long. Have some munchies ready when the little party guests arrive. The timing of the party affects the rest of the menu.

If you’re hosting kids during lunch or dinner, plan to serve a main dish along with kid-friendly sides. Pizza is a great main dish option no matter the season. Most kids love pizza, and you can have it delivered from Giordano’s to save yourself time and stress. It’s one less thing you have to worry about making.

Get creative with the side dishes and snacks to fit the fall or Halloween theme. Here are some fun options:

    • Hot dog mummies: Make Halloween-themed pigs in a blanket by wrapping thin strands of crescent rolls around hot dogs to look like mummies.
    • Spider web bean dip: Spread your favorite layered bean dip on a platter. Use sour cream in a squeeze bottle to cream a spider web design on top.
    • Witch’s brooms: Cut 1-inch sections of string cheese. Press a stick pretzel into one end. Cut or pull apart the ends of the string cheese to look like broom bristles.
    • Caramel apple bar: Serve up apple slices with caramel dip and other toppings to create a caramel apple bar. Topping ideas include mini chocolate chips, toffee bits, chopped nuts, marshmallows and candy pieces.

Serve up apple slices with caramel dip and other toppings to create a caramel apple bar

  • Apple cupcakes: Frost cupcakes with red icing. Add a pretzel stem along one edge. Shape leaves out of green fondant to finish off the look.
  • Pumpkin fruit tray: Use fresh peeled mandarin oranges separated into slices as the foundation for the fruit tray. Make jack-o-lantern eyes, nose and mouth out of blueberries or other fruit.
  • Cemetery dirt dessert: If your party falls a little on the spooky side, create a dirt dessert that looks like a cemetery. Spread chocolate pudding in a cake pan. Cover it with crushed chocolate sandwich cookies to resemble dirt. Bake sugar cookies cut to look like gravestones. Use icing to write names and dates on the cookie gravestones, and stick them upright, so they’re coming out of the edible ground.

Other basic food options include:

  • Pumpkin bread
  • Pumpkin, apple or cinnamon mini donuts
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Cheese ball shaped like a pumpkin
  • Sugar cookies in fall shapes
  • Cheese slices cut with leaf cookie cutters
  • Sandwiches cut into fall shapes with cookie cutters

Drink options can also tie into the fall theme. Here are some ideas:

  • Juice boxes wrapped in white tape to look like mummies
  • Water bottles decorated with jack-o-lantern faces with orange powdered juice packets attached
  • Apple cider
  • Hot cocoa
  • Green or orange punch

Decorating to Set the Mood

Stick with fall colors for all decorative elements at the party. Orange, yellow, brown and red all work well for the party décor. Tailor the party color palette to the specific theme. For example, if you choose an apple theme, you might use red, yellow, green and brown colors.

Orange, yellow, brown, and red all work well for fall themed party decor.

Balloons and streamers are easy, inexpensive decoration options. Load up on these decorations in the selected color palette, and go crazy decorating walls, tables, stair railings and other features in the party area. Premade fall decorations also work well for sprucing up the wall.

Depending on your theme, consider these additional decoration options:

  • Artificial fall leaves
  • Real pumpkins
  • Small square hay bales
  • Decorative scarecrows
  • Straw hats
  • Spiders on the wall or ceiling made with black balloons for bodies and black streamers for legs
  • Beakers or jars filled with colored water to look like potions
  • Witch’s cauldron filled with dry ice
  • Corn
  • Jars of candy corn and other fall candy
  • Cornucopias

Fun Party Game Ideas

Fall-themed party games are the perfect entertainment options for your young party guests. Kids get to burn off energy while they engage in a little friendly competition. You can have prizes for the winners, or make the games just for fun.

Try some of these party games:

    • Pie-eating contest: Make mini pumpkin or apple pies for each of the young guests. Line the pies up along the table. The goal is to be the first person to eat the entire pie without using your hands. This activity is messy, but the kids will have lots of fun with it.

Make mini pumpkin or apple pies and line them up along the table.

  • Donut-eating contest: Another food-related game is a donut-eating contest using pumpkin or apple donuts. Tie the donuts onto strings, so they hang down at about face level. The kids have to eat the donuts without using their hands and without the donut falling. The first person to complete the challenge wins.
  • Bean bag toss: Make a bean bag toss game using a tri-fold cardboard display or large cardboard box. Decorate the box to match the fall theme with holes cut out on the front. One example is a jack-o-lantern with the eyes, nose and mouth cut out. The kids toss the bean bags toward the holes to score points.
  • Pumpkin ring toss: Set up several pumpkins and gourds of different sizes and at varying distances. Kids take turns tossing rings at the pumpkins and gourds. Players earn points for landing rings on the targets.
  • Searching game: Print images related to your theme, or gather physical items, such as mini pumpkins or fake spiders. Hide the images or items around the party space. Guests search for and gather as many of the items as possible in a set amount of time. Award prizes for the most items found, or mark certain items to determine who wins a prize.
  • Costume contest: If you have a Halloween-themed party, have guests dress in costume, and turn it into a costume contest. Let everyone walk a costume runway before awarding prizes for various attributes, such as most creative, spookiest or best overall costume.
  • Guessing game: An easy game option is to fill a jar with candy corn, pumpkin seeds or other fall-themed items. Kids write down guesses on how many items they think are in the jar. The closest guess wins a prize.
  • Pumpkin walk: Set up a simple game by taping pumpkin cutouts or other fall-themed images to the floor in a circle. You need at least as many images as people playing the game. Each image should have a different number on it. Guests walk around on the numbers until the music stops. Draw a number, and award a prize to the person standing on that number.

Another popular option is the relay race. Relay races are easy to set up, and you can easily incorporate the fall theme. You need a large space with a starting point and ending point. Divide the kids into two or more teams. The kids take turns going from one end to the other while carrying an item or doing a particular move. For example, kids might carry a scoop of sunflower seeds to the opposite end and pour it into a container one person at a time until the container is full.

Consider these additional fall relay race options:

    • Scarecrow relay: One child at a time puts on overalls and a straw hat to dress up like a scarecrow. The child runs down to the other end and back, takes off the costume, and hands it to the next person on the team. Continue until every child has a chance to go.
    • Gourd roll relay: Each team has a gourd, which players take turns rolling down to the other end and back. The odd shape makes the gourd roll in various directions to make the relay more challenging. You can also use a small pumpkin or an artificial pumpkin. Change up the game by having the kids push the gourd gently with their feet or a broom.

Each team has a gourd, which players take turns rolling down to the other end and back

  • Pumpkin pass: This race is a slight variation on the traditional relay race. Team members stand in a row. The first person passes a small pumpkin or gourd over her head. The next person takes it and passes it between her legs. This alternating pattern continues down the row until the last person receives the pumpkin. That person runs to the front of the line and starts the pattern again. This continues until everyone on the team has a turn starting the pumpkin pass.

Easy, Creative Fall Crafts

Fall crafts help the kiddos settle down into a calm, organized activity. It’s a great way to transition from the more active game portion to the meal or the conclusion of the party. Everyone can have success in these activities because there is no right or wrong way for the crafts to turn out.

Consider these fun fall-themed craft ideas:

    • Pumpkin decorating: Let each guest decorate a mini pumpkin or gourd with paint, sequins, glitter glue, ribbons and other craft supplies.

Let each guest decorate a mini pumpkin or gourd.

  • Leaf pictures: Gather several fall leaves and other nature elements, such as seeds, acorns and pine cones. You can gather them ahead of time, or take the party guests on a nature walk to gather their own supplies. The kids then glue the items onto a piece of paper to create a fun picture. Provide markers and crayons, so they can add extra details.
  • Mask design: Provide each guest with a blank eye mask to decorate for a Halloween-themed party. Stickers, markers, paint, glitter glue, beads, feathers and other craft supplies work well for the decorations.
  • Fall necklaces: Let each child craft a fall necklace made with beads in fun fall colors and shapes. Another option is to dye uncooked pasta noodles, such as ziti or penne, so kids can thread them onto their necklaces.
  • Clay pots: Have each child paint a clay flower pot and saucer to create a fun fall craft. Paint both parts orange, and add a jack-o-lantern face in black to make a pumpkin. If your party has an apple theme, paint the parts red, yellow or green depending on what color of apple desired. When the paint dries, turn the saucers upside down, and place them on top of the pots. Cut a wooden dowel into sections. Have the kids paint them brown, and hot glue them to the saucer as a stem.

Fall Party Favor Ideas

Send your guests away with a fun memento from the party. Party favors are always a hit with young kids. The fall season offers up plenty of natural options that work well for fall.

Here are some options that work well for kids:

  • Mini pumpkins
  • Candy corn
  • Caramel apples
  • Caramel popcorn
  • S’mores kit with graham crackers, giant marshmallows and mini chocolate bars
  • Fall-themed cookies

Many of the party craft ideas give kids something fun that they can take home as a party favor. For example, if the kids decorate masks or pumpkins, those items become a keepsake.

You can up the wow factor on your fall party favors with the presentation. An easy option is to buy mini plastic jack-o-lanterns with open tops. Place candy, toys and other small items inside. Another each option is to place small items inside a large circle of orange tissue paper. Wrap the paper around the items to form a pumpkin-shaped bundle, and secure the top with a green pipe cleaner or ribbon.

Another kid-friendly favor idea is a fall-themed candy bar. Fill several jars with different kinds of fall candy. Set out small bags or favor boxes, and let each guest fill one before leaving.

Setting up the Party

Plan to have all of the items set out well before the kids arrive, so you can greet the guests and get things started right away. The easiest option is to have different areas for each type of activity. Set the snacks up in the kitchen, so they’re ready to go. Designate a craft area with a table and chairs. Set up games in an open area to give the kids plenty of space to move.

Plan to have all of the items set out well before the kids arrive, so you can greet the guests and get things started right away.

You also need to think about the organization of the party. Will you have all the kids do the same thing at the same time? Will you set up activity centers with kids rotating through the activities? Are you going to eat first or finish the party with food? The organization of the party can affect the setup. For example, you might use the dining room table for both eating and doing a craft. You’ll need some time in between those activities to clean up and transition.

Tips for Making Your Kids’ Fall Party a Success

Planning the details makes the party go smoothly, but we have a few more last-minute tips to ensure all of the little ghouls and goblins enjoy themselves. Keep these tips in mind throughout the party planning process:

  • Ask for input: If your kids are old enough to have an opinion, get them involved in the planning process. They’ll likely have all sorts of ideas that you can incorporate into the party details.
  • Work ahead: Tackle as much of the work ahead of time as possible, so you aren’t scrambling to finish when the first guests arrive.
  • Enlist adult help: Recruit your partner, friends or parents of the invitees to help with the various activities. This frees you up to make sure things go well overall and to ensure the party stays on schedule. Assign at least one person to camera patrol to ensure you get plenty of pictures of the activities.
  • Plan a welcoming activity: Guests often arrive at different times. Plan a small, easy activity like a fall coloring page that kids can do while they wait for their fellow partygoers to arrive.
  • Have fun: The party is all about the kids, but you can also let your hair down and have a little fun yourself. Play the games, make your own crafts and nibble on the fun snacks.

Simplify the Party Food

You have enough on your party to-do list. Give yourself a break by letting Giordano’s handle the main course for your kids’ fall party. We’ll deliver the pizza to your door, so you can cruise through your party prep without interruptions.