Recently one of those pop-up Halloween stores opened right near our house and every day India and Xavier would ask...no, BEG me to allow them inside. My children, however, are outrageously easily scared (in fact, watching "Coraline" kept them (and me) awake for weeks!). There was no way I was going to let them anywhere near Spirit Halloween. But there is something appealing about the idea of checking out an entire store dedicated to one holiday...
So, I decided to make them their own shop! I try to keep this dramatic play center rotating about every four weeks, but it doesn't always happen. (The good news is that I only have to make the play area one time and then just store everything in a plastic bin until next year, adding a new element if I feel like it).
Here's what I included:
Cash register with paper money (from Ikea)
3 orange tote bags (from JoAnn Fabrics)
12 pairs of vampire teeth (from Target)
1 bag trick-or-treat candy (pretend - homemade)
1 bag non-candy treats (homemade)
3 bushel baskets (from Target's dollar section)
Decorations (I used a skeleton nutcracker, a hanging ghost, and some orange lights. Xavier added a construction paper bat, hung by a brown pipe-cleaner)
For the costumes:
10 2-gallon plastic bags (from Dollar Tree)
8"x8" page protectors
10 preprinted "Skeleton's Closet" labels (to slip in the page protectors)
I decided that I wanted the design of the costumes to be part of the play, so I provided 10 2-gallon plastic bags with a taped on 8"x8" page protector and a pre-printed "Skeleton's Closet" label with room for the kids to write in the name of the costume and to draw a photo of it. I also added a couple of basic Halloween costume props, such as an eye patch, a wand, and vampire teeth. The kids LOVE to play dress-up, so they just raided their closets to make the rest. For kids less-so inclined, I would purchased a few ready-made costumes.
For the trick-or-treat goodies, I wanted to feel to be very whimsical and timeless, so I whipped up (mostly) felt candy pieces one night while watching tv. There's not really scale here, but trust me when I tell you that everything is oversized. It's so fun that way! And I suppose some of your kids can handle playing with real candy, but around here, I can only imagine where I would have found half-eaten Tootsie Rolls.
I spent another morning making some non-candy treats. For these, I kept with the oversized feel and made giant "bouncy" eyeballs (which are not really bouncy at all, being made out of styrofoam balls and all), spider rings (pompoms, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners), lip balm (made from emptied roll-on deodorant containers - never used, I might add), and cloth zombies. I bought a string of skeletons that I cut apart and glow sticks.
I included a "contents" section on the back of each bag detailing what was inside, mostly to make cleaning up and packing it away after the holiday easy. I'm so glad I did, because love during clean up time, I love it when I hear my son call out each item out loud and see my daughter running - literally running - to find them and bring them back to the bag.
Although I'm not happy with the Skeleton's Closet logo yet, you are welcome to download the PDF here, if you're interested. Next year when I redesign the packaging, I'll update it for you guys!