Ghastly Games

Party activities and games can be wicked fun but some guests might not be comfortable  with some of the more transgressive games.

Bobbing for Apples

The seemingly timeless game of bobbing for apples originates from the rituals to appease the Roman goddess Pomona (autumn apples were believed to be associated with fertility and marriage). 

Remove stems from apples and place in large tub of icy cold water. A participant dunks his head in trying to bite an apple. This may seem easy, but believe me, it's very difficult. Large apples makes the game even more challenging.

If cleanliness of having several guests slurping the same water is a concern, hang a fresh apple per guest from a string and attach it securely overhead. The bobbing is a little easier but a lot less wet and refreshing.

Quick Cut Pumpkin Carving Contest

Cover a table with newspaper (outdoors or garage), and place pumpkins, "kid-friendly" carving kits, bowls, and work gloves since haste and sharp tools don't mix. Have a first aid kit ready just in case.

 

Set a 13-minute timer to carve the best pumpkin, and let the guests decide on the winner. Prizes can include pumpkin-flavored  beer, cake, or pumpkin candles.

Schedule this event early in the party and then use the pumpkins to decorate.

For kids, consider using stickers, glue, glitter and other kid-friendly materials on foam pumpkins with a longer timer.

Telling Scary Stories

Everyone has a spooky tale to tell about some haunted place they've been or heard of. Ask guests to come prepared with their scariest stories and take turns with the tales. Offer a prize for the scariest story. Play soft scary music in the background and light a few candles. Make sure to give focus to one storyteller at a time and form a circle of trust.

If a participant is not good at telling stories ask them questions about the event, making sure to emphasize the emotions they felt at the time. Some people may not remember too many specific details, but they will recall the impact of a frightful event.

Costume Contest

For your costume contest make sure to state on your invitation what the criteria is (most original, best interpretation of the theme, etc.) and what the prizes are (make them good to increase participation).

Set up an area for voting including ballots, pencils, and a container for placing the votes. Threaten no more booze for cheaters. Before counting the ballots, circulate and allow the guests one final chance to vote.

Have at least three category and prizes. Consider your judges carefully and maybe offer a judge's choice award (which gives you a chance to recognize a creative but perhaps less popular costume). The main host should never be one of the judges.

Seven Minutes in Hell

This game is best for those guests with wild imaginations who actually want to willing participate. Never coerce someone into a confined space! Blindfold one person, put tape on their mouth (painters blue tape comes off easily), tie them (gently) to a chair in a basement, attic or small room. Then turn off the lights and start the countdown. Have a creepy soundtrack or sound effects playing loudly. You can also hang body parts, thin streamers, or other things that will feel creepy in the dark once the victim tries to get loose and run (make sure to clear a safe passage). The trick is to send an accomplice or two into the dark place ahead of time. That person can throw beans, make noises, or shift items at very random intervals during the persons seven minutes in hell.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary is a ghost from American folklore that often appears in mirrors when summoned. Some say her real name is Mary Worth. Some say she was a crazy woman who killed her children, and others believe it is the infamous Bell Witch.

In a dark, isolated room, hold a white candle near a mirror. Stare into the reflection of your own eyes – no blinking or looking elsewhere. Then dare to call Bloody Mary three times. She may appear behind you or in the corners of the mirror. NEVER EVER stop staring into your own eyes and NEVER look directly at her. Above all, do not mock Bloody Mary or curse at her. To end the game, blow the candle out and walk away from the mirror.

Ghost Photography

In a separate room, dress up a dimly lit area with a few props and some blacklight. Set up a tripod with a good camera (sorry camera phones won't work for this) and compose the image. Mark an "X" with low-tack blue painter's tape to let them know where to stand. Set the camera for a long exposure (at least 8 seconds), small aperture (F8 or so depending on the available light), and low ISO (100) without using the flash. (Every camera is different so consult your manual.)

The subject will have to hold perfectly still for 4 seconds then immediately move out of the frame. (Use the classic flashlight in the face for a more dramatic effect.) The photo results in transparency and lighter colors turn into ghost trails.