Nightmare Before Christmas Movie Night

I am always looking for any opportunity to make memories for my kids in creative ways, so earlier this month, when my daughter started talking about Halloween movies that she likes, I suggested that we host a movie night on the weekend before Halloween. I’m not a fan of super scary, especially for middle schoolers, so we decided on Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and went to town browsing Pinterest for fun ideas. I found a super cute and inexpensive backdrop on Amazon and gathered a few things that I already had: white lights, a black backdrop, and a plastic pumpkin. I grabbed a purple plastic tablecloth, a black and white striped runner, popcorn boxes, and some black bowls and made some really fun food labels with names of the movie characters. I also printed off Jack & Sally faces to hang from the ceiling and I made a door hanger, using my Cricut Maker 3, with a black chalkboard style hanging that I found at the Dollar Tree and white vinyl. I’ve included the PDF of the printables that I created for you to use for your own party. #commissionsearned

Planning the food for this party was so much fun! Here’s a list of what was on our Nightmare Before Christmas Food Table.

  1. Oogie Boogie Guts: Sour Gummy Worms
  2. Sally Hair: Red Vines
  3. Jack’s Pumpkins: Brach’s Pumpkins
  4. Zero Kibble: Scooby Doo Graham Crackers (dipped in white chocolate candy melts)
  5. Mummy Dogs: Hot Dogs Wrapped in Crescent Roll Dough
  6. Lock Corn & Finkelstein’s Food: Popcorn
  7. Mayor’s Munchies & Nightmare Noms: Potato Chips
  8. Tricks & Treats: Apples With Lemon Juice (one healthy addition)
  9. Skellington Sweets: Jack Skellington Oreo Pops
  10. Sally’s Sweets: Sally Marshmallow Pops with Nerds Candy
  11. Barrel’s Beverages: Mini Waters & Mini Sprites

I’ve included some helpful tips if you are making Jack Oreo Pops, Sally Marshmallow Pops, and Zero Kibble:

For the Jack Pops, use Double Stuf Oreos, and be sure to dip your lollipop sticks in white candy melts before you push them into the center of the Oreos. Let them set up in the refrigerator for a few minutes and then dip fully in the white candy melt. Without this step, the Oreos will fall apart when you dip them. Use black candy melts for the eyes, mouths, and bow ties. A toothpick and squeeze bottle will come in handy for the face details. Print out the Jack faces from my PDF and cover with parchment paper. Use the black candy melts in a squeeze bottle to trace the bowties.

For the Sally Pops, use flat toothpicks for the toppers. I used my Cricut Maker 3 to cut the black circles. Glue the toppers to the toothpicks before you make the pops. Pour Rainbow Nerds onto a plate with high edges and leave the pops to set on the plate of Nerds before transferring to your table.

The Scooby- Doo graham crackers actually say “Scooby” on the front, so dipping that side in white candy melts will hide the name and also gives them more of a bone look. Search my blog for “Cookie Pops” & “Marshmallow Pops” for more detailed tutorials on how to make these tasty treats. #commissionsearned

Our movie night was planned for 5:30 pm -8:30 pm, which seemed like enough time, but I think I would have extended by another 1/2 hour if I was to do it again. My daughter has the sweetest group of friends, and although it was loud with 15 middle schoolers running around my house, they were so respectful and everyone had SO MUCH FUN!!! We set up corn hole in the backyard and we have tether ball as well. For the first hour, the kids ran around outside, and the entire group greeted each person as they arrived. The Nightmare Before Christmas is only 1 hour and 16 minutes long, so it’s a great length for a movie night and left enough time for a game before everyone got picked up.

My daughter and her friends love this version of the “telephone game” using paper and pencils. You can order the actual game Telestrations, on Amazon.com but we just cut up paper and it works really well. Here are some simple instructions:

Cut paper in fourths and make a stack for each player. The stacks of paper should contain the same number of papers as the number of players. We had 15 kids, so each kid got a stack of 15 pieces of paper.

Have each player write a phrase (any phrase) on the top of piece #1. Then each player passes their ENTIRE STACK to the right. The next step is to read the phrase and then put that top paper on the bottom of your stack, facing up. The players will then draw a picture of the phrase on the top of page #2. Once everyone is finished drawing their picture, everyone will pass their ENTIRE STACK to the right. Now each player will see the drawing on the top and will have to guess what the phrase is that inspired the drawing. They will place page #2 on the bottom of the stack, face up, and write that phrase on the top of page #3. The process is repeated, phrase, pass, drawing, pass, phrase, pass, drawing, etc until each player ends up with their original stack of paper. Be sure to take some time to read through your entire stack out loud and be ready to laugh until you have tears streaming down your face.

This is where that extra 30 minutes would have come in handy. Unfortunately, we ran out of time for all of the kids to read their telephone stories, so they just had them read their original phrase and the last phrase to see how much it had changed. It was still a ton of fun and I love that the entire group of kids sat and played together. I definitely see us hosting more movie nights with this amazing group of kids in the future. My daughter was smiling from ear to ear the whole time and I had so much fun with all of the party prep. It was a win-win for sure!

New Year’s Eve Countdown Bags for Kids & Tweens

“Countdown Bags” are one of my favorite ways to ring in a new year. I started doing this when my 3 kids were little, and over the years, I have adapted this tradition in a variety of ways. This year my husband had to work until 9pm and my teenage boys made plans to play Airsoft with friends, so it was just going to be my girl and I counting down for most of the evening. I wanted to make it really fun for her, so I let her invite a couple of friends over and got to work creating a memorable tween friendly event.

I am learning that 11 year old girls love to be silly and have fun with planned activities, but also like to have a good amount of unstructured time when they get together, so I planned the night to incorporate both. I purchased a pack of shimmery silver lunch sized bags and filled them with a variety of fun things that they could do on the hour, every hour, from 4:00 pm – midnight. I bought some glittery card stock in a couple of different colors and I created clocks to glue on the front of each bag. #CommissionsEarned

I filled the bags ahead of time, and since some of the items were too large to fit in the bags, I wrapped them and included times to correlate with the bags that they went with.

The girls arrived at 4:00 and we kicked off the night with “photo booth fun!” I already had a large piece of black material that I had used for a variety of party backdrops. I also kept some props and decorations from our 2020 New Year’s Eve celebration, so I reused them and added a string of white Christmas lights as a border. The girls took a few fun shots and then went off to giggle and chat about all the things. #CommissionsEarned

At 5:00 they opened the next bag. This one had them wondering, because there was a huge ball hanging over the countdown bags, wrapped in black plastic. They had guessed that it might be a disco ball and were shocked to find that it was really light. They opened it to find a beach ball with questions written all over it in sharpie. This game turned out to be so much fun and they came back to playing it several times throughout the night.

Somewhere between 5:00-6:00 the girls ate dinner, which was just a super easy Papa Murphy’s take and bake pizza and some fruit. Then at 6:00 they opened the next bag. I planned ahead for a game of “Whiteboard Pictionary” by printing off a list of fun and easy prompts. I folded each one and put them all in a mason jar and include a whiteboard marker in the bag. This is another game that didn’t take the entire hour, so it left a good amount of downtime for whatever the girls wanted to do.

7:00 was probably my favorite because I am such a crafty girl at heart. I purchased 3 plain canvas tote bags and I already had a variety of paintbrushes and acrylic paints from previous projects. I found some fun “create your own tote bag” inspiration on Pinterest and grabbed a roll of painters tape so the girls could try some of the geometric tote bag ideas. I would have to say, that they turned out pretty cute! #CommissionsEarned

The girls were so curious to find out what 8:00 was all about because they noticed at the beginning of the night that there was a large mass of “something” taped to the ceiling under a black plastic table cloth. They finally got to rip into the plastic and a bunch of balloons cascaded down on them. The object of the balloon game is to pop the balloons one at a time and do whatever activity is found on the piece of paper hidden inside. Some of the tasks I included were: leapfrog across the room, dance an Irish jig, make a 3 person pyramid, and run outside and yell Happy New Year 5 times as loud as you can.

At 9:00 the girls opened an extra little package in front of the countdown bag that was too large to fit inside. It was a small wooden movie clapboard and I included a couple of chalk pens as well. They had already been doing TikTok dances throughout the night, but this hour was dedicated time to do just that. #CommissionsEarned

By 10:00 these girls were showing no signs of slowing down, so I planned to tire them out with glow in the dark balloon games. I taped off three sections in the middle of my living room with some of the painters tape so each girl had her own zone. Then I brought out 15 balloons I had blown up earlier in the day with glow sticks inside. You can also purchase glow balloons on Amazon. We put all of the balloons in the middle and turned the lights out. I played music on my phone while the girls tried to keep all of the balloons out of their section. When the music stopped they had to freeze. I would also switch the light on and the winner was the one with the least amount of balloons in their zone. After each game, they rotated spots. I think they played about 7 rounds with lots of squeals and giggles before taking a snack break of rice crispy treats and s’mores dip. #CommissionsEarned

I wanted to do something exciting at the 11:00 hour, so I bought 3 cans of silly string and sent the girls outside for an EPIC SILLY STRING BATTLE!!! This may have only taken a few minutes, but it was hilarious to watch and was so much fun! #CommissionsEarned

Our 12:00 HAPPY NEW YEAR bag was filled with poppers and horns, so I let the girls open this one at 11:45. We also busted out the Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider and some “fancy glasses!” and got ready to ring in the New Year. We ran outside at 20 seconds to midnight with poppers and horns ready to go, counted down to 2022, yelled HAPPY NEW YEAR for all of neighborhood to hear, popped our poppers, and then came back inside to toast to a new year. #CommissionsEarned

For another fun New Year’s Eve idea check out my previous blogpost:

New Year’s Eve