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 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!


DIY Axolotl Halloween Costume

Axolotls are the most adorable little creatures. These endangered amphibians are in the salamander family and have gained popularity recently due to being added to Minecraft. My daughter has been a fan of axolotls for the last several years, and she even has a big pink stuffed animal axolotl that her brother got her for her 11th birthday.

My daughter tends to pick the most obscure costumes that cannot be found anywhere in stores. Last Halloween she asked me to make her Appa from Avatar The Last Airbender. For “dress like your favorite book character” (Spirit Day) at school, she chose to be Kinkajou, the pink and yellow dragon from Wings of Fire, and this year, for Halloween, she wanted to be an axolotl.

I began to brainstorm about how to make her dream a reality, and started out by purchasing a pair of pink joggers and a matching hoodie to use as the base. I have found that felt is an inexpensive and easy material to use for creating costumes, and I already had some dark pink felt left over from the dragon wings I recently made, so I used it for the external gills and to add some details to the tail. #CommissionsEarned

I used a piece of poster board to make a template for the gills that measured 2 inches wide and 6.5 inches long. Fold the material and cut around three sides, leaving the fold uncut. Repeat so you have 6 dark pink gills. Sew around the cut edges, turn right side out, and fill with batting. Have your child try on the hoodie to determine the placement of the eyes and gills. I made my gills 3/4 inches apart. Pin the gills in place and then one by one, hand stitch them to the hood. You may have to adjust the batting to get them to stand up. (tip: overfill the gills with batting so that you have enough to move down to the base once they are sewn to the hood)

Cut two oval shaped eyes out of black felt and some white highlights to make the eyes even cuter. Clear Gel Tacky Glue worked great for attaching the highlights to the eyes and for securing the eyes to the hoodie. Axolotl’s eyes are wide set, so be sure to leave a good amount of space between the eyes. I put a piece of poster board inside of the hood to catch any glue that may have leaked through.

For the tail, I made another template that measured 4.5″ wide by 27.5″ long. I cut two pieces out of light pink felt. Then I cut some dark pink accents. Sew the accent pieces together to make them thicker. Place both accents in between the two light pink tail pieces and sew together. Now turn right side out and your tail is complete.

My daughter wanted to be able to wear the pink joggers again, so we safety pinned the tail to the back of the pants.

I was pretty pleased with the way the whole axolotl costume came together. It was super comfy and I love that it is something that she can wear again even when it’s not Halloween.

For another fun DIY costume idea, check out my Wings of Fire Dragon Wings blogpost.