Halloween Countdown Mystery Bags

One of the things I’ve lamented as a working mom is that I don’t feel like I’m able to do fun holiday crafts and activities with my kids. By mid-September my Pinterest feed fills with pumpkins made on paper plates, string cheese ghosts, and spooky treats galore, and every single inch of me wants to break out the construction paper and glue and just get crafty!

The actual times that I do make these holiday crafts, though, are few and far between because reality sets in. Finding all of the supplies for a project, setting it up so it is accessible for my preschooler, actually making the craft, and then cleaning up takes a lot of TIME AND ENERGY, and doing all of that while simultaneously doing all of my normal weekday chores after work turns out to be more hectic and stressful than fun and filled with holiday spirit.

Soooooooooo I put on my thinking cap and employed some of my elementary teaching skills I’ve developed and voila! Halloween Countdown Mystery Bags!

 

Each day in October, we will open one mystery bag in the morning to find out what our project or activity is for that day, and then actually complete it when we get home in the afternoon. Inside the bag will be a picture of what we are making/doing and all the (non-perishable) supplies or ingredients we will need.

Now, I should begin here by saying that there is a fair amount of prep that goes into this, but once you do it, you pretty much just get to enjoy each mystery bag as you go!

Before you get started, if this sounds like something you’d like to do with your little monsters, click here to download a calendar, shopping list, and how-to for all of the activities I’m doing with my gremlins this month!

Step 1: Outline the month…

I started by setting a theme for each week – I didn’t necessarily stick to the theme for every day of each week, but it was a starting point.

Next, I looked at which weekdays were super busy and took note so that I would plan a simple/quick mystery bag for those days (for us it is Tuesdays when my son has baseball in the evening).

 

Step 2: Get on Pinterest!

Pretty much all of the activities, recipes, and crafts I put in our mystery bags came from ideas I found on Pinterest. I searched for crafts, recipes, and activities related to Halloween in general, and then began just pinning and putting the ideas I liked on my calendar – simple as that!

(This is where the weekly themes helped because otherwise I was just swimming in too many ideas and 31 days to fill…)

{If you’re starting to think this is more work than it is worth, click here to get my calendar with a full list of activities and materials – all you have to do is put it together and enjoy!}

 

Step 3: Materials list…

This step was the most time consuming (and brain power consuming). I went through each of the activities I had planned for the month and started a giant list of all of the items I would need to make these things happen.

Your list may look extensive like mine, but when you actually go buy the stuff you see that you have things like a bag of M&M’s, and the cost ends up being pretty minimal.

 

Step 4: Assemble your bags…

I had a special helper for this part – my 4-year-old would open up a bag and I would tell him exactly which things to put in it, then he would RUN across the room and cover his eyes while I put the “mystery paper” (a printed picture of the activity) in the bag. No joke, he did this for every. Single. Bag. And it was hilarious every time.

I also put all of the tools and general craft supplies we will need in a cauldron to use along the way. 🙂

One other thing I did because I’m a crazy person is make little cards for each of the days, and inside the cards was a sticker that corresponded with that day’s bag. In retrospect, I could have much more easily just labeled each bag with the date it was going to be opened, but who wants things to be easy? (Apparently not this girl!) In my head the idea of having a card to open with the sticker inside and then searching for the bag with the matching sticker would be fun for my little pre-reader.

{My little monsters the best helpers… really… Also, you can find the punny pumpkins I made HERE…}

Step 5: Enjoy a fun month leading up to Halloween!

Like I said above, the whole point of these mystery bags was to find a way that I could enjoy some festive activities with my kids without it being a TON of work for me in the moment. While putting these together took some logistical planning and prep time, it was soooooo worth it.

Aaaaand lucky for you, I’ve taken the logistics out of the equation for you and put them all in a nice lil’ downloadable guide for your convenience – all you have to do is shop and assemble!

Happy Haunting!

 

PLEASE let me know if you try this and how it goes! I don’t think I can express how much I would LOVE to see pictures of what you create with your little monsters! Comment below and post on social media! (tag @aworkingbalance & use #mysterybagcountdown)

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