Nightmare before Christmas is one of those little gems, like Coraline, that not only appeals to both children and parents, but also somehow manages to survive the passage of time with grace. More than a decade has passed and “this is Halloween” and “all hail the pumpkin king” is still resounding in my head. If you’ve introduced your children to this wonderful classic, then they’re probably hooked and praise the master of fright, Jack Skellington alongside you. If you haven’t done this yet, what are you waiting for?
A Nightmare before Christmas party is always supremely entertaining. Not only do you get to play with great costumes, but you can dust off Halloween and Christmas decorations together (especially if you don’t get enough of those holidays) and make a nice horrifying mish mash of them, in the spirit of the movie (skeleton reindeer anyone? Toy ducks with teeth and bullet holes anyone?). Since there are a lot of tips and tricks and hacks for this one movie, below you’ll find a nice selection of the best Nightmare before Christmas birthday party ideas that we could find in all the corners of the internet (even the quest for the Holy Grail pales in comparison to the internet sweep that just occurred).
Nightmare Before Christmas Party Invitations
A Nightmare before Christmas party invite needs to be in equal parts creepy and charming. Tough mix, says the crowd – but we can pull it off. For those without time to spare, there’s always the good’ol friendly Etsy (like that neighbor with all the tools and all the baking ingredients that always opens the door). There are plenty of Nightmare before Christmas cards in the sea of Etsy – from tiny fish to giant customizable whales (can you tell I took that analogy too far?). But, where’s the fun in that?
Why not make your own cards? For a nice start, try this Nightmare before Christmas font. You can add it to this printable, or this one, or that one and let’s not forget the iconic graveyard dome under moonlight. For max points on the most decorated card in history, you can even add some ghost pop-ups inside.
If you’re feeling playful, you can make a pumpkin card – with an ‘all hail the pumpkin king’ message. Another fun message would be : “What’s this? What’s that?/ A party’s to be had”.
Another great Nightmare before Chirstmas party invite idea would be to make a double slider card with Sally on one slide and Jack on the other, or Halloween Jack and Christmas Jack. Or why not shine some light on other mischievious characters? You can make a Waterfall card with Lock, Shock and Barrel – you get extra House points if you add a final image with them and Santa in a bag.
We should also not forget the loveable ‘vilain’ of the show. You can make an Oogie boogie card with a pull tab. On the pull tab, you can put a worm or a centipede. For the Oogie Boogie effect, glue on some burlap and paint on this pattern
Nightmare Before Christmas Party Decorations
Here’s where you can let your inner decorating monster roam free and put up a production to rival Skellington’s own Halloween shows –muhahaha..er. To start off simple, use a display board and add this printable text of the theme song in proper creepy font. Then you can copy Jack, and make some ‘cheerful’ paper spider snowflakes. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – the entrance needs to be touched up first, and what better way than with Jack’s eyeball doorbell ? It’s squishy, it’s gross – and if you can add your own ring, make it a scream (it even almost rhymes, it’s so perfect).
Your yard needs to get in on the action with some pumpkin scarecrows. Like the ones bearing a “Welcome to Halloween Town” sign in the movie. In fact, that sign would be perfect to spruce up the design in the tutorial, alongside some scary face pumpkin carving. In fact, you can add a pumpkin here and a pumpkin there – a pumpkin everywhere (musicals are contagious, be warned). For designs, check out this place especially the witch pumpkin, the vampire one and the zombie one.
Another Nightmare before Christmas party decoration idea is to add floating witch hat luminaries and Jack milk jug lights. You can round off the look with floating ghosts or hanging ghosts and even try your hand at some skeleton reindeer (although there are no tutorials, you can try to make a cardboard cutout of the outline and then a separate cutout of the bones and glue the two together).
For the ones that are not afraid of sawing their thumbs off, or shooting a nail into their own foot (which, while in the Halloween spirit, will definitely put you off the party mood), there are some more crafty tutorials, steadily increasing in difficulty til Zen or Super Saiyan carpentry is reached. To start off, this easy Nightmare before Christmas countdown to Halloween/Christmas clock. Mind you, it does not have to be a functional clock. Moving up, you can also add some DIY Jack and Sally plywood yard decorations.
If you have sufficient time on your hands you can try your hand at this Zero dog house grave stone made with foam pads. Or make some Halloween/Christmas toys like the Jack in the box toy or nightmare duck toy.
Last but not least, is the pumpkin king himself – PVC pipes, screws, stuffing, cloth and skill and you get a life-sized Jack Skellington puppet.
Nightmare Before Christmas Party table setup
On to the party table set-up, you can start with a spiderweb tablecloth. Then, to get the guests in the mood, you can add some tombstones in the background or at foot of the table. Alternatively, you can make a backdrop of the Nightmare before Christmas graveyard hill and moon out of felt and a bedsheet, something like this.
For the crafty, you can make a Nightmare before Christmas cupcake stand. You can also fill it with other treats. To make the hill shape, you need to trace it and then cut it out of plywood. Then it’s a simple matter of adding shelves – for convenience, you can make it one sided.
Another Nightmare before Christmas party table idea is to add bat napkins and make your own Skellington spoons. As with the decorating, we mustn’t forget the villain. You can add some Oogie Boogie dice (the pattern is at page four, after a long License ramble) or an Oggie Boogie candy dish. To do that you will need to cover a bowl in burlap, paint in the face models from here and fill it with gummy worms.
Nightmare Before Christmas Costumes and Birthday Outfits
Once the house is suitably creepy/charming it’s time to dress yourself, er, the kids (though nobody says you can’t join in on the fun). For starters, there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of Skellington face paint tutorials. Here are a few to set you on the right path, ranging from scary to adorable: scary, another tutorial and cutesy Christmas Jack. You’ll need a lot of white, black and grey face paint. Ideally, you can cover your kid’s hair with a black hair mesh and paint till the edges (but it will be hard to get them to stay still that long – and not smudge anything). There are also Sally makeup tutorials with a white base and a blueish base (and completely different styles, overall).
With a bit of luck, we even managed to find a Zero inspired makeup tutorial and a Oogie inspired one. For the Oogie tutorial, it would work better to cover the face in black paint to the hairline edge.
Since we’re done with faces, it’s time to move on to the full body experience. You can make Skellington costumes with suits or dark long-sleeved shirts and white paint, like this suit based one or this long-sleeved shirt one. There are also Sally costumes inviting you to cover dresses and skirts with fabric patches (and add funky detail with markers) like this one or this one.We also tracked down a Mayor costume and even Lock, Shock and Barrel.
Nightmare Before Christmas Party Food and Drinks
Ghouls have ferocious appetites – so you need to be prepared. Fortunately, there are a lot, and I mean a lot as in McScrooge vault size, Skellington food ideas. For instance, there are these scrumptious Jack Skellington caramel apples (you’ll need to scroll a bit to the recipe – till you see the caramel apple). Then there is this easy to make Skellington pizza. Or how about some Skellington brownie bites? If you’re in the breakfast mood, then there are Skellington pancakes. For bite sized treats, try making some Skellington cake pops. And for something more substantial, give this Skellington sandwich a shot.
Now that that’s out of the way, you can cool off your guests with Nightshade and Frog’s Breath drinks (frog’s breath should be green) or Ghoulish punch.
For more substantial food, you can make some snake and spider stew , you know “Perhaps he’ll make his special brew/of snake and spider stew – Mmm!” (while in my book, the only good spider is a dead one, I wouldn’t advertise it as a snack).
For extra creep factor, make some creepy eyeball cheese balls (nice and squishy, mm). Then there is the Snake bread – to make it match the snake on the show add some orange food coloring to the dough. Alternatively, you can make a slithering snakewitch.
Nightmare Before Christmas Birthday Cakes and Cupcakes
For the main event, the birthday cake, you can make use of your local cake decorating shop and ask them to print a Nightmare before Christmas cake topper with edible ink. If you’re not afraid to get down and dirty (inevitable when it comes to baking, especially if the children decide to ‘help’), then you can make this simple Skellington cake. Here’s another similarly simple model.
For some super easy 3D fun, you can make a Jack and Sally inside surprise cake and fill it with all sorts of yummy goodness (candy, gummy worms). Another easy and fun to make cake is a spiderweb shape Skellington cake (what makes it more special is the fact that the cake is carved to match the shape of the web). Going with the theme, you can try your hand at a Graveyard cake and add figurines from the show. Alternatively,if you want more than just one tombstone, you can pipe grass onto the cake, make tombstones out of rice crispies and cover them with fondant (much like in the tutorial, except in miniature and multiplied).
Since I mentioned figurines and toppers, you can also try to make a Skellington and pumpkin topper – keep in mind though, as pretty as it looks, it’s quite time consuming and bound to frustrate those that have little experience working with fondant. Here’s a slightly easier Skellington topper with a decorated cake base.
Another Nightmare before Christmas birthday cake idea is to make an Oogie Boogie cake. You’ll need to print out an Oogie shape, trace and cut the shape on the cake and cover the result in icing. Then you’ll have to cover the cake with fondant. For the finishing touches, you can add gummy worms and cut fondant strips and make the stitches.
Nightmare Before Christmas Party Games and activities
A bored Skellington is a menace, as we’ve seen from the Christmas/Halloween combo (bloodsucking vampire toy?). Imagine a whole troop of restless ghouls – more like Lock, Shock and Barrel (brr).
For the younger Nightmare before Christmas fans, there are quite a few coloring pages. Then there is the Pin the tail on the donkey with a twist: pint the worm on Oogie, pin the arm on Sally (she keeps losing them, poor girl), pin the nose on Zero etc.
If you want something more active, you can have the children play some Oogie Boogie bean bag toss. Check the Oogie costume for ideas on how to make an Oogie mask – or, simply print an Oogie image, glue it to some sturdy cardboard and cut out the mouth.
Another fun idea is to play the Skellington Christmas lights popping game – a version of the balloon popping game. Each guest has a balloon tied to their leg. There are two teams, each team with one color balloon. They have to pop the other team’s balloons without using their hands. The last balloon to be popped decides the winning team.
Then there is the Spider web race game. You’ll need to make a spider web on the floor using green tape. You’ll also need some cardboard circles and toy spiders. Place the circles between the web strands and make it a timed race. The children will have to deliver the present (spiders) in the chimneys (circles) before the Christmas Eve night is over.
Another fun Nightmare before Christmas party game idea is to play a Jack Skellington skeleton relay race – you can buy or draw a skeleton on sturdy cardboard and cut out each individual bone. You’ll have to divide the kids into teams. Each team gets a complete skeleton cut into bones. They have to bring the skeleton bones one by one from one end of the room/yard to the other. The first team to fully assemble their skeleton on the other side wins. For extra Night before Christmas fun, make the skull resemble Jack’s head.
Or you could play the ‘What’s this? What’s that?’ game. It’s the age old guessing game with a Night before Christmas twist. You’ll have to cover several boxes and place bowl with various things inside (check out this place for ideas). Children have to guess what’s inside each bowl. You should number the boxes and then give each child a piece of paper and a pencil. Whoever gets the most right wins.
Last but not least is the Oggie Boogie’s monster dice game where one of the die has numbers the other has actions (like spider crawl). The children then have to obey the Oogie dice.
Nightmare Before Christmas Birthday Party Favors
Once the party is wrapping up, it’s time to dole out the favor bags. And what better way to do that than to make Oggie boogie bags. You can even include an Oogie boogie DIY monster . though a bit time consuming to make – since you’ll have to do it a few dozen times, it will be great fun for the kids (they can even use it as a candy bag). You can also add some Jack and Sally coffin pendants or Jack soft touch key rings. There are also Night beforeChristmas stickers, dollar bills, bottlecap necklaces and magnets.
And since you don’t want the children to grow hungry, far away from Halloween Town, you can give them some treats like skeleton candy- you can find skeleton bones candy mold on Amazon. Another option is to include some Skellington Chocolates – using Night before Christmas silicone pan candy chocolate mold (that’s the product name – I know, right?)
Nightmare Before Christmas Birthday Gift ideas
For birthday gift ideas you can delight not just your child but yourself. You should take a look at some of the Night before Christmas cuckoo clocks. Won’t that look stunning on your wall/mantelpiece? Joking aside, there are many great ideas for your children, including a lot of Night before Christmas special edition games like Monopoly, Jenga, Scrabble, Operation (this one is particularly funny since you remove bugs from Oogie). Ow, an there is also an Oogie based Yahtzee version (perfect). Then there is a Night before Christmas game itself (you should definitely give it a go).
Aside from games, you can also find plenty of figurines and action figures. There are even Jack and Zero light up figurines and Jack and Sally doll sets. You can combine these with some playsets like Finklestein lab or Halloween village town hall.
Another Night before Christmas birthday gift idea is to get clothes based on the movie –there are shoes, shirts, hoodies, hats and even accessories like backpacks and lunch bags.
You can also get a Zero wonky wobbler, or a Night before Christmas moonlight lamp. There are even comforters and blankets with sleeves. And to top it all off, you can make some movie themed wrapping paper.