Throwing a Hauntingly Good Halloween Party
Throwing a Hauntingly Good Halloween Party
By Rebecca Pikula
e’ve all been to that last minute, thrown together Halloween party. You know the one with paper decorations where only half the attendees actually dress up? Like me, you probably plan to do something fun for Halloween each year, but then leave everything to the last minute and end up, once again, in a pseudo-costume at someone’s eleventh hour party. This year, get a head start on planning. Bear in mind that this is just a collection of ideas to get you started; let your personality show through in your party.
Timing is Everything
Don’t leave things too late. Get started early on your invites, guest list, and shopping list. Make sure you give yourself enough time and room in the budget to plan accordingly so that this year your Halloween party can really be a bash!
Sometimes, like this year, Halloween falls on a week day. If this is the case, always try and throw your party the weekend before when anticipation is at its peak. If you leave it until after Halloween, it feels like you’re trying to drag the holiday on or doing something as an afterthought, when people are gearing up for Thanksgiving.
Choose a Theme
If you’re bored with generic Halloween parties, you can always pick a theme. You can throw a murder mystery party and involve the whole crowd in a whodunit mystery, have a literary inspired party and have guests come as anything from Harry Potter to Shakespeare, or even have a masquerade themed ball.
Food and Drinks
Don’t just serve pizza and a candy buffet, get sophisticated and stylish with your party fare. Depending on whether you’re including children, or going adults only, there are dozens of good ways to feed your guests. For kids, you can make any number of Halloween themed treats, from spider and pumpkin rice Krispy treats to apple and peanut butter monster mouths. For grown up guests, try a charcuterie tray amongst your decor, or some sophisticated finger foods. If you have your party later in the evening, you can avoid serving an actual meal and stick to a nosh.
If you’re having an adult party, stock up your bar cart and make spooky twists on traditional drinks, like a Spiced Pumpkin Martini or a Candy Corn Cocktail. Swap your glasses for vials or paint a set of martini glasses matte black.
Up your décor game. Try a black and white color scheme on your table, with pops of orange. Not everything has to be pumpkin colored. Grab some black tableware and top with white pumpkins filled with floral oranges, greens, and browns. Forego all the plastic spiders and traditional carved pumpkins and opt for a no carve glam. Light up the party with candles for ambiance. You can try unique holders like glass bottles or a bowl of floating tea lights and eyeballs. If you have an outdoor space available, this can be a great setting for string lights and lava lamps.
Strike the right balance between scary and fun. If you have kids on your guest list, you don’t want to send them home with nightmares, but you do want something spooky enough for the season. Classic decorations like spiders and mummies are alright, but you can also kick it up a notch and go with something slightly more macabre, especially if you plan on fortune telling and Ouija at your party. Ravens, old books, and skeletons can be part of a gothic take on the holiday, while traditional orange pumpkins and candied apples are a kid friendly, classic approach.
Costuming your guests can be tricky, but should also be non-negotiable. After all, the one thing that separates a Halloween party from a regular weekend bash are the costumes. Store bought costumes can be costly and generic, and unless you’re particularly good with a sewing machine, handmade can be a hassle. There are, however, plenty of alternatives. Many times you can put together a great costume from stuff you already have in your closet. Other options include eBay, where you can find a pre-owned costume for a discount price, or Etsy, where you can find a handmade costume where someone else did all the work. Whatever or however you do it, costumes are a must. Any guest arriving without one should be forced to wear a sign (“I wasn’t fun enough to wear a costume”) or be dressed in anything handy to create one. Wrap them up in toilet paper, dress them up in your old wedding gown, etc.
Activities and Everything Else
If you’re not going with the murder mystery theme, or even if you are, you might want something for your guests to do. Pictionary and charades are great classics if your guests are interested, but you can also do something Halloween themed, like tarot card readings or a spirit board for a bit of spooky fun. If you have kids on board and a craft space you can set up a face painting or make your own mask station.
Build a killer playlist
You may be tempted to go with the old standbys, like Monster Mash and the Addams Family theme song, but there is a whole world of good Halloween music out there. If you know the steps, select Thriller and stage a dance party when it plays. Try classics like Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell, Black Magic Woman by Fleetwood Mac, and Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. There are just too many great songs to play the same ones every year. Mix it up!
However you decide to celebrate this year, we hope it’s truly spooktacular!
Rebecca Pikula lives near Atlanta with her husband of five years. She attended Georgia College and State University. She has visited 14 countries and 36 states, and enjoys travelling and motorcycles, sometimes simultaneously.