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How to Throw a Spooktacular Halloween Party

Where to splurge and where to save

The witching hour of Halloween is near, and if you’re planning to throw a costume bash, there’s no time to waste. Here are seven simple tips that will help you plan a fangtastic party, including options for places to splurge and save on the festivities.

Pick a décor theme and run with it.

If there’s one time of year to go all out with decorations, it’s Halloween. You could go with an autumn harvest vibe, something more chilling and eerie, or, if you want to take it to another level, something very specific, like a creepy carnival, haunted house, or murder mystery. The key is to keep things streamlined by sticking to one concept. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Autumn harvest:



Create a garland to hang over the entry way or across the mantle by tying dried corn together. All you have to do is use floral wire to tie the tip of a cob to the husk of a cob.

Fill outdoor planters with small gourds and pumpkins or place clusters of different size gourds and pumpkins (real or faux) around the house on outdoor staircases, on top of tables, by the fireplace, etc.

Splurge:

White pumpkin filler from Crate and Barrel (6), $19.95

Save:

Assorted off white artificial gourds and pumpkins from Amazon (16), $28.99

  • Forage for branches with colorful leaves and display them in a vase. This also works with dried wheat stalk, eucalyptus, and dried grasses.

Save:

Faux fall eucalyptus stems (4) from World Market, $19.96

Large dried wheat bundle from Dried Décor, $13.99

Chilling (and easy) decorations:

Place different sized black candles on tables and mantles around your home. Use black candelabras to make it even more dramatic.

Stick hundreds of construction paper bats to the walls.

Place a terrifying 6’ 5” towering clown that turns from side to side, has eyes that light up yellow with rage, and taunts his victims. At $200, you’ll only want to buy this creepy clown if you plan to throw Halloween parties for many years to come.

Save: Amazon has a 5 foot animated clown that’s almost just as scary for $29.96

Set the mood with music.

Every good party needs music, and for a Halloween party, you should start the evening off with music that fits the theme. This doesn’t necessarily mean playing “Monster Mash” and “Thriller” on repeat—though it can’t hurt to have them come on at some point in the evening—after all, they were both a graveyard smash!

Spotify and Pandora have Halloween stations, but if you want to customize the music with your own playlist, Ranker’s put together a list of the best 100 Halloween songs of all time.

Serve spooky snacks.

No one expects a full meal at a Halloween party, but you should plan to feed your guests appetizers because though there’s nothing scarier than a hangry person, that’s not the kind of terror anyone wants to experience when they’re trying to have fun.

Not everything you put out needs to be Halloween themed, so don’t shy away from party staple favorites, like cheese and crackers, mini quiches, turkey meatballs, and other snacks that won’t break the bank. That being said, it is fun to do a couple of spooky treats, so maybe make a pumpkin cheese ball, give your quiche eyeballs, or wrap the turkey meatballs so they look like mummies.

Don’t forget: Halloween is all about the candy, so fill up bowls with sweet treats and put a couple in every room.

Splurge:

Skelton hands Hallowen serving bowl from Pier 1, $54.98

Save:

Halloween crow feet candy bowl from Target, $10.80

Concoct a specialty cocktail.

There’s a good chance your guests who are 21 and over will want to enjoy an adult beverage or two over the course of the evening. Instead of running to and from the bar all night pouring drinks, fill an aluminum tub (Target, $15.99) with ice, beer, and bottles of wine, and let guests help themselves. You’ll also want to have a separate tub full of drinks for the kids. You can decorate them with construction paper cutouts or by putting glow sticks in the ice.

If you want to serve cocktails, come up with a Halloween-themed drink that you can make in batches ahead of time and serve out of a punch bowl or a glass dispenser with a spigot. This will save you time and effort and make sure guests have a drink in hand at all times.

Splurge:

Cold drink dispenser from Crate and Barrel, $99.90

Pumpkin punch bowl from Williams-Sonoma, $59.99

Save:

3-gallon mosaic beverage dispenser from Wal-Mart, $19.97

Halloween punch bowl from Target, $9

Put your costume together.

It’s not a Halloween party without costumes and, as the host, your costume should be spook-tacular. Don’t put this off as you won’t want to be running around town the morning of your party trying to pull it all together.

Come up with entertainment.

If there are going to be children at the party, they’re going to need to be entertained. You can put together simple games, like bobbing for apples, a “pumpkin” hunt where they race find hidden mini pumpkins, or a freeze dance where they have to stop dancing when the music turns off.

Alternately, if your budget allows it, consider hiring entertainment, like a family-friendly fortuneteller, a magician, a face painter, or a caricaturist.

Plan ahead.

The most terrifying thing you can do when throwing a Halloween party (or any party, for that matter) is wait until the last minute or forego a solid plan. Whatever kind of party you decide to throw, make sure these things don’t fall by the wayside:

  • Pick a date. The day of Halloween usually isn’t the best day to throw a party since a lot of families go trick-or-treating, so consider the weekend before or even two weekends before.
  • Set a budget. Your budget will decide everything from how many people you’re going to invite to what kind of decorations you’ll have, and the food and drink you’ll serve, so it’s important to set a number before you do anything else.
  • Send out invitations. Is your party going to be just for adults or are families welcome? If the party is happening with short notice, invite people by email (Paperless Post is a great option), but follow up with a text or phone call. (Want to incentivize people to come in costume? Tell them there will be a contest.)
  • Feel free to ask people to bring something. Whether it’s plastic cups, a bottle of wine, an appetizer, or their favorite kind of Halloween candy, it’s okay to assign people small tasks to make things easier on yourself.
  • Make a shopping list. Guests tend to eat six hors d’oeuvres during a two hour party (including sweet treats) and around two to three drinks. Oh, and don’t forget ice. You can never have too much ice.
  • Have fun with it! Halloween doesn’t it take itself seriously, so your party shouldn’t either.


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