I remember planning our first adult Halloween party in 1994, sitting on the floor and hand-writing out the invitations, making lists of foods, prizes and guests, and organizing a scavenger hunt. It was a process that I would refine in the years to come until planning the annual Halloween party became almost second nature.
That’s not to say that every party was without a few hiccups, but I did learn a thing or two about what is needed to throw a successful party, and I want to share my top ten with you today.
Pick A Theme
I just posted an entire article on this subject, but it can’t be said enough. A theme will keep you on track in every area of your party planning. It will also help keep you on budget. Not convinced? Check out our Top 7 Reasons To Theme Your Party.
Get The Word Out
I like to plant a seed early to give our guests time to plan their costumes and save the date, so I usually text, email, or post well before our event. My favorite method for this is a short and fun video to get people excited. I then follow this up with the actual invite, usually 4-6 weeks before the party.
Today we have many options by which to send an invite. You can email, text, Facebook, or, my personal favorite, postal mail. You know, the kind that requires a stamp, lol. Call me old-fashioned, but I still like sending a physical invitation.
There is no right or wrong way to do this, so you do what’s best for you and your guests.
Feed The Monster
When the hoard of guests hit your door, they’re probably going to expect some treats. That doesn’t mean that you need to dish out food all night. A little planning or even delegating will help keep you out of the kitchen and on the dance floor.
For big crowds, choose foods that are easy to make ahead of time, such as chili. We made chili for our first Halloween party, and it’s been served at every one since. Chili is quick, can be made in advance, stays warm in the crockpot, and you can spice it up or down.
If you prefer not to cook at all, consider pizza or pasta from your favorite restaurant that you can pick up or have delivered. You can also go potluck and ask your guests to bring something, allowing you to focus on other aspects of the party.
Drink Up, Me Hearties
Boozy drinks are fun and festive, but you need to do a bit more planning if you are going to serve alcohol.
First, you need to decide if you will be providing the libations or going BYOB. I like to do a mix where we offer a signature drink (to match the theme, of course), and our guests can bring their beverage of choice. We also offer a wide variety of alcohol-free beverages such as water, punch, and soda.
Be a responsible host/ess and provide guests who overindulged a safe way home. For example, assign a designated driver, help connect them with Uber, or let them crash on the couch and help you clean up in the morning.
Nothing sounds like the death knell for your Halloween party more than a bunch of guests standing around like zombies- unless your theme is zombies. Guests can get bored with nothing to do but hover over the treat table.
Guarantee that your party will go down in Halloween history by providing entertainment and activities for your guests. Go Monster Mash style and dance til you drop. Play Watch Party Bingo while viewing your favorite haunted flick, host a themed scavenger hunt or conduct a pumpkin carving contest. Whatever you choose, it’s sure to be a good time for your guests.
Haunt Your House
I love sunshine and tulips, but neither conveys a Halloween vibe, so turn down those lights and opt for black roses instead.
Start in the yard or front porch and carry the look inside to set the stage for your theme. Trickle Halloween into each of the main areas your guests are sure to visit, even if it’s just a piece or two.
Setting the mood with your decor doesn’t have to be over-the-top or expensive. Little scares here and there will help promote your theme and remind guests of where they are so they can completely immerse themselves in the moment. But, of course, if you want to go all-in on the decor, by all means, do it!
This is my favorite part of planning a party – creating a costume. Don’t tell anyone, but I would often select my theme based on what character I wanted to be.
Get your costume ready early so you know what you’re going to wear and so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute. An early start will allow you to get the look you want within your budget before pieces get sold out.
Having a costume ready well in advance can also inspire your guests to get into costume. If you have already committed to your character, they are confident you will be in costume. And, if you are an over-the-top costumer, your guests will feel more comfortable going all-in as well.
One of the easiest and least expensive ways to set the mood for your party is with music. So take some time putting together a playlist or two for your party before the big event.
Creepy sounds and haunting music are great to play in the background as your guests partake in other activities, while upbeat and quirky Halloween tunes are perfect for the dance floor.
Not sure where to start? Try out one of our Halloween playlists on Spotify.
As a host/ess, you may be so busy greeting guests, making sure everyone is having a good time, and minding all the activities you forget to take a single photo. Oh. The. Horror.
There is a reason that in nearly every Halloween party pic of the hubby and me, we look a bit disheveled. It’s because I get so busy playing hostess that it’s not until well into the party that I think to have our pics taken. (I’m still super-bummed that there is not a single pic from our Pirate party.)
Even with a camera in everyone’s hand, some photo opportunities will get missed. So nip this in the bud and put someone on camera duty before the party and have them get at least one photo of each guest in costume – including you, the host!
Strike A Pose
Speaking of photos, set up a photo booth for your pics. It can be a simple backdrop or wall, or you can theme the area with props to match your party.
Select an area where guests can’t miss it and where it won’t interrupt the flow of traffic. This placement will encourage your guests to strike a pose for your camera person throughout the event giving you lots of great pics.
And, don’t be like us and forget to visit the photo booth!
And, those, my fiendish friends, are our 10 Top Tips for throwing a successful Halloween party.