So you want to throw a Halloween bash this season, but don’t know quite what to do? You’ll find here five themes for your very own ghastly soiree with some suggestions for refreshments and decorations.
Theme 1: Pumpkin-Carving Party (BYOB: Bring Your Own Pumpkin)
This one’s good for all of your Halloween enthusiasts, whether they be young or old. Set up areas for carving and decorating. If you have very young party guests, you may want to set up a table where they can paint rather than carve their pumpkins. If you hold this one indoors, make sure you have plenty of space and spread out lots of newspaper, because this can get messy. For added color and fun, you can also carve tiny jack-o-lanterns out of red, yellow, and green bell peppers. When finished, set these up on a windowsill or on a porch railing.
To add incentive, award prizes for the best pumpkins. Be aware that jealousies can arise, so have fun making up creative categories and dole out plenty of accolades. A prize can be as simple as a fresh-baked cookie tied up in plastic wrap with a ribbon.
For this party, you’ll want to serve simple fare that can be nibbled and easily transported. Keep the seeds from your pumpkins and roast them. Popcorn balls, whether made by a traditional recipe or sweet and spicy, are always fun to make and eat. And these Maple Cinnamon Spider Fritters are sure to be a hit.
Invitations are as simple as cutting out pumpkin shapes from colored paper. If you want to get cute, place an orange and a yellow piece of paper together so that when you cut out the pumpkin, the shape will be the same on both sheets. Then cut out holes in the orange pumpkin for eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Glue the yellow pumpkin to the orange one, creating a back for the invitation on which you can write all of the pertinent party info.
Theme 2: Ghost Story Bonfire
There’s nothing quite like sitting around a fire in the evening, eating smores and telling ghost stories. However, be mindful of your location for this party. Most areas will require a bonfire permit, so check first before you set anything alight. Always be careful when handling fire, and be certain to pick a place away from trees, bushes, and buildings to build your bonfire. Have plenty of dousing materials on hand, such as buckets of water and sand.
No decoration needed for this party, as nature itself is quite capable of spooking your guests. Of course, purchasing or finding a few props will make the storytelling all the more entertaining. Get creative. You can have someone play the part of a ghost or creepy killer lurking in the bushes. Simple household items such as paper bags and empty Pringles cans provide excellent sound effects.
Serve campfire food, such as hotdogs, chili, hot apple cider, and of course, smores.
Theme 3: Haunted House
There’s always one house in the neighborhood that gets seriously tricked out for Halloween. If you want it to be yours, be prepared to shell out a little cash. While many props can be scavenged or constructed, the more elaborate your haunted house, the more it is likely to cost.
First, you will have to plan out what you want to have in your haunted house and just where you want to do all the haunting: basement, front porch, ground floor of your home, or out in your yard. Make sure to establish a flow of traffic, with a definite entrance and exit. Determine whether this haunted house is intended for children or adults and older teens, because this will affect the kinds of scary props you use (for some extreme decorating ideas and a nifty invitation design, check out Party 411’s Bloody Banquet theme party).
Keep the lights low and cover windows with black sheets or plastic bags. Include lots of unexpected sights and sounds to startle your visitors. You can even create a “black” room in which the visitor is led through blindfolded. Provide bowls of icky stuff for them to dip their hands into-with eyes closed-and encourage them to guess what it is. Use cooked spaghetti for worms, rice for maggots and peeled grapes for eyes.
Food for this party can be as gross as you want to make it. Create a plate of edible eyeballs and witches’ fingers, for example (peruse halloweenishere.com for more delectably disgusting fare). To appease those who like their food to not resemble a body part, make these simple but cute coffin sandwiches. For your adult guests, serve bloody marys and vodka martinis garnished with floating eyeballs made from radishes and olives.
Theme 4: Costume Party
You can throw a traditional no-holds-barred Halloween costume party, or you can have a narrower theme, stipulating only bloodsuckers, for example, or old movie monsters or zombies. Have a contest for the best costume. Decorations can be anything Halloween related, from cute to gory. String up lots of orange and white mini lights and cobwebs. Use creepy carved pumpkins as table centerpieces. If you have the time and the skill, stuff, sew together and dress a couple pairs of old panty hose and pillowcases to make a dead body, which you can pose in a clever way for party goers to find (bathrooms are often a good choice, as guests will not expect to find the restroom already occupied).
For refreshments, stick to appetizers and finger food. Serve Halloween sugar cookies, rice crispy treats, chips and dip, and anything made to appear vaguely–but hilariously–gross (see the recommendations for the Haunted House Party).
Theme 5: Creature Feature/Fright Night
What’s your favorite scary movie? Pick your preferred horror franchise and watch all of the gore from the beginning, or settle in with a few episodes of the Twilight Zone. For a more kid-friendly movie fest, pop in a DVD of Young Frankenstein, The Nightmare Before Christmas, or Ghostbusters (for more kid-friendly movies, see this list).
Decorating for this one is as simple as pulling out all of your favorite Halloween-themed accoutrements. Serve pizza mummies and a great big bowl of Witch’s Brew. For desert, bake up a batch of Monster Cupcakes.