Planning a Halloween Party

Halloween party tips

So, you wanna plan a Halloween party (cue Vincent Price’s “Thriller” Laugh)…Here are some tips and ideas for hosting a “Spooktacular” Soiree!

Halloween party tips: 

Decide on a Budget:

The biggest decision maker will be how much you want to spend. Will this be a fancy evening with rented tables and chairs, a ghoulish band perhaps? Or, is this going to be in your backyard, BYO lawn chair? Either way, the party can be fabulous—but sit down and decide a ballpark figure of how much you want to spend.

Decide on a Guest List:

Think about your budget as you decide whom you will invite. With a larger budget, you can invite all of your friends, their families and your family. With a smaller budget, invite your close friends and family. You could always make it a joint party with a good friend or a group of friends who can help with buying food and decorations. A potluck party is also an option where everyone brings food and drinks to share. BYOB!

Decide if it will be for kids or not:

Are you a good witch, or a bad witch? Just kidding! Will this party be really scary, decorations-wise, or will it be family friendly? Chainsaw massacre or Charlie Brown and the Big Pumpkin?

Decide on a Theme:

Once you know how much you want to spend, and whether or not this will be for kiddos, you can choose what type of décor you want for the party. I suggest being as unique and personalized as possible, but a good, ol’ “Halloween Package” from Party City will work too. Or, go to my favorite party décor spot, the dollar store. It’s amazing what you can do with a little paint and creativity. Here are some fun (maybe over-the-top) theme ideas:

Spooky Carnival (ala, Bradbury’s, Something Wicked This Way Comes):

You could rent a cotton candy machine, popcorn machine, and hire people, or ask friends to pose as different carnival acts from the book. Or, you could create paintings, sculptures etc. to depict different carnival acts. It’s amazing what you could do with papier-mâché and/or pumpkins! Dreaming big, here! If you’ve ever been to Sweet Berry Farm and ridden on the hayride, you’ve seen what old clothes stuffed with newspaper and painted pumpkin heads can do!

Thriller Dance Party:

There is nothing better than 80s Zombie Dance parties! I envision a giant projector and screen set-up playing the Thriller music video, light and smoke machines, glow-sticks, possibly a dance instructor to teach guests how to do some of Jackson’s iconic moves, or even a dance troupe showing up as zombies and doing a flash mob “Thriller” routine. I want to go to this party!

Weird Science Party:

How much would kids and adults LOVE to play and learn at a Science party? Get some mentos and soda-pop, some vinegar and baking soda, beakers, safety goggles, and a wacky white wig and have at it. There are so many fun, easy, cheap and safe science experiments you can find online.

Other ideas:

Reptile party: Yup, there’s a service that brings reptiles to you. 

Where the Wild Things Are: Based on one of my favorite children’s book; you could do a petting zoo for the little ones.

Masquerade: A classic, elegant party

Old Fashioned Halloween: Apple bobbing, scavenger hunt, pin the nose on the witch, homemade haunted house complete with peeled grape eyeballs and spaghetti for brains…what could be more fun or easy?

Murder Mystery: This may take more preparation but would be great fun for adults and kids alike.

Vintage Monster party: Dracula, Frankenstein, Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wolfman, etc.

50s Sock Hop: If you’re not into scary stuff but still want to dress up, a 50’s sock hop is just the ticket.

“Scary” Tales: Like fairy tales, but scary.

Decide on a Place:

Where you have the party depends on how much you want to spend and what kind of theme you have in mind. Having it at home is the best fit for a smaller budget, and can allow for as much creative freedom as your HOA permits, but if you can spend a little bit more, you may consider having it at a local park, a barn or even an open field could be super spooky! Children of the Corn! Yikes! A bit more budget could get you a hotel banquet room…The Shining comes to mind as a suitable theme. You could have a party anywhere with the right budget…a party-boat on the lake…Creature from the Black Lagoon or Treasure Island theme (Arrrr!); a spooky museum party…Ghostbusters theme; The Thinkery…Weird Science theme for kids.

Decide on a Menu:

Even though October in Texas tends to be pretty warm, you can still technically serve “Fall Food;” Things like butternut squash bisque, chili, and anything pumpkin come to mind. Cooking a big pot of something is also a great way to serve a lot of people for not a lot of money. Creating creepy and disgusting names for normal food makes the menu more fun! Spaghetti is brains or worms, artichoke dip is Monster barf, and chili is witch’s brew. Make sure if people are going to be standing most of the time that the food is easy to eat and doesn’t require cutting with a knife. If kids will be there, finger foods (“Finger” sandwiches ha!) are simple to make and a general crowd-pleaser. Crafty cocktails can also be fun to name (and drink): Poison Wine, Vampire Blood, and Frankenstein Fire Water are just a few ideas. If alcohol will be served, make sure everyone has a safe way to get home. Thank goodness Uber is back!

Decide on Entertainment:

Costume contests are a necessity! Having a small prize for Most Creative, Scariest, Most Clever or Funniest, and Cutest costume can bring out your friends’ competitive side and help everyone get into the Halloween spirit. If you’re out in the country, a haunted hayride is really fun; just have one crazy friend run out and chase the trailer with a chain saw (no chain) to make it extra scary! Hire a performer of some sort to entertain the crowd: a magician, a clown, a balloon artist or face painter, a caricature artist, or a character performer, like a princess or a villain, or you could even hire a band. As mentioned before a petting zoo of some sort is very entertaining for kids, as is a bounce house. You could also create a Halloween themed trivia game, hire or designate a DJ and have a dance, carve pumpkins, watch scary movies, or even go Trick or Treating as a group (if the party will actually be on Halloween).

Send Invitations:

The earlier, the better. People tend to have plans for Halloween and Fall Festivals throughout October. Evite offers many fun, free invitations via email and Facebook. Facebook events are also easy to create and send. For a more formal party, try Zazzle for paper invitations. Or you could always go to the dollar store and get some invitations to fill out by hand.


The more prep you do, and the more help you can get from friends or family, the better. Get everything done ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to decorate as guests are arriving. As with any party, the most important ingredient is a gracious heart; you honor your friends and family by inviting them to your event, and they honor you by attending. This is a time to show your favorite people how much they mean to you. Be attentive! Turn on the hospitality, get into party mode, and enjoy!



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