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How to Throw a Halloween Party Like a Pro

A group of people in Halloween costumes making a toast.

You’ve invited your favorite ghosts and ghouls into your haunted halls, now let us help with the rest. Whether you’re hosting sweet spirits or wild hobgoblins, we’ve got step-by-step instructions to make sure your Halloween party is fit for a fright.

Creating a fun and festive Halloween party doesn’t have to be hard. After you set the date and invite all your friends, it’s time to decide what food and drinks you’ll serve, how you want to decorate, and the type of entertainment you’ll have.

This might sound intimidating, but don’t worry! We’ll help you get set up with some pro tips for throwing the ultimate Halloween party.

Create a Frightening Feast

The first step to any great party is to figure out the food. And, on Halloween, the food is more than just edibles. Party spreads full of the usual fare can also become macabre masterpieces. From crudité platters that look like skeletons to deviled eggs laced with black widow olives—the ideas are endless.

Regardless of which options you choose, we suggest easy-to-grab items. Charcuterie boards, chips and dip, and vegetable platters always go over well. In terms of more substantial fare, stick to things you won’t have to babysit.

Slow-cooker meatballs with hoagie-style rolls, or a do-it-yourself chili bar complete with all the toppings are all perfect for Halloween. Sandwiches and entrees served in bowls are easier to enjoy standing up rather than something that requires utensils. Consider serving items like salads in individual cups so guests can grab one easily, rather than having to serve themselves from a family-style bowl.

Where you choose to serve the food is vital, as well. Food creates a gathering point at any party, so be sure to set it up in an extra-large space to avoid traffic jams. If you have limited space, consider creating multiple food areas to help spread out the crowd, or you can set up giant candy bowls throughout the party space. They make fun decor, and guests will be stoked they always have easy access to sweets, even if the buffet line gets backed up.

A Bloodcurdling Bar

When it comes to drinks, we recommend you go the self-service route. Arrange your drink selections on a bar cart or countertop. One bottle each of vodka, whiskey, and rum or tequila are usually sufficient. Be sure to include appropriate mixers, such as tonic water, and Coke or 7UP.

Of course, beer and wine are always welcome, too. Ensure there are plenty of glasses, ice, and swizzle sticks available.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can make some spooky “smoking” cocktails. If you decide to go this route, we suggest you have a batched drink, like a spiked punch, a pitcher of spiked lemonade, or a dispenser of “Jack-O’-Lantern Juice” next to your minibar. This gives your guests an easy drink option.

Be sure you have plenty of nonalcoholic beverages available, too. Your guests will appreciate bottled water, or a pitcher and some glasses conveniently situated near the dance floor, or the exit.

Devilish Decor

A glowing jack o' lantern sitting on a table with some Halloween party guests in the background.
Dikushin Dmitry/Shutterstock

Whether you want your party to be the source of nightmares or you’re seeking a more Casper-the-Friendly-Ghost vibe, the decor sets the tone. When it comes to decorating, it helps to have a theme of some sort, even if it’s merely “orange and black.”

From there, it tends to be a matter of resourcefulness. Use what you have and what you can comfortably afford, but don’t break the bank. It’s better to spend your money on food, drink, and entertainment than over-the-top decorations. You can also choose foods that double as spooky Halloween props.

You can easily cut and paint some Styrofoam to create some standing gravestones. Hay bales and cobweb-coated whiskey barrels double as decor and extra seating. Pumpkins, of course, are an easy addition but don’t write-off the other fall squash. Knobby, bright-colored gourds of all varieties make excellent decorations at a bargain price.

In low lighting, even paper bats strung from the ceiling on some fishing wire can be terrifying.

Boogie Better Than the Bogeyman

Finally, it’s time to consider entertainment. Sure, a Spotify playlist works if you don’t want to pay for a DJ, but on Halloween, there’s more to consider.

First, if you’re hosting a costume party, we highly recommend a contest. Costume contests are incredibly fun for adults, especially if you award oddball categories, like “Best Accessories” or “Best Thrift-Store Costume.”

Playing games at an adult party might seem childish, but they can add a new level of fun to your event. Try an adult mummy wrap, in which adults must hold their drink in one hand while they attempt to wrap their partner in toilet paper with the other. Best mummy wins!

If games aren’t your style, build in forms of self-paced entertainment. Photo booths or backdrops are easy to put together and provide something for your guests to do. They can use their phones or, if your budget allows, provide Polaroid cameras, so they can take the picture home with them. Other forms of informal entertainment, like casino tables, strolling magicians, or celebrity impersonators, will cost you a bit more, but they’ll keep your guests occupied for hours.

Throwing a Halloween party is easy and lots of fun. The possibilities range from whimsical to downright scary. Once you embrace your creative side, you’re sure to throw a Halloween bash your friends will never forget.

Lauren Sakiyama Lauren Sakiyama
Lauren Sakiyama is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry. She has managed restaurants, country clubs, and large-scale event operations, but her passion has always been about the food. Read Full Bio »
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