Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, or whatever you want to call it, the traditional prominent autumn festival carries with it an expectation of celebrating. Whether it’s your office Halloween bash or just a home get-together with some friends and family, Halloween parties are a staple of that time of year. It may fall to you to occasionally plan out the latest Halloween party.

Aside from Christmas, this is the holiday in the later part of the year that many people look forward to if they aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has a nice dinner with it, but on Halloween, you get to play dress-up and not be ridiculed. People might even compliment your costume. However, when it comes time to plan the best Halloween party you might be feeling a little stumped.

Don’t worry: we have a few tips and some advice for you on how to make your next event memorable and fun for everyone attending.

Decide Your Direction

pumpin on halloween display

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First, you need to know which direction you’re going with for Halloween. Do you want to go the traditionally frightening and macabre route? Or do you want a more lighthearted costume affair with a few trappings of Halloween? The answer depends on you, but you should also consider who you expect or want to invite.

Parents who want to bring children (we’ll come to that in a bit) might not be comfortable if you have too many frightening or graphic decorations, especially if they haven’t yet learned that they’re just decorations. Therefore, if you have people expecting to bring children and you’re fine with that, make sure you warn them ahead of time about the ambiance.

If, however, it’s a strictly adults-only affair, you’re welcome to get as dark as you like unless you’re aiming to have a more costume party-like celebration.

​Scary Halloween Decorations

scary pumpkin display for halloween

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Scary decorations run the gamut from hanging skeletons to spiderwebs to gallons of fake blood and gravestones. It’s easy to overdo the effect, however. Also, if you’re using fake blood, make sure you know how you’re going to clean it up.

A good idea instead is to use window clings. Blood window clings, applied properly, can look terrifying convincing, and they’re just as easy to remove. Just make sure you don’t lose the backing strip. A few skeletons here and there wouldn’t be amiss either. Fake cobwebs and spiderwebs everywhere, on the other hand, might be overdoing it. They’re also hard to clean up afterward.

Sometimes, less is more. If most of your house looks normal and you have a few scary decorations here and there, it’ll have a more striking effect than if your entire house is saturated with the gruesome decor.

It’s best to go with a theme. Don’t just threw every decoration you see together because they will clash. If you want your house to look like a mad scientist’s lab, it wouldn’t do to have a UFO nearby, unless you’re recreating Area 51, in which case the government might have a few words to say.

​Fun Decor

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​Going for the more fun route is sometimes easier. All you need are costumes with maybe a few Halloween trappings here and there. Pumpkin flasks, candles, placemats, and similar items for garnish can have a good effect. You might want to have a themed party, such as the 80s.

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Table Decor

​If you’re going to have a Halloween party, there are a few essentials you need for decorating your dinner or snack table

  • ​Candles
  • ​Paper plates
  • ​Napkins
  • ​Table garnishes (skulls, bats, etc.)

Candles might be tricky if you live in a dormitory or an apartment complex with a strict anti-fire policy. If for whatever reason you cannot light candles, you can use electric tealights as a substitute. Many party stores sell colored tealights you can put on your table. The best colors are dim ones.  Orange, red, and purple set against black work well.


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When it comes to costumes, just as with decor, you can go either the frightening or fun route. This applies to both your costume and the ones you expect or want your guests to wear. The best thing to do is to find a theme, such as dead rock stars or classic movie monsters. You could even combine two or more themes.

Seeing Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie walking around next to the Wolfman can make for a memorable image. For effect, you could even have a costume contest, with people being given small prizes for their effort. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; small party favors or even a gift certificate to a favorite store would work.


When you’re making snacks for Halloween parties, food coloring is your best friend. With a little creative use of cutting stencils, some dye, and an artistic flair, you can create some gruesome but tasty treats. Finger foods like meatballs can be turned into bloody eyeballs. Gummi worms inside a dirt pie can be coupled with a zombie hand made of cookie dough.

Just be careful when serving cookie dough: unless it’s made of artificial materials, it makes use of raw egg, which can contain salmonella. However, you can still make a dirt pie with some cookie crumblings.

Of course, these are just finger foods. The same goes for deviled eggs, cheese cubes, and fruit. These are filling and can be just as appreciated as any of the fun dishes you create. However, your real star is going to be candy.

Almost everyone has fond memories of trick-or-treating. Even without the costumes, there was still the glut of candy that came home in pumpkin buckets, or bags after each Halloween night. Keep a stash of candy – the type doesn’t matter – in various rooms of your house. If the party is to be confined to a single room, then stockpile a large reservoir of candy.


You may have some decor and food suitable for the occasion, but what about music? Many Halloween parties have to have music to let your guests dance to. As with decor, you can keep to a strict Halloween theme, or you can have an ordinary playlist. The best bet is a mix of both. While you want to remind guests of the occasion, you don’t want to overdo it.

Anyone who’s ever worked retail during holiday season knows the horror of Christmas songs on repeat: why inflict that on your guests? Keep a few time-honored favorites on your playlist. “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas, “Spooky Scary Skeletons,” “Monster Mash,” and almost anything from the Rocky Horror Picture Show is guaranteed to be a hit.

If you don’t have a large selection of music, encourage guests to bring their CDs or iPods or MP3 players. If you want to go the extra mile, hire a DJ that specializes in Halloween parties. He may have a few tracks you didn’t think about, and he has the training to keep the music playing and your guests dancing.

burts bees ointmen

Hiring a DJ can be expensive if you want quality, but if you have the spare money and want to impress, it may be worth the cost. Just check your listings or look online to see if any are in your area or willing to travel.


A Halloween party doesn’t have to be an all-out extravaganza of music and dancing. It can be as simple as a movie viewing. Of course, this depends on your guests. You can watch the classics like “The Exorcist” or “Friday the 13th” if your partygoers are all adult and don’t mind a bit of nostalgia.

Part of the fun of watching horror movies is poking fun at the protagonists, who usually do everything against survival instinct. If you have a movie none of you have seen before, you can start a betting pool or a drinking game based on which of the characters meets a horrible end first.


You have to keep safety in mind. If you have scary decor make sure that any of your guests who may have heart conditions know about it and can be prepared. Also, keep the house well-lit enough so that guests don’t go bumping into things.

Another critical thing to address is alcohol. Most adult Halloween parties feature alcohol, but you need to verify that everyone present is of drinking age. Check IDs if you have to; otherwise, you could land in serious legal trouble.

​Final Thoughts

Having the best Halloween party requires you to put in quite a bit of planning, as well as knowing your potential partygoers. Although you can go for multiple themes, it’s best to mix and match elements. Having a purely scary ambiance or a purely party-based may not work the best. They can both influence one another.

Above all, remember that the occasion is about having fun, so don’t take it too seriously

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