Halloween party? Get started
early! Here's a list of things you need to do. This is
based on our
experiences with throwing our own parties and helping friends with
theirs. Note that there are a lot more specifics you'll have to
this to fit with your preferences, but this list is a start.
Three Weeks or More Before
Make invitations (in Photoshop, on Evite,
etc.). Use a picture from last year's party or one of your
house decorated. Add a "who/what/when/where" blurb, and you have
a good starting point. I usually have an email version as well as
the printable picture to attach it to as well as a FAQ (see here).
invitation list. You want to start compiling this early so
that you can always add to it as you remember any oversights from the
first pass. Go through your address books (e.g., email contact
list, who's in your phone, social networking lists, etc.). Also,
don't forget the neighbors, co-workers, etc. who you might not have on
your typical social lists.
reminders before the party. Make a "save the date" sort of
announcement. It's a good idea to let people know in advance that
there will be a party and
that they will be invited, just so they
don't make commitments or think you are forgetting them. I often
start getting inquiries sometime in the first half of September asking
about our party.
props/decorations. I tend to do this all year long, off
and on. The weeks leading up to the party are a good time to
start thinking about what to make specifically for the
party while I have enough lead time in which to throw something
together. It's the countdown that frequently serves as
costumes. You really want to get this out of the way well
in advance of the party if at all possible. Maybe even have a
back-up plan if something doesn't work out (e.g., your had a couple's
costume but aren't part of a couple anymore). The last few weeks
before the party ought to be about preparing decorations and putting
final touches on your costumes. Need ideas? See here.
party playlists. It's a good time to start thinking about
what music to play, and fit your playlist to the occasion and
guests. Is there a theme to the party? Or are you focusing
on a particular style (e.g., film soundtracks, psychobilly, pop songs,
etc.)? Compile songs accordingly. Some ideas here.
the front yard. I start this a couple weeks before the
party (and I have my party relatively early in the season).
However, I dole out the decorations slowly, usually only one or two
props a day. The idea is to make a
holiday about suspense more suspenseful. Ideally, it will
come together slowly and be completely ready by the day of the party.
Final touches on the costumes.
Get whatever props you need. Take in the seams to get the proper
fit. Whatever remaining details are left to do on them before the
party. Maybe even take pictures in the costumes before they start
to get wear and tear once the season kicks in good.
invites. Two weeks may even be stretching it if you
haven't send out the aforementioned "save the date" announcement, but
two weeks gives enough lead time that people can start sending their
breakables. Anything like collectibles, glasswear, or the
like ought to be out of the way when the likelihood of accidents goes
up (i.e., low lighting, alcohol, and lots of people are a perfect
storm). Most of my guitars are out of reach on the walls,
and the ones that aren't are kept out of the way.
extra lights where required. This may fall under the
heading of decorations (which go up next week), but I tend to start
putting up things like lanterns or strands of lights on the back
porch. I usually go ahead and do this before I even start
One Week Before
Collect RSVPs. Find out who's
coming. Follow up with people who haven't replied. Some
folks are lazy about getting back to you with a committed response one
way or the other, but knowing how many are coming is crucial to having
enough to eat, drink, seating, etc.
making ice cubes. I usually try to have decorative cubes
like skulls, pumpkins/jack o'lanterns, etc., but I only have a few
trays for each variety, meaning I have to make them over the course of
several days. I need enough lead time to be sure I have enough to
supply the guests.
extra chairs (if necessary). Even if you have enough,
maybe you need to rearrange in order to accommodate the number of
expected guests. Find an arrangement that works with the flow of
groceries. You probably already have a list of what you're
going to make. Get what you need for that and maybe a little more
in case you have a few more last-minute additions.
house. Do this before you start decorating. It saves
you the trouble of moving props out of the way once everything is in
place, otherwise you're setting it up, moving it to vacuum, then moving
back. Having it clean also means all the junk is out of the way
and you have a clean palate on which to apply your magic.
inside. Do every room including the in-between rooms like
the laundry room, bathrooms, etc. Get
things set up as early as possibly. The more time you have before
the party, the more freedom you'll have to tinker with it to get the
the back yard. This is a great idea if you have a deck or
back porch where the smokers are going to congregate. We always
put up some sort of graveyard.
the stereo(s). Have the wires out of the way of foot
traffic if you have speakers set up throughout the house. Maybe
have a smaller stereo (e.g., one of those iPod cubes or whatever you
Three Days Before
Clean the house. Yes,
again. You probably need to pick up the mess you made when you
set out the decorations.
garbage cans. This will save you the trouble of having to
empty them and dig out fresh garbage bags in the middle of the
party. You should only have to do that if you need to hide a body.
extra garbage and recycling bins. You probably want to
label these too unless you like sorting the beer bottles manually the
day after the party.
cooking. Get any food prepared that will keep.
Set out your costumes! Get the
costumes laid out at the very least so that you, the kid(s), and the
pet(s) will be ready to get dressed by the time the guests start
house again. At least vacuum up the pet hair so you don't
get any on your guests' costumes.
the eats. Set out food, drinks, and all the little
skull-shaped ice cubes.
pictures before party starts. You probably won't have time
to do this once the guests start arriving since you'll be
socializing. Get some shots of the funny food since that will be
consumed shortly. Dani and friends always make interesting
novelties that I try to get pictures of before everyone digs in.
the pets. Well, this is assuming you have any anti-social
ones). I'm lucky. Ours have always been friendly. We
usually foster pugs, and they're the most social breed ever and will
even tolerate costumes.
the music. Btw, I recommend keeping the stereo out of
reach of the kids since they have a tendency to mess with the volume,
hit Shuffle, or whatever else that will mess up your sounds.
turning on lights/props. I have so many props and effects
that I always forget something, so here's my list of things to do
before the party starts: