Halloween Party Suggestions

This isn't really a guide to how to throw a Halloween party.  I have a list like that on this page.  However, I think you really just make it up as you go along and get a little better at it every year you try.  Instead, this is a bunch of things we do that I think work really well.

Throw the party early.  We always do it two weekends before Halloween night.  The weekend Halloween falls on is usually taken up with other activities (e.g., haunted houses, other parties, Pug-o-ween, Oak Lawn, etc.), so this frees up that date.  It also makes the Halloween season last a bit longer, which is nice for all involved.  I also think Fridays are good because people often schedule things on Saturdays.  For more elaboration, see here.

Don't start before 8pm.  We said 7pm one year on account of a few friends with kids, and that was just too early.  Most folks want to come and stay until bedtime.  Almost no one arrived until 8 anyway, so all it did was make us rush to get everything ready earlier than we needed to.

Collect candy from guests.  I got this idea from my friend Liz.  She throws the party, provides food, music, a fire, etc.  Guests are expected to bring a bag or two of candy.  Since the party is always sometime before Halloween night, now it's ready to be given out to the Trick or Treaters.  (You can always buy marked-down candy for yourself after Halloween on October 32nd.)  I poured all the candy our guests brought across the pool table for them to snack on during the party.

Decorate all the areas.  Hosts sometimes forget to decorate some areas (e.g., laundry room, bathroom, etc.).  I think it's a better party if guests experience a total immersion in Halloween.  See here for examples. We even do the backyard.

Have a theme in mind.  Maybe for the whole party, but maybe just for each room.  For example, all the spider decorations go in one room (like our kitchen), then ghosts in another (like our living room).  And so on.  It makes things less chaotic if you have a vague "rule" to help organize your props around.

Stick to "decorative" food.  I found that most people are there to drink and socialize.  You are probably good with, say, some punch with a frozen hand in it, funny cup cakes, chips and dip, and maybe a few other things.  It's a costume party, not a formal dinner.  You don't need a full meal.  Some examples of funny food can be found here.

Start decorating the week before.  If you wait until the day or two before the party, you're going to be rushing around like mad.  However, if you're finished several days before the party, then you have an opportunity to refine areas that don't work.  If you're me, you might end up using the extra time to make additional last-minute decorations as ideas occur to you.  I'm not advising that; it's just what happens to me every year.

Make a checklist of things to do just before the party.  There are always props to be turned on, candles to light, etc.  I always forget things like that.  I pretty much stop thinking about decorating once guests start arriving.   I incorporated mine into this page.

Tell everyone to bring a camera.  You can't be everywhere at once.  It's nice if you can collect pictures afterward to supplement your good memories of the night.  Additionally, I always send out my shots within a few days of the party, then another round of pics from everyone else a couples days after that.

Have a good invitation.  I always have a picture of the house all decorated and everything.  I also include a link to Google Maps or Yahoo or whatever for anyone who hasn't been to the house before.  Lots more detail than anyone wants to read.  Some examples of what to put on your invitation can be found here.

Have the right mix of guests.  I'm lucky in that I have a diverse enough group of friends that I can draw from a colorful crowd.  Inviting an eclectic mix of people means there are more interesting interactions than a homogeneous group who all know one another from, say, work or whatever.  However, I also limit who I invite so that I will avoid conflicts or anyone who will make an unpleasant scene.


Copyright 2012 the Ale[x]orcist.