How to Plan the Perfect Halloween Party

Planning a Halloween party for family, friends or neighbors (or all of the above)? Here are some simple tips for ensuring your party is a monster hit!


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    Choose the date (and choose wisely!).
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    Set the time.
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    Create an invitation (remember to include where, when, what time, directions if necessary, whether or not costumes are welcome (or required), if you want people to bring a dish or beverage to share, or if it’s BYOB, what (if any) activities are planned (costume contest, haunted yard or room, etc.), and whether or not little “ghouls” and boys are welcome. This not only lets people know whether or not to get a sitter, but also gives an indication of what kinds of costumes are appropriate.
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    Draw up the guest list.
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    Plan the menu (simple, creative, or scary?).
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    Decide whether to not to have a costume contest, and decide on prizes.
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    Send out the invitations and collect RSVPs.
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    Complete your grocery shopping, decorate the house, run through a final checklist to ensure you’ve got everything you need, and prep whatever food or make-ahead dishes you can (trail mix, dry goods, etc.).


  • If kids will be in attendance, make sure the party isn't too scary, because little kids can get scared and have nightmares.
  • If you’re planning an adults-only soiree, but you’re inviting couples who have children, don’t host your party on Halloween night. Parents of young children won’t want to miss out on Halloween family fun and even if they did, it would be nearly impossible to get a sitter.
  • Start early in the evening if children are welcome. This allows families to enjoy the party together, without fussy kids (at least, until the sugar crash kicks in).
  • Mailing invitations (especially for an informal gathering such as a Halloween party) really isn’t necessary – if you have email addresses, you could use a free service like Evite.
  • The simplest way to create your Halloween feast is to use “normal” party foods and assign them “creepy” names for the evening. For example, BBQ chicken wings become “Bat Wings,” a simple brick of cream cheese surrounded by red pepper jelly can be shaped to easily become “bleeding skull,” deviled eggs become “devilishly dreadful,” and a simple punch becomes “mummy’s blood.”
    • "Finger Sandwiches" are easy to make: Purchase a pre-made breadstick dough at your grocery store. Separate the breadsticks per the regular instructions and lay on cookie sheet. Slice pepperoni rounds into quarters. Use pepperoni pieces on one end of each breadstick, fitting the rounded edge out. Bake breadsticks as directed. Split while still warm along the length of the bread stick, but do not disturb the pepperoni. Once the breadstick is almost cool, stuff with the creepy hotdog worms. Now you have creepy witches finger sandwiches.
    • Eyeball Eggs: Use your favorite deviled eggs recipe, then decorate as follows: spread out three or four thin strings of pimiento for a red, bloodshot look. Use a slice of black olive for the center of the eye and use two small slices of green olive to form a pupil similar to a cat. Let the black olive show through.
  • If your party includes children, it’s a wise idea to give a small gift or favor to every child who comes in costume, in addition to awarding prizes to the contest winners. A small toy, glow stick, or attractively wrapped popcorn ball would make a great “everybody wins” prize for this purpose.
  • Prepare everything earlier instead of rushing around while guests are around
  • Think about duration. If you’re fine with guests lingering until the wee hours, then you can leave the ending time open-ended. However, if you prefer to get your beauty sleep, you may want to put an ending time on the invitations. Four hours is plenty for a Halloween party – anything longer would be considered more of an open house (which may be ideal for parties held on Halloween night itself) and in that case, expect people to come and go as their evening allows.
  • Consider what time it gets dark where you live. It’s much more fun to go to a Halloween party in the dark, rather than while it’s still daylight.
  • You can do a theme like zombies or day of the dead.


  • Avoid weeknights, no matter what night All Hallow’s Eve falls on this year. It’s better to have your party a full week early (if, for example Halloween falls on a Friday night) rather than the weeknight or two beforehand. Even families without school-age children have obligations such as work, and won’t be able to party well into the night.
  • Don’t be a Johnny-come-lately. Nearly everyone feels foolish dressing up AFTER Halloween has passed, so resist the urge to have your party the day (or week) after Halloween night.

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Categories: Halloween Parties