Oct 3, 2017 Entertaining

20 Creative Halloween Party Ideas for a Memorable Bash

by Hadley Mendelsohn
PHOTO:

Cheetah Is the New Black

Even when you're no longer under 13 and working on that cavity quota thanks to a successful trick-or-treating collection, October 31 is one of the most festive, fun days of the year. Considering that Halloween offers up an opportunity to play dress-up as an adult, tell tales of supernatural beings amid the chilly fall air, and snack on yummy treats, it's the perfect opportunity to organize a get-together with friends, family, and neighbors. But throwing a Halloween party can also be a little daunting, even limiting and expensive. Do you really want to turn your garage into a haunted house? Probably not (if you do, kudos—that takes some serious effort).

Well, the good news is that you don't have to transform your home into the Sanderson sisters' cottage for a memorable event—though, again, our inner child would be thrilled, and we'd love an invite to that event. In fact, there are plenty of ways to make your Halloween party unique, chic, and on theme while also being timeless so you don't have to go buy a ton of new décor to set the scene or worry about being too kitschy. Whether you host an annual autumn harvest bash that the whole neighborhood looks forward to all year long or you simply need an excuse to get your best friends together this fall, you'll find inspiration from our 20 creative Halloween party ideas below.

Scroll through our list of potential themes, cocktail and food suggestions, décor concepts, and activity ideas to ensure a monster smash for both you and your guests.

  • Addams Family–Inspired: Your guests can come in full-on Lurch or Wednesday garb, or you can advise them to dress in their best all-black ensembles for a decidedly posh, loosely themed Halloween party.
  • Carnival: Not all Halloween dress-up parties need to be scary to be festive and fun. Invite your guests to come dressed like circus performers and carnival-goers and then make sure the décor plays on their costumes. Or let them come as whatever they want, and just focus on activities. You could go all-out and rent a small Ferris wheel and hire fire-eaters, hypnotists, and fortune tellers, depending on your budget.
  • Horror Movie Characters: To give your guests a little more direction while choosing a costume, have them dress as their favorite horror movie villains, heroes, and victims.
  • Autumn Harvest: This is the perfect way make your party fall-ready without going overboard on a Halloween-centric theme. Simply invite your guests to dress for the season (cozy sweaters, anyone?) and then incorporate fall foliage and décor.
  • Masquerade Ball: If you want your party to be a formal event while also taking advantage of the fun costume tradition that Halloween offers, host a masquerade ball. One and done. You can even just call it cocktail attire and provide masks that guests can decorate once they arrive.
  • Carve out pumpkins and transform them into flower vases. Place them on your surfaces and countertops or the front steps for a tasteful, seasonally appropriate décor detail.
  • Plain pumpkins can actually look just as cool as those that are elaborately carved. They also tend to look more grown-up this way (unless you're a master crafter). Create a centerpiece of pumpkins, cranberries, and candles either on a cocktail table or the dinner table, if you're hosting a sit-down meal.
  • Speaking of candles, there's nothing like an ornate candelabra with dripping black candles to set the scene for a fashionable, understated haunted house. Stay on theme with moody hues and glitzy decorative items like metallic flatware. The best part is that you can keep these things all year long instead of throwing them away after the holiday.
  • You can bring the outdoors in with more than just pumpkins. Incorporate garlands and seasonal florals throughout the entertaining space too. This will make the environment feel more elevated if you're hesitant to play too much into a blatant Halloween theme.
  • Take advantage of the temperate weather and gorgeous fall foliage by hosting your party outdoors. If you have a Halloween garden party, set the scene with outdoor string lights, cozy floor cushions, and delicious barbecue.
  • Set up a "mad scientist" bar station for the adults to give your cocktail party a timely twist. You can either print out the recipe instructions and lay out all the ingredients for guests to make the drinks themselves, or consider hiring a bartender to walk your guests through the process. Make sure give your cocktails a fun, Halloween-themed name.
  • For something less laborious for your guests, put out a Halloween punch in a chic cauldron-like vessel. Simply fill it with a delicious punch but call it a potion, or incorporate dry ice to make it look like witch's brew (just make sure your guests don't drink it right away).
  • When overt Halloween décor isn't your cup of tea, get festive with food instead. A great way to do this is by creating stylish goodie bags for guests that are filled with bat-shaped cookies, ghost marshmallows, and skull-like lollipops. If you tie a name tag to the bags, this can also be a cute, personalized placemat at the dining table.
  • There are so many fall-appropriate treats to delight your guests with other than drugstore candy. Think caramel apples, pecan pies, apple pies, pumpkin cupcakes, and decorated sugar cookies.
  • Turn it into a potluck. This is fun for guests (now they won't have to think of what to get you as a hostess gift) and takes some of the pressure off of you as a host. You can still curate the menu by assigning specific dishes and suggested recipes to your guests.
  • Make costumes mandatory, and then host an award ceremony with various superlatives to hand out to guests. Set up a dress-up chest with wigs, prompts, and old clothing in case anyone forgets.
  • To give your bash an entertaining edge, turn it into a murder mystery party. This interactive and low-cost activity is super fun and unique for both kids and adults, especially if you write your own characters and plot twists. But you could always download one for free as well.
  • If you like the idea of storytelling but would rather do something less active, turn your Halloween party into an intimate evening of scary stories around a fireplace.
  • Bobbing for apples can be a little more involved than some partygoers want to get while all dressed up, so consider having a caramel apple dipping station instead. Or if you do decide to do apple-bobbing, make sure you have aprons or bibs for guests.
  • Set up an outdoor movie viewing with a screen, cozy blankets, floor cushions, lanterns, and red wine and cheese for a classic scary movie screening under a full moon.

Share your entertaining tips and Halloween party ideas in the comments below.