Even when you're no longer a kid working on your cavity quota thanks to a successful trick-or-treating candy collection, October 31st 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. Do you really want to turn your garage into a haunted house? Probably not. (If you do, kudos—that takes some serious effort.)
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 19 creative Halloween party ideas below. Check out the following potential themes, cocktail and food suggestions, décor concepts, and activity ideas to ensure a monster smash for both you and your guests.
Opt for Natural Materials as Table Décor
For Halloween dinner party décor that your guests will be raving about until next October, Marie Flanigan Interiors suggests staying away from the stereotypical decorations and instead be inspired by nature when designing a table setting. Include earthy materials like straw, wheat, assorted foliage, or raffia and complement it with interesting seasonal items like figs, persimmons, and pears.
“We kept this tablescape neutral with the soft tones found in the wheat and linens but added depth with the rustic brown glass bottles and moody florals,” Flanigan says.
Find Expected Places to Incorporate Fall Décor
“In Houston, our fall weather is still a bit too warm to enjoy a fire, so adding pumpkins to the fireplace was a fun décor solution,” Flanigan says. Other unexpected spots to include Halloween décor could be the bottom or landing of a stairwell, a powder bathroom countertop, or a butler’s pantry.
“We love unexpected holiday moments that thread the feeling of fall throughout a home,” she says.
Try an Autumn Harvest Theme
An autumn harvest is a perfect way to 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. Serve warm, hearty dishes starring the season's best fruits and vegetables, like butternut squash soup and a warm apple salad.
Stick to a Neutral Color Theme
What’s black, white, and gold all over? Elegant Halloween décor, like this set up by the Fashionable Hostess. Many of these pieces may already be in your home: black candles, gold dessert stands, and taper candles in holders of various heights.
Pair them with a few graphic pumpkins and a cauldron of bats—yes, that is what a group of bats is called—hung to a wall or mirror with Command Strips.
Delight Guests with a Spooky Signature Cocktail
This scarily sippable cocktail, aptly called the Blackberry Monster Mash, comes courtesy of Marie Flanigan Interiors. Follow this easy-as-can-be recipe:
- Muddled blackberries and mint (16 blackberries and 6 sprigs of mint)
- Simple syrup (2 oz.)
- Rye whiskey (4 oz.)
- Orange bitters (splash)
- Lemon juice (1 oz.)
Shake all the above ingredients together, then pour a splash of club soda on top. Line the rim with orange, dip in sugar, then cheers!
Host an 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.
Take the Party Outside
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 charming string lights, cozy floor cushions, and delicious barbecued food.
Bake Sweet Treats
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.
Add Personalized Touches to Place Settings
When setting a table for a Halloween bash, Flanigan loves to include sweet, personalized touches like these pumpkin place cards.
“The pumpkin gave us a chance to add more holiday décor to the table while serving the purpose of a place card,” Flanigan says. “Painting each pumpkin complimented the party’s overall scheme and color palette.”
Bonus: the pumpkins serve as a party favor for guests to take home at the end of the night.
Go Big and Bold For Outdoor Decorations
Of all holidays, Halloween is the one to let loose and have fun, design-wise. Just be sure to balance the silly skeletons with elegant, organic touches, like mums or stacks of hay to create a cute vignette. To go all out, Flanigan recommends attaching oversized spiders and an accompanying web crawling up the outside of your home.
“It’s a perfect way to add a tasteful touch of Halloween to any exterior,” she says.
Be Inspired By The Addams Family
Your guests can come in full-on Lurch or Wednesday garb for an Addams Family-inspired party. Or you can advise them to dress in their best all-black ensembles for a decidedly posh, loosely-themed Halloween party.
Create a 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.
Watch a Film Al Fresco
Set up an outdoor movie viewing with a screen, blankets, floor cushions, and lanterns. Don't forget a beverage and snack station either. Then everyone can either cozy up and watch a classic Halloween film—Hocus Pocus is always a fan favorite—or use it as an entertaining backdrop as everyone mingles.
Host a Potluck
Potlucks are fun for everyone. Guests feel like they're participating, and by everyone bringing something to snack on, you're relieved of some of the pressure as a host. You can still curate the menu by assigning specific dishes and suggested recipes to your guests. (So you don't end up with a table full of cookies.)
Create a Caramel Apple Dipping Station
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. That way guests can enjoy a fresh apple on the spot or take them home as favors. If you go with apple-bobbing, provide aprons or bibs for guests.
DIY Ultra Easy Halloween Mugs
As Sugar & Cloth breaks down here, these Halloween mugs are insanely easy—almost too easy—to DIY. All you need are smooth copper mugs (to resemble pumpkins, of course) and black window cling material, which allows you to create various Jack-o'-lantern-like faces.
Have the mugs ready to go by party time, or let your guests assemble their own funny faces before filling up. Best of all, after the 31st, you can remove the decals from the mugs, store them on a sheet of plastic paper and reuse them next Halloween.
Put Pumpkins to Good Use in Your Décor
Pumpkins can be used in countless ways as décor. Carve them out and transform them into flower vases, or create a vignette with pumpkins on your front steps for a tasteful, seasonally appropriate décor detail.
More on the minimalist side? Paint your pumpkins a single shade for an ultra-clean look.
Create an Outdoor Photo Backdrop
“Outdoors is the perfect place to include a beautiful fall-inspired vignette,” Flanigan says. She loves groupings of hay bales with fall florals like pansies, mums, Russian sage, and fountain grass. Make the most of that vignette by using it as a backdrop for your little trick-or-treaters’ photos, or for your grown-up costume party.
Treat Guests to Homemade Pumpkin Spice Lattes
The only way PSLs could get any better is if they're homemade. Inspired Taste breaks down the recipe (it's super easy!), which is sure to delight guests, especially if you're hosting an afternoon soiree and it feels a little too early for cocktails.
DIY a Spiderweb Table Runner
Forget a traditional tablecloth. Fashionable Hostess recommends using a stretchy spider web to make the easiest DIY Halloween table runner of all time. Simply stretch it across your dining table, securing it with strong packing tape underneath your table. The more twisting and pulling, the more fun the texture becomes. Then top with pumpkins, candles, and plastic spiders, and voila!