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How to Throw a Halloween Party

Pumpkins, apple cider, spooky costumes: all staples of autumn and of Halloween! If you’re planning a Halloween party to scare and amaze your friends in equal measure, there are plenty of things you need to think about before it’s time to munch on some candy apples.

With all the things you have to worry about, it can feel overwhelming to get started. But don’t worry! You have some expert planning advice and tips on your side. Here’s how to throw a Halloween party that will make you the talk of the town!

Part 1: Planning

Choose your date, time, and place

The most important part of your party: when and where are you having it? If a lot of your party guests have kids, they might not be able to attend on Halloween evening because of trick or treating. If it’s a weekday, people may not be able to stay out late or party at all. Evening is best for a spooky party, but choose a time of day that works for you and your guests.

You also need to choose your location. Host friends at your house or rent a larger venue to accommodate a big Halloween bash! Make sure you have a good ratio of party space to people invited; you don’t want things to seem cramped or crowded.

Compile a guest list

Are any children invited, or is this an adult-only event? If your guest list is full of parents, you may be a little more restricted on times that will work for them, but make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to adjust. Pick some core guests that you really want to attend and plan around their schedules first.

When you have a list, make sure that you estimated right on how big a venue you’d need. If you have any guests with mobility concerns, such as a wheelchair, make sure your chosen space is accessible for them. Make sure you have a way to contact all your guests, or start getting home or email addresses or social media profiles now.

Budget it out

It’s time to determine how much you are willing and able to spend. There are always ways to make a party more cost efficient if need be, or you can go whole hog.

  • Food: Halloween is all about the treats, so make sure you have plenty of room to provide snacks and desserts for all! If you’re working with a budget, try asking guests to bring food for a potluck.
  • Decorations: When you’re creating the perfect spooky atmosphere, it’s easy to want to go overboard. Make sure you know how much you can spend and limit yourself to what you can afford.
  • Activities: It’s nice to chat with friends and catch up, but activities scattered throughout the party can provide structure.

When planning your budget, make sure you keep some extra money for emergencies. Whether it’s for a cab ride home, some extra food, or some last-minute replacements for torn decorations, you’ll be thankful you had something in reserve.

Part 2: Preparation

  1. Venue: Make a decision on your venue. If it’s outside your home, get the paperwork and rental fees in on time and make sure your reservation is secured. At home, start cleaning any major clutter and deciding what needs to be stored away from guests.
  2. Invites: There are plenty of ways to send out invites nowadays. Paper invites are wonderful and make people feel special, but they may cut down on the actual responses you receive. Try email or social media invites for more consistent RSVPs and communication.
  3. Decorations: Start buying or arranging for the decorations well in advance, so you can ensure that your have everything you need. A balloon arch can provide a grand entrance into your venue while fake spiderwebs or a chalk body outline on your front walk can provide a suitably spooky atmosphere.
  4. Food and Drink: What time of day is your party? If you’re celebrating over a meal, ensure you have food that will satisfy. After dinner, however, it’s all about the treats. Have guests bring in their own creepy creations while you provide fun extras like a cotton candy machine or some frozen alcoholic drinks to get everyone in the partying mood.
  5. Communications: If you’re planning something like a potluck, start communicating early and often and keep track of what each person is bringing. Otherwise, enlist some help from friends in picking up the partying must-haves and setting up your venue for guests to arrive.
  6. Activity planning: Start planning some things you’d like to do with your guests. Have a costume contest where everyone can vote for their favorites. Hire a murder mystery experience. Get a face painter to paint spooky designs just for your guests. Hire a karaoke DJ and guests will sing through the night.
  7. Extra supplies: Figure out what extras you’ll need. Tent, table, and chair rentals make an instant party space. Have plates, utensils, and serving platters ready for food. Make sure bathrooms are stocked with soap and clean towels and that you have cleaning supplies for after the party.

Part 3: Buildup

  1. Rentals: If you haven’t rented all the party supplies and extras that you need, do it now. Try to rent more than a week in advance to make sure that your rental can be accommodated and that it will be ready in time. If you have already scheduled your rental, make sure all the appropriate fees are paid on time.
  2. Group chat: Set up a group chat for people involved in the party. This way, you can answer questions for the whole group and make sure everyone is on the same page. This is a great place to remind people to bring something for a potluck or where to park for your venue.
  3. Outfit: Plan your outfit! Halloween is a time for crazy costumes, so go as elaborate as you want. But don’t forget, you’re going to be mingling and doing small tasks throughout the party, so wear something you can move in. Also keep the temperature in mind. An outdoor party might be chilly while an indoor party might get warm with all the people.
  4. Venue prep: Make sure you have access to your venue and that things are clean and ready for your event. Double check the parking situation and make sure you have somewhere for guests to put coats and other belongings.

Part 4: On the day

  1. Eat breakfast: It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the day and forget to eat, but you need to start your day off right so you can keep up the energy through the party.
  2. Pickups and deliveries: Pick up any last-minute supplies or orders and make sure you’re at the venue in time to receive deliveries. For food orders, make sure you have the appropriate storage spaces.
  3. Neaten up: Pick up any clutter, neaten decorations, and squirrel away any personal belongings you want out of harm’s way. Arrange the furniture to make sure there’s room for your guests and your party supplies.
  4. Watch your noise level: Whether it’s neighbors on the street or other events nearby, remember that you might not be the only ones who can hear your party. Be courteous and keep the noise level reasonable, especially as it gets later.
  5. Food: Bring the food out when appropriate, or keep a table stocked so people can pick up snacks as they wish. Make sure you restock the food table when it runs low, for as long as you have extra food. Package the excess to send home with guests.
  6. Drink: It’s fun to indulge, whether in some adult beverages or just some plain apple cider, but make sure there’s water out for everyone to stay hydrated. Whether from activities or just costume layering, guests can work up a sweat and it’s important to have water on hand.
  7. Arrange rides home: If there are going to be adult beverages at your event, make sure there are alternate ways for guests to get home safely, whether it’s carpooling with a designated driver, calling a cab, or taking public transportation home.
  8. Have fun! This party is just as much for ou as it is for everyone else. Don’t get too caught up in the details and forget to enjoy yourself. Talk to friends, laughing at silly costumes, and take plenty of pictures.

Part 5: Once it’s over

  1. Clean up: Clean up any major messes at a rented venue and organize any trash you can leave behind in neat piles for the cleaning crews. Note any major issues that might need to be addressed by maintenance. At your home, clear away garbage and neaten up as much as you can. Take down decorations either that night or the next day.
  2. Collect pictures: If you rented a photo booth to capture the amazing costumes, get the digital copies of the pictures. Ask guests to send in their best pictures or post them to social media under the event or in a hashtag. Collect a highlight reel of the best pictures and send them out to your friends as an album or collage. People love getting something to remember the party by!
  3. Send out thank you’s: Make sure you thank everyone that helped you put together your amazing party. It makes your guests feel special and appreciated when you remember their contributions. Even if you just send out a general “thank you for coming” on your social media, people will enjoy the acknowledgement. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, or got a lot of help from your guests, send out personalized thank you notes in the mail.