Pumpkin Carving Party
Invite friends and family members over for a pumpkin-carving extravaganza. Have a couple sets of carving tools on hand, plus plenty of newspaper. Ask guests to bring their own pumpkins, but have some extra on hand for anyone who gets struck with inspiration. Set up a big table outside where pumpkins get cleaned on one end and carved on the other. Guests can take turns pulling out the threads and seeds. If you’re feeling ambitious, separate the seeds from the pumpkin and toast up a couple batches of salted pumpkin seeds for snacking. Make sure you line up all the Jack O’ Lanterns in full illuminated glory, and snap a shot of your collective creative artistry.
Trick or Treat Party
If you live in a prime trick-or-treating location, hosting a kid-friendly party that hinges on the big house-to-house tradition can be a fun theme for a Halloween party. Invite friends over about an hour before the trick-or-treating begins in your neighborhood. Spend that time serving up hot mulled cider along with a healthy snack to energize little ghosts before the candy crash. The sipping and snacking can take place alongside the process of getting everyone in their costumes and makeup. Have glow sticks on hand to give to each child to wave in their hands, wrap around their wrists, or twist around their candy sacks. Circle around the neighborhood for an hour or so, then head back to candy headquarters for an epic trading session and a Halloween-themed movie or show.
Haunted House Party
If your kids are grown or if they’re more up for haunting than trick-or-treating, transform your home for a party that’s full of spirit. Invite guests to dress according to your haunted theme. You can go with a classic haunted house complete with tombstones, spiders and a spooky soundtrack. If you want to go above and beyond, rent a dry-ice fog machine to set an ominous tone as guests enter. Or you can get creative and do something a little more outrageous and artsy like building a giant papier-mâche snake slinking down your front steps with dry ice sublimating from its mouth. Whatever theme you choose, create some snacks to match, whether they’re bedeviled eggs or tiny snake-shaped cheese straws. Friends will love participating in the spectacle as trick-or-treaters arrive.
Cocktails & Spirits Party
Host an adults-only party that centers on one deadly drink like a Blood & Sand or a Dark & Stormy. Set up your bar so that guests can help themselves with the aid of a printed cocktail recipe. Send guests home with a printed copy of the recipe rolled up with some wicked-strong black licorice and a pair of plastic fangs as a party favor. Serve plenty of macabre finger foods, like severed-finger hors d’oeuvre (made with string cheese and almond fingernails) or Fright Bites.
Spooky Story Party
Invite guests to come over for a party that celebrates the darker page in literary history. Guests can come dressed as their favorite character from horror fiction be it a classic short story like Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum,” Washington Irving’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” or a more recent horror novel like The Shining by Stephen King. We love how, with simple speculation and a supernatural specter, these writers managed to spin tales far more chilling than any modern blood-and-gore horror flick. The stories’ strange subtlety and grim settings are exactly why they’re so unnerving. But any dark book or movie can be used as the basis for your unique Halloween party, providing a great way to focus your decorating and inspire guests. Tell guests that they’re welcome to bring their favorite ghoulish excerpt if they’re so inclined, but have a handful of ghastly short paragraphs on hand for guests who fail to do their homework. Serve up theme-appropriate hors d’oeuvres and libations, then mark the height of the evening’s horror by asking guests to do a highly dramatic reading of their piece in character. Whether they use a voice scrambler for fear factor, point a flashlight from chin to forehead for campy horror effect, or skulk in a dark corner for their performance, you’re bound to get more than a few total howlers.
Horror Film Party
Perhaps the simplest Halloween-themed party of them all – but no less fun for it – is your standard horror film festival. Set up a screening room with either a large-screen television or a projector, and make sure there’s plenty of comfy seating. Have snacks and refreshments in another room nearby for guests who would rather chat than bask in the eerie glow of a horror flick. Invite guests to dress as any of the characters from the films you plan to show, then let the cheap entertainment set a spooky scene for a Halloween party to remember.