‘Tis the season to be spooky, and Halloween is the perfect time to throw an epic party. Here I’ll outline everything you need to know to throw the party of the year, and one that your guests will be talking about for years to come! Party planner extraordinaire Morgan Mitchell shares some tips and tricks to bring your Halloween party to life.
Need some Halloween party theme inspo? We got you!
CHOOSING A THEME
Even though Halloween is a theme in itself, take it up a notch and create different styles and looks each year. I’ve thrown a Gothic Victorian Dinner Party, drawing inspiration from the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and Bram Stoker; a Witches’ Coven theme; and a Killer Dinner theme, where everyone came dressed as a different cult movie villain. Think Chucky, Pennywise, Tiffany and Michael Myers all sharing a bottle of red at a long table feast. Stylised concepts also mean your guests are encouraged to ‘team with the theme’. I’ve found most guests appreciate a theme as it gives them a bit of guidance on what to wear — AND it all adds to the overall look you’re creating.
These are SO important as they provide the first glimpse into your party and a little sneak peek at your theme. I’m a firm believer in the classic invitation. People may think invites are old school, a waste of paper or just plain lame, BUT let’s not forget visuals are the first entry point to your party and they set the scene. Etsy and Canva have some fantastic Halloween templates that you can personalise and email or print and post to your guests. You can also make them yourself with some cardstock. I like to mail some fake cobwebs or a little mini spider inside … just to get the pulse going!
Want to save money on decorations? Make your own! While there are so many great store-bought decorations, it’s amazing what you can find in your own home and repurpose. For my Gothic Victorian theme, I turned an existing wooden cupboard into a creepy apothecary cabinet, filling the shelves with old bottles and jars I recycled. You can find some creepy concoction labels online (or hand write them yourself). Distressing them with either paint or tea creates a really old vintage look, and you can also fill the bottles up with water and food dye to create different depths of colour.
Creepy dolls are another inexpensive but oh-so-effective decoration to have at any kind of Halloween party. If you don’t have any old dolls lying around the house, you can usually find them at local op shops and give them a makeover at home. There are no rules here; just have fun and experiment. I usually paint my dolls all white or a mix of grey and brown acrylic paint to achieve that ‘haunted’ look. Colouring in the eyes is also incredibly effective. If you’re committed, you can even dye their clothes depending on what sort of look you want. Op shops have some fantastic items you can repurpose such as old candelabras, vases, trays – all of which you can paint and personalise with inexpensive items such as cheesecloth, cobwebs, spiders, skulls, and bats etc.
Spell books are also great props to have at any Halloween function. All you need is an old hardcover book, some black acrylic paint, some rubber spiders or snakes and a trusty hot glue gun. Simply glue the creepy crawlies onto the front of the book and paint the outside of the book black. To really elevate it, you could use calligraphy stickers from your local craft store to spell out the words ‘SPELL’ or ‘POTIONS’. I like my books to look old and weathered, so I tend to distress them with a bit of sandpaper and burn the edges of the pages.
Whether you decide to go cocktail-style, sit-down dinner, or just snacks on a table, creating a signature drink is always a crowd pleaser. I create drinks to suit my theme each year, and the guests love it! Cocktails or shots on arrival are always fun, but punch is a simple and cost-effective way to offer your guests something different. There are so many alcoholic and fruit punch recipes online, and you can just come up with a great name that suits your party.
For my Gothic Victorian party, I created a drink inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, called ‘The Raven’, which was a fresh and fruity punch with a dark purple tint. You can create a drink sign too, so guests know what to expect.
Guests love the little extras at a party, and I always like to do something beyond the normal realm. I always decorate the bathroom, the most heavily trafficked place in a party (besides the food and beverage table!). Every detail can enhance and extend your theme to another space. Use a tray to create a little display using soap and an old rolled-up washer sprayed with fake blood (or add a couple spiders if you don’t want to ruin your hand towels). I also stuck a trail of fake spiders on the back of the bathroom door to give guests the ultimate fright.
For sit-down events, place settings really bring your theme to life. For Witches’ Coven, I used twigs I found on the street to create mini broomsticks with raffia to tie a name card on top. For my Killer Dinner, I put plastic body parts mixed with fake blood into snaplock bags and created evidence labels with the guests’ names on them. They were a big hit!
Never underestimate the power of a great Halloween ice breaker! Festivities are always a brilliant idea for Halloween parties — they get people in the mood and really add to your night. Halloween-themed trivia is always a winner, especially when there are prizes involved. Other ideas include watching a Halloween film (better for smaller groups), costume contests, Halloween cookie decorating, pumpkin carving competition, a murder mystery game, a game of ‘guess that Halloween song’ and Halloween movie charades.
And lastly, don’t forget the music! You can check out the Hallozween playlist on Spotify or create your own to match your theme. Happy party prepping, witches!
This theme is loads of fun and offers so many decorating opportunities — but those who suffer from coulrophobia (fear of clowns) might want to steer clear! For themes, you can go ghoulish and macabre (think Twisty from American Horror Story series Freak Show); opt for a movie theme and draw inspiration from I.T, Killer Klowns from Outer Space or Funhouse; or stick with classic carnival and bring on a traditional circus vibe.
It’s classic, it’s cool and it’s a killer theme. Villainy is always a crowd pleaser as it offers a massive amount of choice and variety in costuming, makeup and overall styles. You could give it a movie twist — think classic horror movies faves such as Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Chucky. But you could also think outside the coffin and make it an historical villains theme, with costume ideas such as Lizzie Borden, Vlad the Impaler, Elizabeth Báthory or Jack the Ripper.
A witch theme is perfect for Halloween. You can follow the style of more recent TV shows such as the American Horror Stories Coven series and give it a New Orleans vibe, or go classic — Salem, cauldrons, spellbooks, broomsticks, candles and wands. There’s no shortage of decorating themes and ideas on Pinterest and Instagram to create a spellbinding theme, and it’s perfect for a sit-down Halloween dinner party.
Turn your place into a replica of the Beyers house in Hawkins, Indiana, as a tribute to cult series Stranger Things. String up coloured lights like as Joyce did in Season 1 to contact the Upside Down, make some cool demogorgon props and themed treats and invite friends to come dressed as their favourite character. Who doesn’t want a room full of Eddies, Steves and Hoppers?!
Get some DANGER and BIOHAZARD tape from party stores and put your house into quarantine. Label plastic bins with biohazard waste signs, drag out those gas masks and step into some plastic HAZMAT suits. If you want to go all-in, dress as the Plague Doctor, a physician characterised by a large beak who treated victims of the bubonic plague.
The ‘end of the world as you know it’ theme is super-fun because it can be anything you like! Set up an asteroid crash site in your front yard and hang aliens from your roof, create a frozen wasteland or just conjure up a good old fashioned zombie plague party. BRAAAAAINNNS.
Why not fashion yourself a steampunk Halloween! This theme blends the romanticism of the Victorian era and elements from the Industrial Revolution and allows everyone to get a little creative. It also weaves in easily with other genres, such as sci-fi and horror with a post-apocalyptic bent.
As no one can has really travelled overseas much lately, have your guests dress as their favourite destination. You’ll probably see a lot of Hawaiian leis and socks with sandals, but it also provides a lot of scope to be super creative. Himalayan Yeti or Transylvanian vampire costume anyone?