How To Throw A Theme Or Costume Party

An unexpected noise, a sudden cool breeze and the feeling of something crawling up your arm are the epitome of Halloween for many. Others prefer funny costumes, bobbing for apples and all things autumnal. Throwing a terrifyingly good party or a festive fall get-together is easy once you pick a theme, have plenty of activities for guests, decorate and finally, cook up some delicious treats.


Before deciding on a theme, ask yourself a few questions about your goal of the party.

  • Are you planning on keeping guests on edge all night with spooky decorations and games?
  • Or, do you want it light-hearted with only a hint of the darker parts of Halloween?
  • Whichever you go with, think of your guests and what they might like.
  • If your theme is too narrow, your guests could all end up in the same costume, while too broad a theme can feel like no theme at all.

Costume Party Ideas

Costume parties never get old, and they give attendees the chance to break out their creativity. If you’re into horror movies, choose a theme based on your favorite slasher flick (of course, with a matching costume). Try to choose a movie with lots of options so people don’t feel too restricted. You can go by decade or genre instead of one specific movie to give people a chance to show their personality. Of course, allowing your friends to come in whatever costume they want is the simplest option, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Make it fun by holding a contest with categories such as the funniest, scariest and cutest costume.

The only way to dress up isn’t in costume; formal dress occasions give you a chance to look fabulous with what’s already in your closet. This takes pressure off of guests who don’t live for costumes. An autumn-themed party is an elegant option that still allows you to take advantage of fall’s bounty. Perhaps you want to scare the pants off of attendees in a more classic, elegant way. Murder-mystery parties are making a comeback, and they give you the excuse to host a formal cocktail hour and dinner if you choose. Do you and your friends love chatting about the latest Hollywood gossip? Throw a celebrity-themed party where guests dress like pop-culture icons. Make it a fancy do by throwing out a red carpet for guests to arrive on, and enlist a friend or significant other to be your paparazzi.

There’s nothing wrong with hosting a low-key party, especially if you and your friends prefer quieter evenings. Choose a few flicks for a night of frightening films. Turn Halloween into game night and tell guests to bring their favorite board games. For a smaller affair, gather friends to help pass out candy at the door. If you decide to make your party kid-friendly, make sure the theme is appropriate for all ages and that activities and movies suite everyone. For a fun pre-Halloween gathering, throw a pumpkin-carving party geared for kids and adults.

Once you settle on a theme, it’s time to decorate. Make your life easier by deciding up front how much time you are willing to spend on putting up decorations. While it seems straightforward, those little decisions can eat away at hours of your precious time. For those with plenty of time, make a plan and figure out what parts of your house or yard you want to make festive. Don’t have tons? No worries. Choose one room to decorate, and you can put out small details (like candy bowls and wreaths) elsewhere to make it look like you spent more time than you actually did.

Budget is another aspect to think about when hosting a Halloween costume party. For most of us, the sky is not the limit for holiday decorating. To make the most of your money, look for sales on decoration you can’t create at home, then spend the rest of you budget on homemade pieces. In addition to being cheaper, you can customize homemade decor them to your liking. Remember to stick to your theme when decorating so everything ties together. Consider who will be at your party, too. If children or costumes will be present, don’t put a lot of candles or open flames out. Don’t forget about your cats and dogs, or your guests’ animals if throwing a pet-friendly party. Make sure ornaments and trimmings are non-toxic and out of reach of playful pooches.

Most importantly, think in theme when you’re decorating. Spooky themed decor abounds, but what if you are going for a murder mystery? Buying antique furniture may be out of your price range, but you can easily pull out the good china. Find cheap candleholders and chargers at the store and spry paint them with a hammered bronze finish. For a vintage theme, find advertisements or art from the era online, print them out and display them around the house; find a classic television series or movie and play it on loop on your televisions.

What party is complete without tasty treats? Snacks and beverages are just as important to a party as the theme and decorations, however, they are also a place to throw the theme out the window and focus on making something delicious. Fall is a great time that brings in a unique flavor set; utilize them to delight your guests. Or, ask guests to bring their favorites for a pitch-in style party. Pick up a copy of your favorite home magazine’s October edition for Halloween recipes and ideas. You can even do a basic internet search to get inspired. Variety is nice, especially when having a house full of people, so more options are better. While complex, theme-specific food is awesome, never underestimate the power of bag of pretzels or potato chips. Buy a few bags of candy, and set bowls around the house. Sometimes the simpler dishes are the most popular.

cat-maskFinally, the most dreaded part of throwing a shindig is the cleanup afterwards. Always think strategically when decorating; sure, that crepe paper is cheap and festive, but it will mean tons of time walking from room to room, pulling off bits of tapes and scraps of crepe. Tables full of confetti and light-fixtures covered in spider webs add to the festive atmosphere, but it all has to be cleaned and taken down eventually.

Hosting your own Halloween party can be a blast, especially when you choose a great theme, decorate and offer yummy treats. Once you’ve accomplished those tasks, enjoy your efforts with family and friends.

  • What are your favorite Halloween party ideas?
  • What is the tastiest, or spookiest, recipe you’ve made for Halloween?
~Rebekah Meyer

Read More Halloween Blogs & Guides

°  Trunk-or-Treat, Halloween Carnivals and other Trick-or-Treating Alternatives
°  Swaps, Crafts and Sales: What to do with old pet costumes
°  Trick-or-Treating, scary stories and the Jersey Devil: Why you’ll love Halloween camping
°  Halloween Safety Tips: Stay Safe No Matter What Your Holiday Plans Are



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