Tricks & Treats: Fun Halloween Party Ideas
Whether you’re putting together a festive adults-only costumed soiree or a family-friendly holiday bash, Halloween is a great time for a monster mash! These are some of our favorite recipes, games, and party ideas to give your guests a spook-tacular good time this Hallow’s Eve.
Pick a Theme
A theme helps to elevate a party from a simple gathering to an exciting event that everyone will be talking about. You can extend your theme through every aspect of the gathering, from the invitations to the decorations and food. While any kind of festive or spooky theme can work, here are a few ideas to get you started:
Harry Potter Themed Party
If you have a household of little witches and wizards-in-training, why not combine their love of Harry Potter with their excitement for Halloween? Send party invitations in rolled-up parchment scrolls and decorate the house with “floating” LED candles hung from fishing line, stuffed owls perched on top of furniture and framed old-fashioned portraits on the walls for a Hogwarts vibe.
The books are filled with enticing-sounding foods, many of which you can replicate at home. Try a traditional meat pie or pasty for the main course, and accompany it with sides and candies mentioned in the books like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and chocolate frogs. You can also mix up a batch of butterbeer (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) or pumpkin juice to round out the spread.
You can have a movie marathon running in the background, or just use the soundtracks from the films as ambient noise for your get-together.
Zombies are a beloved Halloween monster, and they provide endless variations for an enjoyable party atmosphere. You can tell your guests to arrive already in-costume, or you can make a party game out of turning each other into zombies: set up a makeup station with stage makeup, fake blood, and liquid latex and see who can turn their friend into the most horrifying walking corpse.
For dinner, grill up some barbecue or have it delivered from your favorite smokehouse. You can round out the meal with some cupcakes iced with pink icing piped on in squiggles to resemble brains.
You can decorate your home with ominous, apocalyptic messages written in red paint on old sheets or plastic sheeting. Stray fake limbs make for a nice touch. Try tucking a few rubber fingers into the ice bucket to give your guests a different kind of chill.
Elegant Costume Ball
Not every Halloween get-together needs to be scary. Adults and older children alike can appreciate the elegance of a Venetian masquerade ball. Move the furniture aside to make room for dancing, and choose a Classical music station on Pandora or your favorite YouTube mix. Encourage guests to come with their own masks, but keep some simple masks in a bowl or platter for the door to be sure everyone gets in on the fun.
Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails are the ideal party foods for this type of elegant gathering. Try crostini, caprese skewers, and a meat-and-cheese platter with a variety of crackers. For a festive touch, consider offering a mulled cider or wine as one of your beverage options.
Dim lighting is more romantic and will set the stage for your masquerade ball. Try draping the room with strings of fairy lights in white and purple for mood lighting. You can finish the decorations with hanging lanterns or balloons, feathers and of course plenty of glitter for that magical sparkle.
Halloween-themed snacks and recipes are great for parties. They’re also a fun, festive way to enjoy the holiday throughout the month of October. These snacks make a great addition to a child’s lunch box or for sharing with coworkers:
Miniature Graveyard Cups
Take a see-through plastic cup and fill it a quarter of the way with chocolate pudding. Crush Oreo cookies and sprinkle them like “dirt” on top. Continue alternating layers of pudding and crushed cookies, with the cookie crumbs on top. Place a wafer cookie “tombstone” and a gummy worm on top.
For a quick, fun surprise in a lunch box, use a marker pen to draw a Jack-o’-Lantern face onto the peel of a small orange or clementine. You can also make banana “ghosts” by pressing chocolate chips into a peeled banana in the shape of eyes and a mouth. Red apples, cut into slices, can be turned into a mouth: Simply spread each wedge with peanut butter and place miniature marshmallows in the gap for “teeth.” The red skin of the apple becomes the lips. You can substitute whole blanched almonds for some or all of the marshmallows for vampire fangs or sharper teeth.
Candy Corn Popcorn Balls
This treat combines two Halloween favorites in one, and it’s great for sharing with coworkers or classmates. Combine eight cups of freshly popped popcorn with one cup of candy corn. Next, melt 1/4 cup of butter and add a ten-ounce bag of marshmallows. Reduce the heat to low and stir frequently until the marshmallows are fully melted and incorporated.
Add the popcorn and candy mixture to this and stir with a spatula until fully coated and sticky. Using your hands, shape the popcorn mixture into balls. This recipe should yield approximately 20 two-inch popcorn balls.
DIY Halloween Decorations
Halloween decorations are a fun and festive way to bring some seasonal color and spooky fun to your home. You can use these simple DIY tricks for a party or simply enjoy a few creepy touches to make you smile throughout October.
Milk Carton Lanterns
Paint faces on the outside of a clean gallon plastic milk jug using black paint or marker. Cut a two-inch by two-inch flap in the back, opposite the face. Place a few rocks inside the jugs to weigh them down. Use a string of fairy lights to string together a series of these lanterns, placing a loop of light through the back flap of each until you reach the end. When plugged in, they will emit a spooky ghost-like glow.
Spooky Mason Jar Tableau
Using inverted mason jars, floral moss, sticks, rocks and many other materials around the house, you can create miniaturized spooky scenes that are perfect for centerpieces or as mantel decorations. Arrange stones, moss, or straw in the bottom of a shallow dish to serve as the base. Use small twigs or branches to create barren trees, and add touches like fake bats, crows, pumpkins, skeletons or any other miniatures or toys you can find. Cover these scenes with a wide-mouth mason jar. You can cluster several of these jars into one arrangement.
Drape Your Furniture in Sheets for a Ghostly Look
You might be surprised at what a strong spooky effect merely draping clean white sheets over your furniture can have on the ambiance of a room. Complete the abandoned, haunted effect by using cheesecloth to create “cobwebs” over your entryways, windows or mantel. A few candles and well-chosen vintage accessories can finish the old-fashioned, spooky look. As an added bonus, the sheets will protect your furniture from spills and stains from overly enthusiastic party guests.
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