Throwing the perfect Halloween party

Graphic by Jia Chen

With Halloween right around the corner and COVID-19 restrictions finally loosening, the time for an epic Halloween bash has come. Here’s a guide to throwing the perfect Halloween party.   

  • Theme 

The first step in throwing a great Halloween party is determining a theme. You can always choose to go themeless or aim for a general Halloween or fall-inspired look. However, if you want to be more specific, consider pulling inspiration from classic Halloween films or one of your favourite TV shows. Bonus if everyone invited is a fan of the content you’re referencing. If your guests have different tastes, you may want to stick with a broader theme — perhaps a serial-killer inspired party or your own take on a monster mash. 

You should also decide if you want people to wear costumes or not. If you do choose to have a costume party, it might be a good idea to set a commitment-level expectation. Not everyone has to follow it, but your guests may want to know if others are showing up with cat ears and a black shirt versus a high-effort look, and adjust their plans accordingly. 

  • Decorations 

While decorations aren’t a necessity, they can transform your space, and especially if you live in a university apartment, a few fun items are a nice touch. They’re also an amazing way to communicate a party theme to everyone who comes. Hit up a dollar store, Walmart, or your local Spirit Halloween to pick up lights, balloons and other pieces of decor.  

If you’ve got a bit more time on your hands, you can also check out thrift stores for cool pieces to add to the atmosphere. You might find old dolls, antique candlesticks, elaborate mirrors and other spooky items. 

  • Guest list

The guest list is also an important factor: you may want to invite only your closest friends, celebrate with a larger friend group or bring together people from different parts of your life. What’s important is making sure every guest will know at least one person in addition to the host (that might mean allowing plus ones). Social butterflies — the people who can make friends anywhere and everywhere — are exempt. 

And remember: in accordance with the current restrictions, you can have a maximum of 25 people inside and 100 outside. 

  • Food and drink 

Whether or not your party is BYOB, as a host, you should probably provide a few snacks and Halloween is the perfect opportunity to have fun with your offerings. Chips and cookies are classic — get a few flavours to make sure everyone has something they like. 

For a candy-loving crowd, you can pick up boxes of fun-sized packs at most retailers and create your own trick-or-treating station with a Halloween basket or big bowl. 

If you want to provide drinks, mini pop cans and bottles are great, especially if you want to avoid communal drinks during the pandemic. However, if you’re close to the whole group, consider whipping up a spooky holiday spiked punch

Speaking of spooky drinks, you can also make spooky snacks. Depending on whether you want to serve a meal, baked goods or something else, there are plenty of easy Halloween recipes and other ways to add a spooky touch to your food. You may even want to save the baking (or decorating) for when the guests arrive so everyone can contribute and enjoy the fruits of their labour. Conversely, you can host a potluck-style event, where everyone brings something for the group to share. 

Don’t forget about dishes, utensils and napkins. If you don’t have enough, you can get Halloween-themed disposable items that add to the spooky atmosphere and simplify the clean-up process. 

  • The playlist 

When it comes to music, there are several options. You can create a spooky playlist filled with Halloween-themed songs (or borrow one of the many such playlists available online), use a more generic playlist of popular party hits or play the songs you and your guests like best, regardless of genre or style. The best strategy might be a combination of all three — a custom playlist combining Halloween classics, upbeat jams and guest favourites.  

If the party is probably going to run late, you may want to have a second playlist of quieter songs to play when peoples’ energy levels start to taper. 

  • Activities 

Activities aren’t a necessity — if you have music and space to move, you’re good to go — but there are a bunch of fun Halloween-related activities you can try out. Consider pumpkin carving, horror-movie-marathons or a costume competition. Speaking of costumes, you can put together a costume table with a few fun accessories and encourage people to take photos of themselves dressing up throughout the night. If anyone has a film camera, encourage them to take photos or pick up a few disposable cameras and hand them out through the night.