Around this time of year, most people start thinking about their Thanksgiving plans, where they will go and what food they need to make. Not me. As soon as it hits October, I’m in full on Halloween mode. I’m not a fan of the creepy horror movies or anything super scary, but I love decorating, carving pumpkins, and planning a trendy Halloween costume.
You may remember my Murder Mystery party post from last year, where I mentioned how I planned 4 Halloween parties (yes, I’m crazy). It was so fun but exhausting, and I promised myself that this year I would try to limit my party planning to one and make it a REALLY great one. I’ve spent a few weeks planning my party this year, and I thought I would share some tips in case you also want to throw a fun Halloween party!
The first step is to brainstorm. This is where I come up with a theme for the party considering my audience. For my work party last year, it was more of a harvest theme. I also hosted a Stranger Things party, even though it was in the off season, just because I love the show. For my party this year, I chose the Roaring 20’s because it went along with the game I chose. My sister is helping to plan a party for her church college group, and I threw out some ideas like “Throwback Thursday” or masquerade to be more appropriate for a church group.
Sometimes it’s helpful to look elsewhere for ideas. I love my Celebrate Everything party book by Darcy Miller, she has some great ideas from food to decor to favors. Of course, Pinterest is another great resource for party planning, especially so you can keep track of ideas. I got my party theme by looking on Etsy for different murder mystery games – I ended up choosing one from Murders by Chelsea who has a ton of different themes.
Once you have a theme, you can really start party planning! The first thing you have to consider is your guest list. If you’re planning a large party like the one I did for work, you’ll want to keep things simple and look for a large event space. If you want to keep it smaller, think about how many people can fit into your house or if you’ll need to find another space to do it in.
Once you have the people figured out, pick a date and time that will work for the most people. Mine was planned around the schedule of the medical school (because when is it not?) so that students could attend. Now is the time to look for locations. If you can’t have people at your house, could you rent a local event space, have it at a park, or see if an apartment clubhouse is available? Make sure there is enough room and parking spaces for people to make it convenient for everyone.
When you have the who, when, and where, now it’s time for the what! This includes setting a budget, planning the food and drinks, getting ideas for decor, and figuring out activities. My friend recently introduced me to the Happy Planner Happy Hostess pages, and even though I don’t have a Happy Planner they have been really helpful in planning my Halloween party!
The next step is inviting people to your party. You can do this several ways, from sending out an email, doing a group message, or setting up a Facebook event. For something that’s a little more planned than a simple get together, I typically do a Facebook event. Since I work in Marketing, it’s important to me that everything looks cohesive and branded. I use Canva for pretty much everything, from creating a Facebook event cover to posts. It’s a free design tool and they have a ton of templates, so your stuff looks great without much effort. This year, I went the extra mile for my party and made printed invitations as well, which made it a bit more fun.
In my experience, the best place to start shopping is online. You can compare prices from places like Walmart, Amazon, and Party City before you buy to ensure you get the best price. I usually like going into the stores and buying there, so I can see the colors and quality. My recommendation would be to start off at Dollar Tree for inexpensive things like tablecloths, paperware, and other decor. Then check out Walmart for things you weren’t able to find, and hit Party City last as they tend to be more expensive. You can also try places like Target and Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. Don’t forget to get things for your own costume while you’re out shopping for decor! Buying a costume is usually expensive, so see if you can find something at Goodwill or borrow something from a friend first.
Last but not least, execute! Prep food and decor as much as you can beforehand. If you’re able to decorate early, even better. Make sure when your guests arrive you have a themed playlist going, and there is a clear flow from the entrance to food and drinks. If you have a planned activity, make sure your guests know when you will be starting so they have time to eat. While it’s easy to stick behind the scenes making sure everything is perfect (speaking from experience), try to be present with your guests, it’s important that you have fun at the party, too!
I hope my party planning tips were helpful! If you end up throwing a party for Halloween, I would love to know what you do!