So you want to have a Halloween party but you don't want it to suck? Well we at The Salem Haunted Magic Show have put together a comprehensive list on how to do it and do it well! Below we'll cover everything from food & drinks to decorations and activities. Additionally we'll provide you with links to our favorite places to acquire party materials and food without making your wallet grow legs and run away.
Let's get started right at the beginning. Where is the party going to be? Will you be hosting this event at your own home? How about a rental hall or even a hotel banquet room? Whatever place you decide on will create a list of variables that will apply only to that particular location. For explanation sake and commonality, let's assume you're planning this party at your own home. Here you will of course have the most flexibility and not be held down by venue rules, requirements and annoying rental & bonus charges or fees.
Ok the party is at home. Now when is it? Big tip - Do NOT have your party on Halloween itself. It may seem like a great idea but you'll be competing with a hundred other parties and activities going on at the same time. It's best to pick the Saturday before Halloween. For example if you're planning your party for 2018, your best bet is Saturday October 27th. Think about it logically, it's the weekend, people are more likely to go out to a party on a Saturday then a Friday or Sunday. People in general are more psychologically interested in parties and events on the arguably best day of the week.
Should you send out invites?
Well if you want people to know about your party then yes, send out invitations. You don't have to go crazy on them but the more creative the better. Here are some examples of clever and unique Halloween party invitations you can get some inspiration from:
How to make your invitations stand out:
1. Pick a style (not necessarily the ones above but have a clear starting theme)
2. Don't use more than 2 different fonts (two much confuses the eye and makes reading bothersome on a psychological level - which will create an annoyance in the guests mind. Keep it simple.)
3. You can use spooky fonts, but make sure they're legible! There are a ton of awesome fonts to be used. Check dafont.com , myfonts.com, fontsquirell.com or fonts.google.com
4. If you're design challenged - you can get pre-made invites with your details added from a variety of sellers on Etsy.com
Once you have your invitations created - do yourself a favor and create a free event on Facebook and invite those same individuals again through the event. Facebook offers great features for keeping in touch with guests and letting people know if there are specific instructions they need to follow. (e.g. where to park, what to bring, costume requirements, etc.)
If you have no clue what I'm talking about re. Facebook events. Go watch this YouTube Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0S_Lx5Cn5Jc (or just watch it below)
Ok so now your invites are done, people are RSVP-ing - MAKE SURE PEOPLE RSVP. It may seem like common sense but you'll save yourself time and money when it comes to food and whatnot when you know exactly who is coming.
Food Do's & Don'ts:
1. DO NOT SERVE JUST CANDY, SWEETS OR HIGH SUGAR SNACKS - Don't get us wrong, candy is great and a must have at your Halloween party. But it's not appropriate for the primary food. Mix it up with a few different hors d'oeuvres. Here's a fantastic article to give you some ideas:
2. If you intend on having an adult only party make sure you have some clever cocktail options for your guests. We found a list of 24 awesome drink ideas for your party bar:
Our favorite is the "Dark & Stormy!"
3. Remember not everyone drinks so you can have some non-alcoholic drinks and virgin cocktail options as well. Virgin margaritas and Pina Colada's are always a big hit. Another must have is water, and lots of it. If you have a group that enjoys drinking, make water readily available for guests to help prevent them from getting too drunk.
4. Don't go overboard! It's very easy to get carried away, especially with all of the possible options for food and drinks. Remember, you can always throw another party. Make lists of your top 10 foods and limit it down to your favorite five. Then remove one! Limit your options to four. Same goes with drinks and snacks. You can of course have the classic self-serve options like soda and water but if you're going to create some unique cocktails, personally I wouldn't do more than 2 or 3 max.
If it's one thing that can elevate your party from ordinary to extraordinary it's the decor. This is the fun part of prepping the party (in our opinion) so it's very easy to get flustered, over excited and carried away. Here are a few tips on what to avoid:
1. Avoid any kind of hanging decorations that have rivets for moving limbs and attached hanging tags. They are, and look cheap. See example below:
If you want to do it right look at slightly more professional props and decorations for your party. A great place to look is Spirit Halloween, they have very useful home consumer props and decorations. They do trade in the less than desirable items like the skeleton shown above, so be cautious on what you buy. Always make sure to use their 20% off coupon and if you have a lot to buy, make multiple purchases over a few days to maximize savings. Most of the time you'll be able to get the cashier to honor multiple orders and coupons but I wouldn't want to be that person in line.
2. Classic cobwebs are perfectly acceptable to use. Watch some YouTube videos on how to decorate with these effectively. Used properly, classic, inexpensive cobwebs can still create a startling effect at your party. Two ideas show below:
Best Places to Get Cobwebs Cheap: (not in order or value/ importance)
MAKE SURE YOU USE THEIR REGULAR 20% OFF COUPON (on the site or in-store)
Here's another option on Amazon that covers more square footage and is slightly cheaper:
A classic place to look is of course party stores, and that means Party City:
Ok let's do the rest in shorter, easier to manage bullet points. Not because we're lazy!
1. Make your invite list and keep track of RSVP's - same as normal parties. This keeps your food and drink purchases in order and prevents you from overspending.
2. Choose to or not to Adopt a Party theme (Ancient Egypt? Famous Monsters? Clowns? Dead Celebrities? Zombies?) Whatever you choose - make sure your guests are aware or it could get awkward fast. Just ask Amy when she showed up as Glinda the Witch at an 80's themed zombie Halloween party! (true story)
3. If you want people to bring food/ drinks - make it clear on the invitation and follow up with close friends who are invited to remember! Otherwise, you can't complain when you planned a pot-luck party and nobody brought anything.
4. Plan activities. This does not mean a round or two of Halloween charades or "Pin the Brain on the Zombie." - Consider a costume contest, Horror Movie Trivia, Pumpkin Carving Contest, or maybe a themed Murder Mystery Game. The point is - if you think it's corny, it will be. Even with some of the ideas we mentioned.
5. Consider Entertainment - this could include inviting psychics to do tarot and palm readings, zombie characteristics, make up artists, or even a bizarre magician or mentalist (usually called a bizarrist) to provide some more formal entertainment - but still with a bizarre and weird bent. Maybe even our own Salem Haunted Magic Show could make a house call? (shameless, we know)
6. Make sure people can find your place/venue and have adequate parking available. Don't you hate it when there is no parking anywhere? Well remember that for your guests. Depending on the size of the party and number of guests, you may want to consider having someone outside helping people with parking.
7. Be cautious of your neighbors and the noise coming from your party. Do sound checks before hand. And most importantly, if you're party is in a residential neighborhood - tell your neighbors what you're planning. Don't expect unanimous support and approval on this, but at least they'll know what's going on.
8. In regards to food and drink. Do yourself a favor and have a few larger coolers on hand. These are in addition to your drink coolers. The extra coolers will come in very handy if you should have an overabundance of food or drinks show up. Or maybe your power went out? Maybe your angry neighbor Gary came over and cut your power because you wouldn't stop playing "Monster Mash?" Who knows. Just be prepared. In addition to the coolers - have lot's of ICE! Ice packs, bagged ice, it's all good - have a lot of it! There is never enough ice - just ask any bartender.
9. Speaking of bartenders - be conscious of your alcohol. Don't hoard it of course, it's for the party. But keep an eye on your guests. If they're imbibing a little too frequently - don't be a party buzzkill, but try to insure they eat and drink a lot of water. Distraction works wonder. As magicians we call this "misdirection." Chances are you know the vast majority of your party guests. Take care of them as you would your own family.
10. Make sure You have fun. Hosting a party, keeping food in order, making sure uncle Frank goes easy on the Prosecco is very time consuming and you may end up missing your own party. Remember to take some time and stop and sit back. Look around and appreciate all you've done. Talk with your friends, play the games, wear a costume, eat the food people are avoiding (Halloween themed meals tend to have themes that can come off as gross) So make sure you dig into those "real" finger, finger sandwiches!
Scare & Be Scared!