” Tom Kaulitz and Heidi Klum pose with guests at Heidi Klum’s 19th annual Halloween party, 2018. Noam Galai/Getty Images for Heidi Klum
Halloween is probably the ultimate kids’ holiday — and once you’re too old to trick-or-treat, it could feel like all the fun has passed you by. But although you might spend the day wrangling tiny costumed ghosts and goblins and reminiscing about the good old days, there will come a point when the little devils finally lapse into sugar comas. So while the kids sleep, why not host a Halloween party and let the adults come out to play?
There’s really no end to the exciting (and spooky) things you can do with decorations, food and drinks for a Halloween party. This is definitely not a holiday — like Easter, perhaps, or Thanksgiving — where you have to keep it classy. Yes, some people might hold formal masquerade balls or elaborate Victorian costume parties, but we say the kitschier the better! This is your chance to go totally over-the-top, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend huge amounts of money. You can have fun on any budget — as long as people get into the spirit and come in costume, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a dry-ice machine or a professional tarot-card reader.
We’ll preface this article by saying that there really are no rules when it comes to Halloween parties — this is just a collection of ideas to get you started, whether you’re planning on going highbrow or lowbrow, tasteful or tasteless. So click to the next page and let the spook-tacular fun begin!
- Halloween Party Themes for Adults
- Halloween Costumes for Adults
- Halloween Party Food for Adults
- Halloween Party Activities for Adults
- Halloween Party Drinks for Adults
Halloween Party Themes for Adults
Yes, we realize that the "theme" category seems like a no-brainer — it’s Halloween. Just carve some pumpkins, head to the dollar store for generic decorations, throw "Monster Mash" on the stereo and call it a day. But the sky’s really the limit if you want to kick it up a notch. Here are some of our favorite Halloween theme party ideas:
- Dead celebrities: Have your undead guests walk a red carpet (and maybe over some police tape) to enter the festivities.
- Murder mystery: Buy a murder mystery game, assign characters to your guests and have them come in costume.
- Toga party: Old-school, but classic — and easy. Be careful, though, that things don’t dissolve into "Animal House"-type debauchery.
So, even if you’re not having a specifically themed party, does everyone still have to wear a costume? One word answer: Yes. Turn the page for more on costumes.
To mail or e-mail your Halloween party invitations? For many events, there’s a clear-cut answer — some call for more formal, mailed invites, and some (football tailgate, afternoon get-together, perhaps) are more e-mail occasions. Halloween kind of falls into a gray area: On one hand, it’s a fun, off-the-wall holiday, so e-mail is probably fine. On the other hand, there are so many crazy, creative invitation ideas out there, it’s almost a shame not to mail something! Check out Martha Stewart’s severed finger invitations [source: Martha Stewart].
Halloween Costumes for Adults
We don’t want to be total sticklers here — we’re talking about Halloween parties, after all — but we have to lay down the law with costumes: They’re nonnegotiable. Any stick-in-the-mud who arrives without a costume and with a bunch of sorry excuses should face the consequences. We won’t be so cruel as to say you should bar entry to any costume-free guests, but we’re not above some light humiliation — perhaps a big sign that says "I was too lame to wear a costume."
Any Halloween party, no matter how ho-hum the décor and food, will be a hit if everyone gets into the spirit with outrageous getups. So why not create some incentive for your guests to go all-out? Whether you’re hosting a costume free-for-all or letting a theme dictate things, it’s always fun to present awards — you can do one grand prize or reward a variety of categories.
If Halloween falls on a Friday or Saturday, you’ll obviously have your party on the big night itself. But what if the 31st is in the middle of the week? We say host your party the weekend before — anticipation will be high. Having a Halloween party in November sometimes seems like an afterthought.
Halloween Party Food for Adults
“Creepily delicious cupcakes are a Halloween party MUST.iStockphoto/Thinkstock
For a Halloween party, we say go the finger-food route instead of having a sit-down dinner. People aren’t expecting formality — and besides, it might be a little uncomfortable to park yourself at a table in a cardboard robot costume. If you want to serve something more hearty than hors d’oeuvres, how about chili in a "witch’s cauldron" that also happens to contain a few plastic skeleton bones? You could also do soft-pretzel "ladies’ fingers" with painted almonds for fingernails.
But the real fun when it comes to Halloween food — in our humble opinion — is with cupcakes. You could do them yourself, of course, but a creepy cupcake bar is really the way to go. Set out some colored icing and candy and let everyone go to town. Sure, the creations probably won’t be as elaborate as the ribbon-iced mummy cupcakes that you could make ahead of time, but your guests will love the process (and it will save you some stress!).
Halloween Party Activities for Adults
Having planned activities can make a party seem a little childish, but Halloween is one occasion when no one will mind — so just go for it! No, we’re not suggesting going trick-or-treating en masse, but you can’t go wrong with an apple-bobbing station, for one. Pumpkin carving could be tricky if you’re limited on space, but — especially if your party is on the weekend before Halloween — think of the amazing decorations you’ll have for trick-or-treating night (with minimal effort from you!).
Beyond the classics, there are plenty of ways to keep the spooky fun going. If you have money to spend, how about hiring a tarot-card reader? If not, get a Ouija board and see what messages you can conjure up from the great beyond.
All those activities can work up a thirst … get some ideas on how to quench it on the next page.
Halloween Party Drinks for Adults
We’re big fans of the signature cocktail idea — and Halloween is prime time to try out bizarre new drinks. If you want to keep things uncomplicated, though, you can serve orange or blood-colored cocktails (screwdrivers, say, or classic Bloody Marys) and offer black licorice sticks as stirrers. Or drop a few candy corns into simple yet elegant orange martinis. But if you want to get really creative, again, the sky’s the limit. Here are some ideas:
- Stuff peeled radishes with pimiento olive halves, drop into ice cube trays and freeze into eyeball ice cubes.
- Freeze cranberry juice in plastic gloves, then cut off the gloves before dropping "hands" into punch bowls filled with your libation of choice.
- Garnish drinks with plastic doll parts, vampire teeth or eyeball-esque peeled grapes.
Check out the next page for many more Halloween party ideas.
HPHADD (Halloween Party Hosts Against Drunk Driving)
As always, when you’re hosting a party during which people could be imbibing heavily, it’s a good idea to have cab-company numbers on hand — or at least make sure that everyone has designated-driver arrangements.
Lots More Information
- How Halloween Works
- 10 Cool Halloween Party Ideas
- 5 Ideas for DIY Halloween Parties
- 10 Fun Halloween Facts for Families
- The Ultimate Halloween Quiz
More Great Links
- Host an Enchanting Halloween Party
- BettyCrocker.com. "Adult Halloween Party." (Accessed Aug. 31, 2010) http://www.bettycrocker.com/menusholidaysparties/mhplibrary/holidays/adult-halloween-party
- Celebrations.com. "Halloween Party Ideas." (Accessed Aug. 31, 2010) http://www.celebrations.com/halloween-party-ideas
- Donaldson, Lauren. "Disgustingly Delicious: 8 Gross-Looking Halloween Recipes." (Accessed Sept. 6, 2010) http://www.delish.com/entertaining-ideas/holidays/halloween/scary-halloween-recipes
- FoodNetwork.com. "Creepy Cocktail Recipes." (Accessed Sept. 4, 2010) http://www.foodnetwork.com/holidays-and-parties/halloween–creepy-cocktail-recipes/index.html
- MarthaStewart.com. "Monster Bash Party Ideas." (Accessed Sept. 4, 2010) http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/monster-bash-party?#slide_1