If you’re anything like us, you can hardly wait to plan the perfect Halloween party. Halloween parties have potential to be the most fun (and interesting) of all, since the decorations can be anything imaginable, from this world and realms unknown. Here are nine harrowing ideas to inspire an epic evening of spooky chills and haunted thrills this fall.
1. Eerie Illumination
A Halloween party wouldn’t be complete without some sort of eerie illumination. These DIY Halloween lanterns light up to display vintage-inspired sketches of skeletons, skulls and creepy creatures.
- Select an inexpensive set of square or rectangular picture frames with glass (or repurpose an existing lampshade or luminary).
- Remove the backing portion of the frames; the backs aren’t needed for this project.
- Print the scary images on vellum, then place the vellum against the glass so the plain side of the vellum faces the glass.
- Clip the vellum in place or tape the edges with clear or black tape. Tape four frames together in a cube shape to make one lantern, then add a battery-operated LED light to complete the project.
For simpler displays, tape the vellum inside a lampshade or a straight-sided clear vase. Use a battery-operated light (or blacklight) to illuminate the vase from within.
2. Going Batty
Bats galore, bats galore. They’re on the walls, they’re on the doors. It must be Halloween!
Create your own bat colony by drawing a bat shape (or use the free template), then tracing it repeatedly on black cardstock. The more you make, the better the effect. Fold the cardstock bats in half so the wings look like they’re in motion, then secure the bats to walls with loops of painter’s tape, poster putty or removable craft adhesive. Add a bat colony to the exterior of your house so guests know they’ve found the right place.
3. Scary Specimens
A display of scientific specimen jars will have your guests shrieking as they take a closer look.
- Fill a series of mason or apothecary jars with one Halloween-related party favor each: rubber rats, fake eyes, toy aliens, giant insects or even a doll’s head.
- Fill the jars with a mix of water and apple juice or pickle juice to tint the water slightly (or use food coloring).
- Place the lid back on the jar, then rub a little gray, black or brown paint on the lid to add the look of age.
- Make your own specimen tags in an old-fashioned font, printing out words such as “specimen: sewer rat,” or “giant centipede.”
- Tie the tags around the jars with twine, aging the tags and twine a bit first with watered-down paint.
4. Mini Pumpkin Candle Holders
Not everything about a Halloween party has to be scary. Light up the dining table with a line of tea light or votive candles set inside miniature pumpkins.
- To transform the pumpkins into candle holders, cut a hole in the top of each pumpkin just wide enough to insert the candle. If this is difficult to envision, cut most of the stem off each pumpkin first, then trace the bottom of the candle onto the top of the pumpkin.
- Scoop out enough of the pumpkin guts to insert the candle. Set the finished mini pumpkins along the table in a line on a black table runner, or add them to your Halloween table centerpiece.
LED tea light candles can be used in place of real candles for added safety – this way you won’t have to keep an eye on them during the evening’s festivities.
5. The Ghost in the Mirror
Surprise guests with a ghostly image glaring back at them in the mirror – or every mirror in the house.
- Draw large ghost shapes on frosted translucent contact paper or window privacy film, then cut the shapes out.
- For added effect, draw the ghosts at an angle, as if peering in from the side of the mirror, a portal to another place.
- Peel the backing paper away and stick the ghosts on the bathroom mirror, hallway mirrors and every place they’re sure to notice.
You can also add ghosts to framed portraits for an extra bit of fun!
6. Eyeball Punch
This deliciously creepy concoction packs a one-two punch as both room decor and party refreshment.
- Stuff two 15-ounce cans’ worth of lychees with blueberries to make “eyeballs,” saving 1.5 cups of the lychee syrup for the punch.
- Mix the lychee syrup, four cups of cold tart cherry juice and one cup of orange juice in a large glass beverage dispenser.
- Add the lychee “eyes” and one quart (or more) of cold sparkling water or ginger ale to taste.
For extra chill factor, make and add insect ice cubes to the punch. Make the creepy cubes by placing gummy worms or gummy spiders in an ice cube tray before adding and freezing the water.
For an adults-only drink: spike the punch with 1/2 pint of your favorite vodka or rum.
7. Ghastly Galleries
Replace some of your framed photos with black-and-white portraits printed on regular paper, removing the glass from the picture frames. Use pictures of actual family members, or download vintage, somewhat spooky portrait photos instead. Poke holes through the eyes in the faux photos and insert tiny battery-powered LED lights to give the people (or pets) ghoulish glowing eyes instead.
For a more playful approach, dress up framed photos, artwork and Fracture portraits with costume accessories made from construction paper or craft foam. Add the masks, fangs or horns to the pictures with painter’s tape or poster putty. (This works best on photos behind glass or on Fractures, so you can stick the costume items directly atop the glass.)
8. Coffin Coffee Table
Transform a stack of books, a small table or a few empty crates into a coffin coffee table that’s perfectly petrifying for your Halloween party.
- Draw and cut out a coffin lid shape from a sheet of plywood or MDF; the lid should be slightly wider than the base of your table items at the lid’s widest point.
- Staple black fabric around the top and sides of the coffin lid, then make a black fabric skirt that drapes from the lid all the way around the rest of the table to complete the look.
- Add faux cobwebs around the corners (and on your other furnishings) for an extra effect.
9. Scary Window Silhouettes
These scary window silhouettes will surprise your guests (and neighbors) before they even get near the house.
- Draw life-size outlines of movie monsters, a person with a chainsaw or a witch in flight on craft paper.
- Cut out and trace the template on a thin white fabric, then fill in the silhouette with dark paint. (Paint atop a plastic tablecloth to protect the work surface.)
- Place a sheer fabric in front of the silhouette material, or use torn cheesecloth to give the look of aged, shredded curtains. Pin the paired fabrics up on curtain rods in place of your usual window coverings. Light from within the room will illuminate the silhouettes so passerby see the scary images.
NOTE: For a party that young children may attend, tailor the silhouette images so they’re more of the standard movie monster or cute monster style — no horror scenes.
Danger: Keep Out
Yes, we said nine ideas, but here’s a bonus tip to keep guests away from areas they don’t belong. Block forbidden stairwells and doorways with any variety of caution tape: “Crime Scene, Do Not Cross,” “Danger, Keep Out” or “Caution: Biohazard” are just a few options. Enhance blocked stairways with a few black LED candles, plastic skeletons and plastic ravens or rats.