Halloween just so happens to be my all time favorite holiday, even inching out Christmas. Perhaps it's because I'm not pulling my hair out with thousands of other shoppers in pursuit of the perfect gift, or it may also be due largely to the fact that we don't have to deal with the stresses of holiday travel. Regardless of the reason, come October 1, my excitement kicks into overdrive and the buckets and boxes of Halloween decor come down from the attic. 

Each year to commemorate the season Alex and I throw a costume party, complete with special touches to make the event one to remember. Last weekend, after a fair amount of prep, we hosted our 10th annual Halloween costume party. I must say, we, along with our guests, had a lot of fun.

As you're probably well aware, there are a million articles, magazines, books, television shows, and blog posts out there that can give you insight on how to throw the perfect Halloween party. Rather than trying to outdo those outlets and give you a full rundown of how to host your own Halloween soirée just like ours, I'd like to share a few of our most festive ideas and party tips that help make the event truly spook-tacular. 

Mail Call

It might be a bit old school of me, given today's digital age of e-communication, but there's still something to be said for sending paper invitations. I'm of the opinion that sending out paper invitations provide that little bit of added personality to a party. Typically I use online printing services like Vistaprint in order to produce cost effective yet professional looking invites, and this year was no different. I really love how this year's invite turned out and will be proudly adding it to our album that contains our invitations from the previous nine parties.

Actual invite didn't mention "Old Town Home", this is just an example.

Specialty Cocktails and Themed Beverages

Halloween is one of those holidays where you can really have some fun with what you're serving. In addition to supplying expected beverages, I try to make our refreshments work toward the theme of the event. I'll include pumpkin or Octoberfest beer in our offerings, and many wines have names that work well with the holiday spirit, like Ravenswood or Vampire Pinot Noir (this year's choice for red). Cute vampire capes for the wine take the idea one step further.

In addition to the festive wine and beer selection, I like to make one specialty cocktail to offer to our guests. The official cocktail of our Halloween party each year is our "boo-rbon" slush (known as a bourbon slush the other 364 days per year. If you're interested in the recipe and how we make them, I divulged my family's secret recipe last year. It's always a major hit of the party and something our guests tell us they look forward to every year!

Creative Menu Cards

For many reasons, dietary preferences and allergies included, people like to know what they're being served to eat. For this reason, I make an effort to label the dishes at our party as clearly as possible. However, this doesn't mean that I have to be boring about it. To put a fun Halloween twist on it I print out menu cards on orange paper, present them on the table using a festive table card holder, and try to come up with a name for the item that lends a spooky/festive twist. Favorites of Halloweens past have included "guaca-moldy" and chips, putrid pumpkin bread, devil's food cupcakes, and of course, "boo-rbon" slushes. 

Devilish Decorating

Part of throwing a memorable party is setting the right mood. Our home is fully decked out from top to bottom. Festive touches even include altering our lampshades with temporary coverings...

...or adding new "pets" to the house. 

This year, "Roger the rat" as he's lovingly known, was perched on our new kitchen shelves, overseeing the bar. He's still not quite over the trauma of having his ears gnawed off last year by our resident pug-shar pei crew member, Lulu, but I think he looks a little more rough and tumble this way. We'll consider last year's incident as a lesson learned. 

Playing Dress Up

Each year, at my absolute insistence, our Halloween party isn't just a weekend get together in October, it's a true Halloween party, complete with costumes! Costumes are strongly encouraged for all guests, and I'd even go as far as to say that I may have told some of our closest friends that if they happened to show up in their street clothes they'd be more or less dead to us. Hey, that's just the way it goes in this household, we take this holiday seriously.

I do think it helps that we set the example for our party guests and never put anything less than a significant amount of through and effort into our costumes. If you'd like, you can take a look back at a few of our past get ups that we shared last year.  

This year we decided to do a couples costume. We found a great little black spider costume for Lulu that she really seems to love wearing. With Lulu's costume decided, I played off of that idea by becoming a black widow. Given Lulu and my costumes, Alex felt his costume was an obvious choice...the Orkin Man. He went all out, even finding a used Orkin shirt on eBay. 

This year we also had a great showing from our friends. We like to take everyone's photo as they arrive so we can always look back and remember the great looks everyone had. Here are just a few of our favorites from this year's party.

Clark Kent

Paula Dean

Every year we hold a little costume contest where party goers can vote on their favorite outfits of the evening. On this particular night, three of our friends came dressed as "DIY blogging team, Alex, Wendy, Lulu, and Mel." We had no idea we would have true doppelgangers here at the house, but when they arrived we thought their costumes were both awesome and hysterical.

Faux Wendy arrived with essential Wendy tools, a wine glass, painters tape, and a paint brush and roller. She even did a few paint touch-ups around the house where she felt it was necessary.

Collaborative Playlists

To be quite honest, this is more Alex's realm of expertise, but it's something I know he looks forward to every year. Rather than setting up a standard party playlist, or just putting on a Pandora station, Alex likes to make the whole event a little bit more interactive. We put our whole house audio to good use during our parties and let our guests take control of the music if they'd like. 

This year Alex setup a "Party" on Spartify.com. He also created a QR code and a shortcut URL that he printed out and hung in the kitchen. Using the QR code would allow any one of our guests with a smartphone to go to a website where they could request music and vote on what should play. Using our Spotify account and the Spartify service, our guests were able to choose their favorite music for the night and ensure the party wasn't stuck with a lame and boring playlist.

As you can see, we attempt to go to some pretty serious lengths to ensure our parties are fun, memorable, and offer a unique experience each and every year. Hopefully you can adopt some of our tips and tricks to help make an event you are throwing just a little bit more fun. But most importantly, if you're throwing a Halloween Party, just remember to let the inner kid in you come out, and let your creativity (and freak flag) fly. Do you throw entertain friends or family for your favorite holiday? Maybe you have a special recipe or creative touch that you're known for? If so, I'd love to hear about it. 

Comments 12


10/25/2012 at 10:41 AM
So creative! I love your ideas for your costumes and your friends are so creative!

I think this year my roommate and I are going to go as Replacement Refs - I already have to referee shirts from when I reffed lacrosse in High School so we just have to use tape on the back to label ourselves as "replacement refs" - I thought it was a nice, easy costume that is also relevent to current pop culture.
Kudos to our friends for their creativity! I love your replacement refs idea! Timely, easy, and totally relevant. :-) Happy Halloween!
10/25/2012 at 10:53 AM
Totes love the folks who dressed up as you. BAhahahahaha!!! PS... was going to be a "binder full of women" at your party, but would have caused major marital strife.
If you had come as a binder full of women, you would have had my vote. LOVE IT!!! :-)
10/25/2012 at 12:00 PM
Very cool! You have some creative ideas. I'm totally with you on the personal paper invitations. I still do it that way today. Your food identity cards are great: "guaca-mouldy"! And I think it's hilarious your friends came dressed up as you guys :) Did they win first prize?!
Thanks, Antonella! I'm glad I'm not the only person still sending out paper invites. :-)

Yes, our friends who came as the OTH crew won first prize in a landslide victory. They were the hit of the party!
10/25/2012 at 11:22 PM
Seriously...very cool ideas. I love that skull scarf (or so I'm calling it) draped over the lamp shade and the skeleton decal on the brick. Looks like you kept to a fun, spooky theme while still keeping it classy, which isn't the easiest feat considering the holiday claims black and orange as it's mainstream colors. Nice work!
Thanks so much, Amanda! I agree. Keeping Halloween classy can be a real challenge! The skull scarves were a gift from my MIL -- she purchased them from www.victoriantradingco.com/. They seem to have a large selection of vintage-inspired Halloween decor that's unique and in more muted colors.
10/29/2012 at 2:18 PM
Which font did you use on your invitation -- particularly, the "OR TREAT" part?

Thanks! :)
Unfortunately I'm not sure what the font is. The invitation is a template I selected from Vistaprint, so all I needed to do was type in our information. It's a really easy option for people who don't want or know how to design it from scratch.
10/30/2012 at 12:33 PM
OMG! The doppleganger costumes were awesome! I especially like the Wendy one with the paint roller, overalls, and wine glass! :D
4/8/2013 at 12:56 AM
Love your ideas! I really live the vampire capes in the wine bottles. Those would be perfect for my True Blood party. Where did you buy them? I haven't been able to find them on line...
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