How to Throw a Haunted Halloween Party

Halloween food table
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When young children are involved, Halloween parties typically center around cute themes that are more festive than scary, like pumpkins and scarecrows. However, older tweens and teens love to get a little spooked, so feel free to turn the creepy-factor up a few notches when planning a party where they're on the guest list. Treat them to a spectacularly spooky celebration with these tips for a haunted house Halloween party.

Extend Eerie Invitations

Drum up interest for your bash and set the scene for a truly spooky experience with a haunted house-themed invitation. Choose a black and white image of a haunted house for a photo invitation, or look for zombie or mummy illustrations if you prefer to go a more artistic route. Handwrite or use an old-fashioned font to type out your party information, including creepy themed language like "Swing by for a deadly good time" or "It would be a grave mistake to miss out on the fun."

Encourage Costumes

Absolutely encourage guests to dress to impress for your haunted Halloween party. Consider centering the attire around a specific theme (like zombies, ghosts and ghouls, or monsters), or allow the teens' imaginations to run wild and open it up to any spooky outfit imaginable. You could also consider adding a costume contest into your event, awarding prizes for the scariest costume, the most creative costume, the best DIY costume, and more.

Add Some Hauntingly Good Decor

Turning your typically-lovely home into a spooky haunted house may actually be easier than you think. Focus first on your front porch or entryway, as this will be the first impression guests will get of what is in store for them at your party. You can go all-out with creepy decorations like faux graves and scary mummies, or keep it simple and classic with dim lighting, eerie music, and plenty of cobwebs.

Once you've set the stage at the entrance of your home, it's time to turn your attention to the rest of your space. Replace your traditional lightbulbs with black lights for an especially creepy scene, and use fog machines throughout the home to add to the overall sense of doom and gloom. Stick googly eyes onto any family portraits or artwork already hanging in your house to create the effect that the subjects are following you with their gaze, and hang ghosts, bats, or spiders from beams or doorways for an unexpected surprise.

You can also consider theming various areas in your house according to the purpose they'll serve at your party. For instance, caution tape can line the doors of the bathroom, while bold "Keep Out" signs can decorate your bedroom doors, and cauldrons can top your counters in the kitchen.

Serve Frighteningly Good Food

Haunting can make creatures hungry and no party is complete without some delicious food. Make sure your menu will satisfy revelers' appetites for both food and fear by incorporating Halloween-themed dishes that are as creepy as they are delicious.

Whet your guests' appetites with a sip of a Halloween-themed witch's brew, like a ghoulish green punch with floating brains or a blood-red sangria (for the adults, of course!). From there, fill their bellies with clever snacks like mummy dogs, meatball monster sandwiches, eyeball deviled eggs, and other frighteningly delicious finger foods.

Of course, you can't forget dessert—especially on a candy-centric holiday like Halloween! Delight your party guests with a sweet and spooky spread of treats like witch finger pretzel rods, candy corn popcorn balls, Frankenstein marshmallow pops, and, of course, a big bowl of bite-sized candy.

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Play Some Ghoulish Games

Built-in activities or games are a great way to occupy guests throughout your party, especially if they're tweens or teens that may need a little encouragement warming up or getting to know each other. To theme your free time fun for Halloween, think of what twists you can give traditional party games that will make them spooky or even silly.

For example, organize a scavenger hunt, only instead of looking for more typical items, ask participants to hunt down creepy extras like fake bones you've hidden in the garden or cutout bats you've hung from a tree on your lawn. Or, host a pumpkin carving contest where you award prizes for the gourds that are the spookiest, most disgusting (hey, it is Halloween after all!), and most creative. Of course, teens may also prefer to just swap scary ghost stories. In that case, help set the scene with a boo-tiful bonfire and a bit of eerie background music.

Leave a Lasting Impression

A haunted house party just wouldn’t be complete without a parting gift for the not-so-dearly departed. Thank guests for coming with a unique Halloween treat, like a glow-in-the-dark skeleton t-shirt or pumpkin carving kit. Or, take the work out of pulling a gift together yourself and instead allow guests to make their own treat bags from a selection of goodies. You can also encourage your teen to embrace their hosting duties and let them choose a favorite scary movie to give guests.