6 Halloween Party Themes for a Scary Fun Gathering
Sure, the classics are always a good idea, but it doesn’t hurt to mix it up every now and then too. If you want to try something different, we asked event planners and entertaining experts for some unique ideas to wow your friends and family (and maybe even spook them a bit). If you still want to go the eerie route, try a “Cabinet of Curiosities” by displaying interesting and mysterious items (think skulls, taxidermy-inspired pieces, branches and leaves, and more) down the center of your dining or buffet table, or on the mantel. If you cringe at the sight of cobwebs, jack-‘o-lanterns, and faux eyeballs, there are plenty of options for décor that aren’t of the classic Halloween variety or super scary. There’s a classic black and white color scheme for a dinner or cocktail party, for instance, that’s elegant and understated, or a rustic theme with cozy details like thick pillows and blankets for seating, and a warm neutral palette. And you don’t have to start prepping these ideas weeks ahead of time—they can easily be pulled off at home with a few projects that you can do the weekend before. Whatever you choose, it will be a party your guests won’t forget.
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When the kids are over for the Halloween party, you might not want to get too macabre (or risk scaring the little ones). Throw a silly, colorful, and whimsical party instead. “Use iconic Halloween candy as décor!” Stark says. “You can fill bowls with eyeball candy and add ‘monster’ hands reaching out. One of our favorite tricks is to turn classic bell jars into ‘pumpkins’ and ‘ghosts.’” Display all the candy out on a buffet and encourage guests to help themselves by providing take home treat bags. Party trick: It may look like he used a lot of candy corn to fill the large cloche, but he actually added bubble wrap to the center of the container to make it look fuller.
Jack-‘o-lanterns, spooky bats, and cobwebs aren’t the only festive seasonal symbols. You can opt for a rustic fall theme instead to celebrate. “Our beloved zinc-topped table is adorned with cozy details, making it the ideal place to gather around and share some All Hallows’ Eve stories,” Jeni Maus of Found Vintage Rentals says. “Neutral tones of orange, creams, dark brown, and black are paired with rich texture and patina. Pumpkins, wool yarn, and bare branches add a whimsical touch of fall.” There are still some mysterious elements like vintage books, pewter-like jugs, and dripping candles that help set the Halloween scene.
Cabinet of Curiosities
Dating back as far as the 16th century, a cabinet of curiosities was created by collectors to display interesting items, mostly of the natural history variety (think skulls, taxidermy, bones, and other curious objets). Here, event planner and designer David Stark brings that eerie, spooky idea onto a tablescape. “Gather your favorite items from nature: seed pods, sea shells, dried leaves and branches, and pair them with old books, glass cloches, and interesting items you craft by hand,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to get a little weird here, it is Halloween after all—skulls and bones are appropriate and encouraged.” Layer items down your table (or mantel, if it’s not a seated affair). It doesn’t have to be neat or styled perfectly since it’s supposed to look like things have been collected over time.
Classic Black and White
If elegant and understated is more your style than something over-the-top scary, pick a classic black and white color palette for your Halloween bash. “We went with a simple black and white theme for a couple of reasons, the most obvious being that it translates into a super chic look for Halloween,” says Abby Larson of Style Me Pretty. “But more than that, sticking with a streamlined palette means that shopping and executing a party that feels really wow-worthy is far easier than a more layered palette.” She draped the table in a black table, put white candles in empty wine bottles, and added peach-hued florals.
If you don’t want to go the traditional spooky route, think about something like pop art or graphic design. “Old fashioned clip art—the kind historically found in books and now available online is a great source for décor for Halloween,” says Stark. “The black and white drawings lend a mysterious air to any room. There is so much imagery to choose from, you can go for old medical equipment, crazy hats, or animals.” He suggests taking the designs to your local copy store and blowing them up on large posters or paper. You can create a “scary lab” or “spooky basement” with just simple clip art drawings, instead of the 3D materials.