It’s almost time to trade in your COVID-safe mask for one that’s, well, a little more fun. From the costumes to the candy, Halloween is a low-stress holiday event that allows team members to interact in a laid-back setting as well as showcase their creativity. So for those planning on hosting a spooky shindig—in person, hybrid, or virtual—for employees, clients, or customers this year, we’ve rounded up a cauldron-sized list of Halloween party ideas to help you get into the spirit of the season.
First, a quick history lesson: Halloween celebrations originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. Later (after the Roman Empire conquered Celtic territories), Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a day to honor all saints. The holiday was called All-Hallows or All-Hallowmas and featured some of the same traditions as Samhain. The night before All Saints’ Day became known as All-Hallows Eve, eventually turning into Halloween.
Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas. Of course, modern-day Halloween parties have nixed the more gruesome bits of the old-school celebrations (like animal sacrifices) for cute stuff like trick-or-treating, jack-o-lanterns, and candy.
Like any event, a good theme can help you create a fun and entertaining Halloween party. It can inform your guests’ costume choices, as well as the decor, food and drink, activities, and more. For example, if you’re hosting a carnival, encourage guests to dress up as a scary clown or sideshow act. This will allow them to feel more involved in the overall festivities. Of course, the idea of Halloween itself might be theme enough, offering plenty of tried-and-true options for designing a scary soiree.
Looking for some wickedly wonderful Halloween party ideas? Keep scrolling to discover loads of ideas for event themes, menu items, cocktails, games and activities, entertainment, and more.
This whodunnit theme can include a mysterious plot line that runs throughout the party, where guests try to figure out who killed the victim. Attendees can also be assigned different characters to play; send invitations that include each attendee’s role and backstory, as well as costume suggestions. The venue can then be decorated according to the time period and circumstances of the crime. Going virtual? No problem. Try something Zoom-friendly like a Murder Mystery party like Mystery IS Murder! by A Touch of Mystery & More Entertainment Group.
In recent years, zombies have taken on a life of their own, thanks to popular shows like The Walking Dead. Take advantage of this pop culture trend and host a zombie-themed event, complete with moody lighting, creepy cocktails, and finger foods (get it?) for a bloody good time.
Whether you design your own version of a haunted house or organize an outing to an already spooky venue, this classic Halloween party idea will be sure to make your guests scream with delight. If gathering online, spooky sites like the Winchester Mystery House and the Pittock Mansion offer video tours that you can rent or watch for free.
From classic superheroes like Batman and Superman to newer characters like Shang-Chi, this theme offers plenty of ideas to play with, including pop art-style decor. And be sure to ask your guests to arrive as their favorite caped crusader. Superhero parties allow your guests to get in touch with their inner alter egos. Not to mention, the decor can be loud, colorful, and fun.
Program a playlist filled with holiday favorites or hire a virtual DJ to entertain your guests during the party. You can also plan a karaoke sing-along, if that’s your thing.
Book a virtual or IRL mixology class and learn to make devilishly delicious cocktails as a group. You can also serve a batch cocktail like mulled wine inside a witch’s cauldron for a creepy touch, or shake up drinks with seasonal ingredients like pumpkin.
Set up a spooky scene easily by hanging inexpensive realistic-looking cobwebs dotted with spiders throughout the venue to instantly transform the space. Or rent a smoke machine to create an air of mystery to any gathering.
Some bakers and bakeries offer virtual cookie decorating classes that you can book for a private group. Or you can plan your own version and arrange to have the necessary ingredients (or a shopping list) sent to the attendees ahead of time. This makes a good option for family-friendly work parties.
Fill mason jars with ooey-gooey slime dotted with creepy crawlies such as fake eyeballs, skulls, snakes, body parts, and spiders. Then, label the jars with evocative titles to create a D.I.Y. laboratory.
Give your party’s charcuterie boards a leg up or, in this case, a ghoulish hand made of cheese and prosciutto. To make, combine cream cheese with a spreadable cheese, then sculpt the dip into the shape of a hand. (Try tracing your hand onto wax paper to use as a guide.) Layer prosciutto on top of the cheese and serve with crackers and other accoutrements.
Add an eye-catching garnish made from blueberries and peeled lychee fruit to your cocktails for a simply scary detail. To do: Insert a blueberry into store-bought peeled lychee. Then, skewer two “eyeballs” with a toothpick and place on the glass.
This no-brainer dessert idea plays double duty, serving as decor as well as a sweet treat. All you need is a plastic mold shaped like a brain and gelatin (preferably something red in color). Insert a cleaver into the unmolded matter for an extra dose of fright.
Set the table (and the mood) with items featuring the popular Pumpkin King motif from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” This cult classic theme has become a go-to look for Halloween parties. Or simply stick to a dramatic black-and-white color scheme.
Perfect for family-friendly Halloween parties, invite your guests to get their hands dirty with this activity. Set up a work station with all of the ingredients used in a traditional slime recipe, along with bowls or jars and creepy-crawly extras like plastic bugs, confetti, and squishy eyeballs. Also, provide plastic treat bags so guests can take their slimy stuff home.
Create a fall vignette with hay bales and florals like pansies, mums, and fountain grass. Or hire a vendor to supply a scary or sweet setting where guests can pose. Looking for the event to go viral? Create a hashtag so you can track the social media impact of your event.
Let your guests go trick-or-treating by setting up a station filled with tubs, containers, and trays loaded with goodies, candy, and swag, so they can take home their own treat bags that says "from me to boo!"
Ditch the slimy, seedy mess that comes with carving jack-o-lanterns. Instead, provide your guests—both big and little ones—with decorating kits containing stickers, markers, glitter, and more, and allow them to design their own D.I.Y. pumpkins that can serve as take-home gifts.
On the flip side, you could host a pumpkin-carving contest between team members, either in person or virtually. If it’s a virtual Halloween party, send attendees pumpkin carving kits beforehand and then whoever creates the scariest, funniest, or wildest jack-o'-lantern wins a prize.
Turn some mini pretzel sticks and fruit roll-ups into cute snacks for guests to munch on. The sweet-and-salty combo is an easy and inexpensive option for D.I.Y. office parties.
Of course, ghouls and goblins don’t have to be invited to every Halloween party. Host a fall-inspired, camp-themed event, complete with lanterns and crowd-pleasing fireside fare like hot dogs and s'mores. Plus, this Halloween party idea allows for social distancing when held outside under a tent, but you can also create a similar atmosphere indoors.
Another idea that’s festive without the fright, a fall harvest party can be an elegant way to celebrate the season. Think pumpkins and pumpkin spice, leaves, and haystacks. Serve up a spiced cocktail and autumnal treats like apple cake.
Searching for a theme for your Halloweeen party? Pick a decade, like the roaring '20s, and design the decor, food, and entertainment around that time. Ask guests to dress up in their favorite look from that period.
Organize a scary movie viewing party and watch classics like Psycho, Halloween, and The Shining. You can also ask guests to come dressed up as a character from their favorite horror film. You can also host virtual viewing parties via platforms like Netflix Party or Metastream for remote team members.
Instead of a charcuterie board filled with meats and cheeses, build a smorgasbord piled high with sweet treats and creepy confectioneries for guests to grab throughout the night.
Before the Halloween party, announce the categories, such as funniest costume, scariest costume, most creative costume, etc. Then, attendees (either in person or virtual) can cast their votes for their pick in each category. If hosting online, guests can use the polling feature or private chat to vote. Award prizes to the winners.
Invite guests to a drop-dead gorgeous dinner party with a spooktacular setting. Decorate with black linens, dishes, utensils, serving pieces, and candleholders, as well as creepy curiosities. Serve a menu featuring spooky spreads, black squid-ink pasta, and “bloody” cheesecake with cherries. Or, elevate your decor and keep things simple and streamlined but in a dark, moody color palette.
To create this spooky cocktail, simply grab some food-safe syringes and fill them with a bloody mary mixture.
A simple twist on the classic pigs in a blanket hors d'oeuvre, these snacks aren’t too scary to eat.
Contact a local tour company to book a walking tour of a cemetery or other historical site.
Add a spooky twist to this standard team building activity by including seasonal items on the list such as jack-o-lanterns, candy corn, and more.
This other popular team building exercise can easily translate into a Halloween activity. For example, The Great Escape Room in Chicago has multiple themed rooms where you and a team can work together to solve the mysteries - and get out of the room in time for your great escape.
For remote teams, book a Halloween-themed virtual team building activity. Teams can work as investigative sleuths, following clues, answering trivia, and working together to solve problems (and build relationships!).
Arrange for employees to get dressed up in costume and visit a local senior center, or work with a meal delivery service for the day, delivering much-needed treats to residents.
Whether you’re saying cheers virtually or clinking glasses in person, consider hosting a happy hour this Halloween. And remember to offer non-alcoholic options such as apple cider in addition to the usual wicked drinks.
Traditionally, this holiday honors loved ones who have passed and features party decor that commemorates the dead like sugar skulls, bright floral displays, and candlelit lighting.
Visit a brewery or winery to sample a selection of brews or vino—while in costume, of course. The beer tasting can also focus on pumpkin ales and other seasonal libations. Don't forget, you can always take your tasting virtual, and still have a hoppy time!
Inspired by the totally tubular '80s, this party theme requires black lights, neon, and classic songs from the decade.
A magician helps keep guests entertained with a spell-binding interactive performance. Having a magician at your event will give your atmosphere a touch of playfulness. Plus, it’s a Halloween party idea that works for hybrid, virtual, and in-person events.
A more elegant version of a costume party, a masquerade ball works well as a Halloween-appropriate theme for a fundraiser. Ask guests to dress in more formal attire with an ornate mask.
Test your team members’ Halloween knowledge with some holiday-inspired trivia (such as, where does the term “jack o’lantern” come from?) in a game show-style competition either between individuals or teams.
Hosting a small-group party at the office? Ask team members to bring a favorite dish to share. Be sure to pass around a sign-up sheet beforehand, so not everyone comes with pie.
Decorate with vintage taxidermy and glass terrariums for a macabre vibe. Think (faux) stuffed ravens and long tapered candles to set the eerie mood.
Halloween doesn’t always have to mean black and orange. Consider decorating with rich jewel tones like deep purples and dark pinks for a warm, muted look that doesn’t scream.
Skip the fresh blooms and add dried arrangements to the space for a haunted look that’s easy to care for.
It makes sense to celebrate a holiday devoted to candy in the style of everyone’s favorite chocolatier. Set up candy buffet stations throughout the event space and include whimsical details like golden eggs as decor.
Perfect for hosting outdoors under a big tent, a carnival features plenty of games and activities to keep guests engaged. Serve up popcorn and cotton candy as snacks.
Lewis Carroll’s iconic “Alice in Wonderland” offers up lots of inspiration for a wild array of decor and menu ideas, which is why it’s become a go-to trope for event planners. Invite guests to a tea party, perhaps asking them to come dressed as their favorite character such as the Mad Hatter, Alice, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, and the Queen of Hearts. Serve teas and finger foods like heart-shaped tarts, and provide games including croquet and cards.
Host a viewing party of this cult classic, teach guests how to do the “Time Warp” dance, decorate in vein of Dr. Frank-N-Furter's spooky castle with dark drapery and vintage knick-knacks, and serve a menu featuring themed items like lip-shaped cookies, meatloaf (in honor of the singer’s appearance in the film), and frankfurters, of course.
Another classic Halloween flick, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown'' works well for family-family events. Consider including a pumpkin-carving contest, along with nods to the movie such as piles of leaves, buckets of apples, and treat bags.
Whether you’re hosting family and friends or employees and executives, these Halloween party ideas are guaranteed to create a scarily good time. And hopefully this list helped take the fear out of planning your Halloween party! Don't know where to start? We're here to help. Start searching The Vendry for great ideas, now!