Many Halloween enthusiasts found ways to celebrate the season last year, but it’s no secret that Halloween 2020 just wasn’t the same. Now it’s time to make up for it by making this Halloween an occasion to remember. As all Halloweenheads know, Halloween prep starts in August (if not earlier). So here’s your guide to planning the best Halloween party yet.

Get Creative with Your Costume

Movies and TV shows have always influenced Halloween costume trends. It’s safe to say that with the advent of streaming services, we now have more inspiration than we know what to do with. Creators have given us unique takes on monsters, aliens, and fantasy creatures. There are also many memorable characters on TV in all genres. If you are looking for a reason to wear a fancy dress (or suit), look no further than period pieces like Bridgerton, Enola Holmes, or Little Women. Other iconic characters with unique styles also make great costumes (think Carol Baskin from Tiger King, Lady Bird, or anyone from Schitt’s Creek). 

You could also be a character from your favorite fan fiction or update a classic costume with inspiration from modern twists—the Zombies in Kingdom, for instance, or Cruella from the new movie. 

Even if you don’t have pro sewing skills, many costumes can be DIY’d. You can do this on a budget by looking at thrift shops or repurposing old clothes from your closet. Or, if you have some sewing chops and a big Halloween budget, you can go all out and order that custom-made corset for your homemade silk dress. 

Craft stores are your best friend when it comes to getting costume details up to cosplay level. Look in the scrapbooking section for little odds and ends that you can turn into custom-made jewelry or other accessories. (This writer once found gears in the scrapbook area that made the perfect accessories to a steampunk ensemble.)

 Don’t be afraid to experiment with modeling clay, florists foam, and other malleable materials. You’ll be surprised by what you can make and how much money you can save. 


Set the Scene

Halloween is all about ambiance, and there’s more than one to choose from. Do you want your party to have a classic slasher movie feel or more of a Southern Gothic vibe? Figure out what you are going for first, and then buy or make your decor accordingly. It’s fun to make every year a little different, but most people don’t want to go out and buy all new decor each year. Don’t worry. With a little innovation, you can get a unique look without spending a lot. 

Think about collaborating with a friend who already owns decor that goes with your theme. This is an easy and inexpensive way to update your look. You can also buy one or two scene-setting pieces and arrange them so they are the room’s main focus. Some decor can be easily DIY’d. Creepy paper cutouts hanging from the ceiling, artfully arranged pumpkins, and stenciled signs can go a long way in setting the scene. Again, craft stores are your best friend. Draped tattered fabric, creepy-looking flowers, and skulls can be used and reused in various ways. 

 Pro Tip: Black and white Halloween decor will blend with just about any theme. Consider having your main set of decorations be black and white and add a few themed items each year. 

Don’t forget about the food. Use your table as a part of your decor. You can serve beverages in beakers or arrange your cold cuts on a plastic skull. You don’t have to get complicated. Charcuterie boards with black fruits and old-world-looking cheeses are surprisingly effective as decor (and delicious to eat).

Give Your Guests Something to Do

Activities are an important but often overlooked part of Halloween festivities. They can help break the ice if you are blending friend groups and can add to the tone or theme of the party. Horror movies are a popular go-to, but activities that encourage people to interact are also nice, especially earlier in the night. 

There are tons of ready-made horror-themed board games to choose from, and the internet is full of party game ideas. These range from simple and classic, like Halloween Charades or Halloween-themed Guess Who, to the creative. On the more creative side are games like Pass-it-on Ghost Story. To play this game, gather your guests in a circle and have one person start telling a made-up spooky story. The next person adds another sentence to the tale and so on until the group has told a complete story, one line at a time. 

Another fun idea for guests who enjoy horror films is the Horror Movie Scenario Game. To prep for the game, print out the plot summary to several popular horror films (look on Wikipedia), then highlight the points where characters made decisions that led to their demise. Layout the scenarios for your guests and ask them what they would have done in the character’s place. The person (or team) who comes up with the best decisions to avoid the character’s bad end wins the game. This can also help you decide which horror movie to watch later in the night. 

Of course, if you’re tired of staying in, you can take your friends out for a fun night at a local haunt or go see a new horror flick in theaters. 


You don’t have to wait until October to celebrate Halloween. Castle of Chaos is open every Friday and Saturday in September! Bring your friends to Utah’s only underground haunted house and celebrate Halloween all season long. 

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