Hi guys! Halloween is one of my favourite ‘holidays’ of the year and I love dressing up, passing out candy and partaking in other Halloween activities! Since we’ve moved in to our new place a couple years ago, I’ve been planning a small party for my friends and Brian’s friends every year.
There’s something so fun about planning and decorating. While I have a fairly small space to host friends, we always make it work! This year, I thought I’d share some of my tips, tricks and how I begin planning my Halloween Party so that if you’re wondering if you can do it on a budget/in a small space – you definitely can. I’m just going to go through the first steps of what I do to get ready and there will be subsequent update posts with where I’m at throughout the month!
1. Set a Date and Time
One of the essentials to getting started is figuring out what date is best. This year Halloween falls on a Tuesday, so it will definitely be the weekend prior.
Normally, I choose a Friday or Saturday. Since the weather is kind of crappy and I’m expecting my guests to bring food AND dress up, a Saturday makes more sense (so that they have most of the day to prepare, rather than rush from work).
Many of my friends have kids as well and I want to be respectful of their kids’ bedtime, so I’m setting the time to 6-10pm. If it were more of an adult-centric party, I may push the time to 7-11pm.
2. Set a Theme
Optional, but always fun to do. I set a theme because I want to inspire my guests to come in costume and some may need some ideas as to what to wear. Last year, we did Video Game characters and the year before that was Heroes and Villains. I like to keep it fairly broad so it’s easier to dress up and not break the bank. This year the decor theme is going to be a haunted house, but I’m breaking my rule where there will be no theme for a costume (!!). Yep, even after I told you to set a theme. The reason there is no costume theme this year is b because my friends were telling me how excited they were to come and how they have a costume in mind, so it seems to me that most people will come in costume this year!
Speaking of themes, this is a great time to think about if you want to run any games or activities during the party. Originally, I wanted to do a Mystery Dinner, but I feel with the crowd I have, it would be difficult to do. I want to incorporate some fun, traditional Halloween games for the kids (ex: bobbing for apples) but this will be weather dependent. Right now, I’ve got some plans for a colouring area for kids and prizes for Best Costume, Best Kid Costume.
3. Spreadsheet Time!
After I’ve thought of all this, I transfer my thoughts or scribbling into a spreadsheet. I’m going to share my last year’s spreadsheet if you want to use it, link here.
Here, I have several tabs to keep me organized. I have timeline, food, groceries, decor, entertainment and guest list.
Timeline is a general overview of tasks and when they should be done.
Food is more general, since we do potlucks every year, it’s easier to have this laid out as to what I’m making, who’s bringing what and how many things we need.
My grocery list is just items I need to go buy in order to create any food items.
The decor tab is kind of messy but I get inspiration throughout the net and throw it here. I then make a list of items I need to purchase and create. My entertainment tab is normally ideas I have for games and prizes.
And of course the guest list, so I can keep an eye on numbers.
4. Invitation Creation
Another thing I love doing is creating invites! I make them myself on Photoshop, but you can easily create free ones online using sites like Canva.com (not sponsored, btw). This year, I’m making a Ouija Board inspired invite that I came across in my search of fun Halloween items.
Once I’ve figured out the time and date, I normally send this off, with a link to a separate Spreadsheet that people can fill in and say what they’re bringing.
This spreadsheet is helpful, so I know if anyone is allergic to anything and what items we should prepare (if a lot of people are bringing appys/snacks, then I’ll focus on mains, etc).
I send invitations out the first week of October, just so that everyone has time to plan what they’ll bring and if they can make it.
5. Decoration Planning
After the invites are made, I get to figure out how I want to decorate. Because my place is fairly small, I don’t want to go too overboard since real estate is limited. I create a Pinterest board to put together things that catch my eye on the interwebs.
Since the theme this year is Haunted House, I’m going to stick to the basics. I like decorations that aren’t too campy but are not too glam either. This year, I want to make it spooky, simple and effective. I’ve thought of what it would be like to visit a haunted house – the furniture covered in white clothes, dusty/cobwebby and intricate candelabras, old books and some interesting occult type pieces. I really love the idea of these flowers with eyeballs, so I’m going to try and recreate that. I also love skulls in the decor and since I have some of these from previous Halloween parties, I’m going to reuse it. My dad has a sh!t ton of Halloween decorations, so I’m going to go through them and see what I can borrow as well to save some money!
Since our door area is pretty small, I can’t do too much with it – but I’m thinking some sort of ambient lighting.
I’ve never done this before, but I’m also going to do some simple decorating in our yard. It will be something very simple, maybe just pumpkins with LED lights and some twigs, etc. But we’ll see as we progress – this is kind of a low priority for me.
This is the stage where I’m currently at right now, I’ve put together a list of items I need to buy for decorating (food will come much later in the game). I’m keeping an eye out online for certain items, waiting for some items to go on sale online and also in stores. I’m going to raid my dad’s decoration supply and then from there, I’ll start scouring Value Village/Salvation Army and other thrift stores for some of the more weird/ornate things I’m looking for. I’ll also hit up the local dollar stores to pick up items for less too.
I’m super excited to be sharing my process with you and I hope it’s helpful for you planning! This is basically my work timeline for any home-event I do, so feel free to apply it to your upcoming birthday or Christmas party! Stay tuned for the next part of this series where I go shopping and raid my dad’s Halloween supply.