How to Host a Killer Halloween Dinner Party

Myself and five friends from Namibia at my first formal Halloween dinner party, though I had hosted an annual Halloween party of some kind nearly every year since middle school. Since this was during COVID-19 it was kept small and many precautions were taken to maintain the safety of my family and friends including getting tested the day before and day of the party.
Halloween Dinner Party 2020

You've got the perfect Halloween costume and you're ready to party. But you can't just serve a bowl of candy and call it a night. Here are some fun and creative ways to celebrate your favorite spooky holiday: a step-by-step guide to planning an awesome dinner party—you'll be surprised at how much fun these ideas will add to your fall celebration.

Table of Contents:

Pick a killer theme.

Think about the guest list.

Get creative with your decor.

Whip up some fun cocktails.

Keep the menu seasonal, fun, and delicious.

Boo! It's time for dessert.

Halloween doesn't have to be scary or stressful to plan or throw.

Pick a killer theme.

It's easy to go over the top when you're hosting a Halloween party, and if you're someone who loves drama and has the experience to execute it, like Martha Stewart, then crafting a party around a niche theme can elevate the entire experience. For the rest of us peasants, the party is just about making your guests feel comfortable and having them enjoy themselves and, in that case, keeping it simple will enhance your execution.

My go-to theme is Spooky Elegance--think classic Halloween: skulls, spiders, and bats, simple decor in black with hints of gold, purple, or red.

Other ideas for something dramatic:

Check out my Pinterest for vision boards on any of these themes or click the links to see templates for invitations and menus, ideas for costumes, do-it-yourself decorations, and example menus if you want to execute one of these themes yourself.

Think about the guest list.

If you're hosting a Halloween dinner party, there are some things to think about before getting started.

How many people can comfortably sit at your dining room table? This question is pertinent to how many people you should invite to a dinner party because you don't want your guests to be sitting on each other's lap. If your table only fits four people then you don't want to have a ten-person party.

Next comes the question: how well do your guests know each other? If this is your first time hosting an event like this where guests aren't familiar with each other (e.g., no one knows each other's names), then it may be worth it to break up anyone who's already familiar with each other in order to encourage people to socialize with those they don't know. This also prevents anyone from being the odd man out at an event intended for socialization.

Some final thoughts: are children going to be welcome at your party? Is this going to be a costume party? Do any of your guests have dietary restrictions that you need to keep in mind when planning a menu?

Get creative with your decor.

Halloween isn't just about candy and costumes. It's also about decorating your home in a way that makes guests feel immersed in spooky vibes. You want to create an environment that feels like you're inviting them into your own personal haunted mansion, so it's important to get creative with your decor choices.

The best way to do this is by using a theme to bring together a space. Use cohesive colors, textures, and shapes—and then add in spooky details along the way! There are plenty of ways you can do this:

  • Black is the most common color used in Halloween decor, so anything outside of it will already add drama. Some fun colors to think about are blood red, dark purple, and lime green. You can also add metallic finishes for a more gaudy aesthetic.

  • Experiment with lighting: candlelight, black lights, and glow sticks can all add to a spooky vibe in a low lighting setting. Keep in mind that you need enough light for your guests to move around and see their food, but otherwise darkness is your friend in setting an eerie mood.

  • Hanging scary artwork is an easy way to add to your theme. I love supporting artists who produce work that's on theme for my parties (here's a List of My Favorite Artists), but if that's not in your budget you can look for older art that's in the public domain or use artificial intelligence to create works that fit your theme.

Whip up some fun cocktails.

You can't have a dinner party without drinks and no Halloween party is complete without some fun-looking cocktails and mocktails. The worst thing you can do as a host is having water as your only drink option, and it's the simplest thing to immerse your guests in your chosen theme. If you're going for Spooky Elegance a collection of glittery cocktails in glassware gives an air of refined elegance. If you want to play then opting for some beakers to serve drinks in gives your guests an immediate way to join in on the theme and feel in on the joke.

If you want to get fancy with your cocktails (and who doesn't?), here are some tips for getting the most out of them:

  • Serve your drinks in glass wherever possible. I tend to prioritize having fun with my theme over having "proper" glassware but glass does retain its temperature better than plastic and allows you to have more fun and flexibility with the kinds of cocktails you serve. For example, I enjoy a Flaming Dragon's Blood Cocktail, a daiquiri that you light on fire before serving.

  • Finding glassware on a budget: don't be afraid of thrifting. In my opinion, if none of your glassware matches it looks purposeful. Acquire a wide variety of shapes and then just have fun from there. Yes, there are "rules" about what kinds of drinks are supposed to be served in which glassware but this isn't a bar and you're not a professional bartender so have fun with drinks that you think your guests will enjoy.

  • A bit of black food coloring or luster dust adds a ton of drama with very little money or effort!

Here are 10 Spooky Cocktails I Love.

Here are 5 Creative Ways to Serve Drinks.

Keep the menu seasonal, fun, and delicious.

Make sure to keep the menu seasonal, fun, and delicious. This can be tricky because Halloween is a time for ghoulish food, but if you want your dinner party guests to remember their meal for years to come, then it's important that you serve something that is both tasty and interesting. There are several ways that you can do this:

  • Think about dishes that you already love and find creative ways to plate them that adds the spooky charm you're going for. Hollowed-out pumpkins, skull-shaped cake tins, or simply adding props like plastic spiders to your dish can all give a regular dish a spooky aesthetic.

  • Use classic in-season ingredients to make a cohesive menu. Apples, squash, sweet potato, carrot, spinach, thyme, and sage are all in-season in October and together they make an amazing menu. For a full list of what's in season in Washington during October visit The Spruce Eats.

  • Consider dietary restrictions or limitations that might make it hard for someone to enjoy the food you're serving. If someone can't eat the food you serve it's going to make them feel unwelcome and them not eating will make things awkward for everyone. Make sure your guests feel included by creating a menu that already meets their needs or adapting a dish to not include the ingredients they can't eat. For example: a classic chicken pot pie can be made vegan with an eggless pie crust and substituting chicken for chickpeas (a personal favorite of mine) and one year I made a vegan and gluten-free chickpea pot pie for a friend of mine with Celiac. She got to eat what looked like the same dish as the rest of us but didn't pose a risk to her health.

Here are 14 Halloween Recipes I Love.

Here are 5 Ways to Spookify a Regular Dish.

Boo! It's time for dessert!

Dessert is always my favorite part of the night as I am a massive chocoholic and have a sweet tooth for days

  • Seeing as not everyone loves chocolate (or even sweets, ghastly I know!) it's important to have some options! I've found that as long as you have something sweet and chocolatey and something more savory (think cheesecake or berry tarts) you can make most people happy!

  • Have enough for everyone to try a bit of both!

  • Think about whether you want to serve something with alcohol or whether you need an alternative option to serve to children!

  • Last but not least, buy cheap takeaway containers and send your guests home with the leftovers! It's the best party favor you can give.

Here are 10 Spooky Desserts for Your Halloween Party.

Halloween doesn't have to be scary or stressful to plan or throw.

Halloween is fun and you can make it as easy or difficult as you want. If you don't want to deal with all of the work, there are plenty of ways to get a great party without doing much more than putting out some treats and making sure everyone has something fun to do.

If you're not into cooking and baking (or even if you are), there are some other options that might interest your guests:

  • Host a potluck-style dinner and stick to only the first two steps of this how-to guide!

  • Have a costume contest.

  • Plan a spooky scavenger hunt.

  • Set up a dance floor with plenty of space.

  • Have a scary game night. (You can play horror board games, solve an imaginary crime, or play a roleplay scenario with a scary setting.)

  • Host your own haunted house.

Halloween is a time to be creative, and that's what this is all about. I hope these tips will help you host a fun and memorable Halloween dinner party that your guests will love!

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