Take The Fuss Out Of Halloween Party Planning

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Halloween isn't just for kids. Of all holidays, it's the most howling time to show off your true inner glam by hosting a Halloween party never to be forgotten. Tapping into your fantasy of the perfect Martha-esque party is the easy part. Execution of an aesthetically-awing gathering is another story. Save the haunting headaches this Halloween and bring your fantasy into a dark reality with these tips for planning a fierce Halloween party:


Hey, lets make this party easy.

There's nothing wrong with planning a BYOGT (Bring Your Own Ghouling Treat) Halloween party. With a BYOGT, you get your guests involved in the festivities and you save yourself time and money. A BYOGT isn't a get out of hosting free card; it only allows you to expand your cuisine without the burden of feeding the masses. Provide light Halloween-themed munchies to compliment your guests' offerings. Try baking some orange-colored brownies or pick up a decorative cake. Spread cupcakes and cookies along with a veggie tray to keep it balanced. Know a great appetizer recipe? Go for it! The more creative your spread the better. Check out these recipes for Halloween treats.

Also, give your guests the option of bringing a bottle of alcohol instead of a scary treat. Just stipulate that it be fun and festive.


If your place is already in top shape, then leave it. Just spread a few seasonal decorations about. Visit your local nursery, pick up some fall flowers to taste or grab a few tasteful fall decorations at the local craft shop.

Looking for a Halloween fun? Go all out at the local Halloween costume and decor shop. Sometimes the cheesier the better. Use fake cobwebs, booing ghosts outside, lit pumpkin candles and the like to create a fun room an 8-year-old would envy.


There's a difference between a hot house party and a drinking social. A drinking social is where your friends show up, drink and talk in a brightly lit atmosphere with either little music, no music or dull music (think straight Irish pup during happy hour). The atmosphere of a hot house party is like that of your favorite big city lounge without the doorman. Your place is cute, the guests are cute and the atmosphere encourages people to let loose, dance, meet new people and have a good time.

The best part? You don't have to be Jonathan Adler to turn your apartment into a Halloween lounge. Most of the effort is in the lighting. Lighting creates mood. What you're going for is lounge, so you want your lighting to be dim (but not dark) and sexy. When mood is most important, choose floor lamps over tall or ceiling lights. You can get a good floor can lamp at Home Depot for anywhere between $10-$15 a piece. Fill them with low wattage bulbs. Stick them in corners, behind furniture or around any other piece of furniture. Play with the floor/tall lamp combinations until you feel serene and sexy. Place dark-colored scented candles throughout. Also, leave key decorations, like your favorite coffee and end tables, but de-clutter anything that you don't want to show off. Plus, as a side note, the better your place looks, the less inclined your guests will be to mess it up as inhibitions lessen.


There's a reason club and lounge DJs don't take requests. The music contributes to the vibe and tone of the party and the DJ knows what music will stimulate the crowd. He also knows when to warm up the crowd, pump them up and wind them down. Random requests disturb the vibe.

It's your party, so you be the DJ. Create a party playlist in iTunes. If you're lost for ideas or time, let the new iTunes Genius feature create it for you. All you have to do is choose a song that's representative of the party vibe and Genius will pull songs from your library that match. Still lost? Ask a friend whose music you love to create the playlist for you. If you want to include your guests' favorite cuts, then ask them to submit songs beforehand and include them in the mix. Transfer the playlist to your iPod, hook the iPod to your surround sound speakers, hide it and let it shuffle.

Why treat your playlist like a Homoland security secret? Inevitably, there is one guy or gal at the party who decides–on their own–that the party doesn't have the vibe they desire. You know her. She will actively search your house or apartment for the source of the music. Once that person finds the music player, they will usually shuffle through your playlist for music they like not what's good for the overall party. This creates uncomfortable sound breaks and disrupts the theme.

The Guest List

Now you know darn well that your friend DeMarco can't hold his liquor and that Shelly doesn't get along with Juan. You don't have to be pretentious when it comes to developing your list, but you can discriminate based on who's going to mess up the vibe of your party. The last thing you need are drinks splashed in faces or shade thrown or a smack down in the middle of your shindig. Know your friends, including the ones that can co-exist without drama. Halloween is about fun and folly, not damage control.


Save the paper invitations for your wedding. You're trying to put on a fab party in as little time and with as little money as possible. Send your invites in the way people like it: quick and syncable. Create a themed Evite or send an event invitation on Facebook (keeping in mind that not all of your friends use Facebook or check it ever 10 minutes like you do). You can even Twitter your buds with party planning updates. Whichever method of invite you choose, be sure to give your guests enough notice before the party. I find that two to three weeks works best.


Hey gay, tricks are for kids. And this is a party that will rival any kid's Halloween bash. So, when it comes to games, go for the gusto. Try everything from pin the tail on the Republican to Twister. Keep it PG-13 or get down and dirty. I'd suggest the former if you invite underage folks or if you think your mom's going to stop by.

The more hype you create around your party, the more excited your guests will be. All you need to do now is follow the above suggestions and deliver.
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