Hosting a party should be an enjoyable affair and you shouldn’t spend a ton of time stressing over the small stuff. Years ago, when I threw my first party I prepared for weeks and spent way too much money. To say I went overboard, that would be an understatement. Since then, I’ve adopted a party planning strategy with specific tasks that help me plan efficiently. It doesn’t matter if I’m hosting a fall soiree or a get together in the middle of the summer, there’s a certain way I go about doing things, and I’ll make a few adjustments depending on the occasion. These are my tips from start to finish on how to throw an elegant Halloween party.
Design a color palette and theme
Rather than embracing the typical orange and black, I love these shades of rich purples and reds, mixed with gold and black. They go together perfectly and set the tone for a cultivating and enchanting vibe. For inspiration, I thought back to when I used to watch The Osbournes on MTV and how I loved their gothic decor. This theme by Camille Styles feels like an elegant Halloween party that Sharon Osbourne herself would throw.
Create a mood board
After you narrow down your color choices and your theme, make a mood board to keep track of your inspiration. An excellent place to start is Pinterest because there’s so many mind-blowing ideas. Begin by searching for party topics like “elegant Halloween dinner,” “adult Halloween party,” and “classy Halloween desserts.” Save any photos that are eye-catching to your board. After you have about 50 pins, go back and make sure you have all the basics covered: food and drinks, decor/flowers, table setting, and DIY projects.
Send out evites a week or two in advance
I prefer sending evites over mailing invitations because they can come off as too formal, and I don’t like sending a text because it’s too informal. Besides specifying the date, time, and location, your evite should disclose what type of food you will be serving (cocktails and snacks, dinner, brunch, etc.) If you’re hosting a costume party, acknowledge it on the evite so guests know to dress up. You can encourage this by offering awards for best costume and stating it on the evite. Here are some ideas: an autumn scented candle, a gift certificate to a trendy restaurant, bottle of wine or champagne, gourmet candy or movie tickets.
Plan and print your menu
Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a five course feast, a dessert bar, or a boozy brunch—the choices for throwing an elegant Halloween party are endless. One thing I always consider is the timing of the event. If the invite says 8pm, then I will serve cocktails and refreshments, rather than a sit down meal.
Going back to your Pinterest board, single out a few recipes to create. Keep in mind you’ll want to mingle instead of spending a ton of time in the kitchen cooking. Seek options that can be prepared the night before or a few hours in advance. Be sure to get a head count so you’ll have enough food for everyone (having leftovers is far better than running out). My go to is a charcuterie board because it’s a crowd pleaser, and it’s simple to put together. In addition, I love putting out small bites like these mini mason jar apple pies, salted caramel apple cider donuts, and black cupcakes with cherry filling; they all go so well with the elegant decor.
If you’re serving dinner, I suggest planning a four or five course menu with wine pairings and printing it out to display on top of each plate. Furthermore, consider your guests dietary preferences and include non-meat options.
Create a few signature cocktails and print out the directions to frame and display near the bar area. This lets guests know it’s okay to mix up their own drinks and takes the pressure off of you having to play bartender. Choose a couple with a few key ingredients so they’re easy to make like purple gin + tonics, or Red Jacket Blackcurrant Apple juice with Tequila. Also, incorporate a virgin cocktail option into the mix along with water, beer, wine, soda, coffee, and plenty of garnishes. To get festive, display your alcohol in fancy decanters and create labels with names like poison, venom, virus, blood, and cyanide. (Just be sure to write the correct name underneath.)
Prep for your party
About a week before, create a party planning to-buy list and jot down everything you’ll need to pick up: groceries, alcohol, cleaning supplies, and decor. Don’t ignore looking around your home. I keep a number of party supplies and decorations in boxes, and there have been times where I went out and purchased what I already had. Now, I make a point of checking before I shop.
A few days before, prep your home by cleaning and organizing it. I like to make a cleaning timeline and adhere to it so everything gets done and I’m not rushing at the last minute.
- Remove any clutter (a quick fix is to place it in one room and keep the door shut)
- Deep clean
- Set up in advance (display decorations, get the bar area and food tables ready)
- Make recipes
Set the mood
Nothing creates an elegant ambience as much as candles do. For a Halloween celebration, choose autumn scents like spiced apple cider or chai. Then dim the lights and set the mood by mixing in tea lights with pillar candles of various sizes. Be sure to arrange them in places where they won’t get knocked over. If children are attending opt for LED flameless candles. For the main table display a candelabra and dark colored tapers; they both go together impeccably because of their gothic feel.
Another essential for a kick ass event is having the ideal playlist. I literally have one for everything (my friends even joke about it), so when I’m throwing a party I’ll open up Spotify and pick a playlist that’s best suited for the occasion. A few years ago I created a Halloween version of classic tunes that represent the month of October, and each year I’ll revise it with new songs. I also made a witch house playlist that’s filled with dark electronic beats for a spookier vibe.
Florals are an awe-inspiring way to tie everything together. Arranging a centerpiece with autumn flowers adds a refined touch. Another option is to place Halloween themed vases throughout your home with decorative bouquets that correlate with your color palette.
Seasonal fall flowers perfect for Halloween: allium, alstroemeria, anemone, baby’s breath, bittersweet, calla lily, carnation, dahlia, kangaroo paw, mums, orchid, quince, rover, roses, rowen berry, statice, succulents, sunflower, yarrow, and zinnia.
Referring back to your Pinterest board, choose a few DIY projects to make. (I prefer to use these ideas as inspiration while putting my own unique twist on them.) Prepare a list of what supplies you’ll need and head to your local craft store. For me, this is one of the best parts of the party planning process. It’s a fun approach for getting into the Halloween spirit, not to mention the sense of accomplishment you feel when you step back and admire your creation. Here are a few of my favorite DIY Halloween designs that I’ve come across this year: matte black floral moon pumpkin, The Birds cake topper, flower crown pumpkin, skull vase, and moon phase garland.
Whether you’re hosting a sitdown dinner, or a large affair, the main table should be the focal point of your party. Don’t hesitate to go overboard here, since this is where everyone will gather.
If you’re having an elegant dinner party, set the table with an ornate centerpiece, candelabras, decorative plates and gold silverware. In front of each place setting, display the menu so guests will know what you’re serving. For a more casual affair, display hors d’oeuvres and refreshments on the main table so guests can grab what they would like.
Halloween party essentials
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