Hauntingly chic Halloween party ideas and inspiration

Diana Vreeland once said that life needed “a splash of bad taste.” Unfortunately, most Halloween celebrations go heavy on the sprinkling hand. It’s a shame, really, because Halloween provides the perfect atmosphere for a fabulous party. 

This year, whether you’re getting together virtually, hosting a “mask-querade” outdoors, or celebrating from six feet apart, you can still keep things spooky and stylish. To help, we had a think, consulted some glamorous ghouls, and put together three themes for Halloween gatherings that are truly, madly chic.

A very virtual Victorian affair

A very virtual Victorian affair and other chic Halloween party ideas
Raven” by John Derian, Victorian necklace, 1837 fashion plate from World of Fashion via Los Angeles Public Library

You don’t have to live in a haunted mansion to pull off this party idea from home—that’s what Zoom backgrounds are for. Costumes however, are a must. Have friends play up the theme from the waist up with billowing black silk or lace, and Victorian-era costume jewelry to match. Pour dark red wine and put on the greatest hits of the saddest epoch, like Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” to really get the virtual party started.


Hitchcock under the stars

virtual movie screening and other chic Halloween party ideas from Paperless Post
Movie Clapper” by Paperless Post

Break out the projector! Halloween is for The Birds. And Vertigo, The 39 Steps, North by Northwest, and any other Hitchcock movie you want to screen, too. The man knew scares and suspense, but he also knew style. Have your movie night guests show up in furs, pillbox hats, and fresh peroxide’d do’s (suits for the gentlemen). Serve bottled versions of dry martinis and other bar classics, and accessorize with a few well-placed stuffed crows. Don’t worry, they won’t move… or will they?


A mind-bending micro-dinner party

a micro-dinner party and other chic Halloween party ideas from Paperless Post
Brushed Gold” by Oscar de la Renta

In 1972, Marie-Helene Rothschild held a Bunuelian Surrealist Ball where guests like Audrey Hepburn and Salvador Dali showed up in mind-bending costumes to enjoy the fantastical feast. Like any great artist, steal some inspiration and host your own. Consider writing your guests’ names on tarot cards or old broken clocks instead of place cards; spray paint the artichokes with edible gold (don’t worry, it’s kosher); or cook something from The Surrealist Dinner Cookbook. There are ground rules, but what makes this party so fun is the sheer sense of anarchy: it is truly yours to invent.


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Ready to start the seance? Browse our Halloween invitations.