10 bone-chilling Halloween party ideas that will spook your guests

A model dressed as a witch rides a broom in front of a fake night sky.
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The nights are getting longer, and the smell of pumpkin spice permeates the air. That means Halloween party season is around the corner. As the host, it’s your time to create a fun, spooky atmosphere for all your guests to enjoy. Whether you’re celebrating with a few select souls in your haunted home or throwing a large party that could raise the dead, here are some Halloween party ideas to get you started.

Spooky Halloween party ideas for larger crowds

A big party leaves room for bigger scares, spookier décor, and tastier refreshments. From elegant to bombastic, we’ve gathered a range of options and themes for your best Halloween bash yet.

1. Venetian masquerade party

From Left: A black and gold Halloween invitation with a skeleton-motif frame, a white-and-gold Venetian mask, a black cake with black bird cake toppers and a silver stand, A vintage photograph of two people dancing in a crowded masquerade ball. Two masked people at a ball.
Memento Mori” by Paperless Post, “The Birds” cake topper via The House that Lars Built, Venetian Mask via Beyond Masquerade.

 

If you love an elegant edge to the scary season, a classic Venetian masquerade is the perfect Halloween party theme. This style of party is characterized by a storied decadence that dates back to the days of Casanova in Venice. Back then, a masquerade was synonymous with style and indulgence as partygoers donned masks to protect their identities during the debauched activities associated with Carnivale.

These days it’s all about opulence. Take a cue from the Venetians (and Truman Capote’s swans) and use decorative face masks to bring out the most spirited side of your guests.

  • Send: Invite guests with the “Memento Mori” invitation, which combines a mysterious, spooky vibe with class and elegance.
  • Décor: Keep the theme elegant with a touch of the Gothic. Use black candles, which offer a bit of light and dark all in one, and hang a black paper chandelier for a bit of elegance.
  • Wear: Ask guests to dress in black and white for their Halloween costume with the addition of feathered headpieces or classic masks. A themed dress code may seem strict but think of it as freedom from costume fatigue. 
  • Do: Dance, mingle, and drink responsibly. While you can break off into smaller groups for Halloween games, this party is mostly about having large crowds together for lots of fun.
  • Serve: Get right to the drinks and dancing. Opt for one-bite appetizers and hors d’oeuvres served on some starry plates and cocktail napkins.

2. Office noir

From left: A vintage photograph of Vera Allen wearing a bat Halloween costume, Two vampire bat wall sculptures, a moody photograph of a Black Velvet cocktail in two different glasses, a Halloween invitation featuring an illustration of dark woods with a matching envelope.
Vera Ellen via Goth Magazine, vampire bat wall sculpture via Amazon, Black Velvet cocktail via Gather Journal, “The Woods Are Lovely” by Paperless Post.

 

If we learned one thing from the spellbinding stories of Transylvania, it’s that black goes with everything. A monochrome party theme is ideal for an office happy hour or professional event where you’d prefer to keep things polished. 

  • Send: Use the “The Woods Are Lovely” invitation for something effectively creepy that suits the monochrome noir theme.
  • Décor: Think all-black everything, from the table runners to the garlands. If you’re using Zoom, encourage attendees to use black backgrounds.
  • Wear: The dress code is easy at a monochrome affair. Ask guests to dress in all black to hit the party theme home. 
  • Do: Play a round of Halloween-themed trivia or project an appropriately scary movie onto a wall. For a virtual party, you can watch a scary movie together with a shared streaming service.
  • Serve: For a delicious Halloween party food idea, cater the event from a favorite local eatery, complete with a signature cocktail for the occasion. In the virtual space, share an easy cocktail recipe that everyone can recreate at home—Black Velvets will do the trick. Or for smaller teams, have drinks delivered to everyone in time for the party as a favor from the office.

3. A fall harvest

From left: a Halloween invitation featuring an illustration of a golden snake amongst flowers, a nighttime scene of a pumpkin and candles, a glass pumpkin decoration, a home décor scene with a gravestone.
Sidewinder” by Hello!Lucky for Paperless Post, pumpkin image via Unsplash, glass pumpkin via World Market, home décor scene via Pinterest.

 

A fall harvest theme provides a mix of nature with seasonal costumes perfectly suited for a less scary, more cozy cocktail party. 

  • Send: Get the word out about your fall festivities with the “Harvest Party” Flyer. 
  • Décor: Set the stage for a cocktail party with a fall harvest theme by loading up on tapered candles and piles of flowers
  • Wear: Add cuffs, a ruffle, or a headpiece to your ensemble for a historical harvest reference. For a DIY effect, use doilies, wax paper, or even a lampshade. Or encourage guests to dress in costumes that reflect nature and fall. 
  • Do: Have an apple bobbing contest, a scarecrow-making booth, and, of course, a pumpkin carving station. 
  • Serve: Transport your guests to the countryside with a painterly platter of fall harvest fare, including figs, pomegranate, and healthy chunks of cheese. Essentially, your favorite bit of charcuterie, paired with mugs of hot cider or goblets of red wine. 

4. Addams Family values and cocktails

From left: Blood-red cocktail with dry ice, Halloween home decor including a skull and bottle of poison, a fake severed hand, 3 green cocktails with dry ice, a digital invite with Morticia from the Addams family holding a cocktail with the text “What’s Your Poison?” overlaid.
Red rum cocktail via Love Happy Hour, severed hand prop via Amazon, skull décor via Amazon, spooky cocktails by Paper n Stitch, “Poison of Choice” Flyer by Paperless Post.

 

Creepy and kooky, the Addams Family is a classic campy Halloween staple. Now you can have a cheeky cocktail party inspired by the creepiest, but somehow most charming, family in the neighborhood.

  • Send: The “Poison of Choice” invitation features Morticia Addams, making it a perfect way to get the word out about your potent potables.
  • Décor: Fear not, transforming your house into a wacky Victorian mansion is not required. Instead, think simple—from cobwebs with giant spider balloons to an entire severed hand candle, inspired by the family’s helpful Thing.
  • Wear: The family is its own wonderful mix of costume potential: Wednesday’s braids, Pugsley’s black-and-white stripes, Gomez’s Salvador Dali-esque mustache, or Morticia’s eternally chic undead gown and wig. Or go all out with a Cousin Itt costume.
  • Do: Get in the friendly, competitive spirit with a cocktail-making contest. Have guests select from some spirits, garnishes, and other ingredients to create a signature cocktail that is both tasty and terrifying. Give out awards for the best and the most ghoulish.
  • Serve: Cocktails are the focus here, but remember that the Addams’ world is a funhouse mirror where up is down and pastels are a fate worse than death. The odder the drink, the better. Pre-mix a batch of Bloody Marys for less adventurous guests. For the rest, whip up some dark, macabre beverages, like these Black Lagoon cocktails. Add a bit of spirulina to any cocktail for a swampy look or a dash of grenadine to make any drink “bloody.” 

5. Scary movie party

From left: An animated invite with a video of the twins from “The Shining” and the text “Come Play With Us” overlaid, a home decor scene with cocktails and crows, a theme box of popcorn with blood red topping, a photograph of an outdoor movie screen and spectators, a fake hatchet.
Seeing Double” Flyer by Paperless Post, bloody popcorn via Honey Kingdom, axe prop via Amazon, image via Pinterest.

 

Some people love Halloween for the candy, pranks, or jack-o’-lanterns. For others, it’s all about the scary movies—from vintage slashers to modern elevated horror. Along with some real-life haunted spots, horror movies offer a ton of inspiration for Halloween party ideas. 

You can stick to one specific movie to center your party—we’re using “Carrie” and “The Shining” below—or make it broader and incorporate themes from several horror classics.

  • Send: With this “Seeing Double” Flyer, you can use the totally normal twins from “The Shining” to invite guests to your party. 
  • Décor: Set up the room in prom queen pink and red. Have fake blood on hand for guests to play with as they please, and hang a kitschy senior prom sign to drive it home. Alternatively, go with some classic Halloween décor ideas, or stick to the Halloween party theme and decorate your place with movie posters and theater paraphernalia.
  • Wear: Think prom-gone-wrong chic. Ask guests to come in old-school prom attire, then award a tiara and crown to the best costumes—hold the pigs’ blood. 
  • Do: Along with a necessary viewing, prepare some cliche prom activities with a gory twist. Set up a photo spot where guests can take “prom photos” but with a bloody background and horrific accessories. You can also play some classic drinking games as you watch the movie. For example, you have to take a shot whenever there’s blood on the screen.
  • Serve: Serve bloody cocktails or “Bloody Carries,” which are Bloody Marys that can move things with their minds.

6. Goth dance party

From left: Black callalilly floral design, a goth platform shoe, a photograph of three women dressed in all black holding flowers, an animated invite featuring a video of Lydia from “Beetlejuice” with the text “Boooooogie” overlaid.
Arrangement by Meta Flora, shoe by Lamoda, fashion at the Funeral via Vogue Paris, “You Ghost Girl” Flyer by Paperless Post.

 

Halloween can be celebrated in 1,000 creative and engaging ways—but sometimes you just want to dance. Throw yourself a howling dance party with a tongue-in-cheek Goth theme. 

  • Send: Invite your goth guests with the “You Ghost Girl” Flyer, featuring a classic goth, Lydia Deetz, dancing her heart out.
  • Décor: Much like the “office noir” theme, the main color scheme here is black. Everything should be dark or as close to dark as possible. Add in some eye-citing cocktail napkins for a spooky twist. 
  • Wear: Anything from 90s attire to Hot Topic teen, as long as it’s black. Layer up on the black eyeliner, nail polish, and lipstick. Accessorize with some tasteful chains, belted boots, and spiky hair.
  • Do: Take your dance party outdoors under the string lights, or host virtually from your own creepy abode. Channel moody teen witches in “The Craft” with a playlist fit for a coven. 
  • Serve: If you have black food dye, now’s the perfect time to make use of it. From ink-black cookies to burger buns the color of the night sky, you want food that’s as dark as the heart of your favorite goth. For dessert, try making some black ice cream, with some help from some active charcoal powder.

Low-key Halloween party themes for small groups

Even the most die-hard Halloween fans might get tired of cleaning up all the peeled grapes and fake blood. Sometimes, you just want a smaller crowd with more low-key vibes. A quieter, stress-free Halloween party can still be a ton of fun with themed costumes, treats, and ghouls.

7. Devilish dinner party

From left: A Halloween invitation featuring an illustration of a pensive skeleton with an empty wine glass, A photograph of a sophisticated Halloween tablescape, black and gold graphic napkins with gold forks, a photograph of home decor with a gold pumpkin, candle, and skull.
Skeleton with Drink” by John Derian for Paperless Post, table setting by Cause We Can Events, gold skull décor via Shelterness, and hypnotic napkins via Atelier Saucier.

 

If you enjoy cooking, Halloween is the time to throw the dinner party of your screams. No need to reinvent the hearse or the wheel. 

This Halloween party idea for adults is all about your favorite dishes, paired with glasses of the bloodiest red you can find, and a few scary details to keep the evening on theme. 

  • Send: No bones about it, this Skeleton with Drink” invitation is a clean and easy way to invite guests to a dinner party.
  • Décor: Bust out the confetti balloons, orange candles, and Halloween-themed cups with drink stirrers. And nothing quite says Halloween like a witch’s cauldron boiling with some unknown substance. 
  • Wear: You don’t want to accidentally get ketchup all over your chainsaw massacre costume. Instead, provide holiday-appropriate bibs and aprons with fake blood stains to protect all the guests’ costumes.
  • Do: To get everyone involved, consider making the event a potluck-style party where guests bring their own creepy, kooky creations. You can judge and hand out prizes for the most creative dishes. If you have enough participants, make the whole party a murder mystery with guests playing different roles to try to solve a grisly crime.
  • Serve: Think of classics with a slight twist, like cheeseburgers with black buns, mummy dogs (pigs in a blanket), or a large bowl of spaghetti with eyeballs (black olives set inside balls of mozzarella).

8. Bloody Mary brunch party

From left: A woman wearing a white dress with fake blood all over her, white candles with red wax dripping from the top, a syringe with a cocktail inside, a bloody mary with olives and fake teeth, a Halloween invitation that says “Bloody brunch” with an illustration of vampire teeth.
Costume image via Priscilla Grihim, syringe via Etsy, candles via Dream a little bigger; spooky bloody Mary via Brunch and Batter, “Nosferatu” by Paperless Post.

 

While most people celebrate Halloween at night, it’s not a bad idea to start the festivities at the beginning of the day. Throw a Halloween brunch, serving up your favorite traditional brunch dishes and, of course, Mary’s namesake cocktails. 

  • Send: The “Nosferatu invitation is sure to set the mood for your brunch.
  • Décor: The gorier the better, but try not to turn guests’ stomachs too much before they eat. Stick with red tableware and candles dripping with red wax. For practicality, print out a menu that lists all the garnishes and liquors available.
  • Wear: To stick with the theme, go with a bloody bride or groom costume.
  • Do: While vodka is the traditional spirit used in Bloody Mary, this is a great time to do a fun taste test of different vodkas, liquors, non-alcoholic options, and mixes. Mix and match to see what your guests prefer.
  • Serve: Line those stomachs with some bat-shaped pancakes on the griddle, along with a blood-red berry fruit salad, pumpkin donuts, and deviled eggs.

9. Halloweenie dog costume contest

From left: A Halloween invitation with illustrations of dogs in costumes, a skeleton dog decoration, dog treets shaped like bones, a dog covered in a sheet surrounded by jack o’ lanterns.
Howlin’ Halloween” by Paperless Post, mummy biscuits via Dalmatian DIY, dog skeleton via PopSugar, image via Tumblr.

 

This Halloween party idea for kids or adults is a real treat. However, coming up with a unique Halloween costume for yourself and your dog may still be a weeks-long project. 

Invite your fellow families with pups to gather their pooches for treats—both human and canine—contests, and fun. 

  • Send: Featuring several dogs dressed for the occasion, the Howlin’ Halloween” invitations will have your guests barking for more.
  • Décor: Think about your typical Halloween decorations and then dog-ify them. Cut out a garland of dogs with bat wings, turn your average dog house into a haunted dog house, and fill a witch’s cauldron with bones and dog treats.
  • Wear: This is really the whole surprise of the thing. Dogs can dress up on their own, or they can have a combination costume with their pet parents and siblings.
  • Do: Play photographer for a furry, frightening photoshoot. The best-dressed dog takes home a prize, and everyone gets to post photos that will keep you smiling until next Halloween.
  • Serve: For the humans, prepare plenty of little snacks, from ghost-shaped cookies to burgers. For the canines, keep plenty of treats around to entice them, from homemade dog biscuits to bones to cut up hot-dog pieces.

10. Picnic after dark

From left: Cheese board laid out on dirt, an engraved chalice, a graveyard at dusk, a Halloween invitation featuring a graveyard scene.
Image via Rachel Claire, chalice via Amazon, image via Kool Shooters, “Graveyard Scene” by John Derian for Paperless Post.

If you prefer not to spend an entire day decorating, set your party against an already perfect Halloween setting: the dark night sky. Meet up just around sunset and enjoy the last of the year’s beautiful fall weather in your backyard.

  • Send: While your picnic doesn’t have to occur in a graveyard, this “Graveyard Scene” invitation offers the greatest art and atmosphere for an outdoor get-together that may or may not involve skeletons.
  • Décor: Make sure you have all your classic picnic supplies and Halloween décor, including festive plates and cups. If your outdoor venue allows it, put up some fun Halloween decorations, like fake graves or bony hands reaching out from the ground.
  • Wear: Considering the picnic is outside, plan to dress warm. If your costume already features a nice, thick cloak or cape, you’re set. Otherwise, layer up.
  • Do: Play games and tell some of your favorite ghost stories. If your space allows, light a fire for even more ambiance and not-so-sinister s’mores.
  • Serve: Alongside plenty of Halloween candy, put that spooky spin on some picnic favorites, including fried bat wings, witch finger sandwiches, and maggot-infested potato salad. Serve up some bloody punch or a thermos of cider.

Plan a night of the living dead with Paperless Post

Paperless Post can help you pull off a delightfully devilish party with easy online invitations from some of the most talented artists in the business, including John Derian and Rifle Paper Co.

Our Cards and Flyers offer convenient features to keep your party organized, including RSVP tracking, guest questions, and broadcast messaging. You can also send your invites via text message when you don’t know a guest’s email address. Blocks allow you to add travel suggestions or a spooky video (Thriller, anyone?), while customizable invitations with backdrops, stamps, and unique page styles help you stay on-theme from invite to clean up. 

Paperless Post ensures smooth party organization so that the scariest thing about your bash is the slasher movie that you show.

 

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Hero image via Gentleman’s Gazette.