Halloween is a simply perfect occasion to plan a get-together with friends: everyone loves a costume party, and with enough fun activities and delicious food, even the grinchiest of Halloween haters will have big smiles on their heavily made-up faces. Whether you're throwing a mondo monster mash or just a little haunted happening, it's a fantastic idea to go through a list of everything you'll need for some seriously sinister fun. Party planning can be a major undertaking, but our guide will aim to help you through the process as painlessly as possible. On the day of the event, all the gritty details will be dealt with and you'll be all set to relax and enjoy the ghoulish good times.
Four to Six Weeks Before
It might seem early, but trust us--the more prepared you are, the better. Before you can draft up an invitation, you will need to iron out the most basic details:
* When and where will it be? Will you need to secure the party location?
* Whom will you invite?
* Will there be a theme? Note that if you choose to go this route, it will help bring focus to your planning: decorations, invitations, refreshments, costumes: all of these components will tie in with the central theme.
Once you answer these questions, send out the invite no later than two weeks before the party. You will also need to sort out your budget so you won't have any surprise expenses. For help with this, check out the planner on About.com.
Two to Four Weeks Before
OK OK, you can still make plenty of things with pumpkin.
You will absolutely need to set the mood of the party. If your aim is to terrify your guests and create the most macabre scene you can, you'll want to invest in some of the items below. You'll also want to check out our Guide to Haunted House Decorations for more ideas.
If you're hosting a kids' fiesta, you'll obviously want to tone it down quite a bit. There are a variety of decorations that focus on cute rather than on creepy--your guests should be clamoring for more, not crying to go home.
Games and Activities
Having a number of activities planned out will help break the ice and get your guests mingling. You will want to tailor everything around the ages of your attendees; the following games are appropriate for boys and ghouls of all ages.
The activities below are more suited to people in their teens and older.
The Week of the Party
You're almost there! Now is the time to tie up all the loose ends: for example, if you have guests who have not yet RSVP'd, you will want to track them down and get a definite yes or no. Do you have everything you need for your costume? How about decorations: are they all good to go? If so, you will want to get the outdoor and out-of-the-way ones taken care of (save the indoor decorations until the night before and the day of--you don't want any fake cobwebs tripping you up at inopportune moments).
Make sure that all of your groceries are purchased, apart from the ones you will buy just before. If there are any dishes you can cook ahead of time, go ahead and do that. The less work you have to do on the day of the party, the easier your life will be. If you have people willing to help you out on any of these tasks, put them to work and make sure they understand what they need to do. Will you have a clean-up crew as well? Scout for volunteers: remember the old adage that many hands make light work!
The Day Of
You did it! Now you'll want to keep the food and beverages stocked, the supplies for activities available, and make sure your guests are having a fantastic time.