Throwing a Halloween party doesn’t have to break the bank, as long as you know what to prioritize. You can throw an inexpensive Halloween party without it being “cheap.”
Make a list. Halloween is all about fun, movement and being whatever you want to be for the night. Why not make it a dance party, where self-expression reigns supreme? Dance parties are a ton of fun, not to mention cheaper than feeding a bunch of folks or having to make expensive cocktails.
Step One: Theme and Decorations
Is this just a general Halloween party, or do you want to go for more specific theme? Halloween gives you a ton of options to work with! You could turn your house into a UFO, the gates of Hell or Purgatory, a mad scientist’s lab or an enchanted forest. There are so many other options!
Once you have a theme, you can start thinking about decorations. It doesn’t have to be super expensive. Set aside a craft night a few days before (or, if you are a procrastinator, the day of or day before) and make some great decorations with pals. Sweeten the invitation a bit by making it a Halloween-themed movie event with pizza while you craft in front of the television.
Mini-pumpkins are a LOT less expensive than large pumpkins, and you can arrange a bunch of them to get a similar effect. These window silhouettes are equally simple but create a mood before guests even enter your home. You can Amazon Prime some in time for Halloween or simply DIY it with black construction paper or cardstock from your local craft store.
Want to decorate your yard or porch? These hanging foam bats are super easy to make.
Lighting works wonders. Get a few black, green and red lightbulbs to set the mood in the dance floor area. Go to the Dollar Tree and buy a ton of black candles for mood lighting, but beware of drunk people: place them on mantles and away from heavily trafficked areas. If you’ve got the money, sometimes it’s best to just buy the fake LED candles — especially if there is going to be a lot of alcohol involved.
If you’re more into minimalist chic, a few pumpkins, candles and these DIY’s are great. This eerie living room decoration uses just plain white sheets, but it sets the mood in a simple way, plus it saves the upholstery from any phantom stains that dancing skeletons may leave behind. If you have a little more money to play with, these floating ghost heads are equally chic and minimalist but definitely leave an impression. A less expensive installation is one made of these awesome Harry Potter-inspired floating “candles” made from cardboard and LED lights.
These glowing eyes are just cardboard cut-outs from paper towel or toilet paper rolls and glow sticks! Bloody handprints can be made either from fake blood placed on windows, or you can create removable prints with Elmer’s glue. Create a spiderweb for your wall with yarn. These cute but creepy mice silhouettes are great for staircases. Lastly, this bat lantern is literally just bat cut-outs placed on top of a big white paper lantern.
You don’t have to break the bank to get into the spooky spirit of Halloween!
Step Two: Music and Dance Floor
Dance parties are all about the music. Luckily, the music is one of the cheapest things involved in planning a dance party. In fact, Wear Your Voice has you covered with a killer Halloween mix that will keep bodies moving with Halloween-themed tunes from Rihanna, Siouxsie, Jay-Z and many more. Use the 30-song mix or go for the full-length megamix clocking in at over 100 songs, depending on the length of your party. If those options don’t float your boat, there are other playlists available on Spotify and Pandora.
Now that you have the music taken care of, it’s time to think about the dance floor. You’ll want to move furniture out of the center of the space and against the wall, and consider moving expensive electronics as well, depending on how many people you are expecting and if there are rowdier guests.
Step Three: Snacks
It’s Halloween, so obviously a bucket of candy is a must. However, if you are going to keep bodies moving and give folks a buffer in their tummies from potential alcohol consumption, you should offer more than just sweets. Leave the bourgeois treats for proper cocktail and dinner parties. Tonight is all about indulging your inner child!
Dead man’s fingers are little more than a PB&J rollup, but they are creepy and provide a burst of protein and carbohydrates to keep folks dancing throughout the night. Plus, Halloween is all about letting your inner kid have fun. What says “inner kid” more than this?
Deviled egg “eyeballs” are always fun. With your usual deviled egg ingredients, you just add a sliced olive, a caper and maybe a bit of sriracha (instead of the suggested red food coloring) in order to make the eyes bloodshot and add delicious, garlicky heat.
Caramel apple bites: For a sweet treat that is easier to eat than caramel apples, make caramel apple bites! Slice the green apples, dip them in caramel and then dip them in chopped almonds or peanuts. Insert a toothpick into the the slices for easy eating.
Mummy dogs are a festive version of “pigs in a blanket” and totally adorable. Cut your favorite type of hotdog or veggie dog in half and wrap in thinly sliced Crescent dough, baking the mummies as directed on the crescent dough package. If you want, you can even wrap a piece of cheese around the dog before wrapping in the dough. Little dots of ketchup or mustard are used for the eyes.
Spiderweb dip is just a delicious seven-layer bean dip with a sour cream spiderweb on top. Super easy, super delicious, and always gone by the end of the party.
Step Four: Drinks
If you are trying to plan this party inexpensively, bring-your-own-beer is the way to go. BYOB has saved many wallets and allows those in attendance to set the pace for themselves.
As host or hostess, that means that you provide snacks, mixers and some non-alcoholic options. I like to keep a cooler full of water bottles by the door, so that if anyone is driving and realizes they have had a little more than they should have, they can pause, drink a bottle of water and assess whether they can drive or whether they should call a ride.
Typical mixers are things like Sprite, Coke, ginger ale, soda water, tonic and juices like cranberry and pineapple, as well as sour mix. It’s not your responsibility to take on all of that if you do not want to. Choose a couple of those things and inform guests that you will be providing them — and that if they wish to have any other mixers, they should bring them.
I usually buy a couple of 12-packs of the cheapest drinkable beer and offer that to guests who may not have understood it was BYOB. If you do choose to provide drinks other than beer, there are some great Halloween cocktails that you can make ahead and serve in pitchers or other creative vessels.
Jello shots: Halloween and Independence Day are pretty much the only appropriate times to serve Jell-O shots, so live it up. You can even toss some gummi worms in there for added Halloween-y effect.
Bloody mary: Complicated to make from scratch and a bit expensive, but a classic choice and thematically perfect. It’s a great option that veers away from all of the super sweet cocktails, but definitely a sipper and doesn’t scream “dance party.”
Caramel apple punch: If you feel like skipping the apple bites and want to go right for the beverage, this will not let you down. It’s easy to drink and tasty. Beware! It may be a little too easy to drink.
Almond joy martini: For those of us who are too old to trick or treat but don’t have kids to steal candy from, this is a great one. Chocolate vodka, frangelico and coconut rum pack a super sweet punch, so drink by the glass (and not by the Solo cup).
Bloodsucker: Triple sec, vodka and pineapple juice get a pick-me-up with strawberry or raspberry puree drizzled to resemble blood.
Poison apple: Vanilla vodka, orange liqueur, apple schnapps and a top of champagne give this fiendishly fruity cocktail its too-easy-to-drink kick.
Parties are for everyone to enjoy, so don’t get too worked up if one or two things are not perfect. You are the only one who will notice, because everyone else will be having such a great time! Allow yourself to let go and enjoy your friends and dance.