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Tips for Planning a Family-Friendly Halloween Party

Treating You to a Few Tricks
It’s time for the annual Halloween bash and your family is ghosting. The tone of the night needs to be fun and not too frightening; you don’t want to scare the boo out of your little guests. So how do you pull off a party where adults and children are all entertained? Never fear—Shindigz is here! Keep these tips handy and just remember to keep calm and scare on!

Ghost Standees

Choose a date, time and place
Don’t feel obligated to host on Halloween weekend if that doesn’t work best for your family; you have the whole month of October to celebrate. Pick a time after dinner to make things easier; finger foods are more fun anyway. And the place? Guests don’t have to haunt your house! Host in the back yard or garage if it’s warm where you live. Consider the possibility of a larger venue, too, like a country club, neighborhood clubhouse or park facility.

Make a ghost list
Halloween is a great time to celebrate with old friends and make new ones. Ask your kids whom they’d like to invite; consider classmates, neighbors and teammates. Invite their parents, too, as well as your co-workers, family and friends. Who knows? They may even ask you to ghost again next year!

Pick a theme
It’s important to keep in mind children aren’t crazy about the scary side of Halloween, so avoid blood, zombies, reapers, etc. Here are some theme ideas:

  • Creepy Funhouse – Go light on the creepy, and heavy on the funhouse. The whole family will enjoy playing carnival games amid funhouse-style décor.
  • Dying to Party – This theme consists of mildly frightening ghosts, pumpkins and bats. Use the standees for family photo ops.
  • Spooktacular – Make eating and drinking more the focus of this party. The little pumpkins can enjoy personalized chocolate treats and the adults can sip bubbling beverages.
Creepy Fun House
Dying to Party

Not into themes? No worries! Make colors your theme:

  • Orange, white and purple
  • Red, black and white
  • Black and orange
  • Purple and neon green
Halloween Decor

Determine a budget
We know this one can be tricky. Here are some suggestions:

  • Think of items that are functional and can be used as party favors, such as themed plastic drinking cups.
  • Purchase reusable decorations, such as artificial pumpkins rather than live ones, or fabric tablecloths that can be washed.
  • Fill extra space with affordable balloons, poly vinyl and gossamer.
  • Buy in bulk. A lot of candy, tableware and favors can be purchased in kits or sets.
  • Send your invites over email/social media, or print simple invitations on your computer.
  • Say yes if guests ask if they can bring a side!

Number one rule with your budget? Stick to it!

Send invitations
This should be done a month before the party. Go electronic or make traditional paper invites, but whatever you do, make them boo-tiful! This is your opportunity to get everyone excited for a terrorific time! We make it simple with a vast array of pre-made, themed invitations; just fill in the name, date and time, and you’re all set! It’s also a good idea to include an RSVP date so you can plan ahead.

Gather helpers
You’ll go batty if you try to plan a spooktacular party on your own. Get other parents together to help, or make it a family affair! Each person can help with set-up or prepare a dish to share. Is there a craft queen in the crowd? Have her prepare a little something for the kiddos to do. This will alleviate so much stress!

Decide tableware
A busy family like yours will need quick clean-up. We recommend using disposable paper cups, napkins, and plates, as well as plastic eating utensils. A tablecloth can make the adult tables more festive. For kiddos, though, we recommend disposable plastic table covers. If you’re serving adult beverages, you can liven up the grown-up table with Halloween goblets.

Halloween Table

Plan décor
This one depends on your theme and budget, but we’re here to offer affordable suggestions. You can keep it simple, or go all out. And never underestimate the traditional decorations like balloons, hanging decorations, lanterns, garlands and streamers. Consider which of these spaces you’d like to spruce up:

  • Outside/yard
  • Front porch
  • Front door
    • Suggestions
      • Door banner – Let the ghouls know to enter at their own risk.
      • Doorway spider – This makes a nice transition from outside and sets the stage for fright night.
      • Color spotlight – Create just the right ambience with multiple color options.
  • Inside entryway
    • Suggestions
      • Pumpkin standee – Use this cutout to get everyone excited about pumpkin carving.
      • Shaking ghost – This guy emits ghostly sounds without being too scary.
      • Happy Halloween standee – A simple way to say hello on this hallowed night.
      • Cauldron candy bowl – Start the night with a few sweet treats!
        Cauldron Candy Bowl
      • Balloons – These are an affordable way to add the classic orange and black color scheme.
  • Dinner table
    • Suggestions
      • Stacked skulls – Add height with these skulls for a slightly spooky centerpiece.
      • Owl vase - Set the mood by candlelight.
      • Pumpkins on pedestals – These jack-o-lanterns are fun and bold in white, black and red.
  • Bathroom (Yes, we’re dead serious.)
    • Suggestions
      • Black light – Your guests will get their glow on in this room; the kids will especially love it!
      • Long-stemmed pumpkin – Pick up one of these at the local patch and add a spare toilet paper roll to the stem.
      • Flaming torch – This can provide additional light when placed on the counter by the sink.
  • Walls
    • Suggestions
      • Halloween backdrop – This scene-setter easily applies to walls to transform your space quickly.
      • Ghost garland – Drape over a fireplace mantel or shelf, or place at the top of walls as a border around the room.
      • Haunted mansion standee – This 9-ft. standee is easily assembled and pops against any wall.
  • Ceiling

Schedule activities
You can never have too many activities planned, especially with so many families. We’ve carved out some ideas for you.

  • For kids:
    • Pumpkin toss – Score points by tossing ping-pong balls through this cardboard mural.
      Halloween Bag Toss
    • Piñata – Let the kiddos take a broomstick handle to this witch piñata for some candy and prizes!
    • Plink disk drop game – A great game for a creepy carnival theme.
  • For adults:
    • Cornhole – Customize a set in orange, white and gray.
    • Cards – These magical cards are great for adults to use for any card game.
    • Costume contest – This is a classic; don’t forget to give the winner a trophy!
  • For families to do together:
    • Pumpkin carving – This has all the tools you need, including stencils for a professional look!
    • Frisbee – Add a fun twist to this game by playing at night with this glow-in-the-dark saucer.
    • Sweeping pumpkins relay – Have a blast trying to sweep a pumpkin down the driveway and back in teams.

Plan a flow
The schedule for your monster mash will depend on time of day as well as the number and ages of the partygoers. The key is to be flexible. Here is a suggested timetable:

  • First 15 minutes: Guests arrive. Make sure you greet everyone and introduce your ghosts to one another. It is probably a good idea to have name tags. As people arrive, have them join in a round of "Find Someone Who…" Bingo as an icebreaker. Parents and older children can help little ones. Here’s an example board. Just scramble these squares to make additional cards. Give the winner a personalized candy bar.
Halloween Bingo Game

Make a menu
Pinterest is great, but if there’s no time to stir the cauldron, no one has to know your treats are store-bought! Have other parents help bring snacks, too, or buy all orange and black items. Here are some staples to consider purchasing:

  • Personalized candy bars
  • Cake
  • Cupcakes
  • Healthy snacks like apple slices, celery sticks or pretzels
  • Drinks like green, red or orange punches
  • Adult beverages
Halloween Table

Here are some easy ways to dress up food and drinks:

Halloween Food

Ok, so maybe you really want to bake like Betty. Then work some magic in the kitchen! Here are some wicked good ideas for you:

  • Food
    • For kids:
      • Create hot dog mummies from hot dogs wrapped with thinly-sliced crescent roll dough. Bake, then add eyes with either ketchup or mustard.
      • Make white chocolate boo-nana pops. Cut bananas in half, add a popsicle stick to each, dip in white chocolate, add chocolate chip eyes and freeze.
      • Use a black permanent marker to draw pumpkin faces on mandarin oranges. Make sure the green stem is face-up.
    • For grown-ups:
      • Create scary teeth from red apple slices (lips), peanut butter (gums) and mini marshmallows (teeth).
      • Make witch broom snacks out of pretzel sticks and string cheese.
      • Create witch hat cupcakes with icing, a thin mint cookie and chocolate kisses.
  • Drinks
    • For kids:
      • Mix milk, yogurt and bananas for ghostly white shakes.
      • Make green potion using green punch, pineapple juice and ginger ale.
      • Serve up Jack O’ Lantern floats made with orange soda and vanilla ice cream.
    • For grown-ups:
      • Make spiked pumpkin pie punch with cream soda, whipped vodka and pumpkin ice cream.
      • Serve bloody marys, of course!
      • Mix sugar, cinnamon, apple cider and champagne for apple cider mimosas.
Halloween Table

Choose favors
When yours ghosts are leaving, it’s important to say fang you for coming. A great way to do this is to offer them a party favor. Here are some common choices:

Want to give away more than one goody? Add the treats to a customizable Halloween favor box.

Shop for supplies, food and drinks
The shopping process doesn’t have to be painful. Here are some tips:

  • Make a list. You may even keep this list on your phone so you have it everywhere you go and you won’t lose it.
  • Shop online so you don’t have to drag the kids around town. Check out, where you can buy almost everything in one place.
  • Pick up your groceries during off-peak hours to save time and avoid the crowds.

Set up activities and decorate
Don’t get spooked! Here are some tricks:

  • Draw a rough map or write a checklist for each area you’d like to decorate or set up an activity. The sooner you put this together, the easier it will be the day-of.
  • Gather your friends and family to help get everything done. Delegate a station or area to each person.
  • Begin the decorating process the night before your shindig. Leave sticky notes around the house or in the serving bowls so you and your crew know what goes where once it’s party time.
Halloween Decor

Prepare food and drinks
We recommend doing as much food prep the few days before the party as possible. For the fresh items, make sure you leave plenty of time for set-up.


This is the part where you can have fun with friends and family. Relax--the party will go off without a witch!

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