How to Throw the Best Halloween Party This Year

You may have stopped going trick-or-treating when you started middle school, but in college, Halloween is exciting again! Sure, there are theme parties on campus every weekend of the year, but nothing beats an awesome Halloween party. If you're thinking about throwing a soirée of your own but aren't sure how to start planning, check out our helpful tips on how to throw the best Halloween party ever!  

Choose a specific theme

Get creative

Think about the kind of Halloween you and your roommates want to have. Do you want everyone to come dressed as a Disney character or a superhero? Would you prefer something traditionally scary, like having everyone in zombie or vampire costumes? Think about what kind of party you want it to be, and that will help you figure out your theme! If your friends are into more nontraditional Halloween costumes, suggest a theme that will let them show their creative sides. Throw a Lady Gaga-themed Monster Ball with everyone wearing their favorite Gaga outfit, or have everyone dress up as characters from a popular TV show or movie. You can still use Halloween decorations and music, but if everyone’s sticking to a common theme, the party will be more cohesive and way more fun!

Or go traditional

If you and your roommates just want to let your guests have total creative freedom, don't assign a costume-based theme—just pick decorations and music that set the mood and really make you excited to celebrate Halloween!

Use decorations to set the mood

No party is complete without decorations, so stock up on fun Halloween supplies.

Don’t forget the basics

Orange and black plates, cups, napkins, and cutlery are must-buys, as are some festive tablecloths and streamers.

Add a few extras

Party favors like eyeball erasers and tiny pumpkins make great table decorations. Spider web decorations and skeleton light strings (you can find these and similar pieces at most party supply stores) will take your party to a new level of fun.

It’s not Halloween without plenty of pumpkins

If you don’t know how to or don’t have the time to carve a pumpkin, use acrylic paints to make faces on a few pumpkins to set out around the house (you can buy pumpkins at most grocery stores in the fall).

Use some decorations outside, too

If you’re in a dorm or apartment, this can be a little tricky since you don’t want uninvited guests crashing your party, but even just a few cutout bats, spiders or tombstones will do the trick to get your guests in a party mood before they walk through the front door.

Go for classic activities with fun twists

Host a costume contest, but up the stakes

Have an incentive such as a gift card to your favorite local restaurant as prize—if there’s something to win, people will be more likely to go all out with their costumes. If a gift card seems excessive, a bag of candy will do the trick, too.

Bob for apples… or something else!

If bobbing for apples feels a bit stale, invent a new game, like eating gummy worms or gummy spiders (or any other Halloween candy) without your hands. It will be fun to watch and bring your party guests together.

Make up your own games

If you know your friends would be into a mummifying contest to see who can wrap each other with toilet paper first, go for it! The point of hosting a party is that it’s your own, so don’t be afraid to improvise and come up with your own activity ideas.

No party is complete without food

While you should definitely offer basics like soda and chips, put out some cute, Halloween-themed foods to add more fun to the party.

Choose classic Halloween cookies

We love sugar cookies with orange frosting and black sprinkles, but there are tons of other super easy options to choose from. The Pillsbury sugar cookies printed with ghosts and pumpkins are delicious, and all you have to do is slice and bake them. If you want to get more creative—think bat and cat cookies decorated with licorice and candy corn—Pillsbury has tons of recipes.

Or make your own Halloween cupcakes

Create your own Funfetti dough with Halloween sprinkles to bake festive cookies or cupcakes. Use candy pieces and sprinkles to decorate the cupcakes in Halloween style, like these adorable black cat cupcakes.

Go for tried-and-true Halloween foods like dirt pudding

You loved it when you were younger, and it still tastes just as good. Top chocolate pudding with crushed Oreos and gummy worms, and you’ll have an easy and delicious Halloween treat.

Take the pumpkin theme to a new level

You’re already using pumpkins as decorations, so why not serve pumpkin-themed foods, too? Pumpkin pie is always a safe bet, or be adventurous and use Dreyer’s/Edy’s Pumpkin Ice Cream (about $4 for a carton at most grocery stores) to make Halloween sundaes.

Don’t forget to set out some candy

Reese’s Pieces are a must since they’re Halloween colored, and gummies are festive, too. And, of course, you have to serve plenty of candy corn. Set out a few different options to keep everyone satisfied and add a variety of color to your table.

Don’t forget a killer playlist

If you’re going with a movie theme, you should definitely play a few memorable tracks from the soundtrack, but mix it up with Halloween songs, too. Halloween hits like “Monster Mash” and the Ghostbusters theme are musts, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. There are tons of ‘80s and ‘90s songs that can be interpreted as Halloween hits—the cheesier, the better. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • “She Blinded Me with Science” by Thomas Dolby. This song is great for an eerie party. Bonus points for the cheesy, faux spooky background noises.
  • “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. The only prescription for an awesome party is… more cowbell! But seriously, could anything be more fitting of a Halloween party than something with “reaper” in the title?
  • “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon. This song is about werewolves. Need we say more?
  • “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC. This classic track is perfect for a holiday that originated from discussion of souls and the afterlife. “Hell’s Bells” is a great choice, too.
  • “Disturbia” by Rihanna. This is a classic party track with just the right amount of eeriness for a Halloween party.
  • “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell. This song has a spooky vibe you can still dance to.
  • “Secret” by The Pierces. Whether or not you watch Pretty Little Liars, this song will send chills down your spine.
  • “This Is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Even without a theme party, this song is a must (for obvious reasons).
  • “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. No Halloween party would be complete without this ‘80s hit. What’s even better than just playing the track? Learn the dance with your friends before the party and impress your guests with your awesome moves.

There you have it, collegiettes—now start planning your own Halloween parties! What are your Halloween plans?

Meghan is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill studying classics and English. She has interned at Girls' Life and Parenting magazines and was a Collegiate Correspondent with USA TODAY in Spring 2012. Meghan loves all things entertainment related and plans to move to New York and work for a national magazine after graduating in May 2013.

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