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How to throw a Halloween party, without breaking the bank
Published 31 October 2014 by Hayley Cox
Halloween falls on a Friday this year; the perfect excuse for a party. Here’s how to throw one on a budget.
Halloween falls on a Friday this year, making it the perfect excuse to throw a spooky party. However, if being host is what’s got you really spooked, follow our tips for how to throw the perfect fright night bash – either for kids or adults – without breaking the bank or busting your budget.
Kids’ Halloween party
It’s easy to forget that back when you were little Halloween might have been a genuinely scary occasion. After all, who’s to say that there isn’t really a monster living under your bed and waiting for All Hallows’ Eve to come and get you?
If you have little ones of a nervous disposition, throwing a party could be the perfect way to distract them and make Halloween fun. It doesn’t have to cost the earth either, if you follow our top tips.
Have a costume competition
Ask your kids’ friends to all come in costume and you can then judge the best and hand out prizes. To make it extra competitive, ask them and their parents to make the costume rather than buying it – this has the added benefit of saving your guests money and letting them get creative. Plus, you won’t end up with five little witches who are all dressed identically that you have to keep an eye on.
It can be difficult to think of ways to keep a houseful of kids occupied, but being crafty tends to do it. Luckily, Halloween presents a whole heap of opportunities to make something spooky.
Collect some paper plates and string and get your guests to draw scary faces on the plates and wear them as a mask. You could give out a price for the most terrifying. You could also get them making spooky decorations for their own homes. Cardboard egg containers cut up into the individual cups and painted black can be transformed into spiders with the addition of some wobbly eyes and pipe cleaners for legs. Meanwhile, an empty and clean plastic milk carton with a scary face drawn on it can make for the perfect ghost lantern.
Trick or treat treasure hunt
Rather than going out and disturbing your neighbours, you could organise a trick or treat treasure hunt in your own home. Hide sweets around your house and garden, turn down the lights and get the children to hunt them out with torches. Don’t switch the lights off completely though – there’s bound to be an accident.
It wouldn’t be a party without some games, and Halloween is the perfect excuse for kids to get messy. Of course, the great tradition for this time of year is apple bobbing. Lay some plastic sheets on your floor and fill a washing up bowl or two with water, before placing some apples in. Remember, your guests are likely to have little mouths, so it’s probably best to go for one of the smaller brands of fruit.
Another messy game that kids will love is sweet bobbing. Take a couple of kitchen trays and scatter some sweets on them before covering these with flour. Challenge the guests to pick them up with their teeth. Again, it may be best to go for a larger sweet so there’s less risk of choking.
These activities along with the usual party games like musical statues (extra effective when the statues are dressed in scary costumes) should mean you have more than enough on the agenda to keep the kids happy until witching hour (or home time).
Adults’ Halloween party
Why should the kids have all the fun? Halloween is also the perfect opportunity for you to throw a party for your friends. And again, you don’t have to spend a fortune to impress.
If you’ve got a few stick-in-the-mud pals who you know can’t be coaxed into costume, you could still create a competitive vibe by asking them to bring their own carved pumpkin instead. There’s sure to be some particularly ornate creations among the more show-off members of your group, and you can use them to decorate your home for the party.
Make horror your soundtrack
Make a playlist of music from horror movies to create the right atmosphere and really creep your guests out. The theme from The Exorcist (Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield) is certain to spook people out. Alternatively, you could just put a horror movie on the TV and let the resulting carnage act as your soundtrack.
Punch drunk horror story
The easiest way to save money is to ask all your guests to bring their own drink and a dish of food, but if you want to get creative a punch bowl is the perfect way to do it. You can make both alcoholic* and non-alcoholic versions, and by using bright colours like blood-red or slime-green you can ensure your drinks fit in with the night’s theme. You could even add jelly worms in the bottom of the bowl to give drinkers an extra fright. Here’s a good alcohol-free recipe from the BBC.
Fun and games
Just because you’re grown up doesn’t mean you have to go without your own fun and games. A great game for adults is to hang items like fruit and chocolate on long strings from your ceiling and challenge your guests to eat what they can without using their hands. Sure to make for some embarrassing photo opportunities you can blackmail them with later!
As the party gets into full swing, turn the lights down and get guests to come and throw their best zombie-style dance moves. Hopefully the punch will loosen up people’s nerves, but the great thing about the undead is that they’re hardly known for their amazing dancing, so there’s no excuse for people not to join in.
*Please drink responsibly and for alcohol advice, visit Drink Aware.