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If you've stumbled upon this post, chances are you're in the throws of planning your vert own Halloween party. Well you've come to the right place–we're going to be giving you all the tools to put on the Halloween party of the decade. Unsure of how to put together a cohesive timeline ensuring your party runs smoothly (and allowing you to enjoy it!)? We've got over a decade of event planning experience that we're more than happy to pass along to our amazing readers. Trying to decide on a theme? Keep reading.
If you’re married or have roommates, it’s important to sit down together and decide what type of party you want to host. If you’re hosting an all-ages or family-based party, how are you going to keep the Little Monsters entertained and the underage Lost Boys (and girls) out of your booze? If your parties tend to get a bit rambunctious, are your neighbors going to be invited and are they okay with stray cars parked on your block overnight? Are you going to have a cab company or Über driver on standby for your guests? Is your party a theme party where costumes are required (or specific themes of costume are requested, such as “Star Wars’ or “people from history”), or are your ghouls able to come as they are?
Now that you’ve got those questions answered, it’s time to formulate your guest list. We like to write down everyone who pops into our minds, and then we cut the list by asking ourselves a few questions: have we seen this person in the last year? If not, have we spoken to this person in the past year? Conversation via social media doesn’t count. If there are two people on the list who do not get along, we cut both of them. Does someone have a history of starting arguments or fist fights? Take them off the list unless you’re hosting a Fight Club-themed party. Generally, 10 percent of your guests will decline, so if you’re only looking to host 20 people, it’s probably best not to invite more than 24 souls.
Planning a menu for a wine tasting party is not as difficult as one would think. You can approach this two ways: pick your wines first or pick your dishes first and go looking for the right wines. For all of our parties, we order our wine from wine.com. Decide if you are going to have a sit-down meal or serve buffet-style. Are you going to serve appetizers only or will you serve a meal?
Halloween Party Themes
Having a theme will give you direction when it comes to decor and will also help your guests choose a costume. On the other hand, don't pick anything too tricky as some costume shops may not have any costume's to fit the theme.
Choosing Invitations That Stand Out
As an event coordinator, the most exciting element to planning an event was getting to choose the stationary! Nowadays, everyone seems to be going the e-vite route (which is perfectly fine), but we're still fans of sending invitations out in the mail because lets be honest, in a stack of bills and advertisements, invitations always stand out and are usually the first thing we open up. (Sorry, AMEX!)
The last year and a half, Minted has become our go-to for cards and invitations. They make the process very simple and easy; you can change the words as you see fit and most come in different color options.
Building A Co-Hesive Timeline For Your Party
If you've ever planned an elaborate birthday party or wedding then you know time is always against you when it comes to throwing a party. There's little point in having a party if you're not going to be able to enjoy it and if you're too busy micro managing everything or finishing things, you're going to miss the party.
6-8 Weeks Before Party:
We recommend notifying your guests at least six weeks before the event–since Halloween only happens one night, it’s best to error a little on the early side to get a jump on your competition. After selecting the perfect date for your party, sit down and put together your guest list. Even if you plan on hosting everyone outside, mother nature has a way of reminding us who is really in control–do you have enough space inside for everyone? If you’re hosting a theme party, be sure and include it on your invitation, which you can send by e-mail or snail mail: BE SURE TO INCLUDE AN RSVP DEADLINE!
5 Weeks Before Party:
Decide on your menu, order any wine or alcohol you plan to serve and purchase any decor you don't already have. If you're having a theme party, check with local party rental stores to see if they have anything that fits your theme.
4 Weeks Before Party:
Select your playlist. If making your own playlist, make sure you don’t have any “dead spots” throughout the evening, so make your playlist longer than you anticipate your party lasting. If you’re having kids over, select a movie or two to watch in a quieter part of the house or yard. If you’re renting tables, chairs, tents, or utensils, make your reservations this week. If watching a movie, rent a projector and screen for an out door viewing. Hire any support staff you might need: servers, bartenders, and even parking attendants.
3 Weeks Before Party:
Prepare any foods that can be frozen. If anyone offered to bring a dish, call and confirm that they’re still bringing the dish.
1 Week Before Party:
Call anyone who hasn't RSVP’d. Purchase all your non-perishable items such as candy, crackers chips, and beverages along with dry ingredients for recipes you plan to make the day before (or day of). Wash all of your utensils, platters, and wine glasses. IF YOU DIDN’T INVITE YOUR NEIGHBORS, BE SURE TO TELL THEM YOU’RE HAVING A PARTY AND TO EXPECT LOUD NOISES AND A HIGHER VOLUME OF TRAFFIC. Designate a co-host–if you get stuck in conversation or the cops show up, having a designated co-host can keep the party flowing smoothly without you.
Day Before Party:
Carve your pumpkins and buy all your perishable items. Bake your desserts, chop your vegetables for any platters and make anything that doesn’t have to be served hot. Decorate your space if you haven't already started! If using flowers as decor, buy them the day before so they remain fresh for your party.
Day of Party:
Finish preparing food and decorating your home or rental space. Set up your bar or beverage station–chill your wine, beer, soda and water bottles. Just prior to guests arrival, light your candles, turn on any lights or LED candles, turn on music and enjoy your evening!
Creating A Festive Halloween Spread
Correctly putting together a cheese and wine spread can make all the difference in how a wine is received. You can put our your most expensive bottle of wine out on the table, but if you’re pairing it with the wrong cheese you might as well have simply gone to the store and purchased boxed wine.
There are a couple of different ways you can go about putting together your cheese and wine display. If you’re a household of cheese, you might already have an array of cheeses in your refrigerator and want to use those (most likely you’ll be finding cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, gouda, harveti). Or, if you’re the type of host who likes to really challenge your guests you can purchase a collection of wine with several different varieties and give your guests a flavor palate that they’ve never experienced before.
We're rebels, so we're all about pushing boundaries and comfort zones.
Tip: along with your cheeses, put out assorted nuts and fruits. If you’re serving a bottle of wine that is full of cherry aromas, try putting out a bowl of dried cherries. Fresh pepper is a great to tie your cheese and red wines together; skip the bread and put out artisanal crackers. If you happen to stumble across a sweet sparkling red wine, here’s a great dish to put out on the table.
Are you having a Halloween party? Are there any elements of event planning that overwhelm you that you'd like help with? Have a particular dish in mind and don't know what to pair it with? Let us know!
updated October 2016