Halloween is for tricks and treats... and partying! Whether you're throwing a party in lieu of trick-or-treating or as a pre or post event, Halloween revelry should be in everyone's plans. Ghosts and goblins of all ages are looking for some frightful fun and we have party ideas for kids, teens and parents alike.
10: Masquerade Ball
Another Halloween, another invitation to a costume party. Shake it up a little by throwing a masquerade ball -- it just sounds more fun, doesn't it? A masquerade event is, yes, technically a costume party, but can be even more festive and elegant.
First decide if your masquerade party will have a theme, and if it will be all ages. Then set the tone with your invitations -- let your guests know that costumes are encouraged, masks are a must. Who's the scariest of them all? The most mysterious? The most elegant? Include a costume contest as part of your party and have guests vote on the scariest, funniest, and best overall.
And what's a ball without music? Your playlist of Halloween-themed music can be as trendy and fun as "Thriller" or "Monster Mash" or pick of orchestral soundtracks for your ball, such as "Phantom of the Opera" or scary movie mixes.
9: Pumpkin Carving
Great jack-o-lanterns come from great pumpkins. To select the perfect pumpkin, pick a one with a sturdy stem. Strong stems mean healthy pumpkins. Or keep your costs down by asking guests to bring their own pumpkins -- you supply the paints and markers (for young kids) and carving tools (for the older kids and parents). Also consider having some stencils on hand for anyone who may need a little inspiration.
Have kids and parents vote for whose jack-o-lantern is the scariest, the funniest, the weirdest, or whatever categories you decide upon. And make cleanup easier by toasting some of those leftover pumpkin seeds (in a 350 degree oven until golden brown) for homemade snacks.
Once carved, a jack-o-lantern will only last about four or five days so be sure to host this party as close to Halloween as possible!
8: Dead Celebrities
Raise the dead on Halloween by inviting friends and family to come to dressed as their favorite celebrity -- favorite dead celebrity, that is.
Marilyn Monroe and Elvis are both popular dead celebs, but who wants a dozen Marilyns around the punch bowl? Maybe you, but wouldn't it be more fun to encourage your guests to think beyond those graves. Actors and actresses are popular, glam it up as a rock star or dip into a favorite author or historical figure.
Mummies and zombies are welcome, as long as they were once famous, of course.
7: Haunted House
Begin by setting the mood outside your abode. Plant a few gravestones in your yard for ambiance, and switch outdoor light bulbs with colored bulbs to create a glowing red or blue effect. Add to the dramatic effects by having guests enter through a side door or through the garage rather than the front door.
Some of the best haunted houses are confined to a few rooms or a basement -- decorate with skeletons, cobwebs, mirrors and fog. It's a quality, not quantity scare. Keep lighting dim (an eerie glow is creepier than pitch blackness). Play scary sounds or music in the background -- a well-placed scream can make the night.
Remember to keep in mind the ages of your partygoers when you design your haunted house. Go all out with gore and ghouls for teens and adults but keep things lighter for kids -- you're aiming for spooky, not nightmares.
6: Things That Go Bump in the Night
A CBS News poll revealed that 48 percent of Americans believe ghosts exist, and about 22 percent have seen a ghost in some form. Invite your ghoulfriends -- believers or not -- to a paranormal party and edge that percentage a little higher.
Set the mood with plenty of candles and decorate with gauzy, ethereal materials and fabrics. Hire a psychic medium, tarot-card reader or palm reader for your guests, and conduct a séance before the evening's over. Trying to stick to a budget? Break out the Ouija board and tarot cards yourselves.
5: Murder Mystery
To throw a truly killer party this Halloween, plan on doing it who-done-it murder mystery style. Crunched for time? Buy a boxed version of the game. Feeling creative? You and your family or friends can write your own story. Pick your setting: a library, a castle, a family reunion -- and assign each guest a character. Sleuthing ensues but mum's the word on the murderer -- even the murderer doesn't know who did it until the very end.
Hosting a party for kids? Change the murder mystery to a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt.
4: Villains and Heroes
Batman and the Joker. Harry Potter and Lucius Malfoy. The Powderpuff Girls and Mojo Jojo. Throwing a villains and heroes party is a fun way to add a theme to a generic costume party, and works for almost any age group. Invite your guests to come dressed as their alter-ego: a favorite villain or hero from the movies, TV or books (including comics).
Decorate in black and white, classic good and evil colors, and play games where heroes battle villains -- anything from a simple kids game of tag to a round of My Marvel Heroes Monopoly.
Extra points given for the perfect evil villain cackle.
3: Cult Movie Party
Some of the best cult movies are Halloween-themed. Ask your guests to come dressed as their favorite character from whatever movie you decide to screen during your party - "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," and "Friday the 13th" are classic choices. Or choose something a from the cult archives, such as "Plan 9 from Outer Space" or "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
Put together a playlist of party music from classic Halloween-y films; think songs like Ghostbusters (from "Ghostbusters"), Weird Science (from "Weird Science") and Time Warp (from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show") to get people in a frightfully festive mood before and after the flicks.
Invite your friends to come dressed as flesh-hungry zombies because this party is for cannibals only. Hosting a "canni-ball" is all about the food, and all the food is shaped like human body parts.
To set the food mood, buy a plastic skeleton and lay him out on a buffet table -- or parts of him, at least. Be creative with the menu. Brains can be made from molded mashed potatoes, intestines from linked sausages and eyeballs (peeled grapes) can be served by the bowlful. Don't forget gelatin mixes can be molded into pretty much any part you have in mind.
To drink? A bloody punch consisting of cranberry juice, soda and a little extra red food coloring.
Host a gothic ball this Halloween -- it might be gothic romance or gothic horror but either way it's dark-themed. Think blacks, reds and purples when decorating: candles, dried red roses, black lights and lush fabrics are good choices.
Encourage guests to be dark and beautiful, themselves. Blacks, greys and reds along with pale faces and dark undereye circles are de rigueur among the gothic crowd -- draw inspiration from the Addams family, Lily Munster, Dracula or characters from the "Twilight" book and movies.