What should we do at my Halloween party?

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The favors.I’d like to ask Offbeat Homies how they party at Halloween. I’m hosting the party for my group this year, and … what do people DO at Halloween parties?

I’ve got the playlist down, I’ve got fun food ideas, but what can we do besides stare at each other’s costumes? -Chris

Ok, you mean other than just get kind of wasted and talk? Sure, we know about the usuals here: apple bobbing, costume contests, maybe squash bowling? But we’re betting Homies have some AMAZING Halloween party activities.

Zombie races? Jack o’ lantern puke-fests? SPILL THE IDEAS, HOMIES!

Comments on What should we do at my Halloween party?

  1. First of all, you’re in luck that this is a Halloween party. It’s my experience that people are totally game for pretty much whatever at Halloween parties.
    If your guests tend to NEED an activity (some parties just happen, some parties need structure,) how about arts and crafts time? Decorate masks, carve and decorate pumpkins, mix your own cocktails or drinks.
    A tarot card reader, seance, ghost hunt or other paranormal-spooky activity would be fun if there are no religious/spiritual objections. If you don’t know how to read tarot cards, make your own “fortune” cards that are more understandable. Maybe get a guide online for palm reading. It’s obviously best to have someone who’s an actual practitioner do this, but now would be a great time to learn about these traditions! Maybe some other OBE readers who are more familiar with this can fill you in on what equipment you need to get started and how to do it right.

    • Not to disagree with the Oz-like Dootsie, but I feel like this is a totally “I’ve seen this (scary) movie – I know how it ends!” moment. I know you said “if there are no religious-spiritual objections” and that’s a good caveat, but doods. Do not eff with the supernatural for fun… unless you want to be the found footage movie next year!

      Then again, maybe you should totally do that.

      I vote instead for making your own “found footage” movie – grab a flip camera or someone’s nicer-than-mine phone recording device doohickey and one of those “murder mystery” whodunnit dinner party kits. Creepify it up (make the butler the zombie family a la Cabin in the Woods, for example) and go nuts.

      Hmm… I really want to do that now. I wonder if I can get people together for that party…

      • I keep editing my post and ran out of time, but pretty much, I want to say… be respectful, be mindful, know what you’re doing.
        FOR ME these things go hand-in-hand with Halloween, so I can’t imagine a party not including it. But if it’s not you, if it’s not your guests, if it’s not your beliefs, obviously don’t. Different people have different feelings about what’s appropriate when exploring the supernatural or alternate spiritual practices.

        PS LOVE the found footage idea. Sounds uhmayzing.

        • Dootsie, Tarot Readings are a great idea! I’ve been reading Tarot for over 10 years (and a practicing Wiccan and licensed minister for about as long). I think you’re right when you said it is all about comfort level. However, I do not believe that reading Tarot makes you fodder for next year’s slasher flick, even if you aren’t Pagan/Wiccan/whatever. That’s how I started getting into Tarot. Although I can’t speak for all Tarot readers everywhere, I just wanted to say that I didn’t find anything offensive or disrespectful about what you suggested. The “power” or “magic” doesn’t come from the cards, but from the reader.

      • I’ll let someone else speak to the rest, however, divination is not messing with the supernatural. Tarot reading is something that many folks practice privately or professionally, and many more folks dabble in. It’s not a dangerous activity and is totally appropriate for anyone who wants to learn to read to practice with. (Uh, you know, unless you’re asking questions you don’t want to know potential answers to? Still, that’s not the kind of danger you seem to be hinting at here.)

        Making a “found footage” movie is another great idea though!

      • Totally agree about divination. I’m just mentally going over a list of SOMANYMOVIES that start with a seance at a halloween shindig and end with… ending. everyone.

        The part of me that gets super spooked (and generally enjoys those movies, honestly) also goes all “aw heeeeelllllllllllll no” to a seance at a real-life event, complete with “I seen this movie!” and Liz-shaped Kool-aid man style hole out the wall.


        • I just realized that at no point did I say “contact with spirits: leave it to the pros.” But yes. LEAVE IT TO THE PROS. And if anything spooks you out, leave that to the pros, too. And again, don’t do it if it feels wrongwrongwrong, for you or your guests!

        • As was said above, tarot cards and palm reading aren’t going to invoke any angry spirits, so you should be totally fine with stuff like that. Personally, I’d avoid doing a seance at a party… they make me nervous. But divination isn’t going to hurt anybody and can be a lot of fun!

          • As a firm atheist who loves to suspend her disbelief for horror movies, and also someone who took college theater classes on how 19th century seances worked (spoiler: it’s a scam!), I would LOVE if someone invited me to a scary party with a seance. Obviously, this would turn off a lot of people who believe in spirits, or are easily scared, and you need to be mindful of whether it’s right for your guests or if you’d be excluding anybody. …But maybe we not easily scared non-spiritual types should be able to get together ad have our own crazy fun parties sometimes, too?

      • “Do not eff with the supernatural for fun… unless you want to be the found footage movie next year!”

        More importantly, if you’re going to eff with the supernatural for fun (which I, as a hearty skeptic, fully support) definitely make sure you have a video camera. Otherwise, how are we going to make Paranormal Activity 5?

        (Plus you’ll have photo evidence of your friends getting all freaked out which’ll be great fun/blackmail later.)

        • I’m in the skeptic camp (even though Paranormal Activity did scare the pooh out of me!). So if your friends are more skeptic style, it could be fun! I remember having quite a few Ouija board sleepovers when I was young. Of course, you know your guests better then we do.

          Costume contests are always awesome, but make it even better with a costume fashion show complete with a creepy catwalk. Or there is that game where the players are blindfolded and have to reach into a bunch of bowls of gross textures (peeled grapes, spaghetti noodles, gummy worms). A murder mystery game could be fun too. With the right lighting and props for everyone, it could definitely be Halloween-tastic! Maybe a clue themed Halloween party. Perhaps even with a photo booth set up so you look like you are on one of the cards (or photoshop could work too). I ‘m now planning a whole clue Halloween party in my head…

  2. About 20-ish years ago, a friend and I hosted a Come As Your Favorite Deity party (we were a group of Classics and Anthropology graduates!). We ended up playing this fiendishly difficult geography-related trivia board game called The World According to UBI, divided into two teams: deities who accepted human sacrifice vs. those who didn’t.

    (Those who didn’t won the day!)

    • (Tried to edit, but apparently I missed the edit window on this!)

      I should add that we spontaneously came up with two activities not related to typical party activities. The first was to explain to each other who we were portraying, in first person, which we liked being aforementioned history/culture nerds.

      The second was to come up with terrible pick-up lines for a very drunk Thor to use on Nike, the Goddess of Victory. (I remember “Hi. Wanna touch my hammer?” and “Hi! Wanna pet my goats?”)

      The lines didn’t have an immediate effect, but eventually worked as Thor and Nike met in different circumstances a couple of years later. She remembered him from the party, they started dating, and eventually married.

      So I recommend coming up with terrible themed pick-up lines as an activity!

      • I love that you have a story you can tell about Thor meeting Nike years after a drunken party and eventually marrying her. I mean, did you read what you just wrote? Remove the Halloween party context and that’s just hilarious. It’s a fanfic (do gods get fanfic?) waiting to happen.

        • I only realized she was Nike recently! She was a friend of my co-host, and Thor was a friend of mine, and although we haven’t had direct contact in years, another mutual friend told me recently that she (Nike) credits my co-host and I for them getting together at that party, and I realized who she was. So you could say that Dionysus and Chang-e colluded as matchmakers.

          And re: fanfic, oh yes! If you search the Archive of Our Own fandom tags for “mythology” you can find a bunch.

      • We threatened to throw a Come As Your Student ID party, which would have required us to all have bad hair and weird expressions.

        Other themed parties I attended were:

        1) a celebration of the final episode Wesley Crusher was on on Star Trek TNG, in which we all wore horrible sweaters and did our hair in the Wesley Wave.

        2) a Blackadder-themed party, where we came as characters from Blackadder. (I note that most of us were LARPers, Society for Creative Anachronism people, or both, so we had a stock of medievalesque and Renaissance clothing on hand.)

        3) with a different group, the wider SCA group for the area, a Addams Family Reunion party in which I was voted the scariest person there, as I and a friend’s husband came as the white sheep of the Addams Family. I had a career! I sold Avon! I brought Jello! We brought flowers with a tag that read “Have a safe and happy Halloween!” And the reason that my friend’s husband and I portrayed a married couple was so that my friend could seduce him away from me over the course of the evening.

        4) This party was thrown by the wider SCA group before my time, but it sounded awesome: a Come As Your Favorite Drink party. I was told that two people made centurion armor out of Coke boxes (Roman Cokes), someone found a hideous tie and wandered around saying “Do you like my tie? (mai tie),” and his wife wore the most garish clothing she could find, and every time someone asked her what she was, she faked an extremely loud orgams (Screaming Orgasm). I always wanted to throw a party with that theme so I could dress like a saloon girl or some such and affect an outrageous Southern accent and come as Southern Comfort.

    • Love this idea so much.
      I’ve been thinking about this, trying to come up with trick or treat shots that would be identical, but different-tasting. (And I’m assuming alcoholic here.)
      Maybe you could do one bottle of vodka and one bottle of salt water. I’d recommend letting people spit that in a bucket.
      I’m not sure if Pedialyte is still as awful-tasting as I remember it, but that would be a good option, too. There is a clear kind that’s “unflavored”. This is totally safe to drink and actually good for your guests… but not tasty! 😛
      For a brown drink, maybe rum+coke versus soy sauce+soda water or beef broth. Eew.

      Maybe make it a group game. Like everyone gets two shots in front of them, everyone chooses one and drinks. Everyone who picked the TREAT gets to move on to the next round. Whoever’s last standing gets a prize.


  3. Hmm, you could try some games. There are a lot of zombie themed games out there, like Zombie Dice(personal fave), and Zombies!. You could do halloween themed pictionary, watch some old monster movies, play the game where you go around a circle and everyone adds to a scary story one sentence at a time. I’m not great at party ideas. Mine usually are like this: 1. People come over 2. We catch up on life stuff 3. We start drinking 4. We play obscene pictionary-telephone games 5. Fall asleep totally wasted 6. NO REGRETS

  4. French kissing contest: with a pumkin. The best kiss wins!

    Bloody buffet: Have a potluck but give all the meals a little dark twist. We had barcecue babies (whole chicken with doll heads,) bad fortune cookies (change the messages of fortune cookies like: Your cat is going to die. You are alone. Etc.)Have a contest of the best/scariest meal!

  5. Last year, we had a Haunted Housewarming with about 40 people. We wanted everyone to mix and mingle and not stand around and talk only to the people they knew.
    So I came up with a BINGO/scavenger hunt game. I made a bingo card, but instead of numbers on it, I plugged in activities like ‘take a photo with someone you don’t know and post it on facebook’ or ‘do bloody Mary in the bathroom mirror’ or ‘teach someone the Time Warp’. Once people completed the task, they marked it off on their card until they got Bingo. I had a trick or treat bin with some inexpensive prizes, like $5 horror movie DVDs from KMart and fun Halloween socks. I was a little worried people wouldn’t be into it, or think it was corny, but everyone LOVED it. People got really competitive and we had a bigger prize for the first person to complete the entire board.
    It was a hit and we will definitely be doing this game again this year.

  6. Ghost stories with effects! This is one of my favorites. Work with a partner. Think Rocky Horror! One of you tells the story, one of you makes the spookitude happen. Choose a somewhat long story, and start slow. Start off with soft sound effects or flip on a ceiling fan set to low when there’s a breeze. Squirt guns in the rain. Amp it up as the story moves along. Culminate with a room blackout or all the lights flipping on.

  7. I am not at all a Halloween party person, BUT I just want to throw out there that the most fun my friends and I had at a not-too-much drinking party was to play Scattergories. With 13 people. One person was a judge. A judge who allowed the answer to “Tool” to be a person’s name.
    So I would vote for board games. You could play Life backwards. Make up Halloween theme categories for Scattergories. And Twister. Twister in costume! And share pictures…

  8. we write a game every year for our big haunted bash.

    one year, we did a murder mystery. other years we had themed scavenger hunts. we also do a themed trivia contest with varying degrees of difficulty built into the questions. there are decent prizes for both the game and the trivia (usually movie tickets, DVDs, things like that).

  9. Pumpkin carving contests are always fun. Also trying to learn the Thriller dance as a group. Or what about organizing a Zombie Walk?

    I’ve done scavenger hunts before, but on Halloween/Mischief night, you run the risk of interfering with the kids trying to trick or treat, or overprotective homeowners being like GET OFF MY LAWN!!! I do love scavenger hunts though!

    • a zombie walk sounds AHHHHHMAZING. i can just see it now….my friends and i all dressed up like zombies…walking down the street in a pack, terrifying the trick-or-treaters…..now THAT sounds like an awesome group activity.

  10. There are several tactics. Many people have covered the ‘all together items’. Most I go to have it broken by room. Turning the basement into a rave/dance area. The living room into halloween/scary movie central, the game room into a rock band (or other) area, the den into a mini haunted house prop place, and the attic into a story telling place. In warmer outdoor places, I’ve seen the backyard used for typical games, pumpkin smashing (good messy fun), and camp fire spaces with all smores trimmings.

    The idea is to have reasons to explore other spaces, talk to other people, do what you like, and have a blast!

    • this is what my friend who throws an amazing halloween party every yearsdoes. Apple bobbing in the kitchen or outside, scary movies in the living room, music in the basement, drinks and food everywhere. He decorates like crazy and towards the middle of the evening does a costume contest which (since he’s been throwing it for about 10 years) is now judged by previous winners

  11. So I didn’t read through all the comments so if someone has already said this then I apologize.
    Powdered doughnuts on a string. You hang the doughnuts from the ceiling at just above mouth height and two people race to either eat the doughnut or just get it to come off the string. No hands allowed. You get powdered sugar all over your face and its hilarious to watch.

  12. Oh man, if you guys have not played “Betrayal at House on the Hill,” you need to try it! You can buy it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Betrayal-At-House-The-Hill/dp/B003HC9734 It’s a board game where you draw different cards to determine the layout of your haunted house, and then the ‘haunt’ begins (there are like 50 different scenarios). It’s designed for up to six people, but we had twelve people over so we played in teams of two.

    Last year I made a ton of food on Halloween. I was thinking about how people use cold spaghetti as brains in that blind-folded touching game, so it seemed appropriate to make an enormous pot of regular spaghetti for us to eat. We made Harry Potter butterbeer from an online recipe. We also had pumpkin bread and apple slices with pumpkin dip. One of my roommates said, “I’ve never celebrated Halloween like it was Thanksgiving before!” XD

    We also made a ton of paper bats and taped them up everywhere: outside, in doorways, hanging from the ceiling fan, etc. I saved them so I can put them up again this year. 🙂

  13. This “make it yourself chicken wire ghost” is my fave thing this year. I wish i had a lawn to put it on. http://www.bedifferentactnormal.com/2011/10/chicken-wire-ghost-tutorial.html

    also, grown ups get a real kick out of playing old-school kids games which are easy to put a seasonal twist on. “Pin the fangs on the vampire”, or the halloween equivalent of an ‘easter egg hunt’ (maybe small candy pumpkins or something?) you could even give paper treat bags and after an hour or so give a prize to the person with the most pumpkins found (for a party i would put them just EVERYWHERE, tons of them, so people are constantly finding them.)

  14. Our Halloween parties pretty much just involved copious amounts of alcohol, but now that I am a bit more grown up I’m not sure what else we would do. Probably the same thing, just more expensive alcohol.

    If you happen to have a yard with a hill or live really close to a park with a hill, one of my favorite college activities is called ice-blocking. Buy an ice block, if you have some foresight put a hand-towel on top, sit on ice block and slide down the hill! Riotous amounts of fun, with the added elements of “wtf?” and danger!

  15. Provide some decent food. At the last Halloween party I hosted, I made lil’ smokies in a crock pot, and my room mate made pumpkin shaped cake. Easy, yummy, and cheap! We provided two types of alcohol, and our friends brought the rest.

    Classic horror movies + drinking games. This can get really fun if you have nerdy friends who can recognize archetypal patterns and familiar motifs. Throw some tarot cards or a few decks of regular cards on the coffee table in case some people get bored. That is all.

    This of course depends on your guests/group of friends, but I’ve found that trying too hard to “structure” a party and provide a bunch of “activities” can just end in disappointment/wasted money when people show up and just end up wanting to goof around, socialize and drink anyway.

  16. One of my friends online says they play this game after bobbing for apples called Marshmallow Mountain, where you search for marshmallows in a mountain of flour. It’s funniest after the bobbing for apples because their face is all wet so they get flour stuck to it.

  17. I feel so lame! We usually just end up watching Rocky Horror and racing one another to the door to see the tiny childs in their get-ups… then we quit around 7:30 when the tinies stop making the rounds, and the obnoxious kids with facial start coming out begging for candy or condoms or car keys or something… teenagers. Anyway, after that it’s usually a junk food and booze fest which gets the talk going, or you know, truth-or-dare, because clearly, despite my previous derision towards the nearing-adult community, clearly my friends and I are still 16 at a slumber party playing ‘Seven Minutes in Heaven’… sigh. And grin.

  18. I’m a big fan of the unstructured party, but with lots of thoughtful and delicious food and booze. I love throwing Halloween parties – usually I just project a funny/scary movie on the wall (old B&W zombie flicks are fun – I showed Hocus Pocus the year I moved to Salem) with the sound off and good music turned up, but in some red lightbulbs and decorations, and require everyone to come in costume. I’ll leave a Ouija board out, but it rarely gets used.

    • Hocus Pocus is my favorite Halloween movie of all time! I’m a huge scaredy cat, so the Disney-i-fied Halloween-ness is just my style. Plus, 90s nostalgia!

      Wait, what if you had a 90s nostalgia Halloween party? You could play Hocus Pocus, Casper, and Practical Magic for movies, everyone could wear terrible 90s clothes (Jessica McClintock Victorian confections? Yes please!) or go as 90s characters, and have 90s candy like bubbletape, poprocks, laffy taffy, ring pops, warheads, etc. for candy. Would this be awesome, or I am just a huge nerd?

  19. We’re all some flavor of writer/smartass, so we do a themed “pass the poem” game where one person writes a line of a poem, passes the paper, the next person adds a line then passes, and so on until a poem is “done.” The host is responsible for coming up with spooky or silly starting lines (“The zombie looked out over the graveyard and said…” or “This costume is chafing my…”). We’ve kept this archived for the last few years, and even the kind of lame ones definitely improve with time.

    Oh! And a spooky cook-off! Think “Iron Chef” but instead of a theme ingredient, a theme “intended effect.” For example, everyone needs to make something that looks like it came out of a surgical suite, or something from an Egyptian tomb, or food Edgar Allen Poe would eat, etc…

    • I recently put a new ribbon in an old typewriter and I was thinking of leaving it out with paper nearby. I thought I’d start a scary story and then let people continue it as the night went on. Drunk, funny, scary … could become anything! Thoughts? (clearly I need encouragement)

      • Oh my goodness, this is an awesome idea. I would love to have something like this at a party – and you could go back to it throughout the night as you think of things! And then before everyone leaves you could read it aloud to the whole crowd. 🙂

  20. For any party that might need a “get-to-know-each-other” phase, or a very loose structure that also allows chit-chat and such, my family has a great background game, for when conversations lull or to first introduce yourself to someone. Get a whole stack of post-it notes (preferably ghost- or pumpkin-shaped ones!), at least one for every guest. The host comes up with themed things/people/places/whatever for other guests to guess. Sort of like 20 questions. Then each guest coming in the door gets a post-it pinned on their back with something they need to guess, like “zombie” or “Hogwarts” or something. They can then ask “yes” or “no” questions of all the other guests, to figure it out. Only yes or no can be answered, though! Everyone seems to have a fun time, and often it is fun to let the guests come up with harder/funnier ones for newcomers as the drinks get going. This game can also be placed secondary to conversation really easily, and seems to start up conversations quickly. Just make sure to have a prize for everyone who guesses! 🙂

  21. Last year I threw a Sleepy Hollow themed Halloween party and had guests bob for apples, hunt for treats in the pumpkin patch by candlelight (assorted wrapped packages of candy) as well as I hired a local Bluegrass band to come out and play. Most folks just drank, ate and danced. This year, I’m having a kid-centric party for all of the kids in the group (nephews, nieces and friends’ kids). I made a bunch of small cardboard houses, painted blank and orange, for the kids to decorate into “Haunted Houses” with fake spider webs, paint, Halloween stickers, twigs, moss, etc. I’m also hanging apples with string and making the kids try and grab the apples with just their mouths to win prizes (a dryer version of bobbing for apples). I am also planning to carve out a big pumpkin and stuff it with prizes and hide it in the woods next to my house. The kids have to find the “Great Pumpkin” to get their treats. I’m also taping a spider web to my livingroom floor for a “spider web walk” where the kids will have to walk along the spider web to certain points to a creepy Transylvanian LP I have. When the music stops, I’ll pull a number and whatever kid is standing on it will win a prize. If the weather’s nice, I plan to setup picnic blankets and straw bales outside for lunch. If not, maybe I’ll do it inside. Yup, I’m going for the Best Aunty award this year. (o:

  22. Has anyone suggested playing Mafia (aka Werewolf) yet? I feel like that’s one of the best big party games for Halloween. I love choosing an unusual theme (I’ve done literary Mafia where all the deaths are themed after the classics, and I’ve done Pirate Mafia where it’s Crew vs Mutineers)…ummm, if for some reason you’ve never played Mafia, just google it. It’s a social bluffing game that can be played with a nearly infinite number of people.

  23. At my Halloween party last year, we played a party game called “Tempt Your Fate” and customized it to fit our Aloce in Wonderland party theme a bit. Check out: http://www.halloweenforum.com/party-ideas-experiences-and-recipes/70989-tempt-your-fate-party-game.html

    Basically I used a deck of cards and left more red cards in the deck than black. Red means something bad, black something good. I stayed in character the entire night, dressed as the white rabbit, with a half German, half Russian accent, plus a lisp from the bunny teeth. Every 20 minutes or so, I’d get everyone’s attention (in character), and query the group to see who wanted to tempt their fate. I would let them pick a card, face down, and then hand it to me. I had a spiel on my phone that I would read and fill in certain blanks depending on the number and color of the card (also typed out on my phone). If it was a good card, they would pick a prize, and if it was bad, they would have to perform some kind of embarrassing act, like trying to seduce the person on their left, handcuffing themselves to the next person to make eye contact with them, having to beg the person on their right to spank them, becoming someone’s servant, etc.

    I really wasn’t sure how well this game would go over, but it turned out all my friends really got a kick out of it. The game combined with my character (and staying in character) seemed to really help. I still have the game and ideas typed out in a note if anyone wants to read the whole spiel and “bad” ideas.

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