Real Simple Holidays & Entertaining Holidays Halloween The Complete Halloween Party Checklist The Complete Halloween Party Checklist Horrified at the idea of throwing a Halloween bash? Don’t be afraid—we’ve made Halloween checklist of everything you’ll need for your Halloween party planning. Real Simple Author By Real Simple Editors Advertisement FB Tweet More Pinterest Email Send Text Message Print Halloween party dessert food spread Credit: GETTY IMAGES Food and Drink Checklist Candy and loot bags Set out glass jars loaded with different types of candies and mini scoops, and let guests fill their own goodie bags to take home. Stock up on a variety of treats, from gross gummy body parts (feet, ears, and eyeballs) to classics like Pixy Stix and Bazooka. Punch bowl No Halloween party would be complete without a spooky punch. Serve one that's blood-red, ghoulish green, putrid purple, orange, or black and use dry ice to create an eerie mist. Napkins, plates, utensils, and tablecloths Keep a stash of these essentials in colors and patterns that match your scheme. A festive covering will make your everyday tables party-ready in an instant. Serving dishes Count your platters beforehand to make sure you have enough space for all your party treats. Make a list or label each dish with a Post-it note or masking tape to keep track of which food goes with which platter. Beverages and cups If you're serving alcoholic drinks, plan on three to four cocktails per guest for a two- to three-hour party. And don't forget to include something alcohol-free and fun for the teetotalers and kids in your group. Make sure to have heatproof cups on hand if you're serving anything hot, like mulled cider. Appetizers Serve plenty of savory items to balance out all that Halloween sugar. For less stress, make as many items ahead of time as you can. Desserts Cupcakes and cookies are easy for guests to eat and fun to decorate for Halloween (for example: cookies shaped like ghosts and cats and cupcakes topped with orange frosting or mini pumpkin candies). For even more holiday spirit, make pumpkin cupcakes and decorate them with candy corn. Or try using Halloween candy in creative ways: Serve a Twix cheesecake pie or make chocolate bark decorated with candy corn. Setting the Scene Checklist Carved jack-o'-lanterns Greet guests with a lineup of these lighted hosts on your stoop or porch. Pumpkins and decorative gourds Display these in clusters around your home. Try different ways of dressing up your pumpkins—spray them with metallic paint for a golden glow or use chalkboard paint to make faces or write messages (a great project for the kids). Fake cobwebs and spiders, paper bats, balloons, and other decorations Hang cobwebs and spiders in the corners of your room, let bats and banners dangle from the ceiling, and go all-out with festive or frightening decor to create the right atmosphere. Halloween is one holiday when it's OK to be over-the-top. Candles Scatter lots of votives throughout your party and group pillars of varying heights and sizes together. Display a candelabra for dramatic flair. Spooky music Put together a playful playlist of favorite songs, such as The Doors' "People Are Strange" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller," or invest in a soundtrack of creepy sound effects. Try Martha Stewart Living's Spooky Scary Sounds (which includes knives being sharpened, thumping heartbeats, and howling winds) or Halloween Horrorscapes, which features tracks titled "Blood Hunt" and "Alone at the Cabin" (including thunder, screams, snarling monsters, and chainsaws—definitely not for the faint of heart). Halloween movies Play classic horror films in the background (on mute if you don't want the sound to be distracting) to get guests in the mood, such as Friday the 13th, The Exorcist, or, naturally, Halloween. For less frightening movies that still set the tone, try The Addams Family, Beetlejuice, or—the best feel-good Halloween flick ever—It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Costume accessories Whether you're hosting a costume party or not, it's always fun to have some extra dress-up items around. Set out some masks and wigs, plastic fangs, hats, a cape, a tiara, a feather boa—whatever suits your fancy—and let your guests get creative. Camera Designate a friend or family member as the party photographer so you'll have one less thing to worry about. If you want your Halloween party to be heavily photographed, set up a photo booth (even just a space with a blank wall) and a few Insta-worthy vignettes to encourage guests to post.