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How to Throw a Great Halloween Party (or a Scary-Good At- Home Haunted House)

A suburban residential home is decorated in orange and black for the Halloween holiday.
A suburban residential home is decorated in orange and black for the Halloween holiday.

Getty

Halloween is fast approaching, and while many are deciding whether they want to hit up a costume bash in a bar or stay in and hand out candy, you can have the best of both worlds by hosting the spooky season celebrations right in your own home. But whether you're a top-notch party planner or last-minute hustler, the prospect of throwing a Halloween bash or creating a haunted house can be a bit intimidating, and things can get very overwhelming, very fast. That's why we compiled this list of 11 tips for a great party or at-home haunted house.

RELATED: How to Make a 'Hocus Pocus' Charcuterie Board for Halloween

Set a theme

Instead of going with a generic Halloween bash, setting a theme may help you create a vision for what you want your house to really look like. If you're going for an '80s horror night vibe, for example, you know you're looking for inspiration from movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street, The Shining, Creepshow or Halloween. Setting a theme can also help your guests narrow down their costume choices so everyone doesn't have to spend too much time at Spirit Halloween.

Create a manageable budget

Sure, you want to be host/hostess with the mostest, that doesn't mean that you punish your bank account by trying to out-Heidi Klum Heidi Klum herself. Once you've decided what you want your theme to be, create a realistic budget. Figure out what areas and items are absolute must-haves, what's an added bonus, where you can splurge a little more and what you can totally live without.

Halloween Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkins on a porch stairs
Halloween Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkins on a porch stairs

Getty

But, uh, don't skimp on decorations

The truth is, when you're hosting a Halloween party or haunted house, people are showing up for the spectacle of it all, so you can't be stingy with the decor. Your classic spider web and scary Jack-o-lanterns are cool, but don't be afraid to get a little creative — either adding scares in unexpected places, or throwing it back to an old school haunted house with peeled-grape "eyeballs" and noodle "brains."

Be mindful of your guest list

Is your party for adults? Is it for kids? Is it meant to be a mixture? This will help you nail down which decorations and party favors are needed. We can all agree that floating, bloody heads at a kid-friendly party may be inappropriate, yes?

Create a standout entrance

Set the mood from the get-go. Whether you're throwing a big party or a small get-together, a standout entrance always makes for a good preamble to the festivities. It also makes for a great attraction for passersby.

RELATED VIDEO: These Pets Are Ready for Halloween!

Incorporate some frights

Just to keep everyone on their toes, put some scary surprises in specific corners or rooms of your house. Try having spiders drop down when people open the fridge, or skeletons pop out when someone closes the door to the bathroom.

Turn to social media for inspo

Feeling frighteningly uninspired? Social media platforms are a great way to pull inspiration and source ideas. You can certainly find hacks on how to quickly DIY everything—from decorations, to Halloween snacks and even party favors. Case in point: This Hocus Pocus charcuterie board idea.

Young multi-ethnic friends dressed-up in Halloween costumes dancing and drinking at nightclub dungeon party
Young multi-ethnic friends dressed-up in Halloween costumes dancing and drinking at nightclub dungeon party

Getty

Don't forget the music

Music plays a huge part in establishing the ambiance, so make your selections wisely. You can go for pop culture hits like "Thriller" or "Disturbia" or you can scout for theme songs from movies or TV shows that create that eerie, spooky vibe.

RELATED: A Complete Guide to Trick-or-Treating This Halloween 

Have a wide array of games 

One of the key components of a great party is having a solid array of games. Pull out the old classics—Uno, Connect Four, Jenga—or add Halloween touches to yard games. Candy Corn Hole, anyone?

Halloween decoration shot in a room with a white background wall
Halloween decoration shot in a room with a white background wall

Getty

Lay out a variety of sweet treats

Because is it even Halloween without an absurd amount of sugar? Just keep in mind though, whether you're buying or baking, try to have a diverse assortment of sweets to accommodate any dietary needs your guests may have. Think gluten-free Skittles and gummy bears, as well as dairy-free cupcakes or cookies.

Utilize any outdoor space

If you don't want people gathering in your house—leaving rings on your pristine tables and crumbing up your nice rugs—try making use of any outdoor space you have. The best way to go about this is to create a spooky pathway that leads straight to the backyard — where a dry ice-filled cooler is ready to tempt guests with some witch's brewskis.

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