30 Spooky and Spirited Halloween Party Ideas for Adults

published Sep 25, 2023
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The leaves are changing, the temperature’s dropping, and soon the local shuttered strip mall shop will once again house a bustling Spirit Halloween. Yes, spooky season is upon us! For me, Halloween is more of a state of mind than a fleeting holiday. My home showcases year-round glimpses of autumnal ornamentation and ghostly decor. I’m always game for a cozy evening watching horror flicks. And I can whip up a costume for any occasion in no time. 

For my husband and me, the last couple of Halloweens passed without proper observance. Two years ago, we were busy buying a condo and combining our lives in a new haunted home. The next year, we ironically were distracted by the only thing scarier than Halloween itself: marriage! EEK! So this year, we’re making up for lost time and monster mashing through the witching hour. 

We brainstormed ideas for the upcoming scary movie marathon, boo-zy birthday brunch, and spooky baby shower (yes, I’m co-hosting a Halloween-themed baby shower!) we’re hosting, and our ideas are too good to keep locked away like some freakish undead monster. Here are 30 Halloween party ideas for adults that will leave your guests wanting more.

The Deadly Details

1. There are hundreds of Halloween-themed evite options online. Check out sites like Partiful or Paperless Post for spooky and sophisticated options.

2. As an alternative, crafty hosts can create and send print invitations. Consider a design that resembles a tarot card, a headstone, or a wizard’s spell.

3. Take a deep dive into the huge catalog of autumnal and spooky playlists on Spotify, or curate one of your own. A looped playlist of creepy sound effects is also an unsettling selection for a truly adult atmosphere.

4. Prepare party favors for guests to take home. Caramel apples, plastic spider rings, homemade friendship fiend-ship bracelets, mini liquor bottles, and of course, plenty of candy can be packed into themed bags or even plastic pumpkin buckets.

5. Weather permitting, host a gathering by a backyard fire pit or on a candlelit patio. Keep extra blankets on hand, and project a favorite scary movie for outdoor viewing. 

Credit: Imgorthand/Getty Images

A Monstrous Menu

6. Invite guests over for a super sweet dessert spread with all the sugary goodies you loved as a kid — plus some adult favorites. Candy corn, ice cream, caramel apples, Pop-Tarts, marshmallows, chocolate martinis, and pumpkin spiked lattes will keep your guests buzzing. 

7. Another sweet option is to prepare an apple orchard menu complete with apple cider donuts, hot cider, sliced apples with sweet and savory dips, pumpkin and pecan pies, and homemade fudge.

8. Concoct a few brightly-hued signature cocktails that resemble witches’ or mad scientists’ potions.

9. Plan a popcorn bar with various candy toppings for scary movie marathons. 

10. Guests can coordinate costumes and dishes for a peculiar potluck. Kevin McCallister brings macaroni and cheese or plain cheese pizza; Popeye brings a spinach salad; Lucille Bluth brings frozen bananas; Carrie Bradshaw brings cosmos; and Tony Soprano brings baked ziti. You get it! 

Screams and Themes

11. There’s always the classic ghosts, witches, and jack-o’-lantern option! Select decor that’s elevated and sophisticated, or lean into vintage-inspired versions of the classics.

12. If you have a favorite scary franchise, like “Scream,” “Friday the Thirteenth,” “The Conjuring,” Alfred Hitchcock films, or “The Twilight Zone” episodes, those collections are large and universal enough to anchor an entire party theme.

13. Turn your home into a haunted house and invite your guests to play the part.

14. Go the sci-fi direction with aliens, planets, spaceships, and robots featured in your menu and decor.

15. Halloween is the perfect excuse to finally throw that murder mystery party you’ve always wanted to spring on unsuspecting guests! 

Credit: AleksandarNakic/Getty Images

Creepy Crawly Costumes

16. My dream is to host a deep-cut Halloween costume party, where guests dress up as extremely niche figures that definitely require an explanation. Examples include tertiary characters from your favorite shows, obscure children’s book characters, or random historical figures.

17. Ask your guests to dress as the most famous person from their hometown, whether that’s a car salesman with a locally iconic commercial or a pop superstar.

18. Host a costume party where guests recreate their favorite Halloween costumes from childhood. Bonus points if guests bring photo evidence!

19. This next idea is like a Secret Santa for Halloween costumes. Close-knit and good-humored groups can draw each other’s names in secrecy before the party and arrive dressed as their friend. 

20. If you’re a host who is obsessed with an icon, instruct your guests to come dressed as a version of that icon. Taylor Swift eras, Meryl Streep characters, James Bond villains, and Barbies and Kens (and Alan, sure, why not) are just a few options.

Activities and Peculiarities

21. Clear a table for pumpkin carving and design contests.

22. Organize a candy exchange, or set up trick-or-treat stations in your home’s various rooms. 

23. Break out an Ouija board, turn down the lights, and chat with each other and the dead!

24. Cozy up beside a fire outside or circle up in candlelight and share ghost stories and eerie encounters.

25. Play a Halloween-themed game (and maybe work in some sort of drinking element for the less challenging options!)

Devilish Decor

26. Create a haunted house-inspired photo booth backdrop. 

27. Transform your home into a miniature Hogwarts complete with floating candles and a portrait gallery. 

28. Embrace the softer side of spooky season with colorful gourds, tea lights, and bright arrangements of mums.

29. Center the occult with tarot cards, candles, a crystal ball, beads, fortune telling, and mystical objects of all sorts.

30. In your yard, harness some mood lighting with colored spotlights or string lights, and use a fog machine to spread a thick, ominous mist throughout the background.