7 Ways to Take Your Halloween Party to the Next Level, Whether It’s IRL or Virtual

published Sep 23, 2021
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Halloween is a favorite time for many reasons. After all, no one questions if you place gravestones in your yard, dress like your favorite TV character, or go from door to door asking for treats.

Whether you’re always in the mood for spooks or just relish Halloween as a festive fall holiday, getting together could look a bit different this year. Stocking up on candy and gathering with friends and family outside of your circle could be put on hold as you keep everyone’s safety in mind. However, that doesn’t mean you need to forsake making plans. With a bit of ingenuity, you can still hold a fabulous event with a few ingenious ideas for a hybrid Halloween party, courtesy of professional event and party planners. 

Set the tone with a virtual invitation.

Start things off right by debuting your event with an online invitation, or create a private Facebook event. Making the announcement online keeps everything in one place so that folks can access information, and you can send out updates as needed. 

“Stick to online invitations for all, so that you can create a hub where you can share more information, such as instructions to join online and party menu recipes,” says Thomas Waters, an event coordinator at The Renaissance in Richmond, Virginia.

Appoint someone as your co-host.

Although technology allows you to communicate with others no matter where they are, it’s difficult for you to be in two places at once. Divvy up the duties by having a co-host, even if it’s simply your significant other or a neighbor. “You need a partner (or a few) to help make sure both the in-person guests and virtual guests are having fun and are taken care of,” suggests Jamie Chang, the owner and event planner at Mango Muse Events in San Francisco, California.

Let folks prepare ahead of time.

Whether you decide to have a pumpkin design contest or serve a creative menu, “take time to create and send Halloween packages that include the things needed for your party activities,” advises JoAnn Gregoli, the owner of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli in New York City. Don’t forget to add a few pieces of candy into the mix.

Of course, part of the fun of a Halloween party is to have a thematic menu. “You’ll need to plan further ahead with this, but consider sharing some of the menu items, along with recipes, to the group in advance so that those attending virtually can consider joining in,” says Waters. “As fun as it is to get creative with menus, make sure your recipes are accessible dishes that can be made by friends and family, both near and far.”

Your box can even include some of the ingredients for a themed drink so folks can mix it at home. “Be sure to include the recipe and encourage virtual attendees to make it ahead of time and put their own special touches on it,” advises Gregoli. If you run out of time to mail a box, create a music playlist for everyone to download and play during the event at home.

Create a comfortable, festive space. 

Although you want your event to be spooky, it’s crucial to create a safe space where folks can socially distance themselves. “It’s important to remain cautious when planning the in-person portion of your Halloween party,” says Kevin Dennis, the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services in Livermore, California. 

He also suggests opting for an outdoor space and requesting that guests get a Covid test beforehand for peace of mind. However, pull out all the stops when it comes to creating a scary scene. “Going all out with spooky backyard decor will only elevate the creepy vibe in the best way possible. Transform your garden into a graveyard with a fog machine, DIY headstones, and blacklight string lights,” Dennis advises.

Have a virtual costume contest.

One of the aspects people look forward to most on Halloween is dressing up. Seize the opportunity to have a contest complete with prizes. “Make it interactive, so your virtual guests feel welcomed,” says Syrie Roman, the founder and creative director of Social Maven in Buffalo, New York. “Guests can rate costumes from one to 10 and hold numbers up to the webcams so points can be tallied.”

“Set the tone ahead of time and set some ground rules,” advises Gregoli. “Before the party, announce the categories. Then, you can ask attendees to cast votes for the top costume in each category during the call using your video platform’s polling feature or private chat.”

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Craft Stylist: Brigitt Earley

Use a projector to showcase your virtual guests. 

“Since being a virtual party guest already gives off a bit of FOMO, put your Zoom attendees up on the big screen,” says Dennis. “If you’re struggling with figuring out the best outdoor setup when it comes to showcasing your virtual guests and allowing them to join in on the fun of your IRL party, consider going in on a projector display.” Projectors are relatively inexpensive and alleviate the stress of having to carry around a laptop during the party.

Additionally, your virtual guests can participate by choosing a spooky backdrop for their live stream. If you’re tech-savvy, you can even make one to send to them in advance. Waters suggests, “Canva has a Zoom-friendly background option, and then you can customize it to fit your theme and aesthetic.”

When in doubt, go completely virtual. 

If there’s a sudden surge of Covid cases in your area or you find that your guests are leery of attending, move the event solely to a virtual platform. You can still host a costume contest, send out a goodie box ahead of time, and curate a Spotify playlist. Choose a few games to host online so that everyone can participate. “Add a fun trivia hour to the party, use an app to create teams, and choose your questions. You can customize it to the theme of your party,” says Roman. 

Another creative option is to look into Airbnb’s online experiences. “Airbnb has a robust number of activities that include a host to help coordinate and run the activity,” suggests Waters. “You could do an escape room or tarot card reading. The sky’s the limit.” As your event gets closer, check the current offerings, and select one to book for your group. No matter what you decide, keeping your guests safe and involved is the best way to leave the scares to Halloween itself.