Use our Halloween party checklist so you won’t forget a thing

halloween party checklist pumpkins on teal background
Photo credit: Maglara/Getty Images

You can level with us: The idea of throwing your own Halloween party is as terrifying as a horror movie, right? We get it. It’s not as simple as tossing some fake spider webs around the room — those uncooperative fibers alone can be a nightmare.

You want to be that person who throws the Pinterest-perfect spookfest, but there are so many things to consider. And, yikes, without a Halloween party checklist, it’s easy to lose your head.

Sorry, couldn’t resist a little macabre humor. For real, though, when it comes to throwing a great Halloween party, being organized is key. (Or should we say skeleton key? Last one, we swear.) ICYMI, time moves at warp speed this time of year and, if you get a jump on your planning and stay on top of it, it’ll be time for your party before you’ve really had a chance to get everything in order.

To help you avoid such a tragic fate, we’ve put together this Halloween party checklist. Keep reading for tips and tricks for hosting a soiree that’s sure to be a real treat for your guests.

One month to go

  • Set the date: It’s a safe bet that you won’t be the only Halloween party in town, so you need to nail down your date as soon as possible. Once you lock it in, you can start gathering everything you need to send out invitations.
  • Pick a theme: Yes, we realize Halloween in and of itself is effectively a theme. However, you need to be able to specify to your guests if you’re hosting a costume party or a non-costumed hangout. Other considerations might be scary vs. tame, family-friendly vs. adults-only, and a costume-specific theme like famous couples in history or the roaring ’20s.
  • Send out invites: If you want to kick it old-school, you can track down everyone’s physical addresses and send invitations through the postal service. You’ll need to allow for a little time buffer if you go that route. The alternative is sending an evite — you can find plenty of them for free online.
  • Order your party décor: Depending on where you order from, you may be able to wait a bit on this one. But, c’mon, it’s never a bad idea to order early in case a shipment takes longer than you planned (even Amazon Prime isn’t perfect). If you’re planning to dress up, you might as well place the order for your costume now, too.

MORE: How to host a Halloween costume exchange party

Two weeks to go

  • Establish your spooky ambiance: You’ve got a little downtime right now in the grand scheme of Halloween party planning, so put it to good use. Make a creepy playlist, or head to Spotify and creep yourself out exploring existing ones. An alternative to background music could be background movies — the scary kind! If that’s more your scene, make sure you have at least a few horror classics lined up like Friday the 13th or Poltergeist (only the original will do, obviously).

One week to go

  • Make your first big grocery haul: Go ahead at this point and stock up on anything you can make ahead. Canned goods, soft drinks, punch mix, dessert ingredients (if you’re making your own), etc. And candy! Don’t forget bags of candy, extra if you plan to hand any out to trick-or-treaters.

Three days to go

  • Go for the gourd: Whether you just plan to use them in your decor or you want to disembowel them, pumpkins need to be picked up at just the right time. Too early and you risk it going bad before you get to it. Wait too late and they may be sold out.
  • Get your costume ready: Chances are if your Halloween party is a costume party and you have something planned, it’s the pièce de résistance of your hosting. So, go ahead and triple-check to make sure you have everything you need: the costume itself, shoes, stockings, makeup, jewelry, wig, whatever. At this point, you still have time to run out or make an emergency order through Prime.
  • Assemble loot bags: If you’ve decided to hand out party favors, now’s the time to assemble the goody bags. Even something as simple as paper bags stuffed with some Halloween candy will be a hit. Whatever you do, don’t wait until the last minute to pull these together — it will just stress you out to deal with it the day of.

One day to go

  • Make a last-minute grocery run: It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve gone to the grocery store prior to this point, you will have forgotten something. Plus, this is a good time to grab anything that’s just better served fresh.
  • Decorate: You can wait until the day of the party to do this, but why add extra stress to that day? You can always wait until everyone else in your house goes to sleep before hanging up your haunted decor if you think it may get in the way.
  • Recharge your batteries: Like, literally and figuratively. Make sure your phone and/or your DSLR camera are fully charged and ready to capture some killer memories. But also, take a few minutes to kick back and relax. You’ve earned it! And you’ll want to squeeze in a bit of rest before the party, because you’ll feel like the night of the living dead after.

MORE: Now that you have your Halloween check list, check out popular makeup trends for 2019

On the big day

  • Remind everyone where the party is: It never hurts to send out a quick address text or email to everyone who RSVP-ed. Otherwise, you’ll be amazed how many people will be frantically calling you at the last minute because they misplaced the invite and forgot to write down the address.
  • Get the food and drinks ready: The closer it gets to the time people start arriving, the more motivated you need to be to set out drinks and snacks. An easy way to handle this portion of the night is to have everything you need in the fridge or on the counter, ready to be assembled and placed where your guests can easily get to everything.
  • Get dressed: Press play on some spooky tunes, pour yourself a glass of rosé and enjoy getting into character. If you didn’t get everything done you’d hoped, let it go. Your Halloween party doesn’t have to be perfect to be a success. Soon, you’ll be greeting your guests at the door and, ultimately, the only thing they care about is hanging out with you. Have fun!

Click the image below to download your copy of our Halloween party checklist!

Holiday countdown checklist from Grateful

Looking for a fun fall drink to serve at your party? Try our healthier pumpkin spice latte recipe.