Halloween party themes

Oct 20, 2011 at 12:40 p.m. ET

If you want to put a fun spin on your Halloween party this year, opt for a particular theme. In doing so, you’re more likely to tie your food, drinks, decorations and games together. A theme will also help you differentiate your Halloween party from others being held around town or others you might have hosted in the past.

Halloween True Blood Party

Here are a Halloween party themes to consider, as well as ideas on decorations, food, drinks and activities.

True Blood

With an ensemble of characters that includes vampires, werewolves and witches, the popular HBO series True Blood provides a wealth of inspiration for a spooky, Southern-style soirée.

To decorate, "Create a bewitching old Southern, rural Louisiana atmosphere -- whether indoors or as a backyard party. It's chirping crickets as sound effects, a balmy, dark atmosphere with a few candles around the house, Spanish moss hung from trees and an above-ground cemetery," says Greg Jenkins, a partner of Bravo Productions. In addition, he suggests using exotic props such as a voodoo woman, wrought iron fences and canning jars filled with fake chicken feet, cow's brains and even blood.

If you're hoping to achieve an atmosphere that's less Southern and more vamp, consider a few of Jenkins' other tips. "Add a few vampire books that fit in your theme. Replace floral centerpieces with a huge cylinder of fake blood, with smaller bubble bowls of fake blood surrounding the larger cylinder."

A fun party activity Jenkins recommends is to hire a psychic to play Sookie Stackhouse, True Blood's mind-reading heroine.

Rather than serving cutesy Halloween treats, draw menu inspiration from the show. Several of the show's characters work and dine at a bar that serves Southern-fried foods. You could also serve Cajun-style food or a shrimp and crab boil. Jenkins suggests serving spicy jambalaya.

A True Blood theme lends itself to a wide variety of drink options, such as a Bloody Mary or Apothic Red wine. You can even purchase bottles of Tru Blood, a sweet, blood-orange beverage that vampires on the show drink as an alternative to sucking on humans.

Fear Factor

If you and your guests aren't squeamish, consider implementing a Fear Factor theme. In doing so, you'll have the perfect opportunity to let your imagination run wild when it comes to décor, food, drinks and activities that are terrifying, gross and gory.

With this theme, you won't need to go overboard on decorations -- you can simply create challenge areas where activities will be conducted. You can use yellow "caution" tape to separate these challenge areas from food and drink spreads and other areas intended for mingling.

This theme is all about challenges that are frightening or gross, so you'll want to put your creativity toward the development of activities that will make your guests cringe, squirm and maybe even scream. Raffi Darrow once threw a Fear Factor party for her daughter and had guests participate in a food challenge. She taped a variety of food names to a Twister spinner. Each guest had to spin the spinner and eat whatever food item was selected. "Some foods were gross and some were yummy. There was cold spaghetti with something on top, cold French fries with caramel on top, baby-food prunes, and a chocolate-covered frog. You can use cold, peeled grapes or smashed peas or slimy, canned pears," Darrow explains.

You can assign gross names to party snacks and drinks, such as fried rat legs or puke punch. However, too many grotesque elements may make your guests' stomachs churn. With that in mind, you should also offer some food that looks appealing and has a name that won't make guests grimace.

Pumpkin massacre

If you're looking for a casual theme that will work well outdoors and with small groups, consider hosting a pumpkin-carving party.

To decorate, in the areas where guests will gather you can scatter pumpkins and gourds in a wide variety of sizes. If you don't want to fuss too much with the party's décor, you can simply decorate with pumpkins and gourds in shades of orange, white and green. If you want to further embellish your pumpkins, consider decorating them with paint, fabric, jewels, ribbons, trim or even buttons. You can decorate entertaining areas with hay bales, corn stalks and lanterns.

The obvious activity for this party theme is to carve pumpkins. As the hostess, you can provide one pumpkin for each guest to carve or you can request that each guest bring his or her own. Set up tables and chairs for guests' comfort while they gut and decorate their pumpkin. Also provide carving tools, pens, stencils and a few trash cans or buckets for storing pumpkin seeds and goo. Create a contest that awards trophies or prizes for the scariest, funniest and most unusual pumpkin carvings.

To coordinate your party's menu with the pumpkin massacre theme, serve snacks and drinks packed with pumpkin flavor. For food you can serve everything from pumpkin fudge and roasted pumpkin seeds to mini pumpkin pies and pumpkin cookies. The beverages you provide can include a pumpkin martini cocktail, a blended pumpkin pie cocktail or a roasted fairy tale pumpkin cocktail.

Hollywood soirÉe

If you've ever dreamed about being an A-list celebrity, here's your chance! Host a Hollywood-themed Halloween bash and encourage your guests to come dressed as one of the stars. Your guests will love the opportunity to channel the style of classic icons, sexy celebs and over-the-top, outrageous personalities.

A red carpet and a step-and-repeat banner are absolute musts for decorating for this swanky soirée. In addition, you can decorate with film reels, metallic gold stars or even a walk of fame that leads in and out of where you're hosting the party.

Ideal activities for this theme include a best- and worst-dressed contest, a red carpet strut, and television, movie and music trivia.

The food and drinks you serve can be casual or glamorous. If a fuss-free menu sounds most appealing to you, serve traditional movie theater snacks such as popcorn, candy, nachos, soft pretzels and pop. A more sophisticated, elegant menu might include hors d'oeuvres such as crab cakes, bruschetta and soup shooters, as well as drinks such as champagne or a signature cocktail of your own choosing.

More Halloween party ideas

How to have a Halloween party for a big crowd
Halloween party cocktail recipes
Homemade Halloween party decorations