My husband and I have been hosting a Halloween party for too many years to count. It drives my husband crazy that I'm so- let's call it organized- because it would seem like I'm planning a wedding every year rather than a casual party. But for an introvert like me, the planning is the fun part. (I secretly know that I often enjoy the planning more than the party.)
I'd like to pass on a few words of wisdom at the early stages of party planning that I follow every year.
No. 1: It's just a party
Ok, this one is mostly for me, the over-planner. I have to tell myself to breathe as well because I get overwhelmed by the possibilities. For instance, no one but me will notice that the weight of the paper for the invitation isn't what I had expected. Go with the flow.
No. 2: Party Themes Inspire Costumes
It's true. I've known it for a long time. If you want your guests to dress in costume it helps to provide a theme. Believe it or not, there are actually people out there who do not live and breathe Halloween every day of their lives like we do. Having a party theme narrows the options and inspires creativity. However, no one likes the costume-police, so no reprimands are allowed for those who either don't wear a costume or come in a different theme. Refer to rule No. 1.
No. 3: The Right Date Leads to Success
Picking the date of your party can be the most stressful part. October is a very busy month and if your friends enjoy Halloween as much as you do, there may be many parties during the weeks leading up to Halloween.
When we first started having our party we actually chose to have it the Saturday after Halloween. It extended the celebration that much longer and we could be pretty sure that there were no other Halloween parties on that night. We kept that date for many years and people automatically put it on their calendar. No one seemed bothered that it was past the actual holiday. That worked until the Saturday after Halloween was a full week later. It just seemed too late. So, we've been moving the date of the party around. Fortunately, we have an invite list that attends year after year so we've held on to most of them.
None of this helps you much except that I think if you can find a date like the 3rd Friday of October and keep it year after year the guests will begin to clear their calendar. If you plan to invite people with children to your party (see rule No. 5) then avoid Halloween night. Good luck.
No. 4: Paper Invitations Raise Expectations
That's a good thing. In this age of the e-vite and text message the printed invitation sets your party apart. Guests expect this party will be more than a bowl of popcorn under a black light and you can expect that they'll respond in kind by putting a little more effort into their costume and actually responding to your invitation. By the way, invitations should go out 6-8 weeks before the party. People need time to contemplate a costume.
That's not to say I don't also use Facebook events for my parties. I really like to do both. Facebook allows me to update invited guests as more details are unveiled and keeps the momentum building.
No. 5: The Guest List Sets The Tone
I'm going to bring up a sensitive issue now: children at parties. When we were younger we discouraged bringing children to our Halloween parties. Guests often mentioned how much their children would enjoy our decorations and would it be ok if they brought them. We gently tried to tell them to leave the children at home. This doesn't always go over well and over the years we have loosened up. More and more children are coming to our party. Children bring their own magic to Halloween and I enjoy that. However, I'm sure you're not surprised that the energy level of the party changes when children are running around. The decision is yours. Either way works you just have to plan for it.