3 Ways to Throw a Genre-themed Halloween Party

From decorating tips to signature drinks that fit your favorite literary themes, this party-planning how-to will make your soirée a success.

By Jessica Dukes

Looking for ideas on how to combine your favorite literature genre and its dastardly characters with the bedlam of a great Halloween party? Here’s how to nail down a party theme, inspire your guests with unexpected costume contests, and set the mood.

Horror High Jinx

This is your chance to be your best, scariest self. Invite the beauties and the beasts, and you’ll soon find Draculas, Carries, and a zombie or two in your kitchen. Now, that’s scary.

Décor
When decorating, ask yourself “what would a monster’s secret library look like?” Start with plenty of dripping red candles, low light, and put all of your scariest horror novels on display. Next, make a bloody mess by dripping grenadine syrup down the sides of your glasses. Turn your punch bowl into a spooky cauldron by using dry ice to make fog and hang a giant spider web crawling with dozens of plastic bugs in the corner for an Insta-worthy photo backdrop.

Food
Tame the wildest of hearts with a selection of small bites, like Wicked Witch of the West stuffed jalapeños, mini Monster Toes and blood-red velvet Vampire cupcakes. Stack old, tattered books and top them with bowls of eyeball candies, black licorice, and gummy worms.

Signature Drinks
The Pimm’s Reaper and Witches Brew Sangria

Costume Contest Categories
Most Likely to Be Caught by Angry Townspeople
Best Use of Blood & Guts
Scariest Face

Contest prizes: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein, and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist

Songs for your playlist
“Pet Cemetery” by the Ramones
“Tubular Bells Part 1” by Mark Oldfield (a.k.a. “The Theme from The Exorcist”)
“Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones
“Thriller” by Michael Jackson

A Science Fiction Dystopia

Do you dwell in an alternative existence but want to throw a legendary party in this world? Create a far-out space for all the Neuromancers, aliens, and Offreds in your stratosphere.

Décor

Set the spacey, apocalyptic mood by hanging strands of twinkling lights in an otherwise dimly lit room and provide glow bracelets and necklaces at the door. Leave a few glow-in-the-dark alien masks around for selfies—they also double as proof that you were, indeed, visited by extraterrestrials.

Food
Easy appetizers like Soylent Green Guacamole and Asteroids Popcorn Balls will keep everyone satisfied, and a spread of freeze-dried fruits will make your space-traveling friends feel right at home.

Signature Drinks
The Handmaid’s Ale (your favorite beer) and non-alcoholic Yoda Soda 

Costume Contest Categories:
Deadliest Secret Weapon
Traveled the Farthest to Be Here on Earth
Best Ability to Blend in and Not Look Suspicious at All

Contest prizes: George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness

Songs for your playlist:
“1984” by David Bowie
“Rapture” by Blondie
“Flying Saucers and Rock & Roll” by Billy Lee Riley
“It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by R.E.M.

Murder Mystery Mayhem

Attention all criminals on the loose, do you have what it takes to evade capture by the end of the night?  Get ready for a motley crew of gangsters, gumshoes, Sherlocks, and Nancy Drews at your door, all looking for a good time.

Décor

Cover closed doors with “Crime Scene: Do Not Enter” tape and leave bloody handprints around the house by smearing your hands with grenadine and dragging them across mirrors and windows. Drip fake blood on several possible weapons, leave them in not-so hidden places, and tell your guests whoever finds the “real” murder weapon gets a prize (like a gift card to a local bookstore). Create an eerie photo-op by taping a human body outline on the floor and invite guests to lie down in it (looking at you, Samuel Ratchett from Murder on the Orient Express). 

Food
Running from the law, chasing down perps, and solving mysteries works up an appetite. Feed your hungry culprits and sleuths Sweet & Sour Eyeballs, On-the-Lam Kabobs and Death-by-Chocolate Brownies.

Signature Drinks
Bloody Marys and Greyhound of the Baskervilles

Costume Contest Categories
Most Likely to Be Picked Out of a Lineup
Best Escape Story
Most Likely to Crack the Case

Contest prizes: Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood

Songs for your playlist
“Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson
“Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads
“I Shot the Sheriff” by Bob Marley
“Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash

Whichever theme you choose, just have fun with it! Throwing a Halloween party never killed anybody … or did it?

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