Trick-or-treat party logistics

A college student’s guide to a great Halloween party

There is a lot of work involved in throwing a party: You have to plan the guest list, the food, the drinks, the music and all the other entertainment.

One whose name we dare not speak/VANGUARD STAFF

SpookTown: You’ll be as happy as a ghoul in a graveyard if you follow these party plans.

Now, if you’re throwing a Halloween party, your planning requirements have just increased exponentially. Not only do you have to plan all of the regular stuff, but you also have to find a theme or at least a gimmick.

Of course, your theme could simply be “Halloween”—if you want to be lame.

But if you are a true party planner extraordinaire, you know that simply slapping up a few ghosts, some fake cobwebs and paper skeletons ain’t gonna cut it.

Did you know that Brittany is throwing a party that will have actual finger sandwiches? I’m serious: Actual fingers! No, I don’t know where she got them, and I don’t want to ask, but seriously! How cool is that?

See? That is what your party is up against.

I know it can be daunting, especially if you are a college student living on a college student’s budget. But never fear: no matter your situation, you can still pull off a hideously fabulous (fabulously hideous?) party. It just takes a little bit of thought and some extra planning.

So if you think you’ve got what it takes to plan a party in the very competitive—some would even say cutthroat—world of Halloween parties, read on. I can provide you with some tips and strategies that can help you throw a great Halloween party. Though I do not advocate pulling a Brittany and using actual fingers or any other genuine body parts as decoration, I still think my ideas can make your party a success.

The guest list

The guest list for your party is monstrously crucial. A good Halloween party can live or die by the right guest list. I’m not talking about packing your party with A-list celebs or other self-important types. I am saying that you want to make sure to invite plenty of people who truly dig Halloween and will be ready to get into the spirit of the night without too much arm twisting from the host.

We don’t always think about it, but there are a lot of people out there who simply don’t get into Halloween. We’ve all seen them—they are the ones who show up at the party in regular street clothes, using their claim of “being ironic” as a defense mechanism.

Sure, one or two of them at a party is OK—it can even add a little balance. But you don’t want a party full of wet blankets.

Space considerations

As a student, your living situation may be, let’s say, “spatially challenged.” While this can provide a couple of obstacles for the party planner, it is by no means a deal breaker. Some of the best parties I have ever been to went down in studio apartments. It can be done. It just requires a little extra planning.

First off, you will want to keep the number of invited guests under control. You know your space and probably have a good idea of how many people you can comfortably accommodate.

Think about the type of activities that you are planning for the party. Will there be dancing? If so, designate and clear out a spot specifically for dancing. This may mean that you have to temporarily move that treasured hutch you got from your mom to the basement, but so be it.

If you’re thinking of a more low-key gathering, maybe with some socialization followed by scary movies, then you want to make sure that you have enough comfy seating for all of your guests. Now, before you panic and head to Ikea to buy a couple of new chairs that you can neither afford nor have a need for during the rest of the year, relax. Just get hold of some oversized pillows to throw on the floor and voila! You have extra seating.

When it comes to a smaller space, the rule of thumb is to hold back on the decorations—which can be really hard on Halloween because decorating is half the fun. You want to avoid adding too many decorations, which will make a small space seem even smaller.

What you can do is put some extra consideration into those decorations that you do put up. You will want to really focus on quality over quantity. Instead of hitting up Dollar Tree and buying them out of all of their decorations, find a few choice pieces that may cost a bit more but will create a better effect while saving space.

Themes and ideas

Once you know who you are inviting and how you can use your space, it’s time to start thinking about the theme of your party. A theme can be anything that you want it to be: I’ve seen themes range from the gothic to cartoon characters. My favorite was a “Literary Geniuses” Halloween party I attended in which one guy came as Sylvia Plath, complete with oven rack. Okay, so they may not always be in the best taste, but that can be part of the fun of it.

There are many websites dedicated to helping you find great menus, great costumes and games. So I won’t go into that here. My advice is to take a look at what you have to work with and use it to its fullest while staying true to your own personal style. Do this and you are guaranteed to have a great party.

Happy haunting!