I'm a freak for theme parties and you know Halloween is my Christmas! If I had it my way, I'd do a party every freaking year, but in an apartment it's not going to make me popular. It's early in the year to discuss Halloween party planning only if you're a dork who doesn't love Halloween, but if you want to do the season justice, you know that you have to start now with all the parts that go into it.
I'm going to use my ultimate Halloween party as an example of how I went about planning it.
Do not be too vague about the theme of your party.
Wouldn't you love to go to "Count Dracula's Suckfest"? How about "Strandoned on Zombie Island"?
COST--SPEND IT ON THE FOOD NOT THE DECORATIONS
You want to work with what you have or find what you need. Raw materials are all that is necessary; Styrofoam, paints, paper, cardboard, cheap fabrics.
When I did my Halloween party, my biggest priority was working with my shitty halfway landscaped backyard and trying to keep the costs down as much as possible so I could splurge on the food. I also wanted a nod to my love of abandoned places So, I came up with this theme:
I had an old white lattice for the garden. I took it apart and hammered them into crosses. I painted them with 99-cent fluorescent paint. I stuck them all over the ground near the gate to the backyard so the first thing people saw was a graveyard when they entered. I bought a long tube fluorescent light to make them all glow ($19.99) and so far the entry cost me $20.98.
I had a 5-foot tall candelabra. I filled a pair of camouflage hunter's pants with rolled up duct taped towels to make thighs and calves. I attached that to the stand and put over the stand a large military coat. I put a pumpkin on for the head and then a gas mask I had atop that. I printed out a nuclear symbol and put it on the coat. I put gloves on the ends of the coat sleeves and a viking hat I owned atop his head. When I was done, I had a free 6-foot tall scary dude greeting everyone in the graveyard with my ghost hunting strobe light on him.
The pool was fun. I took neon green paint for 99 cents and poured a bit into some empty plastic milk cartons and rolled it around inside and put nuclear waste symbols on the containers. I went into the pool and put a green plastic sheet over the light and the pool became a nuclear waste dump when lit up.
I made giant spiders with Styrofoam cut into balls from throw-out inserts from appliance boxes and then painted them black with black pipe cleaner legs and some spider webbing (about $2 for supplies) and put that over the walls around the pool.
For the back patio where the food was, I put out the usual tables with old sheets on them that were tattered and stained and also a wheel barrel filled with ice for the beers. I took old sheets, tattered the edges, put in some holes and stained them in tea and stapled them around the patio to enclose it in a kind of spooky fluttering worn curtains feel.
For the main part of the yard, I had a sheer white fabric draped over a large styrofoam ball with a white craft store mask atop it, hanging by clear string from the tree as a dancing ghost. I put out tons of chairs and lounge seats and I had a fire pit ready with logs. I took a black sheet and made a reaper next to a cemetery with bones sticking out of the ground. I already had a tree saw I made into the reaper's scythe and then made the black sheet into a hooded garb and attached it to the patio post and made a paper maiche face. I had headstones I made out of Styrofoam and plaster and then another ghost floating over the graveyard. I put out lanterns and then the big show stopper:
The show stopper was dolls I found from abandoned sites and made them look grizzly and awful. I put them along the top of the shed and on posts in front of the shed and put a table out and placed a projector on its bottom shelf. The projector showed against the shed and dolls a movie about creepy dolls by the Brothers Quay (the creepiest thing ever) and it showed against the shed, the dolls and up the side of the house. Supplies for this yard came to about $40.
So, complete decorations were about $60.
Inside where the bathroom was the only room being used, I printed out celebrity autopsy reports and suicide notes and death certificates and hung them up all around the mirrors with their pictures. A few bloody streaks on the mirrors and a cardboard razor and bottle with fake candy pills spread out--Voila! Creepy-rama.
I also had a live band (okay, more like open mic for a bunch of musicians).
The key to putting together the party is collecting; collect newspapers from now until Halloween. A mix of half glue/half water and dipping the strips of newspaper into it and plastering them onto things and you have paper maiche. Consider abandoned places, curbside trash piles during bulk trash pickup week, behind strip malls in the trash bins, thrift stores, friends who might have old clothes and sheets you convert into dummies and curtains, tablecloths and such, are all helpful elements. If you have a projector or can rent one, consider projecting onto a sheet on an outside wall of the house or stretched between two trees.
Any way you look at it, you have six months of plotting, collecting, building and planning. Have fun with your themes and think of everything from bathrooms to food tables, entertainment to games and music.