How to Throw a Killer Halloween Party


One spooky October night, Brandon and I hosted the most elaborate Halloween costume party that's ever been thrown. Well, at least the most elaborate one we've ever been to!


It all started with a group of friends (and one Pomeranian) willing to dress up, play games, eat potluck-style, and compete for the ultimate grand prize...a $5 Starbuck gift card.

Can you identify everyone's costumes? Take a quick guess.


That's right, Brandon and I are the hotdog finger lovers from the movie "Everything Everywhere All at Once." I'll show you more pictures later for context.


What a lucky break that they sell hotdog hand gloves for this costume!


I've been collecting supplies for this party all year.

Cute pumpkin and ghost tablecloth? Check.

Various glass jars to hold candy and gummy body parts? Check.

Whimsical Halloween decor, like light-up pineapple jack-o-lanterns, spider-filled flower arrangements, and thrifted vintage Halloween cutlery? Check.

Click here to see all our festive autumn home decorations, up close.


Next on the list: serving two signature cocktails with a haunted theme.


Our Zombie Bride cocktail, garnished with a raspberry (you know, because brains), and with mini marshmallows and a rim of shredded coconut to represent the wedding dress:

  • Spiders
  • Rum
  • Blue triple sec
  • Pineapple juice
  • Cream of coconut
  • Grenadine (for that bloody finish)

Zombie Bride mocktail:

  • Skulls
  • Berry lemonade Jones soda
  • Lime juice
  • Pineapple juice
  • Cream of coconut
  • Grenadine

Sugar rush!


Our Halloween punch, garnished with a rim of honey and turbinado sugar:

  • Cranberry juice
  • Apple juice
  • Grape juice
  • Ginger beer
Photo Credit: Family Strong

First, I froze creepy plastic spiders into ice cube trays shaped like skulls.


Next, I offered our guests the choice to keep their drinks mocktail or make them a cocktail by adding a shot of rum - the perfect opportunity to use my pineapple shot glasses.


Bartender Brandon mixed up the evening's libations. Applying his skill for cooking to the liquid realm.


The end result was bright blue and purely delicious. You could really taste the newlywed corpse.


Brad and Jing impressed us as a shiny, googly-eyed fish and a fisherwoman with a very tiny net. Her pocket-plentiful vest isn't a prop; she really does go fishing in Lake Michigan!


Behind Jing, you can see the leaderboard for the night's contest activities. As expected, I over-stacked the schedule, but we played most of the games, with great fanfare and fierce sportsmanship.

  • Best Costume Contest - Who was the cutest vs. scariest?
  • Candy Corn BINGO
  • Silly Speed Questions
  • Childhood Photo Guessing Game
  • DIY Costume Race
  • 5-Word Scary Poems
  • Cupcake Decorating
Originally downloaded from

Our cozy home is just large enough for me and Brandon, most days. When we have big groups over for parties, the basement is our eating and gaming hotspot, complete with a movie projector to play ghoulish films as we enjoy our finger foods.


A generous ceiling of streamers helps set the mood.


Click here to see our Halloween living room decor up close, from spooky to sweet, right down to the themed greeting cards I adore.


To get everyone's creative juices flowing, we held a DIY costume-making contest. With the provided streamers, construction paper and pipe cleaners, the contestants had 10 minutes to whip up designs fit for Hollywood...or close as they could get.

Jamie's team won with an ad-hoc Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle outfit, using my pineapple backpack as inspiration, and her army green jumpsuit as turtle skin. What talent!

Jing's team was a close second with her purple and pink butterfly getup, followed by Joe's team with a dizzying mummy streamer costume. Great job to all the players!


In our game of silly speed questions, I wanted our guests to loosen up and get to know each other. They had two minutes to chat, then cycled around the table for a new match up.

  • List your Halloween costumes over the years and favorite.
  • What is your favorite scary movie or TV show and why?
  • If you were a spooky creature, which one would you be and why?
  • Talk about something actually scary that has happened to you.
  • What is your favorite candy around Halloween time? In general?
  • What is your favorite cozy weather drink, caffeinated or otherwise?

Next, we channeled our favorite Food Network hosts and created a variety of scary or sweet cupcake decorations, from skeletons and bats to rainbows and jack-o-lanterns.

I provided these images for inspiration, but some people bucked the templates and really got weird with it, including our winner.


Look at them, so proud of their handiwork.

For our final game, we had everyone bring a photo of themselves as children and laid them out on the table, mixed in a with a few convincing decoys. Everyone walked around with their notepads, guessing and laughing and shrugging.

Can you guess who is who in these photos below?


We slayed back then. It's the vintage sweaters for me.


Brandon depicted the talented Jamie Lee Curtis, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the no-nonsense IRS auditor in "Everything Everywhere All at Once."


Jamie and Eric took the costume contest seriously with their persuasive renditions of Top Gun Airforce pilots. Just look at those shades!


Joe entertained us with his vintage Mickey Mouse Club ensemble. He's a diehard retro television fan.

I'm sure you've noticed by now that, yes, I asked everyone to wear nametags at this party, where many of them were meeting for the first time. Maybe it's crazy, or maybe it encourages mingling!


Brad won the cupcake contest with his terrifying multi-eyed monster design. I still see it in my dreams on dark winter nights.

He and Jing had shed their fishing costumes by this time, but had one more surprise up their sleeves for their pineapple-loving hostess. Keep scrolling to see their shocking costume change.

Also, shout out to Jing for taking most of the party photos in this post! I was so busy keeping everything on schedule, I never thought to grab my phone, so thank you thank you Jing.


Kestas and Hallie embraced their love of good food with their complimentary cold brew and sprinkle donut couples costume.

I can't get over Kestas's creepy snowman? Ghost? With the lazy eye and provocative rainbow tongue.


Kristin and Brett, my lovely coworkers, were actually two parts of an eight-person Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory group costume at our office earlier that week, which included my portrayal of the blue-faced Violet Beauregarde.


Kristin dressed as Mike Teavee, the television obsessed child cowboy, and obviously Brett stole the show in this authentic Willy Wonka costume, even remembering to bring a giant chocolate bar with golden ticket inside!

Can you guess who everyone else represents in this line up? I'll give you a hint: we had two Charlies.


My version of Violet Beauregarde was just beginning to feel the effects of the three-course dinner chewing gum, well on her way to becoming totally blue and blown up like a blueberry.


Now that you've reached the end of our party, your reward is seeing Jing and Brad's surprise costume change - pineapple onesies!

These two are so funny and thoughtful, what great friends.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a major pineapple collector. Click here to see my growing collection, right here on this website.


I'm sure you're wondering what the rest of our Halloween decorations looked like. Fortunately, you can click right here to see them.

And keep clicking to read about the other autumn activities we enjoyed in Chicagoland this year (plus one from Portland, OR):