We’ve entered the time of year when life just seems to accelerate. School starts, then it’s only days til Halloween (or so it seems), then Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the meantime, we’re trying to pack in softball games, trips to apple country, pumpkin picking, and — oh yeah — my busiest time of the year at work. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe, let alone get my house picked up enough to decorate for holiday after holiday after holiday.

So, let’s start planning for Halloween early. I promise you: the only way I ever get any party planned is to start at least four weeks in advance and to do a little bit every day.

Case in point: this year, we held my daughters’ birthday party at the end of July. I’d started planning early. Then, the last two weeks before the party, a work project kicked my tush. It required working every night and weekend and there was no party planning time to be found. But, because I’d started early, the girls and I were able to finish everything up the morning of the party. If I’d waited til the last minute to start, the party just wouldn’t have happened.

In our Halloween party planning challenge, I’ll walk you through the steps in planning your own Halloween party. Excited? Participating? Please let me know in the comments below.

To help, be sure to sign up to receive my 4-Week Party Planner. We’ll go through these same basic steps. You can complete one step a day, or go through the steps more quickly, if you like.

Getting Started

Let’s start with date, time and theme.

  • A Halloween party can be the weekend before the holiday — a chance for the kids to wear their costumes one extra time.
  • Or, you can have a pre-trick or treat gathering. Since Halloween is a Tuesday in 2017, the practicality of pre-trick or treat party may depend on what time your kids get out of school.
  • Maybe your child has an October birthday and you’re planning a Halloween-inspired birthday party.

In any case, your first decisions are the day and time of your party. Keep in mind that the time of your party makes a difference in your menu.

  • If you want to serve only a dessert table, opt for a pre-Halloween party and host your party in the afternoon.
  • If you plan a pre-trick or treating party, serve a light dinner. (The kids will be so excited they won’t eat much, but they still need something other than candy in their bellies.)
  • An October birthday might include a lunch if it will be a longer party with lots of activities, but otherwise, serving a dessert table only is a great way to help control your budget.

Party Theme

Obviously, you’re hosting a Halloween themed party, but life will be so much easier on you if you narrow down that theme. Having a sharp focus makes all your decisions easier and will keep you from over-shopping. Maybe you’re having a costume party, or a pumpkin carving party, or a little monsters party. Are you famous for your annual haunted house? You clearly need to host an “open house.”

If you need inspiration, I’d really encourage you to brainstorm your own ideas (see below) or do some exploring — not shopping quite yet — at the craft store or antique shop or pumpkin patch to get your creative wheels turning. Here’s a pic of my own Halloween party brainstorming. I used the brainstorming sheet from my Party Planning Cheat Sheets. It’s a free bonus you get when you sign up to receive emails about my latest blog posts.

Here are some of my past Halloween parties:

  1. Witch’s tea party
  2. Trick or treat party
  3. Black rat party
  4. Sweet (not spooky) Halloween party
  5. Zombie princess party
  6. Charlie Brown Halloween party

At our local dollar store, I found mini jack-o-lantern treat buckets. I think they’ll be cute on each place setting, maybe as a place card or probably as a party favor container. So, jack-o-lanterns will be the design inspiration for my party. They look like these from Century Novelty. From that jumping off point, I think my party colors will be the traditional orange, black and white.

Party Budget

I always want you to establish a party budget, because it drives so many of your other decisions.

  • If your budget is tight,you’ll want to look for free Halloween printables and take a DIY route for most decisions.
  • If your budget is more comfortable, you may be able to opt for a few investment pieces and to purchase more services.

As we go along, I’ll try to make both budget-friendly and budget-roomy suggestions.

Guest List

How big will your party be? Will it be a few neighbors or a big family bash and all of your kids’ friends? Your guest list should be determined by several things:

  • Your budget – how many guests can you afford to feed and decorate for and give party favors?
  • Your space – how many guests will comfortably fit inside your house?
  • Will parents stay or drop off?
  • Write down your list by family and count the total number of adults and kids. Also make sure to jot down addresses (or, email addresses) for sending invitations.

Where You’ll Host Your Party

I’m going to assume that you’ll host this party at home and inside. So, here are questions to ask yourself:

  • Which room or rooms? Or, which outside spaces?
  • What is required to make your space party-ready?
  • Will you need to remove or protect furniture?
  • Will you need folding tables or rental chairs?
  • If you need to mark any areas off limits, how will you do that?

If you need to declutter (and I always do), start now and do a little every day.

Now for Some Fun Stuff

Hooray you! You made it through the party fundamentals, so now you get to do some of the fun stuff: brainstorming all the details of your party. I love brainstorming because it makes me realize that I’m more creative than I think I am. It’s so easy to scroll through Instagram or Pinterest and get a little overwhelmed. So many ideas, so creative, so pretty, so professionally photographed. It’s easy to become intimidated and feel like you aren’t creative. Sure, you might think: “Maybe I can assemble a party from other peoples’ ideas…” NOW STOP THAT! STOP UNDERESTIMATING YOURSELF!

You are creative — yes, you. I promise. So before you turn to your phone for ideas, click here to learn my brainstorming technique — the same one I showed you above. You’ll get excited about your ideas. Then, feel free to jump on Pinterest and make a board to round out your thoughts or find a tutorial. But try it on your own first.

If you’re planning along with this series, I’d love to hear how your progress is going. Be sure to let me know in the comments below. And of course, don’t forget to grab your free 4-Week Party Planner.

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