How to Host a Great Halloween Party for Teens

Cookies at a Halloween party
Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Whether you are planning a large Halloween party or a small get-together for friends, a little pre-planning can go a long way toward ensuring that everyone has a good time. Follow some basic safety guidelines while encouraging teens to let loose and have fun, and you are sure to have a party that your teen will not forget.

Get Your Teen Involved

Make sure your teen is involved in the party planning. After all, it's important to throw a party that teens are excited about if you want them to have a good time. Before you begin planning the party, divide up the jobs.

  • Consider hosting the party in conjunction with another teen and parent. Then, you'll be guaranteed to have at least one more person to help with the budget as well as another adult to supervise the party.
  • Decide what jobs your teen is willing to do and which tasks you're going to take on yourself.
  • Discuss any rules you will have for your teen and their party guests. Make sure your teen is on board with you before you move ahead with your plans.

4 to 6 Weeks Before

It is possible to throw a great party at the last minute if that is your only option. Have your teen call some friends, tell them to show up in costumes, and then order pizza. But ideally, start planning a month or more in advance.

Taking time to plan ahead can make for a better party. Not only are you assured that more teens are able to attend, but you'll also have time to decorate and plan some fun activities.

Make the Basic Decisions

As you get started planning the party, sit down with your teen armed with a few basic questions. Agreeing on the answers to these questions ahead of time will make planning a lot easier.

  • Can we have the party at home or do we need a bigger space? (If you need a bigger place, find a location that aligns with your budget and secure it now.)
  • How does your teen envision the party to be?
  • How many guests do you want to invite?
  • What are the rules going to be?
  • What day and time will the party be?

If you decide to host the party in your home, you may want to use only a portion of the house, preferably with direct access to the bathroom. Plan on blocking off the rest of the house with spider webs, black sheets, or other decorations, which will help make it clear that party-goers should stay in the party area.

Establish a Budget

Think about how much you want to invest in the party. Then, consider how much to spend on decorations, food, and activities. Remember that food can often serve as a decoration, too!

For instance, Halloween punch with a floating frozen hand makes a great Halloween table decoration. Meanwhile, glow in the dark bat decorations can be a "count the bats" party game as well. Be creative—but keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to go all out for the party to be fun.

Choose a Halloween Theme

Is your party going to be spooky, based on superheroes, or set in a particular era like the '70s? While a theme isn't always needed, it can help teens know what to wear and set the tone for your party. A party theme can be as simple as "Ghoulish Gathering" or as specific as "Dead Rock Stars." Whatever your teen picks for the Halloween party theme should be fun for everyone. So be sure to keep that in mind if you decide to go with a theme.

Invite the Guests

After you set the date and time for the party, your teen will need to help get the invitations ready. While formal invitations sent through the mail used to be the default way to invite others, many teens prefer to send their invites through group text or via social media. You might also consider helping your teen send an email invitation.

If your teen chooses to invite people more informally, be prepared for extra guests to show up. A friend of a friend may hear about the party and want to attend.

To help prevent that, tell your teen not to post a blanket invitation on Instagram or Twitter. You'll want a good idea of how many kids are showing up ahead of time. Too many kids can be a recipe for disaster when lots of cars line your street or the noise level gets too loud. You want to be sure you are respectful to your neighbors—and you also want to be sure that a bunch of random people don't show up!

Parents also may wish to contact you to make sure you're going to be home or to confirm that there won't be any alcohol served. Make sure you do what you can to communicate as much information as possible about the party in advance.

2 to 4 Weeks Before

Once you have the big picture planned, you can begin to sort out the smaller details of the party. Keep in mind that you do not have to spend a lot of time and money on costumes, food, and decorations to have a great party.

Pick a Halloween Costume

Help your teen decide what to wear. Make sure it's in line with the theme of the party if you have one. You also might decide that you and other chaperones are going to dress up as well. Just make sure you have something that distinguishes you from the other guests. Pumpkin flashlights work well for this.

Plan the Menu

Are you planning to make your own fun Halloween treats, or you will be buying most of the goodies? Pick foods that you can prepare the day before the party so you can free up time for decorating and costumes. Unless the kids will be eating a sit-down meal, stick to food that can be eaten while standing up. That will encourage teens to mingle and walk around during the party.

Decide on Activities

While you don't want to make the party completely structured, a few activities can go a long way toward keeping kids entertained. Consider activities that can be done any time, like a sign-in board with colorful markers that teens can doodle on. Here are some other activities you might consider.

  • A food-related contest: Put on a pie-eating contest, decorate cookies or cupcakes, or have guests bob for worms (gummy worms on plate filled with whipped cream). Use a black plastic tablecloth to keep the house clean.
  • A fun apple contest: There are a lot of different things you can do with apples. For instance, string apples from the ceiling at different heights. See how fast teens can eat the apple with their hands behind their back. Or, have teens race one another by pushing apples across the floor with their noses. You could even organize a "Minute to Win It" game where kids have to see how many apples they can stack into a pyramid in one minute.
  • Run a costume contest: Use categories like the most original costume, spookiest costume, funniest costume, and best group costume. Provide small prizes like candy, inexpensive medals from the dollar store, or a mini pumpkin labeled with the category they won.

Prep the Decorations

You might find you're able to use some things you already have around the house to decorate. For example, holiday lights or burning candles can add to the eeriness of a party room. Just be sure candles are out of the way enough so that they won't catch costumes on fire or get knocked over during the games.

Some music can help set the stage, too. Look for Halloween playlists that you can play during the party. Spooky music in the foyer as kids are entering can also establish mood. Meanwhile, hit up the dollar store for other inexpensive decorations. Spider webs, pumpkins, and white tablecloths made into ghosts can go a long way in creating a spooky vibe for the party.

Purchase Supplies

Make lists of things you need from various stores (party store, grocery store, dollar store, etc.) and write it all down. Check your recipes to see what ingredients you need and then double-check your pantry and refrigerator for items you might already have on hand.

Don't assume you have milk, eggs, or butter without checking first. It is easy to forget the simple things and can be a pain to go back to the store for a much-needed recipe ingredient like butter when you're trying to set up for the party and are pressed for time.

At the Halloween Party

Once the day of the party finally arrives, take some time to relax and enjoy the event. There is no point in stressing out over something you forgot to do. Your teen's guests will never know that you had intended to have carved pumpkins on the porch but forgot. Instead, just focus on having fun and helping your teen greet their guests as they arrive.

As a chaperone, you should be around and aware of what is taking place at the party, but try not to be obtrusive. Instead, focus on keeping the food table stocked, the drinks iced down, and the supplies for the activities readily available. If there is an issue, try to handle it discreetly without yelling or making a scene.

After the party is over, be sure your teen and a few friends stick around to help clean up. After all, this was your teen's party and they should not expect to you to do it all yourself! This time together also will give you a chance to gauge how your teen thinks the party went as they chat with their friends during cleanup.

A Word From Verywell

As a parent, you know that parties are important to teens and their budding social lives. So, when you agree to host a party for your teen, you are encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone in a number of ways. This is a good thing. But, you also know that an unsupervised party is a recipe for disaster.

While your teen may beg you to get lost when the party starts, you need to make your presence known without being a bother. If kids know a parent is around, they are less likely to make poor choices like trying to sneak in alcohol or spike the punch. Remember, that being the responsible parent is the key to safe and fun Halloween party.

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.