Three Tips for Hosting an Outdoor Halloween Party
Whether you're known for hosting the creepiest haunted house in your neighborhood or for providing post-trick-or-treating snacks to tired parents and overexcited kids, moving your Halloween celebration outdoors offers multiple benefits: You can feel safer gathering in a group, enjoy the crisp autumn weather, and skip the mad rush to clean your home before the party. But hosting an outdoor party requires a few thoughtful touches that don't apply when you're setting up indoors, says Elisabeth Accardi from Upon a Star event planning in Boston, Massachusetts. Ahead, everything you need to know about enjoying your celebration outside.
Hosting a party after dark makes your bash feel a little spookier, but safe lighting is critical for any outdoor bash: If your space is too dark, you risk guests tripping over errant tree roots, décor, or each other. By incorporating the right type of lighting, you can still create an eerie atmosphere. "Lighting is what makes an event," says Accardi. "It's so important—it sets the mood!" If your property is surrounded by trees, hang LED string lights in the branches to provide an overhead glow, or suspend lanterns from the higher branches to enclose the space. Line pathways with paper bags decorated or punched with seasonal shapes and place an LED candle inside, or light small carved pumpkins and arrange them to delineate walkways. Accardi also recommends uplighting trees—either in Halloween colors or standard whites—to brighten the area.
Fight the chill.
While late October may not mean freezing temperatures in your region, there's a good chance guests will eventually get chilly after hours spent outside. Have a stack of soft blankets ready, says Accardi, for curling up in Adirondack chairs or wrapping around shivering kids, and set up a fire pit to provide an extra-cozy spot for conversation (and s'mores). If you do live in an area where temperatures have dropped significantly, add outdoor heaters that allow your guests to stay comfortable outside instead of migrating inside—or worse, heading home. And if rain is in the forecast, prepare by renting a tent or setting up covered areas to keep partiers dry.
Add your favorite games and treats.
Most of the activities you provide for indoor Halloween parties can be seamlessly transferred to an outside celebration, whether your party trends toward the old-school (a bowl of peeled grapes, toilet paper mummy-wrap competitions) or the modern (showing classic horror films on an outdoor projector). Accardi recommends plenty of seating—on cushioned chairs, outdoor lounge pillows, or blanket-covered hay bales—that allow guests to secure their own space when eating, and fun food stations that are a little messier than those you'd usually set up inside, like dipped donut bars, s'mores buffets, or charcuterie-inspired candy trays.