There’s no gray area here: This is one crazy-cool Halloween party. The tricks are decorations and food that do double duty for adults or teens.

By Food content Family Circle Food Editors

A murder of crows

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Attach faux birds to a spray-painted branch using the wire they come with. For more staying power, add a dab of hot glue.

High Contrast 

You can get monochromatic almond M&M’S, Sixlets and yogurt-covered raisins at bulk candy stores. 

Easy DIY bat headband

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

You'll need:

  • scissors
  • black wire
  • black headband
  • black card stock
  • hot glue

Cut wire pieces into various lengths and twist around headband to secure. Cut out bat shapes from card stock. Secure tips of wire to bats with hot glue.

All the pieces you need to give your party some character...

Create a Halloween-themed selfie studio

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Pick a wall and hang empty black frames, spider webs or whatever you like to create an appropriately creepy backdrop. Give them plenty of props, like the bat crown (left), feather masks, faux eyeglasses, bow ties, you name it. Then throw in some edgier elements like temporary hair color spray or tattoos. Our faves are Hush Prism Airbrush Spray (, $24) and Tattly tattoos (, from $5 each). 

Because every good party needs a soundtrack

  • Disturbia  Rihanna 
  • Ghostbusters  Pentatonix 
  • Monster  Kanye West feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj
  • Haunted  Beyoncé 
  • Cannibal  Kesha 
  • Psycho Killer  Talking Heads 
  • Highway to Hell  AC/DC 
  • Beautiful Monster  Ne-Yo   
  • Black Magic Woman  Fleetwood Mac 
  • Heads Will Roll Yeah Yeah Yeahs 
  • Superstition  Stevie Wonder 
  • Psychotic Girl  The Black Keys
  • Monster  Lady Gaga
  • Get Ur Freak On Missy Elliott 
  • Teeth Lady Gaga 
  • Evil Eye Franz Ferdinand 
  • Seven Devils Florence + the Machine 
  • Thriller Michael Jackson

Without specific activities, teens are likely to end up staring at their phones. Some ideas to keep them engaged:

  • Teens can download the Heads Up! game (iOS, Android) and play together on their phones. (Friends give clues so you can guess the word that’s held up to your forehead before the timer runs out.)
  • Fill a jar with creepy conversation starters: Do you think your house is haunted? Have you ever seen a ghost? What’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you? 
  • An oldie but goodie: the Ouija board. Go for the classic or select a beautiful bespoke version from Etsy. 

Floating apparitions

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Not a DIY kinda gal? Balloons are an easy way to make a room party-ready fast. 11” Marble Balloons,, $15.50/20

Do the Twist

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Make your lights go dark with coiled rubber snakes.

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

A plain twig wreath, some black spray paint and rubber snakes equals the spookiest door décor.

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Intertwine some slithery critters in your woven doormat for an immediate scare tactic.

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Spray-paint candlestick holders in varying shades of gray and buy black candles.

For the teens...

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Black & white snacks for nibbling, then a pasta and salad that go two ways: You make one big batch of each, then split it in half. The kids get the “basic” versions—pasta with ham and peas, salad with croutons. 

Striped pasta

We found this farfalle from, but also check Home Goods or other gourmet stores that carry seasonal foods. See our recipe for the pasta salad here.

Monochrome magic

No need for carving or intricate detail—pumpkins painted all black serve up a bold statement when scattered around. 

Dead Center

Spray-painted pumpkins and a centerpiece skull ( bring black and white to the table

decor. And let the snakes, bugs and vermin run rampant through the food. (The kids will like it—trust us.)

For the adults...

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

The kids are eating; now it’s your turn. The big difference on the grown-ups’ table? More veg! (Oh, and a killer feta dip.) Your version of the pasta gets sautéed leeks and red peppers. Beets and goat cheese are added to the salad.

Get a Head

When you buy the skull for the teen table, get an extra: Take off the top and you’ve got yourself a grown-up Halloween vase.

Time to Wine

What you’re drinking can be as dark and moody as the rest of the table. Vampire Vinyard’s Pinot Noir, Ravenswood's Besieged, Apothic’s Dark Red and Gothic’s Nevermore have suitably eerie labels.

Of Mice and Men

Spray-paint rubber mice gold, cut a slit horizontally along their backs with a utility knife, and your vermin become surprisingly sophisticated cardholders.

DIY doughnut wall

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Teens are going to think this doughnut wall is the coolest thing ever (actually, so will the adults). Two simple elements—store-bought doughnuts and homemade frosting—add up to a high-impact dessert. 

You'll need:

  • measuring tape
  • pencil
  • 2’ x 3’ solid wood board
  • drill fitted with 3/8” paddle bit
  • painter’s tape
  • gray spray paint
  • 3/8” wooden dowels
  • rubber mallet

Measure and mark where you want the doughnuts to go. We spaced ours 2 inches apart from each other and 2 inches away from the edge of the board. Drill holes where marked all the way through the board. Place a piece of painter’s tape diagonally across the board and spray one side with gray paint. Once the paint is dry, remove tape and hammer in wooden dowels with the rubber mallet.


Stream a scary movie marathon—new, old and classic. Be afraid, be very afraid.

  • Halloweentown TV-PG 
  • Scream R
  • Hocus Pocus PG
  • Carrie (2013 version with Chloë Grace Moretz) R
  • Get Out R
  • Ghostbusters: Answer the Call PG-13
  • Pride + Prejudice + Zombies PG-13 
  • The Conjuring R
  • Paranormal Activity R
  • It (2017 version) R
  • Young Frankenstein PG
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula R
  • Poltergeist PG
  • Psycho R
  • Warm Bodies PG-13