Halloween is here! I found myself struggling to figure out what to do to celebrate one of my favorite holidays when parties and costumes just weren’t going to happen. My roommate and I have agreed a movie night (movie day?) seems appropriate…but it doesn’t feel special enough. So. I’ve thought up 3 ideal theme nights for celebrating Halloween at home — all pretty manageable for last-minute plans!
Now to pick just one…
Halloween At Home: What To Watch, Play, Wear & Eat (+ How To Decorate)
I’ve also included a few notes for on-theme decorating, in case that’s your thing. [Syd raises hand]
1. A Night At Hill House
Watch: The Haunting of Hill House
If you’re in for something with amazing tension and just the right amount of creepy, spooky, what’s-that-I-saw-out-of-the-corner-of-my-eye horror, then I highly suggest The Haunting of Hill House. This show is definitely not one for the kiddos, but it’s such a good show on Netflix! If you’ve already watched it, I suggest giving The Haunting of Bly Manor a go.
Honestly, one of my favorite board games to play with friends and family. It might be the fact that a lot of my friends were in theater, but the drama of one of the players becoming a traitor was all the better when we adopted outrageous accents and wild emotional reactions. There was also an expansion called the Widow’s Walk that adds new rooms to the house AND new haunts.
Wear: An Outfit Fitting Either Hill House
The best thing about The Haunting of Hill House and Betrayal at the House on the Hill is that most characters are normal people, who therefore have normal outfits. An easy costume (and a fun way to make the board game a bit more interesting) is to dress as a character from either the show or the board game. On the simpler side, dressing like Ox from the board game requires a red shirt, jeans, a red baseball cap, and work boots. A long flowy robe or dress is all you really need to evoke the feel of Olivia Crain. If anything else, the Crains were constantly running around in their pajamas throughout Hill House, so that could totally work too.
Decorate: An Aged Elegance with A Strong Sense of Foreboding
How does one decorate their house to resemble an old spooky manor full of restless spirits and creepy monsters? Honestly? I would bust out the white bed sheets and cover furniture in some rooms as if they’d been abandoned (perfect for achieving that “I-swear-I-saw-a-figure-out-of-the-corner-of-my-eye,-but-it’s-actually-just-a-coat-stand-with-a-sheet-over-it” vibe). Keep the lights dim or off in most rooms, and set the table a bit fancy. Maybe pull out the china and throw a white tablecloth down. Make use of some old dying flowers (I know some peeps are getting fresh flowers to liven up their homes) and use them as a table centerpiece. Just for mood let’s keep our fingers crossed for a spooky thunderstorm to really hammer home the mood.
I was stuck on finding something spooky and Halloween-y to suggest for a meal, but I think something different would fit better. I think fully embracing the Hill House manor elegance might be a bit fun buuuut…still keeping it low maintenance. This one-skillet chicken recipe will look pretty set in the center of the table, AND judging by the reviews it will taste just as good. Annnd if you have room for dessert, Em has a gluten-free chocolate pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting that looks…just so freakin good.
2. Keepin’ It Classic
Watch: A Classic Slasher
Another night not necessarily for kids, but maybe the adults deserve a night off. A movie night could be exactly what we need. I suggest kicking it back to the original creepy. Reach for A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, etc., etc., you get the idea.
Play: College Party Games
In the typical fashion of spring break, I’d suggest playing bean bag toss, ladder golf, poker, or sharing ghost stories around the campfire. I also found this board game called Death at the Dive Bar, a murder mystery where players examine evidence and narrow down suspects in an attempt to find the killer. It seems like a fun party game for a small group to puzzle through.
Wear: Stereotypical Horror Movie Survivor Outfits
Listen, if you’re not into putting a ton of work into a costume, horror movies can be your friend. Most of the main characters will be running around in jeans and sneakers, camp counselor uniforms or varsity jackets. If you’re looking for ideas, check this article for Final Girl costumes, and for the guys…channel any of the characters like Ashley “Ash” J. Williams from Evil Dead, Curt from The Cabin in the Woods, or Glen Lantz from A Nightmare on Elm Street. And if you want to be a bit more extra, a smear of dirt or blood with a few rips in your clothes will sell the look more.
Decorate: Take Advantage of The Outdoors
If you’re inviting people over, it would be in best practice to keep this party outside. Setting up a projector for movie night outside would be great while the weather holds. Make a campfire, have people bring blankets and lawn chairs, and cozy up with some BYOB. If you want to dress up the landscape a bit, splatter some blood on the inside of the windows of the house, keep the light outside to a minimum once it gets dark, and hide/pose a life-size cardboard cutout of Michael Myers eerily in the distance.
Eat: Pizza & Wings & S’mores
As I’ve said before, keep this night simple. Order pizza from your favorite local places, drink some beer, and kick up your feet around the campfire. Later in the evening toast some marshmallows while the movie plays. Keep it simple, people. (If you can’t keep it simple, here’s the pizza dough recipe I always make and a delicious looking S’mores dip)
3. A Night With the Kids
Watch: Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown, Coraline, Monster House
I will always always suggest the classics from Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown have a special place in my heart as some of the best movies to watch during the spooky season, BUT if those don’t light up you (or your little ones’ eyes) maybe give Coraline or Monster House a try.
Play: Operation, Cornhole, Candy Hunt, Board Games
Some of my favorite holiday memories are the times when I was home with the fam just playing board games by the fireplace. If you’re making this an all day event (100% suggest taking a few notes from Em’s recent post about a Halloween fest at home), donning costumes and playing games outside like cornhole could be a blast. Maybe organize a little candy hunt around the house or yard. Then bring it indoors when the sun goes down for some board games like Operation.
Wear: Your Best Halloween Costume
It wouldn’t hurt to dress up a bit, even if it’s just you and the main crew (I might bust out my Spider Noir costume again). If you’re not super into the whole costume thing, I’d suggest adopting pajamas for the day (honestly, the perfect Saturday in my opinion anyway).
Decorate: A Cozy Blanket Fort
This. This this this. Drag the chairs from the kitchen and all the clothespins you own. Bust out the old sheets and construct the king of blanket forts. Fill that thing with blankets, pillows, stuffed animals and lanterns (or those little no-flame candles for spookiness). Make sure the TV is encased by the fort too for maximum coziness when watching movies. Trust me, blanket forts can make anything feel special.
Make it a yum kinda night with Em’s (dairy-free) pumpkin cannelloni with candied walnuts and crispy sage. I’ll take any excuse during October to cook with pumpkin, especially when it evades the traditional pumpkin pie route. As for dessert, I was initially going to suggest dirt cups (ahh Oreos and chocolate pudding..how I love you), but I came across this recipe for Ghosts in the Graveyard (a dressed up version of dirt cups) and had to share.
Hope these ideas make this Halloween a little more festive. If you haven’t checked out our other posts yet, definitely take a peek at Em’s posts on Halloween treats, how to throw a last minute festival, Abby’s classy Halloween decor that can stay up all season, and how Scotti’s celebrating with the family at home.
Your Resident Dungeon Master,