Pinterest is full of endless ideas for Halloween decorations, but no matter how many construction paper bats you cut out, you still need to set the mood. I'm a firm believer that a Halloween party should feel a little different from any other party: a little eerie, a little spooky, a little creepy.
Now, the goal isn't to scare your guests (unless you're going for a true haunted house!), but rather to hit that sweet spot of thrilling unease: What's around the corner? What might be happening in the next room? Here are a few simple, easy, and almost-free mood-setters to try at your next Halloween party.
Nothing is less creepy than bright overhead lighting! Changing up your lighting is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to set the right mood for your Halloween party. Try one of these ideas:
Dim the lights. Low lighting makes everything look a little hazy, and helps set that chilling tone you're going for. If you don't have your lights on dimmer switches, you can also distribute lamps throughout your space, instead.
Switch out your lightbulbs. Changing your lightbulbs out can make a huge difference, as well. Try using all red lightbulbs, or even blacklights!
Try a pre-programmed lighting plan. If you have any of the fancier LED wifi lightbulbs, check if they have a Halloween program! At our last Halloween party, we found a setting that went through a cycle where every five minutes or so, the lights would briefly flicker and then go off for a few seconds. It was a very effective way to add a little creep!
Put that TV to work! Pick a Halloween or horror movie that works for the tone, mood, and age group of your party, and let it play on mute throughout the festivities. It's a good conversation starter, keeps the theme going, and doesn't get in the way of your music playlist.
Try a Millennial childhood pull like Casper, or go retro with an 80s slasher like Friday the 13th or Leprechaun.
Bloody curtains are such a great ominous mood setter. I love hanging them outside, where they can blow gently in the breeze and make you worry about what's behind them.
For this one, I use the IKEA Lill curtains, which are cheap enough to buy in bulk and destroy without blowing your party budget. You want to hack and tear them up a bit, making sure the edges and bottom are nice and ragged. Then, put down a drop cloth and have some fun with red paint! Dip your hands in and grab different parts of the curtains, streaking the "blood" in different places. Try to leave some handprints if you can.
Cover your furniture with white sheets
Seriously, grab some white sheets from the thrift store, and go to town! It gives haunted abandoned house vibes, and doubles as a great way to protect your sofa from spills.
There you have it! A few basically free ways to set the mood for this year's Halloween party. Wishing you a scary Spooky Season!