Hosting Tips

A Family Friendly Spooktacular

Spooky AND chic.

By Camille Styles

I’ve thrown my fair share of Halloween parties through the years, and there’s no question that coming up with the perfect theme is half the fun. And while my mantra has often been, “The spookier the better,” now that I’ve got two little ones that get spooked really easily, this year’s bash that I threw with Target is brimming with innocent fun that’s perfect for all ages. Think pumpkins and black cats, a starry night sky, and creepy crawly surprises. And with a slightly spooky menu full of candy corn sandwiches and Halloween s’mores, there’s no doubt this party will be a monster smash hit.

*photos by kristen kilpatrick

For this party, we were inspired by a classic palette of black and orange, and when carried throughout every detail of the party, it really packed a punch. Thanks to a fun selection from Target’s Hyde and Eek! Boutique, we decked out the space with pieces that screamed “Halloween.”

Tip #1 Candles are Always a Good Idea

Flickering candlelight makes everything feel more special, and on Halloween, it adds a spooky element too. I decked my mantle out with different types of candles in varying heights — like Target’s Halloween Black Glitter Candelabra — to create an inviting glow that’s visible as soon as you walk through the door.

pictured: Halloween Trick or Treat Wall Hanging;  Halloween Cat Banner; Halloween Potions Book; Halloween Nocturne Candle; Lace Tealight Holder; Jar Candle; Halloween Glass Pumpkin Candy Jar;  Trail Mix Candy Corn

Tip #2. Think Out of This World

Every Halloween party needs a good theme, and giving your decor a celestial spin is both on-theme yet unpredictable. The starry night motifs and dark moody colors on Target’s affordable Halloween dinnerware sets the scene for a festive evening, while still being stylish.

We set up an appetizer buffet with all sorts of nibbles — both savory and sweet — for guests to enjoy, and this “Boo” Banner from Target was the perfect decorative statement to mount on the wall above it.

How cute are these “candy corn” tea sandwiches? I made them by layering golden beets, butternut squash and goat cheese onto sliced bread, then cut them out in a triangular shape. They really pop against this slate cheese board from Target.

The perfect Halloween spread includes:

  • “candy corn” tea sandwiches
  • devilish dips & tortilla chips
  • goulish gummy kabobs
  • baked mac n’ cheese
  • very scary party punch
  • lots and lots of candy!

pictured: Corelle White Soup Bowls; Oreo Apple Pie Cookies

Chips and dip get a monster-worthy makeover in one simple step: Simply use these bat and pumpkin shaped cookie cutters on flour and corn tortillas to make your own chips.

Serve them alongside devilish dips like guacamole, red pepper hummus and olive tapenade for a savory snack that’ll keep guests coming back for seconds.

Let’s face it: Halloween is all about the sweets. But we love the idea of exercising some portion control by serving them on skewers. Who would have thought gummy eyeballs, fingers, and teeth would come together to create such an appetizing dish?!

Our guests arrived ready to party, and couldn’t help but gravitate straight to the mouth-watering buffet.

The very scary party punch was an absolute hit, and since it was booze-free, the kids got to enjoy it too. We served it in this large punch bowl from Target, and let guests help themselves to refillable paper cups in Target’s festive star pattern.

Cooler temps meant we could enjoy our drinks and snacks on the porch! And while Carmen and I didn’t go all out in dressing up for this party, throwing on fun wigs was enough of a costume to get us in the partying mood. Cause what’s more transformative than a totally new ‘do?

pictured: Halloween Sisal Pumpkins; Lavender Flirty Bob Wig; Short Black Bob Wig

I love these tiny snack plates for casual entertaining. They’re truly the perfect size for light bites, and juggling between a drink and greeting guests.

Tip #3. Set Out Spooktacular Games

Keep guests of all ages celebrating together and making memories long after the trick-or-treating has ended, with fun games from Target like Halloween Bingo.

pictured: Halloween Star Napkins; Caramel Apple Popcorn with Apple Slices

Amidst all that planning, you won’t want to forget the most important detail of all: Candy for trick-or-treaters! We loaded up this Spiderweb Serving Bowl with individually wrapped chocolates from Target to ensure we go down as the best house on the block.

Tip #4. Get Creative with Your Candy

Put those sweets to good use by incorporating Halloween candy into a build-your-own s’mores bar. Kit Kats, Snickers and Reese’s all taste even better when melted between a marshmallow and two graham crackers.

To make yours, simply arrange marshmallows atop graham crackers and set them under the broiler for just a minute or two. Keep an eye on them as they’ll burn quickly! Then, as soon as they’re ready, place a piece of candy on top of the marshmallow, and press it together with another graham cracker. Delicious. 

Phoebe and Ellie got all dressed up in costumes that struck just the right balance of fun and frightening!

pictured: Amethyst Witch Costume; Halloween Clips and Barrettes from Cat & JackKitty Cat Witch Costume; Cat Flap Crossbody Bag from Cat & Jack

This Pin The Pumpkin game was the perfect party activity, and Ellie bravely stepped up to the plate first to be blindfolded and try to set the jack o’ lantern’s smile in the right place.

Greta stole the show in what has got to be every little girl’s dream: A Rainbow Unicorn Costume from Target.

Tip #5. Get Pets in on the Fun

Pets are part of the family, which means they should also be part of the festivities! We dressed Paddington up in a costume from Target’s amazing selection, and trick-or-treated him to some amazing Halloween-themed toys too.

pictured: Pizza Pet Costume; Boo Halloween Family T-Shirt from Cat & Jack; Halloween Light-Up Pumpkin Pail

Tip #6. The Easiest Favors Ever

Bubbles are always a crowd pleaser. We gave ours a Halloween spin by labeling them “monster repellant,” and setting them by the front door for guests to grab just before heading out to the spooky streets!

pictured: Mini Bubbles