Halloween is a great occasion to throw a masquerade party. Masquerade parties can be elegant and fun while still embracing the dress-up aspect of Halloween. Read on for a step-by-step guide on hosting a perfect Halloween masquerade party your guests will never forget.
Setting a budget is where all good party planning should begin. Sit down and have a look at how much you are comfortable spending on your Halloween masquerade party, or what kind of a budget your organization is willing to spend.
While it seems like a boring thing to do, it’s an important step that shouldn’t be skipped. Looking at the numbers first means you can be as creative as you like later, and you won’t have to worry about how much you’re spending, or find yourself paying for a giant stone gargoyle for months after (because who wouldn’t want a giant stone gargoyle for their Halloween party?).
While Halloween Masquerade seems like a pretty straightforward theme, there’s actually a lot you can do with it. You can play with motifs and focus on one scary element like spiders or bats, or even make it a futuristic Halloween party where guests have to wear more contemporary masks made of metal and leather. Or, you could choose to go a more traditional route. Here are some ideas to help you come up with your very own creative Halloween Masquerade theme:
- A creepy crawlies theme with an all-black color palette and a focus on nighttime creatures such as spiders, bats, and snakes. Guests are instructed to wear masquerade masks and costumes representative of the theme.
- A haunted circus theme, where guests are asked to dress up as clowns and jesters (in masquerade, of course).
- A ghostly ghouls theme, which focuses on ghosts and is comprised of an all-white color palette, including guests dressed in all-white masquerade.
- An eerie carnival theme, where the focus is the costumes and masks, and the scene is set up like a spooky, haunted Venice.
Once you’ve decided the budget and theme of your party (and set a date), it’s time to finally start planning! Sit down with a calendar in front of you and work your way back from the date of your party (presumably at the end of October) and plot out tasks that you need to accomplish each week. Examples of things on your list might be:
- Send out invitations
- Book venue
- Book entertainment
- Menu tasting with caterer
- Make decorations
Make sure to include as much detail as possible for each item (for example, you can break ‘make decorations’ down into the specifics of each decorative element) and give yourself enough time to complete each task. Planning to do everything that needs to be done for your party in one weekend might seem like a good idea, but it’s not realistic. Give yourself ample time, and be honest with yourself about your goals and the resources you have available to accomplish them.
If you are throwing a big, elaborate party, then we highly recommend you send out your invites as soon as possible. Send out a save-the-date over summer (June-July), and an invitation in September. Ask guests to RSVP at least three weeks in advance, so you have time to make adjustments to your space or catering if you need to.
For smaller parties, you can send out your invites towards the end of September, and allow your guests up to two weeks to RSVP.
Depending on the theme of your party and your budget, there are various types of invites you can send:
- Paper invites are the most elegant (and formal) option and work well for large parties or if your party is being thrown by an organization rather than an individual.
- Digital invites are the most practical option as they are inexpensive and can be sent to as many (or few) people as needed without an increase in cost.
- 3D invites are invites that consist of a physical object rather than paper. For a Halloween masquerade party, you could send each guest a masquerade mask with the invite printed on the mask box.
- Human telegram invites are the most interactive type of invitation, but it is difficult to pull off if you have a large number of invitees. We like this for small parties as it allows guests to interact with the party organizers before the party and gives them a taste of what’s to come.
Your décor will depend largely on your theme, your space, and your budget. Use your theme and color palette as a jumping off point, and go from there. Look online, in magazines, and to nature for inspiration. Because this is a masquerade party, try to include little touches that play on the masked aspect of Halloween. You can use masks not only as costumes but also as props and décor. For an in-depth look at some of our favorite haunting and beautiful Halloween party décor, click here.
When you are planning your décor, remember three simple things:
- Know your limitations. Think about your timelines and budget and plan your décor accordingly. If, for example, custom-made lights take eight weeks to make and you only have three weeks until your party, then you need to come up with a different creative lighting solution.
- Be BOLD. Don’t be afraid of really wild ideas. Sometimes those ideas are the ones that lead to the most spectacular results.
- Rent and borrow. Parties only last one night, but if you buy all of your décor, you’ll be stuck with it long after the party is over. To avoid this, rent and borrow (and forage, in the case of foliage and flowers) as much as possible. It might seem cheaper to just buy things, but consider how much use you’ll get out of each item once the party is over. Renting and borrowing can help cut back on not only costs, but also on waste.
FOOD AND DRINK
When planning a Halloween masquerade party, food and drink is a very important aspect to consider. As all of your guests will be wearing masks, you want to make it as easy for them to eat and drink as possible. Here is what you can do, as the organizer, to help out your guests:
- Make all food bite-sized
- Avoid foods that are crumbly or sloppy
- Have lots of straws handy for beverages
Since it’s Halloween, you may want to make themed food. We advise against this (food should be delicious, not spooky), but instead recommend that you make a few themed cocktails and decorate your buffet or food trays appropriately for the occasion, and in keeping with your theme.
For more on food, here is our guide on looking good while eating in masquerade, and here are some delicious cocktail and food ideas to get you started.
Entertaining a group of adults can be challenging. You want to get their attention with something unique and creative, but you also want to keep the momentum of the party going right until the very end of the night. Here are some ideas for how to keep your guests entertained:
- Have live music (or a good DJ or playlist) playing when guests arrive and throughout the party. Music is great for setting the pace of an event, and gives the guests audible cues for when to dance, and when other things should take place (like eating, or leaving).
- Organize a few games. Games are a great way to break the ice and have your guests interact with each other. Click here for a list of our favorite Halloween party games for adults.
- Create a show. Hire people with special talents and skills to work your party.
- A contortionist or acrobat
- An artist who can sketch portraits of your guests
- A magician who can walk around doing interactive tricks
- Jugglers, fire-breathers, and stilt walkers can all be dressed according to your theme and can create visual impact as well as entertainment.
- Have a photo booth. Your guests will love having their photo taken while in costume, and they will be grateful for the memento they’ll be able to take home with them to remind them of the wonderful time they had at your party!
Undoubtedly, one of the best things about a masquerade party is getting to wear a gorgeous masquerade mask. As the host of your party, we recommend you give your guests as much information as possible when it comes to what costume and masks they should wear. Include the dress code in your invitation, and if you are looking to create a very specific aesthetic (all-black costumes only, for example) then specify this in your invitations.
We also recommend that you provide guests with information on where they can purchase their masquerade masks (here, for example), or offer to provide masquerade masks yourself if it is in your capacity. Even if you expect guests to bring their own masks, purchase a few extras and have them ready to hand out just in case someone doesn’t have one.
We also like the idea of incorporating masquerade masks into your décor wherever possible. Serving trays, drinks tables, and even the ceiling are all places to consider.
A Halloween masquerade party is supposed to be fun! Use this guide and plan ahead so you can enjoy yourself as much as your guests. Happy Halloween!
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