How to throw a last-minute Halloween party

Has 31st October crept up on you this year? Find out how to throw a Halloween party in no time. We have all the tips, tricks and delicious treats you need.

Halloween spread of food and drinks

Anyone who says Halloween is the reserve of teeny children in ghostly bed sheets hasn’t been to the right party. Grown-ups can enjoy bowls of grog, novelty playlists, clever canapés and the opportunity to wear a wig. But organising an impressive costume is a feat alone, then you have to worry about choosing spooky décor and freakish food. Thankfully, we have ideas that are simple and quick to make. Read on to find out how to put together a monster bash in super-quick time.

Make a Halloween lantern

Perk up your pumpkin...

Pumpkin carved with smiley face, pink background

The evening of 31st October is no time to practise your sculpting skills, so follow this easy video guide on how to carve a pumpkin and keep things simple by using one of our handy templates. Choose from a bat, witch or haunted house design, tape it to your squash then mark the outline with a skewer to get a head start on the carving process. Simpler still, our hole-punched lantern can be achieved in minutes. Just use an apple corer to create an instant lantern. Add a candle and dim those lights.

Or make a pumpkin bowl

Slash your pumpkin in half, horizontally – a serrated knife may make this easier – and use it as a decorative treasure trove. Hollow it out so there’s enough space in the crevice to fit a glass bowl to provide a protective layer, then fill it with sweets, as shown in the following video:


Find more delicious ways to use up your pumpkin:

Pumpkin hummus
10 new ways with pumpkin
How to use pumpkin seeds
Our best ever pumpkin soup recipes

Ideas for spooky snacks

Freaky finger food

Mini baked potatoes filled with cocktail sausages on a tray

Make these honey-coated mini baked potato and sausage bites for a satisfyingly sticky party snack that won't hang around for long. Raise the fright factor by serving these with a 'bloody' dip of soured cream and ketchup – and remember to leave some napkins on the side for sticky fingers!

Food for comfort

Resist the urge to create a complicated dish as your main meal and go for a quick pasta pot instead. This cheap and effective dustbin pasta dish uses maggot-shaped orzo combined with storecupboard staples, frozen vegetables and a ready-made sauce. If you have time to pick one up, a novelty cauldron makes a great serving vessel. 

Savoury bites

Cocktail sausages wrapped in pastry with an orange dip in a bread loaf

For more savoury snacks, pick up a packet of instant dough. These mummy dippers don’t need any time to rise – just use a tube of ready-to-roll croissant dough, sliced into strips, arranged around chipolatas like bandages. Adaptable pizza dough can be shaped into balls rather than a flat base. Dunk your mummies in a spicy tomato and butternut squash dip, served in an impressive witch's cauldron made from a hollowed-out loaf of bread. A bonus is that as the dip disappears, you can start to eat the cauldron!

Discover more quick and tasty Halloween bites.

Create the drinks menu

Punch bowl

Two glasses of wine punch

It’s not a Halloween party without a drop of something potent. Big bowls of punch will save you time pouring individual drinks. Choose gloomy shades of blood-like red like our spiced wine or rumberry punch drinks. These can be whipped up in less than half-an-hour and will look the part with a few added extras – drop in eyeball-ish grapes, lychees or fang-shaped sweets. We also have a spooky Dracula's punch mocktail for those after something non-alcoholic.

Raise spirits

Ramp up the kitsch factor by choosing a particularly lurid spirit as one half of a simple 1:1 ratio punch. Melon-flavoured Midori is greener than a Granny Smith and Bols Blue takes artificial colouring to a whole new level. Team them with a sweet, clear mixer such as lemonade or apple soda. 

A sanguine brew

Bloody Mary in a glass with slice of lemon

No drink is more suited to a gory occasion than the bloody Mary. Take yours to the next shade of haemoglobin by adding plenty of rust-red cayenne pepper or smoked paprika, plus a dash of red grape or pomegranate juice to make the colour palette even deeper. Making the tomato juice mix in big jugs will save you the bother of individually mixing cocktails – just pour onto vodka over ice. To serve, add a modish rasher of crispy bacon propped up next to the straw, plus a liberal sprinkling of black pepper around the rim of the glass. 

Find more terrifying tipples to sip with our Halloween drinks guide.

Bake spine-tingling sweets

Batty biscuits

Four chocolate bat biscuits on the side of glasses of milk

Bake some friendly chocolate bat biscuits in less than 20 minutes for a quick but tasty snack to make your guests smile. You can serve on the side of a glass or punch a hole in them to hang from a twig. If there is more time, transform them into bourbons by adding vanilla buttercream.

Spooky spider nests

Colourful cupcakes topped with candy floss and toy spiders

White candyfloss and Halloween work together in perfect harmony. Use tufts of the sweet stuff to create spider web nests atop cakes or biscuits. If you have time to make your own cakes, add hundreds and thousands to the cake mix to create an eye-catching speckled effect, otherwise buy in shop-bought muffins or sponges. Add a plastic spider to complete the look, but make sure your guests remove them before eating!

Whip up more speedy treats:

Slime bug cups
Zombie fingers
Pumpkin pie s'mores
Fright night fancies
Halloween cupcakes

And finally... throw together a costume

Reach into your kitchen cupboards to create a last-minute costume. Black bin liners can be used as a gothic poncho, while a sprinkling of flour in hair gives a ghostly pallor. Just make sure you brush it out thoroughly before washing it – nobody wants to start November with the beginnings of a pizza base in their hair... 

Get more Halloween party ideas...

How to make a Halloween feast
Halloween cocktails, punches and soft drinks
How to throw a kid's Halloween party
How to make Halloween cupcakes
Halloween recipe collection
Halloween hub page

Are you a grown-up who loves Halloween? We'd love to hear how you celebrate... 

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