Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. It also marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. In America they really go for it – so much so that one quarter of all the candy sold annually in the US is purchased for the festival. But back in the UK we’ve not always made such a big deal about it – perhaps because the Queen has a dislike of October’s “Spooktacular” night (according to OK! Magazine) or maybe our sense of British reserve makes us a bit ‘meh’ about the whole thing.
However, now we’ve got an American addition to the royal household we’ve got an excuse to throw caution to the wind and embrace Halloween. And with Tesco estimating that it’ll shift 3 million pumpkins this year, it looks like we’re ready for it! But forget trick or treating, we want something more fun, spookier and more ghoulish – we want to party!
How about Madame Tussauds? By day full of glitz and glamour, but once the tourists have left, the doors shut, the lights dim and things get a little spooky. On Saturday 27th October we’re hosting a Dead Famous Halloween Silent Disco with TimeOut. Dress up as your favourite celebrity (dead or alive) and dance the night away – but watch out for some scary surprises! After all that’s what Halloween is all about – the perfect excuse to dress up and go a little wild. It’s party time and as that’s what we do best at Merlin Events London, we thought we’d give you a few Halloween party ideas for planning the perfect British Halloween Party:
1. Halloween Venue
Choose a venue that can do a lot of the work for you. London is dripping in gory history, with many iconic figures such as Jack the Ripper ingrained in our heritage. The London Dungeon has cemented itself as the ultimate venue for hosting Halloween parties, with its ready-to-go dramatic backdrop, it’s scary, fun, and fully themed – perfect for Halloween. Join Jack the Ripper, Sweeney Todd and cohorts and prepare for the gruesome thrills to begin!
Alternatively, other Halloween party ideas might include choosing a venue such as an old church, a haunted hotel, or a converted warehouse, they can all do so much of the work for you in terms of the backdrop for your party. Halloween doesn’t have to mean one generic theme either. There are so many twists on it that you can adopt, whether that is a sophisticated ‘Gothic’ drinks party in an historic upmarket hotel or a Monster Bash in a warehouse!
The key when sending out your invites is to think creative and try to capture the essence of your event without giving too much away. For Halloween party ideas for a history-based party, send out an old antique key with the details attached on a tag, or if you are going for a masquerade theme send out an eye mask with the details written on the back.
App based tools are worth using – ticketing platforms such as Eventbrite really are the best way to create your guest list and encourage a better turnout as guests who have signed up online are less likely to drop out at the last minute. Send details on the physical invite for the sign-up page, which should have all the extra details such as venue directions, and timings.
Entertainment should draw your guests in and leave them enthralled, thrilled and spooked! It should add to your event by encouraging your guests to stay in theme, such as an actor to lead guests in a murder mystery or host games. For a quintessentially British Halloween party think traditional and go for Victorian street entertainers, such as tarot and black magic. Tarot card readers are a hugely popular choice at the Dungeons. Find out more about the amazing history of Tarot and how it can add to your event here. If you’re planning a party for teenagers or a group of girls why not adopt a different take on ‘scary’ and take inspiration from Twilight with an Edward Cullen lookalike?
London caterers Food by Dish gave their Halloween party ideas for creating the perfect Halloween canapés with a twist:
‘One way to ensure that any Halloween event is a success is to create a menu aside from the standard trick or treat pick ‘n mix. One delicious canapé option would be to have a ‘cobwebbed cover prawn and blood red coulée in a syringe’; this canapé is a really interactive dish as guests will be able to syringe the coulée over the canapés themselves. This adds a really fun and gruesome edge to a canapés whilst enhancing the taste of the food. Another creative canapé option to offer is the ‘spider legs tempura’ this actually being beetroot tempura; it gives the illusion of spider legs and is perfect for any Halloween menu. Guests can detangle the spider legs and dip them in the wasabi mayonnaise. Finally, you cannot mention Halloween catering without adding a pumpkin element. I would suggest serving spiced pumpkin soup in a shot glass; add half of an olive to the top- the resemblance to a floating eye is uncanny! You can even serve these in luminous shot glasses to add another creepy element.’
For more Halloween themed catering ideas from Food by Dish have a read here.
Ensure that the drinks are delicious and interesting whilst sticking to the theme. By serving a shot or test-tube of a cocktail you can deliver a great impact throughout the night without large quantities of alcohol or unwanted drinks. Here’s some Halloween party ideas for drinks; why not serve up shots of blood-orange margarita or a poisoned lemon drop for guest on arrival with a lychee or red sugared rim for extra punch? Or how about a cauldron of punch – especially with dry ice to add the ‘spooky factor’. A glow-in-the-dark LED light at the bottom of the bowl is a nice added touch too.
There are lots of Halloween tunes out there. Steve from En Masse gave us his must-plays:
• Michael Jackson – Thriller
• Rockwell -Someone’s watching me
• Bobby Prickett – The Monster Mash
• Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells (exorcist theme)
• ACDC – Highway to Hell
• Basement Jaxx – Where’s your head at
Make the most of your DJ by adding musicians to heighten the experience; try classical string instruments such as a violinist to add another dimension to popular music. For maximum impact, a haunting flash-mob choir will surprise guests and leave a lasting impression!
Finally – and most importantly – when coming up with your Halloween party ideas, don’t forget to plan what you’re wearing (easy to forget with all the other details). If you’re stuck for inspiration then check out our Pinterest board
Then all you need to do is remember to enjoy the event yourself! Let us know how it goes, won’t you?