Hosting a great party on a budget!

Cheap Adult Halloween Party Ideas

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Cheap Adult Halloween Party Ideas

I'd like to host an adult Halloween party this year, but I have a limited budget. I would love to hear any cheap Halloween-themed ideas for everything from decorations to food to games. I am guessing drinks could be a bigger expense than I can manage. Is it acceptable to ask people to bring their own beverage of choice while I supply the food? Thanks.

Have a Costume Contest

Definitely ask people to bring a bottle of wine or a 12-pack of beer to put out. There's no need for you to furnish it all. Make sure to have some tea or water for the designated drivers. Play a Halloween movie trivia game with prizes. You could have a scary movie playing in the background with the sound off. Or get a Halloween soundtrack for cheap. Give out prizes for best homemade costumes (nothing store bought). This will make people get creative.

Host a Halloween Potluck

Plan a potluck Halloween dinner. You supply the bread, salad, and dressings and your guests supply the rest of the food. You supply the non-alcohol mixers and your guests supply the alcohol. Get creative and have a costume party where the guests have a limit of $20 for their costume. Find your Halloween decorations at yard sales, Goodwill, etc. Supply the music and have a great time.

People LOVE Real Apple Cider

Have cold apple cider in a punch bowl with a frozen cider ring. Make a couple of "ice rings" in Jell-O molds the day before the party. Pour a gallon of cider into a punch bowl and add one of the ice rings. Use paper cups and your guests will have a festive, inexpensive, and season-appropriate beverage.

You can also serve hot spiced cider in a slow cooker. Put in a couple of cinnamon sticks and some powdered cinnamon. Add cider and turn heat to "high." Once cider is hot, turn to "low."

There is no reason you have to serve expensive alcoholic beverages. Put out some cans of beer and soda in a galvanized bucket with a block of ice. If you feel like it, you can make inexpensive, low alcohol content sangria with half fruit juice and half red wine. After you toss in a few mashed up orange slices and cherries, it's ready.

Look for Inspiration

First, go through your house and collect anything you already have that could possibly work as Halloween party decor. Look for anything black, orange, or purple. Go through the kids' closets to look for old masks, capes, costumes, etc. Assemble everything and see what inspires you! Hang an old witch hat and cape off the back of a door or prop a "scarecrow" with a hockey mask in a shadowy corner. It doesn't have to be perfect because sometimes just the suggestion of something scary is scary enough!

I got great Halloween decorations at local thrift stores. Or if they don't have a good selection of ready-made decorations, look for decor items (like candelabras, vases, fake flowers, baskets, etc.) that can be spray painted black, orange or purple. I found an orange vase for a dollar, spray painted some sticks and fake orchids black, glued on some fake eyeballs, and made a creepy floral display! Drip wax from a red candle onto a white candle for a bloody look. Replace your framed family photos with printouts of creepy old photos. Cover furniture with painting tarps to give that old abandoned house feeling (and protect your furniture!). Splatter the tarps with "blood" if you want to take it further. Just be sure it's dry before the party!

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Fun and Economical Party Ideas

I've hosted various occasions very economically. In your case, I would ask people to bring a scary potluck dish or dessert. You can designate each person to make a different one. Then you make some kind of dish like chili and add buns. As for the alcoholic beverages, I make a punch with a small amount of alcohol in it and everyone seems to enjoy that versus beer or hard liquor. Most people bring a bottle of wine to dinner as well. People don't mind contributing.

For games, I like a kid's pinata. You can fill it with Halloween candy and chocolates from a dollar store. If you have the room, have a scavenger hunt in the dark with either lit candles or glow sticks from a dollar store.

Here's a costume idea that I had for one Halloween party. I had everyone bring their previous year's costume. I had my guests bring them in bags that no one could see through and we swapped costumes and dressed at the party. Have some extra makeup and accessories handy if you can. Then judge the best costumes. Throughout the year, I roll coins, find new candles and soaps at the thrift store, and get gift cards. There should be enough in your goody bag to reward your guest(s) for best costume. For some odd reason, my guest(s) love getting rolled coins. Have fun!
Karen K

Have a Scary Scavenger Hunt

I don't think I've been to a house party as an adult that was not BYOB even if the host/ess served alcohol. I think it's a great idea as I serve no alcohol at my home ever. As for inexpensive ideas for an adult Halloween party, I think a themed scavenger hunt within your home is a good idea and can be scaled to any budget. The items can be hidden (similar to Easter eggs but for adults) with some clever hints as to their locations. Hide a dozen items, create clues, hand out clipboards or pieces of paper and pens for each person to write down the locations, and offer three prizes. Give one to the person who finds all the items, one to the person who finds the most items the fastest, and one who finds the least number of items. You can get goofy with the prizes. You'll have fun and stimulate conversation. If you're inviting a bunch of people who don't know each other, you can even establish teams, so the shy guests might get to know a nice group of folks.
JD in St Louis

Everybody Loves Hotdogs!

Set up a hot dog bar with hot dogs, rolls, chili, onions, relish, and cheese. Serve iced tea and lemonade. If your guests want something other than lemonade or iced tea, ask your guests to bring their own beverages. Then serve coffee and cupcakes for dessert.

Take the Next Step:

  • For more cheap party and decorating ideas for a frightfully frugal Halloween, visit The Dollar Stretcher Library.
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