Go all out, this is not your average harvest party.
Share this article with your leaders - pick and choose together what works for you!
No matter what you call it (harvest party, fall festival, Halloween party, fright night, or anything else on the spectrum) Halloween is an awesome opportunity to throw a party and give your students something worth inviting their friends to. Here’s the deal… we know what happens when you plan a party - you open 50 tabs on your browser and try to compile the best list ever and it takes you hours AND on top of that you have to do some shopping - well, we’ve tried our best to bring all of that goodness right here in one place. You can help us do that even better by dropping a comment with your best ideas at the bottom of this article. Thanks!
There’s four ingredients to every great party… Here’s how to nail them.
I say, work with what you’ve got. Ask your leaders and church members for their extra halloween decor. I’m also not beneath making a last minute Walmart run and thinking creatively as I go through the aisles. If you’ve got a budget and some time to think about it I’d encourage you to choose some theme colors and stick to it. We live in the age of Instagram and Snapchat and our students appreciate a visual feast. Events are better if you can provide a space that students love to take pictures in and spend time in plus – it’s free advertising for your youth group every time they tag the location.
If you can afford it, choose a color scheme and stick to it.
Keep things fun and high energy (avoid anything overly grotesque or horrific that might get you in trouble with parents or glorify death and suffering)
Don’t forget lighting – whether you buy string lights or work with your existing fixtures… a bright room doesn’t scream “Halloween” so be sure to think through your current lighting options.
Here are some of my favorite room decoration ideas. Not all of them are strictly for Halloween which means you can get more value out of them after your Halloween party is over.
Seriously - cheap decorations that looks great and fill space are a no-brainer. I couldn’t help but include more in this list. The green spider web is my go-to every year. The only thing this list is missing is some solid purple string lights.
This is by far my favorite Halloween decor item – Flourescent green spider webs keep your room fun and bright while still being “Halloweenesque.” We bought several bags and covered our walls/ceilings.
Here’s another cheap way to cover a room. You don’t even need helium. Scatter them through the room. They’ll add to the excitement and energy of the room as students kick, throw, pop, and toss them.
Every youth group has different standards when it comes to music so feel free to check out these songs but do what works for you. Here’s 30 songs to get you started!
The Unicorns – Tuff Ghost
Crystal Stilts – Graveyard Orbit
Harlem – Friendly Ghost
Tom Waits – Satisfied
The Specials – Ghost Town
Misfits - Night Of The Living Dead
Thee Oh Sees - Ghost In The Trees
The Ventures:Out Of Limits
Michael Jackson – Thriler
Ghostbusters Theme song
Scooby Doo Theme Song
The Addams family theme song
Oogie Boogie’s Song
Boby Boris Pickett & the crypt kickers - Monster Mash
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things
Rockwell - Somebody’s Watching Me
Twilight Zone Theme Song
The Citizens of Halloween – This is Halloween
Talking Heads – Psycho Killer
Rhianna – Disturbia
Andy Mineo – Ghost
Bow Wow Wow – I want Candy
M83 – Midnight City
Outkast – Dracula’s Wedding
Duran Duran – Hungry like the wolf
Creedance Clearwater Revival - I Put a Spell on You
Disney Studio Chorus - Heffalumps and Woozles
Bill Lee - Cruela De Vil
Nan Vernon - Mr. Sandman
The Aquabats - Fashion Zombies
You can check out our spotify playlist here. We made it special for you!
Get kids off their phone and leave awkward downtime to a minimum by providing some random self-starting activities scattered throughout the youth room. Consider having a deck of cards out and whatever other cool or unique or interesting items that you have. Someone gave me a set of magnetic Buckeyballs for Christmas several years ago and they make an appearance at many events. Set up your Connect 4 or your Jenga and whatever else you can contribute. Here are some other ideas. Some of these ideas get pricey though so only buy them if you were wanting it for other reasons.
DON’T MISS THIS: Set up a tattoo bar with water bowls and sponges and washcloths
This is seriously my favorite idea on this list. How sweet is a temporary tattoo bar? You don’t even have to plan it into the night. Just have the supplies out and let your students take it from there. Each of these packs seem super worth it.
Black lights are always a hit – consider “zoning” off different areas of your youth room with different theme ideas. Just in case you missed what we said about lighting before, it’s worth repeating: Whether you buy string lights or work with your existing fixtures… a bright room doesn’t scream “Halloween” so be sure to think through your current lighting options.
A Legit Black Light. This is powerful and directed which makes it easier to “zone” off certain parts of the room. Real Black Lights make a huge difference. Don’t get conned into buying a purple bulb and mistaking it for a true black light.
These lights get screwed into any light fixture and then become their own light show. Great for parties. They come with remotes and there’s a variety of lighting settings - they can strobe, change colors, and more.
Consider having it at a home - who doesn’t want to go to a house party on Halloween? You can still bring the decor (and everything else in this article) but this could provide an opportunity to meet new students who would rather go to a friend’s house OR if there’s someone in your church who owns a huge home - consider asking if you can use it for a Halloween party. There’s a great skit that I’ve seen Young Life do where an angry neighbor pounds on the door, storms into the room, and threatens to call the police for a party that’s getting out of hand.
Food, drink, and dessert are essential party categories to keep in mind. Here are some great ideas!
A giant bag of Halloween candy can be used to fill candy dishes that you set out around your youth room OR they’re also great for throwing into a crowd of students while you’re doing announcements. Seriously - it’s Halloween, give the people candy.
I’ve also seen churches that opt for fair trade candy - if you’ve got the budget or the conviction consider looking into it. We’d love to know what you find out.
Caramel apple bar
Cut a whole bunch of apples into slices. Soak the apple slices in some lemon water (Squeeze a whole lemon into a bowl of water and then throw the apples in). It’s not rocket science but this step will help the apples not brown too quickly. Soak for about 5 minutes and then pat dry. Put the apple slices in a bowl with a pair of serving tongs or somethin’.
Buy some Caramel sauce and some chocolate sauce. Fill some bowls up with various candies and toppings: Sprinkles, M&Ms, Crushed Pretzels, Crushed Oreos, Chocolate Chips, Mini Mallows, You get the idea. Have students lay the apple slices on a plate and then pour their toppings on. Some call this a caramel apple nacho bar.
Cider &/or Hot Chocolate
This is just a super easy way to stay on theme - hot cider, cold cider, hot chocolate, or both. You could even make a hot chocolate bar if you wanted to - provide some fun toppings and whipped cream and you’ve got something your students will enjoy and remember.
Pumpkin Spiced Lattes
Check out this super simple pumpkin spice latte recipe that you can (probably) do right from your youth room. Click here.
“Jack O Lantern” Floats
Fanta & Vanilla ice cream is all you need! Or go all out and buy orange dreamsicle ice cream. Make a small sign that says “Jack O Lantern floats” and you’ll be set. For an added touch get some orange and white stripey straws.
Check out these Pumpkin Face cup clings for some added flair. Seriously - it’s not a Jack O Lantern unless it’s carved but we get it if you opt out of the “production value.” No one is going to complain about Fanta Floats!
Side note: I really want a Jack-O-Lantern Float now.
Spider Ice Cubes
Put these in some standard ice cube trays and you’ll have spider ice cubes in no time. Perfect for Goblin Juice! Just remember to plan ahead - it takes a while for ice cubes to freeze!
This ought to be enough AND they ought to fit your ice cube trays. They sell skull ice cube molds too - if you’re into that sort of thing.
Goblin Juice - SUPER EASY AND CHEAP AND FUN
Make lemonade and add some blue food coloring to it for a green beverage. Then give it a fun label. This is super simple. Of course, if you want to add Sprite or Gingerale to it that’s up to you. You can also buy Green Kool Aid mix if you’d rather go that route!
Graveyard Dirt Cake
Make a dirt cake! You can google it if you don’t know what it is! Cut Milano Cookies in half for gravestones to add on top. Woot! I’ve never made dirt cake before but I’ve eaten it and it’s definitely in my top 10 list of favorite cakes (I don’t have one, but if I did, I think it’d be in it). Why do people like dirt cake so much? Because it’s fun! Create some memories with your students. Eat dirt.
Obviously this part is essential. Our site has quite a few Holiday games but here’s some stuff to get you started.
Halloween Would You Rather
This is a great game to warm students up - it’s low energy and doesn’t involve an enormous amount of enthusiasm. Definitely a good icebreaker. Click here.
Baked Bean Bobbing
You know, or normal bobbing for apples. Either one works! Click here.
Halloween Costume Party
Make your Halloween party a costume party and then award superlatives to everyone you can think of a category for! (Least Scary Costume, Funniest, Scariest, Weirdest, Punniest, etc). A fun way to come up with superlatives is to make them up with your leaders once everyone gets there. This way you can tailor it to what your people are wearing (Purplest, Least Effort, Most likely to scare grandma, etc).
I have a rule when it comes to asking youth to do gross stuff – don’t make them do anything that you wouldn’t do yourself. As a matter of fact - consider having your students vote on which leaders are the bravest and then see who is by testing their ability to eat gross stuff. It’s a lot more fun for students to watch leaders suffer than it is for students to suffer themselves. That being said… here’s some truly frightful stuff.
If you check back later we’ll probably make graphics for these sweet games BUT in the meantime consider all the games that you can play with pumpkins - pumpkin shotput, pumpkin seed spitting, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin carving, etc.
Option Number One: Up front game where students wrap heads of other students with orange crepe paper and then tape cut-out black construction paper shapes to their faces. The end result is photo worthy for sure.
Option Number Two: Same as before except use shaving cream and cheese puff balls and forgo taping on shapes. They still come out looking like a pumpkin!
Have the crowd vote for a winner by applause.
Blindfolded guess the candy
We’ve heard good things about this game - have students guess the name of the candy they’re eating while blindfolded. Here’s a great opportunity to also pull a prank on an unsuspecting leader by giving them the only non-candy item!
Giveaways are a fun way to get students excited for the games you’re playing. Here’s a few ideas.
Photo Booth - Don’t Underestimate This!
All dressed up and no one to take photos? What a shame! Every great Halloween party needs a photobooth and a box of props! Seriously! Buy a black sheet or something for the background. Beg your friends, neighbors, and other youth pastors/leaders in the area for every Halloween costume/prop they have. We did this several years in a row and it was always a big hit. Cowboy hats, wigs, giant sunglasses, paper mustaches on wooden dowels, etc… there’s no reason you can’t have an awesome photo booth. We’ve provided a link to one of the most reasonably priced instant camera’s out there (Film sold separately) and while we think it’d be cool to have one - we’ve always used our DSLR. If you’re on a tight budget - definitely use what you’ve got. Any smartphone will do! P.S. We had a bunch of these masks and they take up very little space and they’re pretty affordable. My advice: do a photobooth every year and keep adding to your stash!
Every party needs people. Get your leaders on board, get your students on board, identify your key (leader-type) students and ask them to put the word out there. Update Instagram stories with your plans. Have some dope graphics. Give your event a sweet name. Go through your lists of students from previous years. Talk to parents. Send out newsletters and emails and text messages. Ask people to “share” your posts. You know what to do - you’ve done this before.