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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Everyone,

Long time stalker, first post. I'm Hoping to host my first Halloween party this year and I'm looking for some tips on how to establish this as THE party to come to every year. I want to make it an annual event that everyone looks forward to. Just a little background, my wife and I are in our mid/late 20's and have a year old daughter. Most of are our friends are the same age but are single or Casually dating. We just moved into a new house in Southern California on 2 acres of semi wooded land that is on a hillside and is partially removed from the city. I was thinking about trying to use our land by combine treasure hunt and escape/puzzle room (maybe cabin in the woods theme) concepts to keep everyone engaged and having a good time. I'm sure you all can tell that I'm having a hard time narrowing my scope of ideas and dialing in on a starting point so i"m open to all!

Any tips on theme, party concepts, and hosting a bad *** party in general will be much appreciated!!!

Thank you all in advance!

-K
 

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Jumpin' Jack Flash
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welcome aboard!

one thing to keep in mind about doing something outdoors of course is you never know what to expect with weather. our property is a similar size as yours, and i've thought about doing something big outside (this will be our second halloween in the house) but i don't want it to rain and ruin everything. i would probably suggest starting inside with planning, so that there will be a solid party if you end up stuck inside, and once you know what you're doing there, maybe work on something for outside if the weather permits.
 

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Welcome!

My wife and I started with a friends and family party and it's grown into a multi-night event for the neighborhood (in addition to the party). I couldn't imagine trying to do everything we're doing now in that first year. Actually, I'm not sure it would be possible without having a huge budget and/or lots of free time. Drawing from that experience, I'd suggest making a plan that you know you can accomplish, particularly if your plan is to make this THE party to go to every year.

There are many, many details in doing decorations and setting up the house/yard that won't become apparent until you start doing it. On top of that, you will also need to plan the party atmosphere: lights, music, food, drink, tables, chairs, and so on.

The whole experience can be very gratifying and rewarding, but there's also a lot of stress that accompanies it.
 

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Dawn of the Dead
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2 acres! I'm so excited for you. If you're doing outside haunt scenes, you might want to check out member Coxboy316. He does large outdoor scenes.
His CarnEvil set up - http://www.halloweenforum.com/party-ideas-experiences-and-recipes/141678-2015-carnevil.html
His Zombie Apocalype - http://www.halloweenforum.com/party-ideas-experiences-and-recipes/145547-2016-zombie-apocalypse.html

Having a theme gives guests something new to look forward to each year. You can always decorate your props to fit the theme. That said, having a tradition also is fun for guests. That could be your treasure hunt, an outdoor movie, bonfire, pumpkin decorating for the kids, etc. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your friends. Depending on how large you go, you might decide to do every other year for your own sanity. Looking forward to seeing what you do. Please make a thread to post your progress so we can all ooh and ahh!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the insight! It's probably a safe bet that weather won't be too much of a factor considering we're in Southern California. I do think that planning for a strictly indoor event is a great place to start though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the welcome! I have been decorating for the past few years so I have a fairly solid handle on that, aside from the one or two homemade props a add each year that I haven't had a chance to start on yet. I'm mostly looking to start something that friends and family will get excited about each year. Not as many of them are as involved in Halloween as I am so I want to try and spread my enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, time is a major issue, as it is with all parents, so I'll need to be strategic with that. In building your event of the past few years, what have been some of the more engaging activities/games you have your party guests do at your party?

Thanks for the reply!
 

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I haven't done activities or games other than a costume contest, but my guests always respond to a few light scares - think jumping spider or something hanging in the shower (definitely decorate your bathroom!). I usually keep movies playing that go with the theme, an outdoor movie would be great if you have an outdoor wall or something you could project on. Also, I always do a fire pit in the back yard that people enjoy sitting around.

One thing to remember for your first party, it is kind of stressful but remember that your guests will love whatever you do. They are not going to know that a couple of decorations didn't work out or that you meant to have 2 kinds of chicken wings but one burned (unless you tell them). Best of luck!
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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Another mind-blowing amazing haunter that is a master of large outdoor space is Rania of The Haunted Garden.

http://www.stopandeattheroses.com/p/a-haunted-garden.html
Several years' worth of her own designs.

http://www.stopandeattheroses.com/2013/04/a-night-in-wonderland-event-design.html
^Her event design for "A Night In Wonderland"

Several other things to check out there, but also she has posted here about some of the builds, so might want to do a search for threads started by her if her style looks like something you'd want to try. :)

You'll lose a few hours looking at all the stuff she's done... if only I had her skills and crew....
 

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Welcome to the forum!

I think the key to any solid party planning is to have a PLAN in place with deadlines. I would sit down, figure out a theme and what type of props you want to create, and then plan it all out from there. I like to go room by room and write down what the big ideas are for each one. I'll then go into detail and write down which props I can place there, what props I want to make and even what type of lighting i want to do. I'll then create a list of the props that i'd like to create and give each of them a deadline.

It's also important to remember to try and not stress yourself out too much and ruin the fun of it all. If you find that there's something you can't get to in time, well, you'll have something new for next year!
 

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Just a couple of quick thoughts on things we've learned over the past few years.

For the past few parties, we have had, or tried to have, a couple group games. I won't say they failed miserably, but I got the distinct impression no one was all that interested in doing them. My guess is the guests didn't know each other well enough for something like that to work.

One thing that does go over really well is the photo booth area we set up. Using an iPad and having an themed backdrop, people are able to take selfies at their leisure. An old Polaroid would be cool to use, but I'd have to think that would get expensive.

Though the group games didn't go over too well, I still think there needs to be some activity for people. Based on some feedback, this year we're going to have a couple of lawn games (corn hole and a large Jenga), and better seating. Previously, we simply put out a couple of tables and a bunch of chairs, but it seems the yard was too dimly lit, so they didn't get much use. This year, we're going to set up a couple of canopy shelters with lights. It should provide a more comfortable setting.

If you're going to have a lot of people, I think traffic flow is important, too. For example, we provide little in the way or seating inside the house, as the entire 1st floor is decorated. This makes it so people are continuously coming and going from the kitchen, where the food is, to the patio, where the seats are. This seems like it wouldn't be a good idea, but it does several things:
- Keeps everyone from trying to stay in the kitchen
- Gets people to mingle as they move around
- Allows opportunity for people to see the props and decorations throughout the house, as they move from one point to another.

We had one couch in the house last year and there was a group of people that decided to camp out on it for the entire party. We incorporated the couch into the decor, but we're now thinking of how to remove it, as too many people jammed up the traffic flow in that are (like 8 people on a couch designed for 3 or 4) and it caused an issue with people trying to get to the photo booth.

It can be cool to provide all the drinks and food fro everyone, but it's a huge time saver if you have your guests bring a dish. If we didn't spend so much time setting up the house, we'd probably take care of all the food, but we have too little time, so the "pot luck" works better for us. The first year we did this, we asked people to bring a "spooky" snack and we got a lot of great dishes. Next year, we simply asked for food, and we got a lot of store-bought items. After that, we added a "Spookiest Snack" award and people started putting more effort into what they brought.
 

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I don't know if this has been mentioned yet or if this is what you do anyway, but decorating the inside of the house at the beginning of October will a. allow you to enjoy your decorations for the entire month, b. remove the stress of trying to decorate while your setting up food, drinks, etc., c. allow you several weeks to tweak the decorations in terms of what works where and also save adequate space for food and drinks. You can also put up as many of your outdoor decorations as the weather and yard maintenance will allow. Also, for my first party I spend weeks developing a five hour play list that I can now adjust each year.
 

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We're going on our 3rd year of hosting a party (around 40 attendees) and can share some quick tips that may help:
- We rent a video screen and audio system to show spooky movies in our backyard and it works really well as background noise and guests love it if there's a lull in the party. Sounds like you'd have plenty of space to set one up too.
- As someone else mentioned, decorating the bathroom(s) is highly recommended. Most guests will spend some time in there during the night and you can do some really fun stuff. We set up flicker lights that "short out" and then leave only black lights, which unveil messages in hidden UV paint all around the bathroom.
- Schedule out how long everything will take to set up, and then add 3 hours to it. We always seem to be down to the wire by party start, and you want to make room to get your costume on and relax a bit before guests arrive.
- Especially with your 1st event, I'd recommend requesting RSVPs from guests so you have a more accurate count. If you're doing digital invites, I've found that evites receive much more accurate attendee counts than a FB Event.

Best of luck and keep us all updated on the progress!!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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The one thing that makes my party a huge success is a keg of cheap beer. The lure is to great for people to pass it up. Teeeeheeeee.

But seriously, the big thing we do is hype the event early. This helps with the "Oh we all ready have plans" people. Word of mouth year after year will keep people coming back. It is great to see people come back year after year, some we are not in contact with any more as life changes have happened over the years. It is like a little old time reunion.

Oh and BBQ Meatballs- seems stupid, but people seriously come just for my famous meatballs.

Wishing you the best of luck, and just remember to have fun!!

We deck out house out inside and out every year despite the party, and it is fun to see people point out the new props added or changes in themes.
 
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