3 Essential Elements for a No-Stress Halloween Bash, According to a Celebrity Event Designer

published Oct 20, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

There’s nothing quite like a Halloween party — full of boos and booze, festive treats and chilling decor. While some occasions can get away with minimal design and prep, Halloween is one of those holidays where decorating is a must to set the spooky scene.

Not sure where to start? We called on celebrity event designer Edward Perotti for his expert tips on how to host an impressive and stress-free Halloween bash. His advice makes it super easy to throw the party of your dreams — or should we say, nightmares.

1. Set a menacing tablescape.

When it comes to setting the table for Halloween, the first stop Perotti makes is to the fabric store. “I walk the shelves to check out everything from seasonal prints to the cosplay options to the fancy fabrics — and see what grabs my attention and what gives me that initial rush of creative energy,” he says. “You’ll know that feeling when it hits you.” He recommends purchasing a couple yards, as you may use the fabric beyond just the main table.

As for color schemes? “I like mixing traditional with unexpected,” Perotti admits. “Try taking the expected green and orange and flip it into a marshy, bayou vibe. If black is your thing, take it to a darker, medieval place.” For Perotti, though, nothing is more sinister than all white. “The pristine crispness has always held a ‘lurking under the covers’ feeling for me,” he says.

Credit: Alexis Buryk

2. Create a bewitching bar.

Whether you’re serving up cocktails or mocktails, a dedicated bar offers a fun spot to get creative, serve up drinks, and let conversations flow. “It should complement the main decor, but also create a sense of playfulness,” Perotti says. “This is where you can add a complementary fabric and create one large decor piece.” (Think: a classic  “Pick Your Poison” sign or gothic lantern.)

Here, Perotti cautions against going overboard. “Keep it an appropriate scale, since you’ll need the room for your barware, bottles, mixers, et cetera,” he explains.

Credit: Alexis Buryk

3. Add eerie ambience.

It can’t be a true Halloween party without a spooky, mysterious atmosphere — and one of the best ways to set that tone is with lighting. “I am a big fan of candles, regardless of your decor theme,” Perotti says. “At Halloween, candles will always work. Play with different sizes, unique holders, different levels of light — just be sure to use a lot.”

He also recommends individual neon tube lights. “A few colored ones — depending on your vibe — will add just enough for a mood,” Perotti says. Looking to delve into the dark side? “If you’re on a budget and want maximum effect with minimum cost, switch out all your light bulbs in the event space for ‘black light’ bulbs, which you can get at any larger hardware store or online,” Perotti advises.

As for whether or not to carry the theme to the front porch, Perotti is on the team of “don’t give anything away” (read: don’t decorate at all), so that the space inside can truly shine. Still, he recognizes that everyone has different preferences. “This is your event in your home — so do what you are creatively inclined to do,” he says. “I would suggest keeping it simple and merely ‘suggest’ a vibe. Use your candles and create one large porch centerpiece.”