A Halloween party isn’t just for kids.

In fact, after all of the stressing over costumes and trick-or-treat planning, and before the inevitable weeklong sugar rush that follows October 31st, adults need a night to celebrate the spooky season for themselves.

But with the clock ticking towards Halloween, time’s running out to throw an extravagant bash. So we’ve come up with a quick guide to help you throw a great last-minute Halloween party.

Though this guide outlines many aspects of party-planning, the best advice we have is not get overly fixated on the details. The biggest difference between child and adult Halloween parties is that adults don’t need to be entertained with themed foods and games. Your friends and family will come to spend time with one another and have conversations. AKA, they won’t mind the absence of true “lady finger” cookies or toilet paper mummy making competitions.

Here is how we throw a simple, sophisticated Halloween party on the fly:

Skip the formal invites

Snail mail invites aren’t practical if you’re only a few days out from your spooky gathering. They also risk coming off more formal than your intend for your get together. Instead, send a mass text to a dozen or so friends and family or create a private Facebook event with the important details.

Decide on a single party location

When having a smaller gathering, keeping guests confined to one or two rooms in your home makes the party feel more lively and don’t try and spread the celebration all over your home. After all, it just means more cleaning!

Pick one spot in your home to confine the party to; whether that’s a living room, a finished basement, or even a bonfire in the backyard. Remember, however, that almost all parties begin and end with mingling in the kitchen. So don’t forget to clean those sinks!

Clean, but don’t scrub

All you want to do here is keep your home from looking messy and dirty. We’ve got you covered there. Do a quick inventory and make sure you’re good on toilet paper, and that all garbage receptacles are empty and easy to find. It’ll keep empty cups, napkins, and wrappers from getting left out.

Avoid overcomplicating decor

There’s nothing wrong with throwing a Halloween-themed Halloween party. But if you’re looking to get a gathering together without too much time of effort, skip the murder mystery party and go for stylish, simple Halloween decor. A few DIY painted pumpkins here, black candles there, and a few more ideas to spookify your space:

Music Queue up some creepy tunes, like this classic mix from Spotify

Dim the lights Low lighting is the easiest party trick for ambiance. Switch off the overhead and opt for table lamps, candles, or even a festive string light garland.  

Skip plastic When decorating tables, instead of disposable themed dishes and decor, check your local thrift shop for cheap plates, cloth napkins, candlesticks and other black or dark-colored vintage decor that adds sophistication to your decor. And don’t be afraid to mismatch!

Choose a mature menu

The food your serve at your grown-up Halloween party is likely where you’ll venture the furthest from a kid-friendly version of such gatherings. Instead of a menu that is full of gross parodies and Halloween-esque presentation, turn to food that is seasonal and fits in an adult palette. Savory, wholesome food such as pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and ancient grains look lovely on the table and still fit the color scheme of Halloween.

Set the mood by setting the table

Whether you’re having a sit-down dinner party, a buffet-style meal, or just hors d’oeuvres and sweet treats, you’re likely to have a table as your star food attraction. Cue your dining room table.

For lighter or self-serve eats: Set out buffet style or hors d’oeuvres food spreads down the center of the length of the table. Arrange food down the center of the table, beginning with plates and mains, and moving on to sides, condiments and cutlery.

For sit-down meals: Arrange place settings before guests arrive. It’ll act as decor, and be one less thing you’ll have to worry about once the party has begun. When setting your table, use grays, blacks, and autumnal colors to achieve a spooky-but-sophisticated tablescape. Consider using place cards for a bit of decor and to keep seating arrangements simple.

Whatever you’re using your table for, be sure to scatter it with a touch of Halloween spirit. Small pumpkins look great along the length of a table, while green arrangements or seasonal flowers give a tablescape eye-catching height.

Keep drinks simple

While the classic punch bowl with a frozen glove-hand or steaming dry ice has a time and place in Halloween traditions, your last-minute Halloween party probably isn’t it. Stick to a few classic adult drinks, beer, wine. Feeling more festive? Pick one specialty cocktail you can whip up easily to impress guests.

Find something to do

Adult parties usually center around conversation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a few things to entertain them whilst they talk. Feel free to assign a couple partygoers to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, set out a deck of cards, or print off this festive bingo card from Studio DIY.

Treat your guests

Even adults love Halloween candy. For your gathering, leave the prepackaged sugar to the kids (if only to save yourself from a home sprinkled with wrappers). Visit the bulk section of your local candy or grocery store and stock up instead. Scatter candies in decorative containers around your entertainment space — a vaseful of licorice here, a bowl full of candy corn there, and your guests will feel like their trick-or-treaters all over again.

Consider costumes

Halloween does call for costumes, but consider skipping the request for dress up if you’re throwing a last-minute bash. You don’t want your guests to feel like they need to have a costume on to attend.

As the host, throw on a witch hat and practice your best cackle. You’re ready for your spooky celebration.

Are you planning to throw your own Halloween party this year? We’d love to hear what your plans are for such a spook-tacular night. Shout out to us in the comments below, or on social media.

Want to see some homes that already are in the spirit? Check out these 31 positively creepy black homes.