By Blake Nelson

October is finally upon us, which means two things: the weight of the semester is finally setting in and Halloween is coming up. Both these things indicate that you should party, and this year you want to party with the big dogs. If you’ve always wanted to throw a party where you can dress in drag and dance to the beat of “I Put a Spell on You,” then here are seven ways you can bring your dreams to fruition.

1. Forget Halloween

It may seem counterintuitive but think about it: everyone is throwing a party on Halloween, so why would your guests want to stay at yours? Having the party before the anticipated night could save you some stress and your guests could stick around longer.

Have the party a weekend or two before Halloween so that everyone isn’t busy with other parties. Having the party earlier will also allow for a more consistent guest list, which means your friends are less likely to bring their tag-along randos with them.

2. Lock down your guest list

This may not be a big deal for some, but a specific group of people coming into your home is sort of important for a lot of people. Having a random person show up to your home can bring your party from convivial to straight-up awkward.

Just let your friends know by word of mouth to keep the details personal; that way less randos are likely to show up. Tell only the people you want to come, keeping it as low-key as possible. Everyone appreciates a good party that doesn’t require too many “Hi, my name is …” situations.

3. Let your guests express themselves

Don’t impose a strict costume rule or theme. I know that Harry Potter is a great theme, but not everyone is into it, which means you’ll either get some half-assed attempts at Peter Pettigrew or, at worst, people won’t come dressed at all. Make sure you tell your guests to come dressed as whatever they want. Sure, you’ll still have your slacker friends dressed as three-hole paper, but you might also be surprised by some of your friends dressed as Blue Tobias Fünke.

Blake Nelson/ Nevada Sagebrush

Blake Nelson/ Nevada Sagebrush

4. Get schwifty with the libations

At this point you got all of your closest friends and that one cute guy from your class to show up, but they didn’t show up to this party to drink Miller Lites and eat party peanuts — you have to bust out all the stops. Get some good party food like hot wings and hummus dip. All types of alcohol should be provided: beer, wine and liquor with chasers. While you’re at it, make some festive drinks too: blood martinis, green Jell-o shots, etc. Get spooky.

5. Keep it poppin’

Now that everyone has a drink and is socializing, what next? Your winning personality may be able to keep some people interested, but you can’t entertain everybody forever.

You need to have a great Halloween-themed playlist. I’m talking great horror movie scores, some funky ’80s music and the occasional gothic dance piece. If you can’t make it, look one up. Or play a horror movie classic like “Halloween” or “Dawn of the Dead.”

As for the decorations, you need to make an effort to have some stuff that is pretty cool. Think about all your favorite party movies; none of them were set in a bachelor pad with nothing but blank walls and a futon. Since it’s Halloween there are plenty of ways to be festive and make your place cozy at the same time. Streamers close the overhead space, rugs carpet the foot area and dim lights hide all the times you opened a beer on your counter.

6. Invite your cranky neighbors

Mr. Williams is a drag, but invite him anyway. Nothing aggravates your neighbors more than telling them you might be loud and then actually being loud. Avoid the noise complaint with the friendly invitation. This way they know you’re having a party and are less likely to call the cops on you, because you extended an olive branch to them before the party took off. Worse comes to worse, they show up and you have to hear Mr. Williams tell you about his delinquent son a few more times while he takes some of your booze.

7. Enjoy the soiree

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so enjoy your excellently crafted party. Pull pranks, discuss horror films in depth, show off your wicked priest costume or just sit back and enjoy the company of your friends and Mr. Williams.

Blake Nelson can be reached at or on Twitter @b_e_nelson.