It is now October. I am in my final form. I am a Halloween junkie. The sounds of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and The Ghostbusters theme song have already begun howling from my office. Halloween, for me, is all month long (and really, all year long).

Halloween 2010 at Voodoo Fest as Mario.

In years past I have dressed as various Disney characters, Marilyn “Man”-roe, Harry Potter — and many more in between. I have thrown parties, gone to haunted houses and trick-or-treated my way through enough bags of candy to know my love runs deep. Unfortunately, my spouse does not carry the same sentiments, but he’s learning.

When it comes down to celebrating Oct. 31 (and the entire month of October), you have a few options. If you’ve got kids (or grandkids), you can always go Halloween-lite with a little door-to-door candy action to remember the good old days. Having drinks at a bar or restaurant with a spooky theme can be fun, too, and perhaps a friend will invite you to a party. But what if you want to throw your own party instead?

If you’ve never planned a Halloween soiree, here are some DIY ideas for a classically spooky celebration that’ll have all the ghosts gabbing.

 

DECOR

Whether a gathering for 10 or 100 guests, décor is essential for any party. One of my favorite things to decorate with is pumpkins, but not just any orange pumpkin. Depending on your theme, painted pumpkins are a great way to pull in the feel of fall without being so in your face. Instead of carving them traditionally, take a more sculpted approach for a more believable look. Use them in all shapes and sizes (even little gourds are good, too).

Garland is another easy décor item, and instead of buying pre-made crepe paper ones, try making your own. Just cut up strips of fabric (in keeping with your theme) and tie on fishing line. You can add little things here and there like faux spider webs and old keys to make your house a little more haunted.

 

PHOTO STATION

Everyone will be snapping selfies regardless, but it’s always good to have a designated space for photos. While it can be costly to rent a photo booth, creating your own doesn’t have to be a scare. I am currently obsessed with Netflix’s Stranger Things, so it’s no doubt I’m about to reference the iconic living room Ouija board wall scene.

All you need to get to the “Upside Down” is a floral sheet, a string or two of colored holiday lights and an unsteady hand to paint the alphabet. Pull in a couch and some vintage blankets for a more authentic look. It’ll be the focal point of any party and you’re sure to have guests take photo after photo while they attempt to communicate with Will Byers.

 

COSTUME

Mary Poppins DIY costume made from thrifted items.

Like I said earlier, I love dressing up. I don’t generally buy new costumes, I thrift them. It’s an easy way to put together the look you want, but I suggest starting a few months out. Think about the basics and then build on that. When I had my brick-and-mortar vintage shop, I helped style many locals and one of my most requested and favorite looks was Mary Poppins. All you need is a great skirt, white blouse with ruffle neckline and some sensible shoes. Throw on a scarf, find a hat (and add flowers) and find an umbrella. Oh, and don’t forget the carpetbag! DIY costumes are all about thinking outside the box and using things around you.

 

FOOD

It’s been a while since I’ve made Lady Fingers, but they’re a pretty simple treat to make (and sure to be a hit). These are a more gruesome version and are made to look like real fingers.

You’ll need some almonds and red food gel. Once you’ve rolled out your dough, place an almond on the end to give the appearance of a nail. Squeeze below the “cuticle” and the middle to make it look like knuckles. You can get as creative as you want with this to make it more real, but then pop those fingers into the oven and add red decorating gel at the end for a bloody affect.

 

DRINK

I usually keep drinks pretty basic when it comes to throwing parties (wine, beer and simple cocktails), so there’s no need to think about gummy worms in your martini or eyeball grapes in your wine. This is more about the presentation. You’ll need a cauldron (or some type of large, shallow metal bucket — I advise against plastic), some dry ice and a glass or metal container than will fit inside the cauldron. Fill the cauldron with dry ice and situate your container with your drink inside. The ice will keep your party punch cool and will look cool, too, billowing over the edges.