I’m going to start this post off by saying that Halloween is my favorite holiday. It’s always been close, but this year, it definitely pushed to the top. So when I go all out, and get a little weird about October 31st, that’s why. I also want to let everyone know that I work at a party store. So I do get a discount on supplies and I do get paid to think about Halloween for the entire month of October. Actually, my party has been almost fully planned since August, when we started setting Halloween up. And I don’t even care if that’s weird.
So. You want to throw a zombie party. I’m sure there are people out there who think they can throw on some ripped clothes and a lil bit of fake blood and be good to go. NOT ME. I go all out. I love planning themed parties, and Halloween is probably the best excuse ever to do that. With zombies getting so popular (I refuse to ever have a vampire themed party, so we’re going to ignore their growing popularity), I thought what better a theme than zombie apocalypse?! There’s seriously so much you can do with it. This post is gonna be long, because there’s a lot that went into it. You can definitely choose not to do all of it if you’re not as invested in the holiday as I am. Okay. Here we go.
1. INVITATIONS. In this day and age, actual invitations are hard to come by. With texts and Facebook and all these new fangled apps, you just don’t see them. But I wanted to be as realistic as possible. And that means, when the zombies come, there aren’t gonna be Facebook invites to a safe house. I tried to hand out as many invitations as possible, but the people I don’t see regularly DID get an e-copy… I know it’s kind of cheating, but they got the idea. Here’s what I used as my invitation:
If you’re reading this, that means you’ve made it through the zombie apocalypse. Almost everyone I know is gone, and we are lucky to have made it this far. In hopes that someone is reading this: Please meet me and any other survivors at a secure location, November 1st around 7:00pm. I have found a safe house at [your address]. There is some food and water here, but we never know how long any of that will last.
A few basic rules of survival:
- Come in costume, either disguised as a zombie or dressed in a traditional Halloween costume.
- Double tap.
- Please bring a snack to share, we are running low on provisions.
- Anyone you have joined on your journey is welcome, but DO NOT bring anyone who has been infected to this meeting.
If anyone finds this, I beg you to consider combining our forces. We are already outnumbered by zombies, and I desperately need your help. After listening to the dial tone of the phone, the static on the radio, and the sound of the undead moaning, this is my last attempt to reach out to anyone still alive. If you plan on meeting me and anyone else out there who has found this letter, please respond. My quiet phone is waiting for your message, at [your phone number]
And that’s how it’s done. I used an old fashioned type writer-esque font, and found a picture of a blood splatter that I put in the background. It has everything you need in an invite, just way more creative than the norm. If you don’t want to use a survivor letter, I always just try to include the date, the time, the location, and an RSVP/more information number. I also try to include a few extras in all my invites, like (for Halloween), come in costume, please bring a snack to share, and that friends are welcome. You can definitely tweak this to fit your needs. This cost me almost nothing to print and hand out, but even if you have to go to a place like Kinkos (if that even exists still), it’s not going to be very expensive.
2. MUSIC AND MOVIES. My next step was to do the small stuff first. Decorations and food are serious commitments, so I wanted to get the music and movies out of the way. There is a ton of options for music. You can just put on a Halloween Pandora station. You could put on the radio or dance music. I wanted to make this is realistic as possible, so I opted for zombie movie soundtracks. The best ones I found were 28 Days Later, Night of the Living Dead, and The Walking Dead soundtrack. I also put a few songs on from movies like Zombieland, Warm Bodies, Shaun of the Dead and House of 1000 Corpses. 28 Days Later, Night of the Living Dead, and Walking Dead were awesome, because they were just creepy sounding songs, with a zombie theme. I included the other movies because they had lyrics and were a little more recognizable, and you always want diversity. Plus it was very amusing to see a few guys singing the Ghostbusters theme at the top of their lungs. I hooked my laptop up to my surround sound system and put it on shuffle. Aaand music, check. As for movies, I didn’t make plans to make everyone sit down and watch a zombie movie. At a party, you never know what people are going to want to do. Through my experience though, I’ve learned to set a few pre-selected (always pre-selected. You never want that awkward half an hour of people debating over what movie to watch. Plus, this way you get to still call the shots, make sure it’s appropriate for everyone, and avoid any disagreements on what counts as a “zombie movie”) movies out on the table, just in case when it dies down, people just want to crash on the couch. I chose Zombieland and Warm Bodies as comedies, Dawn of the Dead as borderline scary (not everyone agrees on super scary movies, so be careful when you’re choosing your films. I put on a scary movie at one of my first parties and there was a kid here who had panic attacks when he watched scary movies so he sat in the kitchen alone. Needless to say, after this, I tried to choose more universal movies), and a Zombie Classic box set for the traditional zombie movies (it included Night of the Living Dead, Revenge of the Zombies, Oasis of the Living Dead, and White Zombie). I had all of these movies on hand, and found free downloads for the movie soundtracks, so music and movies was free for me. If you don’t have the movies, chances are you can find them online to either stream or download.
3. GAMES. Now, this is the first part that I get a little crazy. Some people host parties and just let people mingle and hang out. I love to mingle! Really, I do! But I also get a little bossy and make people play games that I planned. And even if people grumble and bitch about not wanting to get out of their seats, they ALWAYS have fun. Full participation required, and my friends have started to learn not to come if you’re not gonna join in. Through the years, I’ve found a ton of games to play. Traditional Halloween games, and just general games you can tweak to almost any theme. Anyways, I had a ton of game ideas and narrowed them down to just a few. Here’s my list.
- Zombie Charades. I found this online. Give someone a celebrity, and they have to act out how they think that person would act if they became a zombie. It’s a fun idea, but I didn’t use this, just because even with distinct features, a lot of zombies act the same. It would be hard to differentiate. Plus, getting a large group to quiet down enough for a full game of charades is hard.
- Guess Who. This is an awesome ice breaker, but at this point, almost everyone who comes to my house for parties is practically family with the rest of the guests. I put monsters, scary movie characters, and any other Halloween themed person I can think of on index cards. You tape them on the back of each guest when they come in, and they have to ask yes or no questions to figure out who they are. I make a rule like, “You can only ask each person 2 questions” ’cause kids kept asking their best friends questions and not talking to anyone else. This game is super universal. I’ve used it during Halloween, at an 80s party, and any theme that has people associated with it really. Super easy.
- Bobbing for Donuts. It’s not as soggy as it sounds. I tie white powdered donuts on a string and hang them in a doorway. Guests need to either stand or kneel (depending on height) and get the full donut off the string, without dropping any! The trick is, tying the donuts just a little above their mouth, and making sure they don’t use hands. This game has been a huge success, but I found some other games I wanted to do instead, so it didn’t make the cut this year.
- Zombie Musical Chairs. I’m so proud of this creation… It’s not exactly musical chairs. There’s no music, and it’s a game played throughout the evening. I downloaded an air raid siren sound, and made ‘Safe Zone’ signs to put on chairs. The game worked like this: Every time the air raid siren was played, it meant the zombies were coming. Everyone had to be in a chair labeled ‘Safe Zone’ or they would become zombies. Every time the siren played, there was a mad scramble to get a chair. As the night went on, I added the rule if you’re already sitting, you need to switch rooms. People kept sliding one seat over and it was not the exact effect I was going for. After that rule went into effect though, the game was awesome. People were screaming and diving and sitting on each other and all the fun parts of musical chairs, zombie style. As the night got later, I removed the safe zone signs, so there became more and more zombies. Another way you could play is have the people who became zombies earlier in the game just take up a seat. It was easy and it was a blast.
- Candy Corn Guess. This is pretty simple. I put candy corn in a jar, wrote a sign that said “Please write your name and # guess and put your slip in the cup.” I left blank pieces of paper and a pen out, and let them at it. Towards the end of the night, I checked their guesses and whoever was the closest got to take the candy corn home. I’m sure you could do it with another, less gross, candy, but candy corn IS a pretty big symbol of Halloween. Plus, Wegmans sells unusual flavors of candy corn, like Blackberry Cobbler. And that is definitely not gross.
- Scavenger Hunt. Also pretty simple. I wrote clues on index cards, hid them, had a prize, and split everyone into 3 teams. Being the nerd/songwriter that I am, all of my clues rhymed, but that’s not necessary. I had 13 hints for each team, and they were hidden all over the main level of my house. Places like the stove, the stereo speakers, under the rug in the front hall… I made sure they all led to the same place, so only one team could win. In the final place I hid enough boxes of pumpkin shaped Peeps for each team member. I had so much fun sitting back (finally) and watching everyone run all over trying to figure out my clues.
- Zombie Apocalypse Situation cards. This one was easy and it was good when the first few people were getting there and we were waiting for people to get out of work, or get there “fashionably late” (PS, that’s lame, no one does that, and as a party host, I hate it). I wrote out different situations of where you were when the zombie apocalypse happened, and each team of partners had to say exactly what they would do to save themselves or their family. I had things like “It’s the middle of a wintery night, and you can’t stay in your neighborhood. You have a husband/wife, an 8 year old, a 3 year old and the family dog. What do you do?” or “You are on a family vacation in Disney World when your family back home calls with news of zombies. Where do you go?” or even “You’re on a business trip halfway across the country when you see zombies on the news. Your husband/wife isn’t answering calls. What do you do?” Coming up with the situations was fun, but did require a lot of creativity. My mom and dad judged who had the best answer, and the team that won got a head start in one of the later games.
- Balloon Pop. This is an easy game that’s good for laughs. I blow up a bunch of balloons with slips of paper on them, and then have everyone partner up. Each pair has to pop balloons between their backs by linking arms and squeezing. Sometimes it scares people, or sometimes the balloons won’t pop, and it’s very fun to watch (and participate in). Normally I put numbers on the slips in each balloon, and then that’s how many pieces of candy they get. To go with the zombie theme this year, I put “SAFE” and “INFECTED” on the slips of paper. Instead of it being a race like usual, I had everyone go one balloon at a time. And each round, a team got out because they were ‘infected’. Last pair standing won.
- Bobbing for Apples. Classic. It’s not a Halloween party without it. Since it’s usually cold and rainy on Halloween in Rochester, I do it inside. It’s a big risk, especially if you knew my friends. I put down a cheap plastic table cloth, a fuck ton of beach towels, and just go for it. Water does get a splashed a bit, but I’ve never had an disasters. I used to go by whoever had the fastest time won, but I have one friend who is a beast (like seriously, he must practice in his spare time or something. It’s ridiculous), so that didn’t work. This year I went by who had the biggest apple. It worked because the bigger ones are harder to get, and once you’re in that cold water with your eyes closed, there’s no knowing what apple you’re gonna get.
- Just normal ol’ party games. Just in case it gets a little slow, I always have traditional party games set out. For Halloween I put a Ouija board on my coffee table for people to goof off with. I also have things like Apples to Apples, Uno, a deck of cards, and Catchphrase ready in case it slows down or people are feeling awkward. No one played them this year, which I think means I did a good job keeping them busy.
- Costume contest! I mean, really. It has to happen. My parents were the judge, but you could also make everyone vote. I got skull shaped cups ($1 each), filled them with candy and labeled them for each category. I did Funniest, Scariest, Sexiest, Most Original, Best Tradition Halloween Costume, and Best Zombie. We all got a few laughs and it was fun to see what everyone came up with.
- Coloring Station. This isn’t really a game, but it was kinda fun. When things were slow, people sat down at the table, chatted and colored a few zombie themed coloring pages. I had a bunch of crayons, and it cost about $6 to get a bunch of the sheets printed.
So those are a few games. If you don’t like them, I hope I gave you a few ideas for something you can use. Also, you have no reason not to like them because they’re pretty much awesome. And cheap! A pack of pre-packaged donuts is only a few bucks, I spent a few more dollars on scavenger hunt prize candy and on the candy corn, I spent 2.99 on a package of balloons (plus I used leftovers from past parties), my bobbing for apples tub was 9.99 (but I did manage to find a coupon) and I got apples from a local farm stand.
4. FOOD. No party is a good party unless it has food. I know this. I asked people to bring a snack to share, so I planned on having bags of chips on the table. But I also had a few cool zombie ideas as well. I got fake bloody fingers at my party store and threw those in the potato chip bowl, just to freak people out. I had corn chips and salsa, to please the masses. I also had a few boxes of donut holes (Halloween tradition!). I got a bunch of mini M&Ms and put them in a bowl. With the bowl though, I got some old prescription bottles (ran them through the dishwasher, I didn’t want to drug anyone) and labeled them “Vaccine.” People still got candy but it went with the zombie theme. I also served popcorn, but put red food coloring in the butter to make it look bloody. One of my best friends make mummy hot dogs (hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls with little mustard eyes. Adorable and delicious). I made a veggie platter with dip, baby carrots, celery and cauliflower. I made the cauliflower look like a brain though, which was cool. I got a full head, and cut out a middle section to put the dip bowl in. I was going to use food coloring to make it look even creepier, but I just didn’t have the time. I put random Halloween candy all over the table for people to pick at. I also made “Emergency Rations” signs for the food table. Because you don’t do half ass a zombie party. For drinks I got a few 2 liters, some cold cider, and some mulled hot cider, as well as punch that I made. I was nervous to try a new punch recipe, but it was so popular that I ran out. It also was a dark red which was awesome for a blood look. The recipe is 1 can of frozen lemonade, 2 cans of water, 1 packet of cherry Kool-Aid (I used black cherry cause it was what I had at home), 1/2 cup of sugar, 3/4 of a 2-liter of ginger ale, and a lot of ice. It was delicious. Overall, I spent about $50 at the grocery store. I did have some stuff on hand, but not a lot. You really just have to decide what you NEED and what you think would just be cool. Plus, I always recruit my friends to help.
5. DECORATIONS. This was hands down my favorite part. Working at Party City, I get A LOT of ideas. So I go all out. My family has a lot of their homemade decorations from when my siblings and I were kids, plus just things my parents have collected over the past 34 years together (Happy early Anniversary, by the way!). And as a Halloween enthusiast, I have a ton of stuff myself as well. What I did with our tradition Halloween stuff, is just made it crooked and falling down so it looked abandoned. I put dead flowers in a vase like no one has been here for a while. I even made sure no one raked my front yard (zombies don’t rake!). I found some old boards and boarded up our windows (with packing tape… My mom would’ve actually killed me if I used nails). I put white sheets over my couch and chairs, even a few of them had blood splatters and handprints on them. My boyfriend and I took pieces of plastic wrap, put red paint on it all creepy like and hung it on our windows. I got a bunch of fifty cent candles at the thrift store, and tried to make it look like our power was out. It got really hot once everyone was here and we were all moving, but the idea was pretty sweet. I blew up balloons way in advance so they looked all old and partially deflated. I have an old cosmetology school mannequin head, so I put creepy face paint on it and fake blood and stuck that in the cooler to startle a few people. I used old mason jars and put old nasty stuff in them to look like spoiled food and specimens. I used stuff like ripped up paper towels, food coloring, old leaves and chocolate sauce. I set up a strobe light to flash really slow, just to make it look like flickering lights and just to add to the creepy Halloween-y feel. I put black garbage bags on windows to make them look broken. I used an Expo marker to draw cracks on the bathroom mirror. I hung a beware sign on my mailbox, and put a lantern on our front walk as a beacon. We put those obnoxious to clean spiderwebs on everything, and even brought in a pile of dead leaves from the front. I even hung a dirty, fake bloodified baby doll on the front door. That was creepy AF. I also busted my balls to find a fake blood recipe that didn’t stain walls. My house is very lived in. And my mom accepts that parties cause a bit of a mess. But she was very worried that I would smear fake blood on our white walls and cupboards, and it wouldn’t come off. I mean, it would be a good conversation starter at Thanksgiving… Anyways, I looked everyone online for something, but everything had food coloring and I wasn’t about to risk it. I ended up coming up with my own recipe, which worked super well. I tested a spot on the inside of a cupboard a few days before the party, just to be sure, and it actually cleaned the cupboard. Like, cleaner than before there was fake blood. So that works. My recipe is dish soap (I used blue to had a little depth to the red), corn syrup, washable red poster paint, and sugar free chocolate syrup. I don’t have measurements, I just kind of messed with it until it looked like blood. It was super fun to dip my hands in it and just stumble around. I did buy a few decorations, but you really don’t have to. Just make the place look abandoned and creepy and that’s all you need.
6. COSTUME. The final touch to the perfect zombie party. I did give my guests the option of coming in a traditional Halloween costume, but you don’t have to leave that open. I mean really, a zombie party could happen any time of the year, not just Halloween. The best thing about a zombie theme is though, you can be literally ANY kind of zombie you want. You can take any normal costume, throw on some make up and fake blood and you’re good to go. Instead of just being lame old jean wearing ripped hoodie zombie, my boyfriend and I went as 80s rockstar zombies. My friend went as a zombie flapper. It’s kinda fun just to get dead. I mixed some chocolate syrup, red food coloring and corn syrup to make fake blood for my face. I did a blood splatter manicure (red nail polish and a straw. A bit messy but awesome results). I ripped my tights and messed my hair up. It was SO much fun to get ready. Even though I still have some spirit gum in my arm hair as I’m typing this…
So this is my guide book (guide blog?) to my zombie party. I found a lot online, I made a bunch of stuff up, I twisted a few things to fit the theme, but there weren’t any blogs or sites with just how to do it, one go. I was all over the internet and it was a pain. So hopefully this blog helps you. This party was one of the best I’ve had, and I got a TON of compliments on how well put together it was. Hopefully I gave you a few ideas, and I hope if you have a zombie party you have as much fun as I did!
Lots of love,
PS. If you guys like this, I have SO MANY party planning tips and ideas and themes for you. Let me know what theme you’re thinking about and I’ll either throw my own or write a few ideas for you!
PPS. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from last night!
^ My boyfriend and I in our 80s rockstar zombie get up!
^ My friend Jess as a zombie flapper!
^ My older sister, younger brother (he went as Tommy Pickles) and I!
^ Our buddy Aaron bobbing for apples!