Halloween celebrations may look a little different this year—trick-or-treating door-to-door and indoor parties and haunted houses are not recommended—but we’re still getting into the spooky spirit. Even if company isn’t coming over for a bash, you can still get All Hallows’ Eve vibes by throwing a virtual Halloween party for you and your friends (and their fur-kids).
We tapped Hayley Mehalco, founder of Puppy Parties NYC and expert in all things pet parties (yes, really!), for her advice on how to (safely) celebrate Halloween on a smaller scale. Get ready to create some IG-worthy moments starring your pets.
Step 1: Send Party Invites
Step 2: Pick Your Party Spot
You could choose to decorate your entire home, but for a virtual party, it’s best to select one area of your home like your dining room table. The smaller scale will allow you to focus on making the celebration extra festive.
“Visualize where you would like everything before you start securing décor,” Mehalco advises. “It will save you time and energy to have a game plan going into it.”
Keep in mind that fellow partygoers will probably only see what’s immediately behind you, so Mehalco suggests picking a backdrop that can then be decorated, like a brick wall, solid wall or area with windows to let in natural light.
Step 3: Get Organized!
Now that you have picked the perfect spot for some seasonal decorating, the next step is to get your space cleaned up and organized.
“Make sure countertops are clear, pet toys are put away, clothes are hung up and your space is tidy,” says Mehalco. (If you’ve ever been distracted by a coworker’s messy office during a Zoom meeting, you know this to be important!) “You’ll have a clearer picture of what you have to work with without any distracting clutter in the way.”
Step 4: Snag Some Décor Essentials
Now comes the fun part! Time to gather your decorations.
There are several options for classic decorations, such as streamers and balloons, that work for a virtual party space. You can really get into the seasonal spirit with bats, black birds, ghosts and spiderwebs, or keep it a little lighter with fall-themed décor like pumpkins and fresh or dried foliage.
For the most consistent (and chic!) look, choose décor around a specific theme or color palette, such as
- Ghostly, not ghoulish: Go for a clean, all-white look and consider elements like a balloon garland in varying shades of gray and white.
- “Bell, Book and Candle”: Play off of the classic film with plenty of old-school, haunted glamour. Think (unlit!) candles and faded, mismatched velvet fabrics you can score at discount fabric stores.
- Black and orange: A classic Halloween color palette that never goes out of vogue! Demonstrated here, this one is especially easy and budget-friendly to pull off with tons of supplies available at party and craft stores. Plus, it offers tons of color that’ll pop on computer screens.
When searching for supplies, visit your usual décor supply haunts like craft stores and home goods retailers, but also check out local farm stands, craft fairs and grocery stores—and don’t overlook the fun of foraging in the woods for natural materials like colorful leaves.
Step 5: Consider Having a Spooky Statement Piece
Statement pieces are decorations that pop and get your guests’ attention, explains Mehalco—such as a giant spider web—and make great backdrops for virtual parties.
Want to add a witchy spider web to your Halloween celebration space? You can follow the DIY directions here.
What about the Halloween balloon garland Mehalco and her pup Bailey have set up their dining room with? You can snag a similar set at Michaels here or follow the DIY instructions here.
Step 6: Decorate from the Top Down
Once it’s time to start decorating, Mehalco suggests working from the top down—meaning you should hang things that are higher up (like streamers, banners and balloons) first, then work your way down to wall décor and tables.
To keep the space safe for paws, be sure to avoid using anything sharp to hang decorations, like tacks.
“Heavy-duty tape should work just fine,” Mehalco says. In particular, look for painter’s tape, which will help keep your paint from peeling when it’s time to take down your décor.
Step 7: Ensure Your Pet’s Safety
Double (and triple!) check that all of your Halloween decorations won’t harm your pet. Avoid décor that touts electrical wires (these make for terrible chew toys), fog machines (the accompanying fluid can be toxic) and candles that can easily be knocked over. If you include string lights, you can find a battery operated set at hardware and home goods stores such as Home Depot, and be sure to ensure that they are hung out of reach of pets.
Step 8: Have a Costume Contest
No Halloween party is complete without costumes! Encourage your guests (two- and four-legged) to come in costume and throw a virtual Halloween costume contest. Mahalco says she is a big fan of Rubie’s Costume Company for pet costumes, but pet parents can also keep it simple with Halloween bandanas for cats and dogs.
If you need some more inspiration, take this quiz to find the perfect costume for your pet, or check out these DIY Halloween couples costumes that’ll have both you and your pet looking like a fright night fantasy.
Step 9: Don’t Forget the Treats
You can’t have a pet-friendly Halloween celebration without some yummy treats. Share a DIY treat recipe with your pet-parent friends to make at home in advance. That way, when it’s time to sign on and celebrate, you can all show off your gourmet goodies.
Here are a few of our favorite recipes:
Of course, if you don’t want to make your own, you can always purchase some on-theme treats. Anything pumpkin spice is also always a hit, like these Friskies Party Mix Natural Yums Pumpkin Flavor Cat Treats.
And if you plan on having any human goodies on hand, remember to keep candy and other toxic people food out of reach of pets. Check out this list of Halloween treats that are poisonous to dogs.
Step 10: Create a Hauntingly Good Playlist
Music can help set the spooky mood. Create a playlist of Halloween hits and songs with goth vibes to play during the party. (We created one ourselves to save you the trouble—check it out below!)
Feel free to share the playlist, although it’ll probably be best if only one person plays DJ at a time so as not to have several different songs blasting at once.
Dress up your space with these Halloween decorating ideas, whip up some treats and snap some pics of your pet all guised up in a cute costume, and you’ll see that a virtual Halloween party can still offer frightful amounts of fun.
Here’s to a safe and happy Halloween, all you creatures of the night!
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- Halloween Central: A Holiday Guide for Pet Parents