Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, the perfect night to host a party.  So when my teenage daughter started hemming and hawing over what to do with her friends, I jumped right in with the idea offering to have everyone over to our house for dinner followed by trick or treating in a nearby neighborhood.  

It’s not going to be a major bash, more of an intimate gathering of about twenty or so.  All of the guests are my daughter’s friends and their parents, completely civilized. But this is not always the case, especially on Halloween where we are mostly in disguise, our actions are anonymous, and ghoulish behavior is practically encouraged.  I remember vividly the Halloween ragers I attended back in the day where no less than 300 kids descended upon one address in Beverly Hills only to have the cops arrive not much later to shut it down. The parents were always out of town which made for a mixture of mayhem straight out of a John Hughes movie.  

While no one expects you to show up to a ridiculously large Halloween party with a hostess gift, here are seven surefire ways to guarantee good guest etiquette when it comes to Halloween parties at home.  After all, you may look like a monster, but you don’t want to act like one.

1. Don’t Be Creepy, Come in Costume. This is the one night of the year that allows us to dream, to try on a new look, personality, career. Take advantage of it and dress up in full regalia. Cast your opinions aside and get in the game. Don’t be a Debbie Downer and show up as yourself.  It will kill the vibe. You don’t have to go crazy, throw on a mask or face paint. At least it shows effort. When selecting a costume, consider the age of the guests and make sure the outfit is appropriate for the youngest attendee.

2. Enchant Your Host with a Tantalizing Treat.  Don’t behave like a beast, arrive with a token of appreciation for the host. A bottle of wine for the adults, a special homemade dessert for the kids, a Halloween-themed dog bone for Fido or a Skull candle with matches for the house all make safe choices. 

3. You Are Not a Cadaver, Lend a Hand.  As an invited guest, while you’re still alive and kicking, it is your duty to arrive ready and willing to pitch in where needed.  Whether it’s placing ice in the bucket, arranging a tray of hors d’oeuvres or taking out the trash, an offer to help with set up or cleanup is always welcome. 

4. Stay Within the Darkness, Don’t Go Into the Light.  Abide by the house rules and stay within the parameters of the party. You will know where the celebration is taking place simply by staying in the dark.  Rooms marked no entry usually have lights on which can ruin the atmosphere.  Refrain from entering.  Also, no touching personal belongings, be respectful of furnishings and don’t open the fridge unless asked to do so.

5. Save the Excess for the Afterlife. Remember the motto, everything in moderation. We want to end the night on a high note, not pulling someone’s hair back as they hover over the porcelain throne. Kids, eat a nutritious dinner before you stuff yourselves silly with candy. Adults, line your stomachs with a hearty meal as well. It will help soak up the alcohol.  

6. Show Your Teeth, Not Your Fangs.  You may think this night is suitable for stirring the caldron, but you are dead wrong.  Someone accidentally bump into you and spill your drink? Hold your tongue.  Spot a frenemy wearing the same costume?  Keep it to yourself, hopefully, no one will notice.  This is not the time or place to get into altercations.  Wear a smile and keep it light. Spend time making positive connections and hold the conflicts and criticism please. 

7. Rest in Peace with a Proper Thank You. No party is complete without a proper thank you. Say it in person and follow up in writing with a thoughtful note within 24 to 48 hours of the event.  This will ensure an invitation to next year’s freakish festivities.   

Wondering how to gracefully survive the night of fright? Here’s your one-stop shop on all your Halloween etiquette tips, questions and quandaries.