Halloween is not just a day for kids to put on costumes and go trick-or-treating; it's a day when adults also can transform into characters and have a great time. Costume parties are a great excuse to play dress-up, and the first thing to consider when planning the ultimate costume party is a theme.
"You have to come up with a theme that everybody can have fun around," says Bill Furtkevic, vice president of marketing for Party City. "If you do a spooky Halloween party, maybe you can have movies related to the theme, such as 'Psycho' or 'Friday the 13th,' and guests can come dressed as their favorite scary movie character."
Furtkevic says some characters that likely will be popular this year will be from recently released hit movies, such as "Alice in Wonderland," "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," "Avatar" and "Iron Man 2."
"Vampires and werewolves are going to be huge," he says. "And couples like to go in tandem, so you could be seeing a lot of Mad Hatters and Alice or the Queen of Hearts. Popular culture really drives what a lot of people look for and try to be for Halloween."
Furtkevic adds that the TV show "Mad Men" also may inspire costumes this year, with its strong emphasis on 1960s retro style.
No matter what look you're going for, Furtkevic says Party City has everything you'll need to transform yourself from head to toe, with not only the costumes but also a variety of accessories, including wigs, hats, makeup, jewelry, weapons, purses, shoes and stockings.
Aside from costumes and accessories, great decorations are a must when it comes to planning the perfect costume party, Furtkevic says. To give your guests a good Halloween scare, Party City has a number of ghoulish scene setters you can put on your wall to create just the right backdrop, including a haunted forest, a cemetery, ghosts floating, creatures coming out of the ground, and a chop shop. You can scare your guests even further by appropriately adding to the scene, be it with bloody hanging limbs, barbecued body parts, eyeballs in a bag, chopped-off fingers, cleavers, and gel that looks like blood that drips down the windows.
Music is also important to set the tone of your party, and Party City sells CDs that feature an assortment of Halloween sound effects, such as creaking doors, chain saws, people screaming and Halloween music. Costume contests are fun, too. You can make a special prize for the winner of each category, e.g., best-dressed couple, most frightening costume, funniest costume and sexiest costume.
If you plan on having cocktails at your party, Party City has an array of items to complement them that are perfect for Halloween. The store has "shocktail" coasters -- which feature humorous sayings, such as "bring your own boos," "pick your poison" and "Halloween spirits"; test tubes you can fill with cosmopolitans, making the drinks look like blood; and special Halloween bottle labels you can use to disguise your favorite beverage bottles.
As a thank you to your guests for coming, Furtkevic recommends having them leave with some sort of party favor.
"A little cauldron, candy or some other memento of their being at your party makes it all that more special," he says.