Being an indoors kid (or should we say, 20-something) on Halloween comes with its perks. Not having to brave the cold, put up with mischievous trick or treaters or deal with Uber surge prices (cause you know that’s gonna be a thing!) are all plusses in our book, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t get creative, come the 31st. If you have the house to yourself for the evening, consider hosting a spooky-elegant dinner, by which we mean swap the bucket o’ candy for cocktails, crostini and candy apples in what will be a festive and classy spin on your average friends’ night in. This guide has all the essentials for putting together a fête from start to finish. Say hello to your new October tradition!


1. Choose a Theme: Having a cohesive theme will give you some direction when putting together various elements and help tie the party together. Give the black and orange thing a rest and try something from a spooky movie or ghost story. We love this “Dinner With the Addams Family” idea. (via Camille Styles)


2. Get Classy With Your Decor: A few simple touches will go a long way to set the party tone. Try a gorgeous autumn wreath or these easy no-carve pumpkins to dress up your front door. You don’t need to deck out the entire house, but keep the momentum going indoors by focusing on one or two areas, like a mantle or entry table. These eerie candlesticks are fun and inexpensive, and a lavish display of desserts could also double as decor. (via Brit + Co)


3. Happy Hour: Greeting friends at the door with a bevy is the ultimate gesture of hospitality. Take it one step further with a signature Halloween libation. This is a good time to enlist the help of a buddy so you can greet guests while they tend the bar. We’re loving this genius Sleepy Hollow Cocktail. Follow up with beer and wine. (via Jewels of New York)


4. Tasty Appetizers: You don’t need a full spread of hors d’oeuvres, but some kind of nibble is nice when you’re serving drinks ahead of dinner. Plus, it gives you a little time to put finishing touches on dinner. Something like this pumpkin bruschetta is a great option because you can make the topping ahead of time and simply spoon over toasted bread right before it’s served. (via Sweet Paul Mag)


5. A Festive Table: For the most elegant tablescape, focus on dramatic fall colors like crimson and gold and pair with splashes of black for a ghoulish effect. Gilded flatware adds a little glam and these mini painted pumpkins lend a whimsical feel. (via The Decorista)


6. Grown-Up Candy: Don’t forget to include a little bit of grown-up candy action for your guests. It IS Halloween after all. The color is up to you, but we are especially digging this dark decadence. (via Sweet as a Cookie)


7. Creepy + Chic Centerpieces: Get crafty with your florals. Stick to the same autumn palette but Halloween it up with a spooky vase, like these skulls. You can also paint inexpensive glass or plastic vases and call it a day. (via Honestly Yum)


8. A Seasonal Menu: Stick to simple, seasonal dishes that will keep your guests cozy on a cool October evening. It also helps if you can (mostly) make them ahead of time. Think comfort food like soups (check out the pumpkin one above), roasted pork or chicken, or baked pasta dishes. Click over to our full recipe roundup for even more delicious dishes. (via Minimalist Baker)


9. A Show-Stopping Dessert: End your dinner on an especially sweet note with a wow-worthy finale. This tuexedo cake is super easy to make, so you can have more time for spray painting those creepy, crawly bugs. (via Brit + Co)

What is your favorite way to celebrate fall with your friends? We would love to hear your ideas. Tell us in the comments, below!