With lots of families looking for trick-or-treating alternatives this year, one of Liz’s suggestions was to host a fun Halloween themed dinner with the kids. Which, by the way, is a great idea for teens who may have outgrown trick-or-treating too, or a fun option to host in your backyard (safely) with a small group.
The way we see it, we parents have the chance to turn what could be a not-so-great Halloween for a lot of kids into one to remember. So we’ve put together a whole bunch of Halloween dinner themes we love, complete with some recipes and other tips to get you started.
Best of all, you don’t have to be an amazing chef or a renowned Instagram cake decorator to execute these deliciously spooky Halloween dinner themes.
Let’s just say we’ve always been more about “what can we actually do” than “impress all of Pinterest” here. You with us? Let’s do this!
-Liz + Kate
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8 Halloween dinner theme ideas for the whole family
How to prepare:
-Tell the family the theme in advance so everyone has time to pick out a costume that suits the theme.
-Alternately, put lots of theme ideas in a hat, and let the kids draw one. (Liz did themed dinners over the summer during quarantine with her family and it was super fun!)
-Find recipes, drinks, and desserts that suit the theme. You don’t have to go crazy!
-Set the table in your Halloween theme. Again, this can be as simple as craft paper for a table cloth or Halloween printable coloring sheets in your theme of choice that the kids can use as place mats.
-Consider a dinner playlist or even streaming a movie silently in the background that pays off your theme.
The finishing touches:
-Want to put together a goodie bag when you’re done? If you’re skipping trick-or-treating this year, can’t hurt to end with a little baggie filled with candy that suits your Halloween dinner theme. Gummy worms, gummy spiders, candy corns…you name it.
-If you really want to do it up, put together a few costume awards that are ready to go, and present each member of the family with one at the end, like “best use of a wig” or “most creative interpretation.”
-Photos or it didn’t happen, right?
Halloween dinner theme idea: Frankenstein and classic movie monsters
When we think of classic movie monsters, Frankenstein is the first that comes to mind. So we were really excited to find this awesome Frankenstein sandwich wrap idea at Peas and Crayons, which is a favorite food blog of ours. You could also make this as a Mexican burrito with a spinach wrap. They’d even go perfectly with the semi-homemade Bride of Frankenstein guac dip from Fork and Beans. For dessert, keep it simple with the mint chocolate chip milkshakes from Design Eat Repeat. Minimal effort, but big fun!
You can also find inspiration for your Halloween theme dinner using other classic movie monsters beyond Frankenstein — think The Wolfman, Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy, the Invisible Man. This might open up your recipe options, as well as the kids’ costume options.
In fact, we have found so many incredible mummy recipes over the years, you should definitely start your meal planning by searching mummies here on Cool Mom Eats.
Hot dog mummies, like these at Appetizer Addiction, are always a kid-favorite. I found these mummy stacked sandwiches at Feel Good Foodie this year, and they look like so much fun (and my picky kids might actually eat them).
Like, how fun would it be to just wrap your entire table in toilet paper for a mummy theme? (Just uh, don’t use the good stuff for that.)
And if you really want to scare the kids: Threaten them with the idea of watching a BLACK AND WHITE MOVIE as a family after dinner. Ha.
Halloween dinner theme idea: A ghost mansion
With so many families watching The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix right now, that would be a terrific theme all on its own! How perfect is the Netflix promotional ad to print and use as invitations or even place cards?
Of course, you can broaden your Halloween dinner theme and go with a “ghost mansion” which allows for so many cool ideas. If you don’t already own full-on victorian wear, you could ask the kids to dress up like any favorite character…only as a ghost. You supply the white face paint!
As for food, it’s easy to find recipes with simple ghost shapes (uh, maybe skip the ghost pepper sauce for the kids?) and this article at Taste of Home offers so many. But the easiest way to accomplish this is to cut ghosts from slices of white cheese. Then, use them top a DIY ghost pizza with this recipe at Pudge Factor. (Or even doctor one you order in.) Other ideas: layer it on a piece of toast or garnish a bowl of pasta.
If your kids are pickier eaters, you can cut their favorite sandwiches into ghost shapes, using the tutorial above from Chewable Structures.
Pro tip: An angel cookie cutter is perfect for making spooky ghost cookies, just by slightly stretching out your sugar dough after they’re cut, to look like the ghosts are floating. It’s also pretty simple to dip frozen bananas in vanilla yogurt like the ones above at Lifestyle of a Foodie.
If you want to put in a little more effort, we’re impressed by the incredible ghost chocolate bark at Mom Foodie, or dip frozen bananas in vanilla yogurt like these at Lifestyle of a Foodie to make a healthier treat before all that candy.
Then, just dim the lights, find some spooky ghost sound effects to play, stick an Ouija board in the middle of the table for decor, and have fun!
Halloween dinner theme idea: Roald Dahl’s The Witches
The Witches has been a classic Halloween theme for decades now, but with the reimagined 2020 Roald Dahl’s The Witches on HBO Max now — it’s excellent! – we’d plan a whole dinner around a watch party with the kids. Or, at least the older kids. It’s really creepy good fun.
For decor and costumes, well, these witches aren’t the pointy-hat types. More like the pointy-shoe types. We’d go with a little stuffed mouse at each place setting, or place them all around the table.Photo © Johnny Autry for Eating from the Ground Up, published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers
Because the 2020 movie takes place in Alabama, not London, you have to go with some Alabama recipes for this one — or at least authentic southern culture recipes from Black food bloggers and cookbook authors. Start with some of the recipes from Danni Rose of Stovetop Kisses, or Erica Barnett of Southern Culture Foods. Fried Chicken and Waffles? Yes Please!
Halloween dinner theme idea: The world of Tim Burton
This table set-up from Parsimonious Decor Darling goes all out for a Beetlejuice party and she has so many cool ideas, starting with that black-and-white striped table runner that I happen to own from Ikea, too. It’s easy to find recipes perfectly for “the recently deceased,” like this genius Beetlejuice cocktail recipe from Bread Booze Bacon. Considering it’s made with Midori, Chambord, vodka and blue curaçao (yes, sip slowly please), it’s not for the kids. But you can easily find ways to make a kid-friendly version with any green sports drink of your c choice.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to Beetlejuice, at all. If you love Tim Burton like we do, you open up the recipe and costume ideas when you peruse the entire Tim Burton library. Think Frankenweenie (for you true fans), Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride, even Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. And of course, The Nightmare Before Christmas!
Uh, maybe those of you with older teens are willing to go with Sweeney Todd. We’ll leave it at that.
Halloween dinner theme idea: A night in Transylvania
Vampires provide the most wonderful Halloween recipe inspiration because you know, red foods. Red, drippy, yummy foods. And of course, loads of garlic.
Your table can be as spooky (coffins and crosses?) as you’d like, or just put some plastic fangs at each place setting, and make sure everyone is wearing a black cape. If you’re eating outdoors, how about some “villager torches” of the tiki variety for lighting?
We found these blood bag cocktails as one of our 6 favorite 6 BOOzy Halloween cocktail and mocktail recipes last year and it’s so perfect for a Vampire theme dinner! Find the recipe at Sugar and Soul — and adapt it without booze as a perfect way to velcome your guests of any age to the table.
Also be sure to check out the Cinnamon Pomegranate “Blood” Shots which is perfect if you have a (clean!) test tube set lying around.
A great way to start off is Ricardo’s vampire chicken wings seen above — or, are they bat wings? Who’s to say! (No, they’re not really bat wings.) Then, taking a nod from the incredible Vampire Cafe in Tokyo, I’d dress up some baguettes as coffins with crosses to accompany an easy spaghetti agile e olio. If you want something a little more substantial, the super easy penne with loads of garlic at Halfbaked Harvest is a favorite at Kate’s house.
For dessert, the Vampire Cake at Blog Anyzkowo is incredible. Just choose the translate option on the top right of the page to switch it to English, or apply some of her ideas to a store-bought cake.
Halloween dinner theme idea: A mad scientist lab
While yes, you could pick up some of these ideas to go. with a Frankenstein theme, we think a more general mad scientist lab Halloween theme is so much fun — especially for those STEM fans at home!
Momtastic has a fun roundup of 13 mad scientist party ideas filled with inspiration. But our favorite is easily this mad scientist party decor from Catch My Party. Beakers filled with green liquids, and glass vases of gummy worms and gummy frogs are perfect, and perfectly easy to replicate. And we love the educational opportunities to give the kids chemistry-themed workbooks or coloring pages to see them busy.
For slightly more sophisticated mad scientist party ideas, from food to decor, Your Home Based Mom has photos that are mind-blowingly cool. She proves you don’t even need outrageous. recipes if the table is set just right.
Like, how about. just serve some kind of fusilli pasta recipe (corkscrews) and call it DNA pasta? Done!
And don’t forget, dry ice can do so much of the work for you for this themed dinner, both at the table and off.
Halloween dinner theme idea: Zombieeees!
How could we offer up Halloween dinner themes and leave out zombies? There are just too many good recipes, and you can get as gross as you’d like — or you know, tame it down for younger kids. In fact, some of the zombie decor on Amazon is amaaaazing! Also, downright terrifying!
We do have to say, a Zombie quarantine house Halloween theme is pretty spot on right now and this pack on Amazon would do the trick.
Now let’s get to the food — if you still. have an appetite.
The zombie stuffed peppers we spotted at @myrens_ernaering are still a favorite of ours (and our readers!) and hey… healthy and pretty easy to make. and this Zombie Hand Omelette at Create At Happy is downright terrifying — click over at your own risk. The gist is hot dog “fingers” reaching out of an omelet, but you could always use polenta, rice, noodles…whatever works for your family. (Still, pretty creepy.)
For a dessert fit for the undead, we are big fans of zombie brain cupcakes, and the ones here from Windy City Dinner Fairy are a great option, because her step-by-step instructions make this way easier to pull off than you might think. You can also take some inspiration from her decor here, which demonstrates it’s not too much work to get your table looking great.
We’ve got. more spooky Halloween cupcake ideas here, including plenty that are perfect for a Zombie theme. Especially those amazing ones from Martha Stewart!
And for drinks? Whoa, these Zombie shooters are pretty incredible. But even tomato juice with a themed straw will work just fine.
Of course be sure to give everyone lots of time to get their costumes ready. And hey, not everyone has to be a zombie. We need some zombie-killers in the group too, right? (Aim for the brains, kids.)