How to Host a Spirited and Sober Halloween Party

By: Caleb Anderson

Halloween is approaching, and you’re right in the throes of addiction recovery. You’d love a night of friends and fun, but you’re overwhelmed by the thought of entertaining, and the fear of a relapse. These are common concerns; how you deal with them will largely affect the success of your long-term recovery.

It’s important to remember, though, that part of your recovery includes forming new habits. According to Wendy Wood, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California, about 45% of what we do in a day is repeated behavior in the same environment. She goes on to suggest that, changing the behavior means disrupting the environment. One way to do this is by creating new personal traditions, such as a Halloween party of your own.

So set your fear aside and get planning.

Spook up a good party theme

Spend some time thinking about a unique party theme that will attract some of your favorite friends. The more unique, the more likely people will attend. Remember, only invite those friends who are also sober, and ones that support your recovery. A few party ideas include:

Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee – Have a pumpkin carving contest, complete with a panel of pre-appointed judges and blue ribbon winners.

Murder Mystery Dinner – Everybody loves a great murder mystery.

Freak Show – Invite your guests to show up in the weirdest possible costumes they can find.

Create unique beverages

It will be important to have plenty of crafty beverages, and Halloween is a great time for it. Witches brew punch, warm apple cider, and plenty of others are great ways to keep guests focused on the party, not the alcohol. Don’t serve alcohol-free beer or other alcohol substitutes; these only serve as a reminder, and may cause a relapse. For some great drink ideas, read Non-Alcoholic Halloween Drinks That Are Still Festive, Because Even Dry Parties Should Have Punch.

Plan some boo-tiful decorations 

Tis the season for spiderwebs, pumpkins, and witches, but planning your party decorations can also be a way to get creative. Decor can be tied into your theme, or unique to the season. Here are a few sources for ideas:

Treat but don’t trick your guests

Halloween presents plenty of opportunities for fun treats. From simple cut-out cookies, to dead velvet cake; the sky’s the limit. If you don’t want to cook everything yourself, ask guests to sign up to bring a dessert or appetizer. Just remember, having food on hand is important for any of your guests who are in recovery. Hunger pangs are frequently mistaken for addiction cravings, and having food on hand will help avoid room for confusion. Check out these recipe ideas:

  • 47 Not-Too-Scary Halloween Party Treats by Delish
  • Halloween Party Appetizers and Finger Food by Southern Living

Play Ghost in the Graveyard

Even adults can enjoy a fun outdoor game of Ghost in the Graveyard. Having activities like this is great way for guests to enjoy their time without ever missing alcohol. Consider some of these fun Halloween game ideas:

The more effort you put into planning your perfect Halloween party, the more welcoming and festive the atmosphere will be to your friends. Remember, now is the time to cultivate new traditions, and to build new memories that replace old. Make this Halloween a great one!


Caleb Anderson co-created RecoveryHope to help people with substance abuse disorders and their families.