Two types of Halloween revelers inevitably emerge as October’s end rolls around. There are the overgrown college kids — the type who’ll be rocking sexy Pizza Rat and sexy Clock Boy costumes this year — who you can count on to greet you with red cups and jello shots. Then there are the over-it yuppies and their candlelit soirées, where guests eschew costumes for theatre masks and sneer at Dead Man’s Bones playing moodily in the background.
Jackie Kristel, who’s planning a Halloween bash at New York’s Museum of Sex on behalf of her theatre company One Year Lease, knows avoiding polarization is key to a great party. She talked to Inverse about striking a balance between fun, class, and trash.
Pick a costume theme
It isn’t a Halloween party if nobody’s dressed up, but convincing self-conscious adults to do so is no easy feat. “People shy away from costumes because they think they have to be bigger, better, more outrageous,” says Kristel. “With a theme, we’re handing you a costume.” This year, she’s going with a classic bacchanal. “You don’t even have to think about it,” she says. “We say costumes encouraged, togas recommended.”
While having a surplus of alcohol is key to any jam, what differentiates an adult party from a college throwdown is that boozing itself — surprise — isn’t the main event. As Kristel suggests, drinking to oblivion is what happens when guests are bored. “We have enough stuff for people to do so that our guests will never be in one place for too long,” she says. Having different food and drink “stations” around the party encourages guests to circulate, but her party raises the bar with costume competitions, burlesque performances from Cherry Pitz, live music from Kotorino, and body painting — with chocolate. A huge advantage of hosting at the Museum of Sex, she adds, is having access to the “Jump For Joy” bouncy castle, otherwise known as the “Boob Room.”
Candy Is for Babies
While nobody’s going to turn down Skittles or a Snickers bar, nothing makes an adult party like, well, adult treats. On the tamer end, her Greek deities will be handing out fortune-telling fish and Ev32’s breath-freshening Pop Rocks, but they’ll also be showering guests with condoms, Kama Sutra’s “fancy lube,” and boozy shots she calls “sex elixirs.”
Soak Up the Booze
The worst part about getting shitfaced at a Halloween party is that all the sugar you consume over the course of the night will only make your hangover worse. Do your guests a favor and serve food. “If it’s there,” Kristel says, “people will eat it. Then they won’t get too drunk.” Simple.
Same goes for water. “When people can’t get water, they’re like, well, I’ll just keep drinking this drink I have, and all of a sudden…” Kristel trails off. “It’s always my No. 1 rule.”
When it comes to doing grown-up Halloween right, Kristel insists on not taking anything too seriously. Ultimately, it’s less about the candy, costumes, and kitschy drinks (though she’ll be serving up a mean “Sin Collins”) and more about the Halloween state of mind. “People who love Halloween love it because they’ve loved it since they were kids,” says Kristel. “You need the fun, silly stuff.”