Theme Ideas: Halloween
This article forms part of a series that explores different themes. This series is designed to save organisers of fundraising events from having to reinvent the wheel all of the time – our primary focus here at the Fundraising Directory! You can see other themes here.
Whether you love it or hate it, you will undoubtedly at some point in your life be invited to a Halloween fundraiser or party. It’s actually really interesting to look at the origins of Halloween and see where many of the current traditions came from. You’d probably also be surprised how much these have changed over the years. Here are our ideas to help you put together your own Halloween fundraiser.
Halloween tends to have a definite black, orange and purple colour theme which can be incorporated into your invitations and your decorations too.
- Skulls and skeletons
- Black cats
- ‘Scary’ writing and a few spooky Halloween words and you’re set. (You can find a great list here. You’re welcome!)
You can see more ideas on our Halloween fundraiser Pinterest board
You would typically associate Halloween decorations with the scary and macabre, but if you’re having an event for younger kids, you can definitely still keep it interesting and fun but toned down a bit. Depending on your budget, you might choose to purchase ready made decorations but there are also lots of great (and easy and CHEAP) DIY projects on Pinterest. Think about setting up a parent craft group in the weeks leading up to your Halloween fundraiser to make some awesome homemade decorations. Here are some DIY ideas to get you started:
- Pumpkins, pumpkins and more pumpkins! Real ones can be carved into all sorts of faces and designs and pop a tealight candle inside for the full effect. If you can source pumpkins or don’t have the time to carve then, get hold of some paper lanterns. If you can’t get orange ones, you can always spray them orange and draw your faces or designs on with black marker pen.
- Ghosts – Blow up white balloons and draw a ghost face with black marker pen. Cover the balloons with white gauze and hang from the ceiling with fishing line to create floating ghosts. You can also mould chicken wire into ghostly shapes and cover these with white sheets.
- Spider webs – you can buy these in packets or create your own.
- Gravestones or coffins – you can make headstones and coffins with cardboard, newspaper and a bit of paint. Headstones can also be carved into Styrofoam. Styrofoam eskies would be great for this.
- Mummies – glass jars wrapped in bandages with some googly eye and a tealight candle. Use different size jars and googly eyes to create a table centrepiece. Mummy animals can be made using stuffed toys or shaping newspaper and wrapping with bandages.
- Bats – Cut out lots of different sized bats and either stick them to the walls or hang them from the ceiling with fishing line to give the flying effect.
- Put all those dead branches from winter to use by spray painting them black and creating wreaths or if you have loads of branches, you could make a very cool entry arch.
- Witches cauldrons can be used as ice buckets or serving bowls for popcorn.
- How about some dry ice fog to create a spooky entrance? (how to info here – but be careful as there are safety issues to consider when handling and storing dry ice). If you can’t get hold of any dry ice, you can hire fog machines to give the same effect.
- Eyeballs – a bunch of ping pong balls can be easily transformed into a bowlful of eyeballs with coloured markers or googly eyes. They can also be put into jars with some water coloured with food colouring for a great effect.
- Witches coat rack – set up a coat rack and hang some cloaks and witch’s hats from it. Lean some witch’s broomsticks up against the wall nearby.
- Plastic chains or real ones sprayed black
From super easy to super elaborate, anything goes when it comes to costumes for your Halloween fundraiser and the spectrum goes from the light and fuzzy to the scary and even the bizarre. These are a few of the more common costumes and heaps of options for couples and families too, but you can literally dress up as anything!
- Gypsy fortune tellers
- Monster eg, Frankenstein
- Creepy dolls
- Any and I mean ANY character from TV, film or video games (from Freddy Kruger, Beetlejuice, The Addams Family, Maleficent and Cruella deVille to Mario or Luigi, Steve or a creeper from Minecraft to Ghostbusters, Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, any Disney movie, Star Wars and Alice in Wonderland)
- Angels (good and bad) and devils
- Sugar skulls
- Mermaids or mermen
- A rain cloud made with an umbrella some cotton wool and LED lights
Let your imagination run wild and you’ll find some games for your Halloween fundraiser that you can really sink your teeth into:
- apple bobbing
- guess how many maggots / eyeballs (replacing your typical lollie jar with maggots, eyeballs or some other scary substitute)
- mummy wrap – using toilet paper to create the best looking mummy
- pin the wart/hat on the witch. Alternatives could be, pin the teeth on the vampire or pin the ‘boo’ on the ghost.
- witch’s hat ring toss – use ordinary rings or charge extra for using glow rings
- pumpkin bean bag toss – paint a pumpkin on a large piece of cardboard and cut holes for the eyes and mouth. The aim is to get the bean bags through the holes. An alternative could be throwing a spider through the hole in the middle of a web.
- water squirt or Knock down game – paint some plastic cups or tins orange and white and decorate them as pumpkins and ghosts. Stack them up and have punters try to knock them down with a water gun or tennis ball.
- guess the weight of the pumpkin – 50c, $1 or even $2 a guess and closest guess wins a prize.
- halloween bingo – same concept as your typical bingo but with Halloween symbols instead of numbers
- pumpkin bowling – for a twist on 10 pin bowling replace your bowling ball with a nicely rounded pumpkin and your pins can be as simply or decorative as you like. Think soft drink bottles filled with cotton balls and eyes drawn on them to make ‘ghost pins’
- halloween treasure hunt – race to see who can find all the spooky items on your list first
- balloon battle – Tie a balloon to everyone’s ankle with a string. Stomp on as many balloons as you can while trying to stop yours being popped. Last person with an un-popped balloon is the winner. To Halloween theme it, buy orange and white balloon and with a permanent marker turn them into ghosts and pumpkins.
- guess the name of the witch’s cat – have a list of 50 (or more) names with one of these names pre-selected as ‘the’ name. Sell each for $1 or $2 and announce the winner at the end of your event.
- halloween charades – using scary movie/book titles only.
There are lots of different fun and spooky treats you can create for your Halloween fundraiser. Pretty much anything can be ‘creepified’ for Halloween like:
- Hot dogs can become bloody severed finger hot dogs with only a couple of knife strokes.
- Jelly becomes jelly worms by pouring the mixture into some bendy straws to set.
- Bottles of soft drink can be re-labelled so that orange drink becomes Pumpkin Punch, green ones become Monster Mucus and red ones become Bat Blood (you can find free printable labels on Pinterest too!)
- Even ice can be made scary. Fill a disposable glove with water, tie the top and freeze to create ice hands for your punch bowl.
- Oreos can be split and become eyeball cookies with a little decoration.
- If you’re a baker you can create brain cakes, spider cakes, witch’s cakes, skull cakes, monster cakes, bat cakes and more.
- Candied apples can become bloody Halloween apples with white chocolate and red gel food colour. If you want poison apples, you can candy them yourself with by adding some colour to your syrup.
- Jelly shots in specimen cups or syringes.
- White meringue can be decorated with black gel colour to make ghost meringues.
- Turn a cob loaf into a coffin loaf by using a rectangle shaped loaf instead of a round one.
Have a haunting good time at your Halloween fundraiser:
- Music suggestions – Monster mash, Thriller, Ghostbusters, Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, Werewolves of London, The Addams Family theme song … there are more songs to fit this theme than you can poke a stick at! Music streaming apps make this super easy too. Just search Halloween and the work is done for you.
- Spooky bake sale – ask for donations of scary treats to sell at your event
- Raffles or even raffles with a twist Halloween themed prizes
- Fancy dress competition – have different prize categories
- Pumpkin carving or decorating competition – Make sure you have a great prize and charge an entry fee per pumpkin. You can have different age categories and even open it up beyond your school or group to the wider community.
- Hire a fortune teller/tarot card reader/palm reader – This could be another side event option with a fee per reading.
- Pumpkin smashing – Anyone in need of stress relief? I think this would be as fun as it sounds! You will need a big tarp or piece of plastic or have it in an area that won’t be bothered by pumpkin guts. Charge a fee per pumpkin smash and supply your punter with either a sledge hammer, baseball bat or cricket bat and let them go for it.
- Trick or treating, of course – Get all parents to bring in a bag or two of wrapped lollies or novelty toys. In various locations around the room, have a number of parents dressed up as spooky creatures with a stash of lollies to hand out. Divide the kids up into groups, and have them (in as much order as you can manage!) go around the room to attend to their trick-or-treating.
We hope that our fang-tastic ideas have inspired you to get your Halloween fundraiser planning underway. Here’s to the most spooktacular event ever!!
You can check out another article we wrote about Halloween Fundraising.
You might also be interested in:
- Winter Wonderland Theme
- Last Man Standing Raffle
- Create-a-Cupcake Stand
- 25 All-Time Best Fundraising Ideas