5 different Halloween events for your restaurant

By Megan Prevost

As Halloween approaches, it’s easy to feel spoiled for choice when celebrating. If you want your guests to spend the spookiest night of the year with you, you’ll need a Halloween event of your own to draw them in. Dim the lights, crank up the Monster Mash, and plan an event to welcome children of the night.

1.  Pumpkin carving contest

Pumpkin carving contests are a time-honoured tradition, and hosting one is an easy way to get your diners in Halloween mode! All you have to provide are pumpkins, carving tools, and a sign-up sheet; the evening’s entertainment will take care of itself.

Host the event during dinner and you can engage your diners as they vote on the winners! Remember to advertise a few prizes. Gift certificates are always an excellent option for first prize, but don’t feel bound to that idea. Consider handing out branded swag or even a few tickets to a local haunted house! No matter the prize, a pumpkin carving contest will get your diners into the Halloween spirit.

2.  Trunk-or-treat night

Trunk-or-treat is a classic family-friendly Halloween activity. Invite your guests out early to fill your parking lot and decorate their trunks for the holiday! Offer prizes for the best trunk decorations and maybe even for your favourite costumes. To keep your guests engaged, you can offer buffet service throughout the event, charge by the plate, or set up a prix fixe menu to serve at the table. Whatever your guests choose, they’ll leave well-fed and happy with their trunk-or-treat experience!

3.  Costume contest

Here’s another classic choice. You know that Halloween costumes will be on display on the night of the holiday anyway, so embrace the holiday spirit! It’s worth deciding ahead of time if you’d like to focus on a specific costuming theme or whether you should moderate submissions based on age appropriateness.

Costume contests don’t need to be long-winded affairs, so you even have the option of hosting more than one in a night, ending with a battle of champions to claim the grand prize. Don’t skimp on the final prize, either – choose some kind of local experience that people love and offer it to the winner. You can appoint judges in advance or let the people vote for themselves, but no matter what, you’re sure to draw a crowd.

4.  Halloween tasting menu

Anyone who’s been through a haunted house probably remembers touching “Frankenstein’s brains” (cold macaroni) or “human eyeballs” (peeled grapes). Why not apply the same concept to your Halloween dinner menu? Choose some of your menu hits and give them spooky undertones for one night only. If you can, consider tweaking recipes a little to give them a bit of extra Halloween pizzazz. Can you add food colouring? Are there any other fun, theatrical tweaks you can apply? Whatever you settle on, come up with a special dinner menu to showcase your food and spook your guests in style. 

5.  A good old-fashioned Halloween throwdown

Everyone (seriously, almost everyone) enjoys a good old-fashioned Halloween party. Mix and match the above festivities into one big Halloween bash, adjusting the plan to keep things easy to execute. Add some seasonal music, project classic scary movies onto the walls, and apply decorations galore – this is no time for restraint. Halloween is a holiday that thrives on camp. Lean into it and see how many folks show up to spend their holiday with you.

Planning ahead

Whichever Halloween event you decide on, take a little time to spread the word. If you’re running a contest and want to offer sign-ups in advance, you can leave out table tents with QR codes leading to a sign-up sheet! The earlier you start setting these out, the better, as they’ll let you know how many participants to expect.

It’s also important to advertise your event online and in person. Print themed flyers to let people know what’s going on and whip up a slick social media post to ensure you get as many people in the doors as possible on the big day. Try to do this as early as possible to maximize exposure and become part of your guests’ holiday plans.

Have a scary good time

There’s no right or wrong choice when enjoying spooky season as long as you and your guests are having a good time. However you choose to celebrate, remember: this holiday, perhaps more than any other, is about having fun. So, brush off your vampire costume, practice that silly accent, and prepare to ham it up for the holiday. Happy Halloween!

Megan Prevost is a marketing content writer for MustHaveMenus. Her work has appeared in App Institute, Bar Business, Modern Restaurant Management, Small Business Currents, PMQ, FSR, The Daily Fandom, and FanSided.