19 October 2023
6 Frighteningly good ideas for pubs this Halloween
As autumn closes in and the nights get colder, Halloween is a great opportunity to provide punters with a good reason to pop into your pub.
Here are six ideas on how to offer hauntingly good hospitality.
1. Spook up the atmosphere
Decorate your pub with a Halloween theme. Try bats, ghosts, witches, and pumpkins or black and red tea lights on tables or pumpkin-shaped candle holders.
If you know your way around your PA or sound system, try curating a Halloween soundtrack (think songs like Thriller, Monster Mash, Bad Moon Rising, and Ghostbusters).
Spooky sound effects can also add to the ambience, especially if you’re holding an event.
2. Terrifyingly tasty treats
Adapting your food offer for Halloween might seem as scary as the night itself, but even small changes can have an impact.
Look through your menu for dishes and rename or tweak them to fit the season. Swap tomato soup for pumpkin soup, or offer devilled chicken instead of roast chicken.
Make your own Halloween nibbles. Bat-shaped nachos (batchos?!) is one of our favourite ideas.
To make these you don’t need much more than a bat-shaped biscuit cutter, wholemeal tortilla wraps, and time. You can find a simple recipe here.
Serve with your usual nachos toppings or offer a ‘batty Halloween dip’ with gory-looking beetroot hummus!
3. Ghostly games
Running a few light-hearted competitions is another easy way to get into the Halloween mood.
Draw inspiration from children’s parties and award small prizes for things like scariest fingernails, best broom, or poshest pumpkin.
If you opt for the pumpkin contest and have somewhere suitable to display them with candles lit, you’ve also got an almost effortless Halloween display.
Another idea is a Halloween-themed quiz.
Come up with your own questions about horror films, ghosts, spooky songs, haunted houses, ghoulish goings-on, and horrible historical facts, or book a quizmaster to do it for you.
4. Blood-curdling costumes
Fancy dress for customers and staff is another quick and easy way to bring Halloween to your venue.
For staff, it could be novelty items like witches’ hats and fake fangs, or full-on costumes. For punters you could make it dress up for fun or the best fancy dress could be one of your ghostly games.
5. Serious instead of sinister
Modern, popular celebrations of Halloween tend towards the light-hearted, but for some, the occasion is one of eight annual dates marked within the pagan calendar.
Followers of the pagan faith are likely to think of 31st October as Samhain (usually pronounced ‘sow-en’), a night for remembering loved ones who have passed on and acknowledging ancestors, combined with casting off the old and welcoming the new.
There are pagan communities all over the UK (many hold regular meetups, known as ‘moots’ in pubs and cafes). If there is one near your pub, hosting a formal Halloween meal might bring you new customers or offer an unusual experience for regulars.
6. Bewitching beverages
Bloody Mary is a bit of a no-brainer for topping your Halloween drinks list, but any other clear spirit with a red-coloured mixer can be renamed to give it a seasonal feel.
If you’re lucky enough to have a mixologist on your team or someone who is clever with flavours and mixed drinks, you could try lychee ‘eyeballs’ instead of ice cubes!
These are made from lychees, preserved cherries (such as glacé or maraschino), and raisins. The lychee stands in for the white of the eye, the cherry is a bloodshot iris, and the raisin is the pupil.
Pop them in the freezer to firm them up and enable the eyeball-ice cube swap.
When it comes to beer, Halloween options are a bit limited.
In the USA pumpkin beers are popular at this time of year, but sadly the trend hasn’t caught on here, so your best bet is a play on words with the likes of Hobgoblin, Beavertown’s Bones lager, or one of Moorhouse’s witch-themed brews.
Some of these ideas need more work than others, but with a little effort and a willing team, you’ll be ready to welcome guests at Halloween.
Whatever you try we hope you have a Halloween that’s more prosperous than the plumpest pumpkin!
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