Ray Bradbury’s Guide to Throwing the Best Halloween Party

Ray Bradbury was a true lover of Halloween. As his favorite holiday, he always made sure to dress in costume and have an amazing Halloween bash. If you’re looking to host your own Halloween party—in-person or even online—we’ve got you covered with advice from the legend himself. To learn more about Bradbury and his love of all things spooky, check out our exhibit, Ray Bradbury: Inextinguishable online and at the museum.

Written by Ari Bachechi

Pro Tip 1: Set the mood with appropriate décor and lighting

Illustration of the house in The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. Illustration by Joseph Mugnaini
Illustration by Joseph Mugnaini

“…Until they stood at last by a crumbling wall, looking up and up and still farther up at the great tombyard top of the old house. For that’s what it seemed. The high mountain peak of the mansion was littered with what looked like black bones or iron rods, and enough chimneys to choke out smoke signals from three dozen fires on sooty hearths hidden far below in dim bowels of this monster place. With so many chimneys, the roof seemed a vast cemetery, each chimney signifying the burial place of some old god of fire or enchantress of steam, smoke, and firefly spark. Even as they watched, a kind of bleak exhalation of soot breathed up out of some four dozen flues, darkening the sky still more, and putting out some few stars.”
—Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

You may not have a mansion on top of a hill, but with some cleverly dim lighting, creepy shadows, and some sort of smokiness, you’re off to a great start. Bonus points if you do indeed have access to a crumbling mansion belching smoke on top of a hill that you can use for your party venue.

Pro Tip 2: Make sure to invite your favorite friends

“They waited, sad for no reason, lost for no reason. They thought of Pipkin and a Halloween that might be a rotten pumpkin with a dead candle if, if, if – Pipkin wasn’t there….Joe Pipkin was the greatest boy who ever lived. The grandest boy who ever fell out of a tree and laughed at the joke. The finest boy who ever raced around the track, winning, and then, seeing his friends a mile back somewhere, stumbled and fell, waited for them to catch up, and joined, breast and breast, breaking the winner’s tape. The jolliest boy who ever hunted out all the haunted houses in town, which are hard to find, and came back to report on them and take all the kids to ramble through the basements and scramble up the ivy outside-bricks and shout down the chimneys and make water off the roofs, hooting and chimpanzee-dancing and ape-bellowing.”
—Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

A party is only as good as the friends who come. So make sure to invite all your best buds for a night to remember!

Pro Tip 3: Don’t forget the pumpkins!

“The pumpkins began to come alive. One by one, starting at the bottom of the Tree and the nearest pumpkins, candles took fire within the raw interiors. This one and then that and this and then still another, and on up and around, three pumpkins there, seven pumpkins still higher, a dozen clustered beyond, a hundred, five hundred, a thousand pumpkins lit their candles, which is to say brightened up their faces, showed fire in their square or round or curiously slanted eyes. Flame guttered in their toothed mouths. Sparks leaped out their ripe-cut ears.”
—Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

We can’t guarantee that your jack-o-lanterns will come to life, but they will certainly add to the ambience of the evening. We also cannot necessarily endorse lighting 1,000 candles for pumpkins, so please keep fire safety in mind just in case your pumpkins do come to life.

A painting of the Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
“The Halloween Tree” painting by Ray Bradbury. From the collection of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University School of Liberal Arts.

Pro Tip 4: Try venturing outside

“The ravine. Here and now, down there in that pit of jungled blackness is suddenly all the evil you will ever know. Evil you will never understand. All of the nameless things are there. Later, when you have grown you’ll be given names to label them with. Meaningless syllables to describe the waiting nothingness. Down there in the huddled shadow, among thick trees and trailed vines, lives the odor of decay. Here, at this spot, civilization ceases, reason ends, and a universal evil takes over.”
—Ray Bradbury, “The Night

If the night is lacking that spooky feeling, try taking a walk in the cool October air. Halloween tends to have some special secrets in store at night even in familiar places. You might want to take a friend or two with you though, just in case…

Pro Tip 5: Remember that the Halloween spirit can last all year

“Hold the dark holiday in your palms, Bite it, swallow it and survive, Come out the far black tunnel of el Día de Muerte And be glad, ah so glad you are…alive! Calavera…Calavera…”
—Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

Halloween isn’t so much a holiday as a lifestyle, at least according to Bradbury and me. You don’t need to have a Halloween party to have fun on the holiday, and it doesn’t need to be Halloween to enjoy mysterious things with friends.

Happy Halloween, and stay spooky!

Rectangle image with black background, American Writers Museum white logo, and text that reads: SPOOKY SEASON Horror writing, mystery stories, Halloween reading, and more treats!

More ways to celebrate this spooky Halloween season!

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