Traditional Halloween celebrations aren’t for everyone—some of us prefer not to brave massive crowds or try to pull together a costume worthy of Instagram. If you’re among those who would prefer to stay in on the 31st, we suggest you round up some likeminded women for a witchy celebration that’s part Wiccan ceremony, part childhood sleepover and 100% not reliant on an extravagant costume. Here, our guide to hosting a witchy girls night in.
Samhain, the Pagan holiday from which Halloween was derived, falls halfway between the autumn equinox and the summer solstice, and it was traditionally known to be a time at which the boundary between our world and the "otherworld" could be more easily crossed. One Samhain tradition is the hosting of A Dumb Supper, during which no one can speak. Each attendee should bring a note, which will remain private, listing the things they want to say to their deceased loved ones. Place a tea light candle for each of these lost family members or friends at the head of the table, where a seat should be kept vacant. (We also love these Communicate Candles from the House of Intuition if you're feeling fancy.) At the end of supper, each guest should separately step to the head of the table and burn their note into their deceased loved one's assigned flame.
Food should be fall-appropriate and include apples, root vegetables and the like. Soul cakes are traditionally served as well—here is the recipe. We love apple cider mimosas as an easy and affordable beverage choice but beware—these go down easy. Everything should be served on black linens and dishes, if possible, and guests should be served from oldest to youngest. After everyone has eaten and sent their notes off to the spirits, the dining room should be exited in silence.
Now that you've finished with the most adult portion of the night's program, it's time to channel your inner child. Sit in a small circle on the floor and place a traditional ouija board between you. Take turns asking questions—we suggest you make them as silly as possible, as the dumb supper can be pretty heavy! Read more about the history of the Ouija board, which can be purchased at Target, in Smithsonian Mag.
Next, we're going to essentially repeat the first portion of the program, but this time with a Beyoncé twist. You've said goodbye to loved ones lost, and now it's time to say goodbye to all the bullets you've dodged (aka, your ex-boyfriends). Remember when the girls of Friends decided to put together a boyfriend bonfire (to which the fire department was eventually called?) Same idea, fewer fireman (unless you've hired them, in which case we're totally down). Take a new tea light candle and a new note—this one with some choice words for an ex—and burn it in the same manner as you did at the dumb supper. In this go-round, however, you're welcome to read the note out loud as unfortunately, this dude is still around (kidding!) and therefore it might be helpful to put your parting words out into the universe in a more forceful manner.
This is just a dance party, in costumes. They don't have to be elaborate, as they're just meant to help you blend with the dead. Music can be whatever you'd like it to be—just be sure to relocate your candles to a safe spot so as not to burn down your house in the heat of the moment. Traditionally, this part of the evening is supposed to conclude with a divination ritual. We love tarot cards for this purpose—even if you don't really know how to use them, they're addictive and fun to "read" (using instructions and the internet) all the same. This is our favorite deck.
This technically has nothing to do with Halloween, Samhain or anything of the like, but as we feel the evening can get a little heavy in all of its focus on endings, we thought we'd suggest concluding it with an activity which focuses on the future. Each person should write a wish, hope or dream on a piece of seed paper and plant it in the host's backyard. If the host doesn't have a backyard, the seed paper can be carried out of the party and planted whenever the opportunity presents itself.
We suggest also gifting your guests with a goodie bag filled with naughty candies, the kind you would have gotten had you gone trick-or-treating. They will leave feeling as though they've let go of some heavy baggage, so an extra, chocolate-induced pound or two can't hurt! You can also turn the evening into a full-fledged sleepover if you'd prefer—here is a list of scary movies from the '90s to add to the nostalgia factor!