13 Spooky Halloween Ideas for Your Restaurant or Bar: Specials, Promotions, and Parties 🎃

13 Spooky Halloween Ideas for Your Restaurant or Bar: Specials, Promotions, and Parties 🎃
Dew Smith

By Dew Smith

Table of Contents

    October has arrived, the leaves are falling, and spooky season has officially begun. With Halloween-related spending hitting $9 Billion in 2018, and 175 million Americans reporting that they’ll be participating in the festivities this year, Halloween provides great promotional opportunities for your restaurant to attract new diners through your doors.

    With over 20% of restaurant staff reporting that Halloween is the busiest holiday at their restaurant, you shouldn’t shrug off the spooky season. We’re here to provide you with an extensive list of promotional ideas to capitalize on the Halloween-y festivities—with more than just cobwebs and skeletons.

    Halloween celebration and spending is growing in the US

    Here are thirteen Halloween promotional ideas your restaurant and bar to boost sales this October, and for all the Octobers to come.

    Halloween Specials and Menu Ideas for Restaurants and Bars 🧛‍♂️

    One of the easiest ways to bring the Halloween spirit into your restaurant or bar is with the food and drinks you serve.

    1. New spooky food and drink specials

    Unique, Halloween-themed food and drink specials are one of the most common ways bars and restaurants can spookify their business. October is the month of pumpkins, spice, and everything nice—so adding seasonal specials to your menu can go a long way to delight customers and get them talking about your restaurant.

    Here are a few ideas for Halloween restaurant specials to offer this holiday season.

    Halloween food specials

    • Pumpkin dip: a fall favorite that can be served with vegetables, tortilla chips, or naan bread. Serve it in an empty pumpkin for a final touch!
    • Ghost pizza: A regular margherita pizza can be turned “ghostly” with the right cheese shape!
    • Mummy Brie: brie cheese mummified in puff pastry

    Halloween bar snack ideas

    • Pumpkin dip with vegetables or tortilla chips
    • Bowl of Worms (gummy worms)
    • Witches’ fingers

    Halloweeny drinks and brew specials

    • Brain Jell-O Shots
    • Mystery drinks—creative cocktails with a creepy crawler inside! (fake, or real!)
    • Manchurian Scorpion Glow Shots
    • Black lemonade

    2. Spookify your menu with these Halloween menu ideas

    Your menu is a great piece of in-house marketing material you can use to emphasize the Halloween vibes. Changing up your regular menu (without creating new dishes) with naming and design is an easy way to adjust the menu to fit the festivities.

    Swap regular dish names with a spooky version

    Change up your menu names to give a new, creepy vibe to your existing dishes. This way, you can skip the hassle and costs of testing out new dishes, and keep your menu consistent with what your diners already love.

    Simply changing menu items and descriptions to give it a new, Halloweeny-twist can be an easy way to “get spooky” at your restaurant or bar. Here are a few examples.

    Regular menu name Halloween menu name
    Tomato soup Vampire Blood Bowl
    Omelette / eggs Seasoned scrambled brain
    Chicken wings Crispy bat wings
    Deviled eggs The devil's eggs
    Chips and salsa Bones and entrails
    Beet salad Dracula's healthy delight
    Coffee Coffin brew
    Hot dogs Haunt dogs or Halloweieners

    Change up your menu design

    You can take your spooky vibes to the next level by Halloween-ifying not just your dishes, but the menu itself. Redesigning your regular menu with a few cobwebs, bats, or creepy crawlers is an easy way to bring more Halloween spirit into the dining experience.

    Renaming your menu sections can also be a good way to keep those Halloween vibes consistent. For example, instead of Appetizers, you could rename your starters as “Bewitching Beginnings.” Or swap out the “Mains” with “Eerie Entrees.”

    Takeaway: Get creative with your menu names and descriptions to match the October vibes! Have staff suggest names for your dishes and drinks to get the whole team involved. If you’re struggling with the creativity, adding adjectives like “spooky,” “creepy,” and “weird” to dish names can get the job done. Throw in a few Halloween-y elements to your menu design and section names to emphasize the October vibes in to your restaurant and keep your brand fresh. 🦇

    3. Partner up with another local business

    Don’t have the time or expertise to whip up special Halloween treats? Partnering up with a local bakery for limited-time Halloween goodies like brownies, cupcakes, and cookies is a great way to boost your sales and make stronger connections in the local community.

    Plus, the partnership provides an opportunity for you to use each others’ network of followers on Instagram and Facebook to promote the ordeal.

    You give me your followers, I’ll give you mine—and we’ll all get witchy cupcakes! 🧁

    Restaurant and Bar Halloween Parties and Events 🎭

    Throw events at your restaurant or bar to attract the Halloween-loving crowd—both before and on Halloween day.

    Halloween lands on a Wednesday this year (2019), so a whole week of Halloween-y events before the date is a great way to get people in the spooky spirit and boost your sales at the end of October.

    There are hundreds of restaurant events booked in 7shifts this month—from trivia, to special lunches, to full-blown parties. Here are a few Halloween and party event ideas for your restaurant this year.

    4. Throw a Halloween party

    What better event to host at your restaurant or bar than a Halloween party? With 35% of consumers reporting that they attended a Halloween party on October 31st last year, providing your establishment as a venue for the evening’s festivities is a sure-fire way to boost sales. Pair the Halloween party with other tactics like limited-time food specials, a costume party, or screening scary movies to delight the adult crowd.

    Ensure you communicate with your staff the proper attire for the party, and get ahead of the night by properly staffing through 7shifts.

    5. Host a Halloween trivia night

    Bring the Halloween-y crowd into your bar or restaurant with an October-themed trivia night! Trivia nights are a great date night or friend event that always attract a big crowd. Design a Halloween trivia night before Halloween to test your diners on their knowledge of scary movies, folklore, and Halloween history.

    6. Host a trick-or-treat event at your restaurant

    If you’re a family-friendly establishment, handing out candy or gift bags to trick or treaters is a must! You can attract a lot of foot traffic by having a “trick or treat” welcome sign in your window, and engaging with trick or treaters is a great way to make a positive impact on the community.

    Takeaway: Plan your Halloween events in advance and get the news out on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) right away to encourage guests to “save the date.” To ensure your properly staffed for the event, create the event in 7shifts to build a schedule that will meet your expected sales and diner needs.

    Examples of restaurant Insta posts for Halloween

    Spooky Halloween Decoration Ideas for your Restaurant/Bar 🎃

    People aren’t the only ones who can dress up for Halloween—dress up your restaurant with Halloween props and decorations to draw the eye of pedestrians and make your restaurant an Instagrammable destination.

    Decoration can be as simple as hanging cobwebs and bats from the ceiling, but there’s a lot more you can do to drive the spooky theme home.

    7. Atmospheric Halloween decorations 🕸️

    Atmospheric decorations are the simple things you can do to give your establishment that unique October vibe. Hanging cobwebs, bats, and propping skeletons up around your restaurant or bar is an easy way to get into the Halloween spirit. Dollar stores are often packed with simple Halloween decorations in October, so you can redecorate your establishment without breaking the bank.

    Before you dress up your restaurant for Halloween, think about your brand and how you can introduce new decor in a way that emphasizes your brand—rather than detracts from it.

    If you work in a classy, full-service restaurant, table candles, instrumental Halloween music, and dimmed lights could be the right approach. On the other hand, if you’re a fun bar hangout for college students, going all out with hanging skeletons, giant fake spiders, and even motion-activated door decor is a great way to attract and delight the young adult crowd.

    Halloween decor ideas for upscale restaurants and bars:

    • Fall and pumpkin-scented candles
    • Autumn colored decor (burgundy, mustard yellow, orange, dark green, olive green)
    • Fake leaves
    • Instrumental Halloweeny music

    Halloween decor ideas for casual bars and restaurants

    • Hanging skeletons and bats
    • Creepy wall and window decals
    • Jack-o-lanterns
    • Halloween music
    • A Halloween Instagram wall (more below)
    • Skulls and bones on tables

    Be mindful if your restaurant is family-friendly, as you don’t want to go over-the-top with scary decorations that frighten the children that frequent your establishment. However, fun window decals, and jack-o-lanterns can create an inviting environment for the kids.

    Halloween ideas for family-friendly restaurants:

    • Jack-o-lanterns
    • Ghostly window and wall decals
    • Colorful Halloween banners and streamers

    Takeaway: Brainstorm on decor ideas that fit your restaurant brand and check out the local dollar stores to stock up on all the supplies you’ll need. If you need a hand with set-up, make a mini staff event out of decorating the restaurant to get everyone involved in the Halloween transition.

    8. Halloween table decorations 💀

    Table decorations are a great way to add a little spooky spirit to your guests’ dining experience, and are also quite versatile to fit your restaurant’s brand.

    Tableware

    • Halloween napkins are a great idea If your restaurant is fun and laid-back
    • Fall-themed napkins (orange, dark green, burgundy, brown) is a subtle hint to the season for a fine-dining establishment
    • Halloween-themed party plates are great for serving finger food at the bar
    • Mini cauldrons to serve soups and dips are a great choice if you want to go the extra mile

    Centrepieces

    • A flower-filled skull makes a great centrepiece with a creepy yet elegant vibe
    • An Autumn or pumpkin-scented with fake leaves makes a great centrepiece for full-service restaurants
    • A fake (or real!) jack-o-lantern makes a great addition to any table in October—don’t forget the candle!

    Glassware

    • Halloween-themed wine glass charms can bring new Halloweeny vibes to your bar or restaurant’s drinkware
    • Adding fake, edible creatures like spiders and ghosts to drinks can be a cute way to serve drinks and boost sales

    Takeaway: With your brand in mind, head to the dollar store to check out fall and Halloween-themed table decor like candles, creatures, and themed napkins. Spicing up your tables for Halloween can give your guest’s dining experience that extra “oomph” and get your restaurant’s new atmosphere all over Instagram.

    9. “Decorate” your staff 🧙‍♂️

    Inviting your staff to dress up for Halloween is a win-win—your guests will love being enveloped in the Halloweeny atmosphere, and your staff get to be creative and have fun at work. Under 40% of restaurant staff say they dress up at work for Halloween, but increasing that number can help to increase sales in October.

    Need ideas for Halloween costumes for working in a restaurant?

    Depending on your type of restaurant, you may want to stick with more subtle costumes, such as adding  cat ears, witch hats, or Zoro masks to their regular attire. If you have a more casual bar or restaurant, you can go all-out with witches, ghosts, goblins, and more.

    No matter what your restaurant brand is, be sure to provide a list of guidelines, including dos and don’ts, so your staff can dress up appropriately. Making mention of things like what amount of gore/fake blood (if any) is acceptable, what size of costume is acceptable, and other considerations such as the use of sharp or dangerous objects in the costume.  

    Need ideas? One server commented on reddit that they dressed up as a mime one year:

    10. A Halloween Instagram Wall

    Want to make your restaurant the talk of the town for Halloween? Investing in a Halloween-themed Instagram wall for your restaurant will not only be a fun activity for guests to take new pics, but also get your restaurant all over Instagram to attract other locals through your doors.

    You don’t have to get too fancy with your Instagram wall either—some spooky decorations like spiders, ghosts, and creatures on an empty wall can do the trick. You can easily find Halloween decals at dollar stores and department stores. Make it even more Instagramm-able with string lights and a “Happy Halloween” sign, too!

    Don’t forget to have your Instagram-happy guests tag you in their posts!

    Halloween Contests & Deals for Your Restaurant or Bar 💸

    11. Run a Halloween costume contest (on Instagram )

    Launch a costume contest on your Instagram to get an influx of cool costumes and followers. Be sure to mention the rules of the contest include following your account, and tagging your restaurant/bar in their submission post.

    Consider what kind of qualifications there will be to choose a winner—uniqueness? Creativity? Creepiness? Whatever you choose, make it clear!

    Plus, with all the posts coming in with cool costumes, you’ll have plenty of new photos you can repost to celebrate your creative diners.

    Tip: Try setting rules that encourage more creative costumes. For reference, the top five costumes for adults are witches, vampires, zombies, pirates, and Avengers characters.

    12. Have a jack-o-lantern contest (in real life)

    Did you know that 46% of consumers carved a pumpkin in 2017? Your business can capture that audience by hosting a Jack-o-lantern contest where people can submit their pumpkins (for a fee, like $5) and diners can vote on their favorites. Putting the jack-o-lanterns on display also adds more Halloweeny vibes to your restaurant automatically.

    On Halloween, the jack-o-lantern creator with the most votes can win the whole pot, and throw in a gift card or two to make them regulars.

    13. Offer special deals to diners in the spooky spirit

    Special deals, discounts, and offers are timeless for boosting restaurant sales—and new themed deals are the perfect addition to any Halloween marketing plan.

    Special deals, discounts, and offers are timeless for boosting restaurant sales—and new themed deals are the perfect addition to any Halloween marketing plan.

    Try these Halloween promotional ideas on for size for your restaurant/bar:

    • Offer a 10% discount to guests who are dressed up 🧝‍♂️
    • Offer little ghouls and goblins a free meal with the purchase of an adult entree like Outback Steakhouse
    • Let kids eat free if they’re in costume like McAlister’s Deli 👻
    • Offer a specially-named menu item for a scary good price like Chipotle 🌯

    Conclusion

    Whatever Halloween promotional ideas you use, make sure to market them through your Instagram and Facebook feeds! Using #halloween2019-related hashtags in your stories and posts will get you seen by all the Halloween fanatics in your area (and beyond). New decorations, dressed up staff, and sneak peeks of your new Halloween specials provide great content for your feeds that will definitely draw every scroller’s eye.

    If you try any of these ideas, be sure to tag our Instagram @7shifts as well!

    To help ensure you’re properly scheduled for the Halloween rush, use 7shifts, mark your events, and schedule based on projected sales calculated from your past Halloween. Not part of 7shifts yet? Sign up for free here so you’re set for Halloween!

    Now go get spookin’!








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    Dew Smith
    Dew Smith

    Hey! I'm Dew, the Brand Strategist at 7shifts. I cultivate 7shifts' social and content garden, and I'm always looking for ways to grow our network of restaurateurs, local talent, and tech companies.