18 Restaurant Halloween Decoration & Promotion Ideas
September 1, 2022
Spooky season brings major marketing opportunities for restaurants. Use these suggestions as inspiration to celebrate Halloween this October.
Autumn brings cooler weather, changing leaves and, of course, Halloween season. For restaurants, finding ways to engage diners during the fall means celebrating with themed decor and dishes. Here are 18 ideas for Halloween fun that you can try throughout the whole month of October.
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5 Halloween Decoration Ideas for Restaurants
Decorating for Halloween can run the spectrum from simple to elaborate. Depending on your staff’s bandwidth, easy yet festive decor might be all you need to celebrate the season. However, if you have the time (and the space), consider additional embellishments to dress up your restaurant. No matter what, make sure the decorations you choose feel true to your brand and authentic to your concept.
1. Spooky Movie Characters
Restaurants that want to lean into the horror side of Halloween can decorate with characters from scary films. Lillie’s Victorian in New York City uses a statue of Pennywise from the movie It to bring a little extra terror into their dining room.
Carved pumpkins, or jack-o'-lanterns, have been beloved holiday decorations since the 1600s. Pumpkin carving makes a great Halloween staff party and gives you heartfelt decor to use. Alternatively, you can work with a professional to create designs. Put your pumpkins in places like sidewalk patios, front stoops and outdoor tables like the ones seen here at Citroën in Brooklyn for your guests to enjoy.
Halloween meets carnival with the use of animatronics. Decor that moves feels like it’s coming to life and makes it that much more realistic. New York bar Oscar Wilde goes all out with its mini fun house that is just as creepy as it is creative.
If you’re looking for a versatile piece of decor, consider skulls. They make interesting centerpieces, especially when paired with flowers or candles, and can be mounted easily to walls. East Village absinthe bar Café de L'Enfer hangs theirs close to the ceiling.
5. Witches Hats
Hanging witches hats from the ceiling like Chicago's Deuce's Major League Bar adds depth to the space and can seemingly lengthen the room. Multi colors might be a good choice depending on your other decor and restaurant aesthetic. Otherwise, black hats are always classic and can blend in with almost any setting.
13 Halloween Promotion Ideas for Restaurants
Beyond decor, you can offer festive food, drinks and events. Decorated baked goods, spooky parties, cocktail specials and themed desserts are a few ways to get into the Halloween spirit. Find specific suggestions below.
1. Seasonal Donuts
For donut shops or restaurants with a pastry program, special seasonal donuts are a way to get into the Halloween spirit. Flavors like Pumpkin Pie and Candy Apple are on theme, and adding fake spiders or eyeballs on top is extra festive. Astro Doughnuts in the D.C. area serves up a mini box each October.
2. Mummy Cupcakes
Give guests the chance to decorate their own confections with baking kits to go. Flour Bakery + Café in Boston offers these DIY mummy cupcakes along with the ingredients to make bat Oreos each October. They’re a family-friendly activity that helps patrons support you from home.
Pro tip: ask customers to post their creations and tag you on social media!
3. Ghost Cookies
Spooky sweets go beyond donuts and cupcakes. Work with your pastry team to put a spin on some of their traditional cookies and incorporate ghost cut-outs. San Antonio’s Bakery Lorraine releases Halloween treats every year that their guests always love.
4. Pumpkin Spice Martinis
Jump on the pumpkin spice trend with specials behind the bar. Pumpkin spice can be mixed into martinis, margaritas, White Russians, boozy milkshakes, hot chocolate, horchata and a bourbon smash. South Boston’s Publico has pumpkin spice martinis that are a neighborhood favorite.
5. Spooky Cocktails
Pumpkin spice isn't the only fall drink option. Try offering orange and black-colored drink specials like the speakeasy Less Than Greater Than in Hudson, MA. Decorative glassware featuring skulls, pumpkins and hands can also dress up some of your regular offerings. And don’t forget holiday drink stirrers featuring bats, witch hats, ghosts, fingers and eyeballs.
6. Mini Cauldrons
Take note from Boston’s OAK Long Bar + Kitchen. Mini cauldrons are a fun and easy way to add a Halloween vibe to a plate. Be creative with what you can serve inside — think soups, dips, dressing, drinks and more.
7. Pumpkin Bowls
Customers are no strangers to the untraditional serving vessel, like the bread bowl for example. It’s easy to put a spin on this concept with a pumpkin bowl. Here, Lincoln Tavern in South Boston serves its Fall Ramen inside a pumpkin with miso pork broth, spiced pork belly, butternut squash, shiitake mushroom, cabbage and scallion.
8. Halloween Party
Consider throwing a Halloween party with a costume contest, food and drink specials or a set menu and live music. You can advertise the event through your restaurant’s website, social media channels, emails to past customers and local online calendars. The Cocktail Club in Charleston hosts their annual The Night of the Thirsty Dead Party on Halloween night with prizes for the best costume.
9. Murder Mystery Party
If you want a specific theme, a murder mystery party might be a good option for you. Consult your events manager for help planning the evening. The Iberian Pig in Atlanta hosts an annual murder mystery party at its restaurant for $70 per person (including tax and gratuity) that includes family style tapas, a whole roasted pig, sides and dessert.
10. Pumpkin Carving
Hosting pumpkin carving sessions is a great way to get diners through your door and another revenue stream to add for the fall. You can sell tickets directly on your website. Run the event outside on a patio like Longman & Eagle in Chicago or section off part of your restaurant for easier, centralized clean up.
11. Dirt Cup Desserts
Tap into your guests’ inner child with a throwback dessert: dirt cups. Typically made with chocolate pudding, crushed Oreo cookies (aka “soil”) and gummy worms, these nostalgic treats will appeal to patrons of all ages. Summer House in Santa Monica offered this week-long special last year with $2 from every one sold donated to a charity fighting food waste.
12. Loaded Milkshakes
Over-the-top milkshakes are having a moment. This one from Boston Burger Company is a caramel apple milkshake with a walnut pumpkin cake on top, candy corns frosted to the side and mini pumpkins and caramel squares served on the plate.
13. Pumpkin Kegs
Serving pumpkin beer from local breweries? Experiment with a pumpkin keg, especially if you have an outdoor space. New York City’s Loreley Outdoor Beer Garden puts their pumpkin kegs on top of hay bales and autumnal flowers creates a classic fall scene that will definitely attract photographs.
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