6 Themes for a Thrilling Substance-Free Halloween Party


CITB focuses on chronic illness. I have personally experienced and live with the chronic illness of substance abuse. This is a guest post by Caleb Anderson of RecoveryHope.org. RecoveryHope.org was started by Caleb and Molly Anderson after Caleb received treatment for opiate addiction. Molly has made it her mission to learn how to help Caleb fight his battles and support him in his recovery. Together they now help others by providing research and resources about the many challenges of overcoming drug and alcohol addictions.

We welcome Caleb and Molly to the CITB family and know you will enjoy their insights. Please visit their website RecoveryHope.org and have a safe and happy Halloween!

Fun is not just for kids, and in fact, Halloween is the perfect time to make believe, dress up, and have a great time. But, how do you throw a substance-free party when you’re in recovery from addiction? One of the best ways to make sure everyone has an amazing time is to pick a theme and run with it. Sure, themes are a little cheesy, but that’s what Halloween is all about! Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. They’re all packed with activities that make it easy to keep the focus on the fun and away from alcohol.

Movie Night

JamesQube / Pixabay

With movie themes, the possibilities are endless. A great way to set the scene is to use a projector to show the movie on a blank wall. For a scary classic, show Psycho but without sound and keep a scary soundtrack playing in the background (complete with the Psycho screech of course). Movie night can also be more fun than scary with favorites like Beetlejuice, Hocus Pocus, or Harry Potter. Ask friends to come dressed as their favorite character, and serve alcohol-free versions of some beloved drinks from the movie you choose, like this Food Network recipe for butterbeer from Harry Potter.

Haunted House

When you turn your home into a house of horrors, the fun is all about the spooks. Check out Holiday for detailed how-tos and scenarios for making your home haunted. You can stick with a single theme like zombies, mad scientist, or a witch’s house, or set up a different scene in each room of your house for a surprise around every corner. Tie in themed food and drinks that are as spooky as the decor. There is no need for alcohol with all kinds of creepy punch recipes you can make that fit perfectly with the haunted theme.

vbpfoto / Pixabay

Bonfire and Ghost Stories

Bring the fun outside by setting up a fire pit in your yard, building a bonfire and having everyone tell spooky stories around the fire. Serve s’mores and something warm to drink, like hot spiced cider, and offer blankets so everyone can get cozy. To make the stories come to life and feel even more real, set the scene by turning your yard into a graveyard, complete with tombstones and ghosts floating from trees.

Mystery Party

Give your guests a case to solve with a mystery party. Try a modern take on a classic like this Nancy Drew party idea from Country Living, or do something a little more current like CSI. Whichever theme you go with, come up with a crime to solve, with clues, mysterious invitations, and a crime scene. Ask everyone to dress the part, and set up a “crime lab” with drinks served in test tubes

Janson_G / Pixabay

Masquerade Ball

This theme gives your guests an excuse to dress up in swanky attire, but with a twist. Pick a time period or theme, such as Victorian opulence or the roaring twenties. This makes dressing up, even more, fun (and challenging!), and don’t forget to give masks for guests for an added air of mystery. For decor, go for Hollywood decadence but with an eerie touch, like these ideas from The Huffington Post.

lightstargod / Pixabay

Elegant Evening

Another upscale option is to plan an elegant dinner party styled in black and white. Set a beautifully creepy table with black and white linens, candlesticks, and a smattering of spiders. Ask guests to dress in only black and white. You can find endless ideas for spooky black and white decorations – from spiderweb, white lab coats, and skeletons to bats, ravens, and spiders.

Whether you go with something scary, fancy, whimsical, or somewhere in between, try finding a theme that you and your friends will get into. Simply have fun with it. When you do that, the fun is all about the theme and the activities instead of being about drinking. With a little careful planning and a lot of imagination, you can absolutely throw an amazing substance-free Halloween party.

geralt / Pixabay

Feature Image photo credit: Pixabay

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Things I Have Learned…

The Lessons

  1. man-and-woman-in-loveYou can’t look for a long term partner and a sexual encounter at the same time. You must look in different places, with different techniques. For example, in a place with loud music, it is impossible for a potential partner to get you know you. Someone just looking for sex does not care. As a general rule, the longer you postpone getting into bed, the longer your partner will hang around afterward.
  2. When you are young, you tend to seek the best looking partner. This attractiveness will be gone in a flash. Instead pick someone easy to live with who has no nerve-grating habits.
  3. There are three kinds of people:
    1. Those that like you naturally, or who would if they met you.
    2. Those that like you only while you are performing a mating dance with a steady stream of compliments, gifts, entertainments and undivided attention.
    3. Those that will never like you, including ones who had a relationship with you in the past and decided they did not like you after all.

    For the purposes of finding a suitable partner, studiously ignore anyone in category 2 or 3 no matter how attractive.

  4. Most of your time you spend wishing for things, sometimes things you might buy, but it could be relationships, health, physical fitness, political changes… But think. In past, every time you achieved one of these things, the pleasure is momentary, sometimes over in a fraction of a second, and rarely lasting more than a week. So to achieve continuous happiness this way requires some major achievement or acquisition every couple of days. This is impossible. If you want a continuously happy life, you must do it by learning to appreciate what is under your nose, here and now. Your desires seductively promise happiness if you but become a slave to them, but they cannot deliver.
  5. The life lesson I most wish I had learned early in life is: If your partner dumps you, that is absolute proof they were not the one no matter how attached you feel, no matter how much you believe you could never love another, no matter how great it used to be, no matter if the heartbreak is the worst pain you ever felt.
    P.S. Your partner did not dump you if all they did was have sex with someone else.
  6. fruitsaladPlay with your food! Do this, not to be virtuous, but out of curiosity. For three days, drop some food from your diet and pay attention to any differences. Do you have more or less energy? Do you sleep better or worse? Do you have more or less diarrhea? Are you more or less constipated? Do you have more or less gas? Do you feel more or less irritable? Foods you might consider for experimentation include: sugar, coffee, meat, eggs, nuts, fresh fruits, orange juice, bread, pasta, corn cereals, wheat, salt, dairy products or anything you eat a large amount of. If you notice a dramatic improvement, that might motivate you to consider a permanent change in your diet putting the troublesome foods on the back burner. Similarly, try adding a new food to your diet, or increasing the amount you eat, for three days to see what happens. You might consider salads, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, fish, vitamin supplements, protein supplements or any of the foods I mentioned earlier to try deleting. You might be surprised to discover that candy bar you grab to give you energy has the exact opposite effect. No matter what happens, whether you feel better, you feel worse or nothing at all happens, this is still useful information you can use in shaping your future diet. Something very simple might just hugely improve your life. If you do discover something significant, you will kick yourself for not doing this sooner.
  7. The past cannot be changed. The past is over. The past is frozen in liquid plastic; not a molecule can move. Yet still you say to yourself what my mother called the saddest words in the English language, if only. To say If only I had taken time to… is as silly as saying If only I had a flying pig, I could go on the Tonight Show. You cannot change the past, though you can change your attitude to it using techniques like EMDR. You cannot change the past, though you can learn from it and ensure you don’t repeat the same mistakes in future. If ever you catch yourself in regret, immediately reframe that to I must make sure I never make that mistake again and let it go.
  8. If someone does not like you, even if they once did, give up. Even if you succeed in temporarily getting them to like you, it will take escalating work to maintain the relationship. Seek your partners among those who naturally like you. The rest might as well be invisible vis a vis potential partners. Chasing after people who have rejected you is as silly as going to the movies and waiting for some movie star to become your partner. On the other hand, don’t presume people won’t like you just because they are extraordinarily wonderful or beautiful. Pay attention to the objective clues as to how well they like you, not to how well you calculate they should like you based on your relative pecking order status. Hollywood convention is that if the girl rejects the guy in the first reel, guaranteed they will be married in the last. Real life does not work that way. Movies are just wishful fantasies. If it appears no one likes you, find out why. Even a small improvement may help. Are you too clingy?, are you always thinking about what the relationship can do for you, never for your partner?, are you overweight?, do you have an unpleasant body or mouth odor , do you lack tact? You can’t change other people, but you can change yourself.
  9. Even if all your problems were caused 100% by your parents it is pointless to wring your hands about the terrible hand life dealt you. Nearly everyone heals their issues with their parents. It is just a matter of how soon you get on with it.
  10. Every moment, you are consciously or unconsciously deciding what to do next. You have some unwritten rules for deciding your priorities. You may usually do whatever makes the most money, which will be the most fun, which will be the easiest, which will give you the biggest rush, which will make you healthiest, most enlightened, most well liked, most respected, the most secure, the most laid, the most powerful, the most famous, the most feared, the best looking, the most knowledgeable etc. If you change the rules even slightly, you will live a completely different life. Try asking different questions. See what happens when you ask What will be most useful to the universe?. Your priority rules are the biggest lever you have in determining your fate. Of course the other big controlling priority is what you choose to spend your time thinking about.
  11. Do it now! Nearly all the great mathematicians and physicists did their best work in their twenties. If you have grand dreams, realize them now. You may well not have the energy later. Time seems to stretch endlessly ahead of you, but your life is over in an eye blink.
  12. Don’t be attached to the results of your action. Constant checking to see if your work has born fruit just wastes time and causes discouragement. Some liken it to digging up a seed you have planted each day to see how it is doing. Get on with something else. Never underestimate the power of the futile gesture.
  13. Understating your case is more persuasive than overstating it. You supply the facts. Let others supply the emotion. If you supply the emotion, others will take no action, believing you must have already handled the problem.
  14. When you can’t get what you want, one alternative to trying harder to get it, is to talk yourself out of wanting it so badly, at least not getting yourself upset over it. Similarly, when people do obnoxious things, you are not obligated to get upset.
  15. You can’t tell if someone is lying just by how sincere they sound. Habitual liars are those who have polished lying to a high art. You would never suspect them based on their look or demeanor. However, I have noticed liars tend to repeat the same old talking points, and take a little too long to answer simple questions. They have to compose the answers first and think about if they are falling into a consistency trap.
  16. The years pass faster and faster as you get older. By the time you reach puberty, your life is half over in psychological time. Don’t procrastinate the truly important things.
  17. If it sounds to good to be true, it nearly always is. Don’t waste time looking for zero-effort ways to do things. You just set yourself up to be conned. Find out what methods the people who actually succeeded have used.
  18. Think globally; act locally. Saving the world is a huge job. Yours is just a small part. However, it is a necessary part.
  19. The things you worry most about almost never happen. If you don’t believe me, start tracking them.
  20. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
    ~ Rita Mae Brown (born: 1944-11-28 age: 68)

  21. Other people do things that annoy you, not to annoy you, but in the usually-vain hope that doing so will make them feel better.
  22. Despite the protestations of absolute Truth, there is a tremendous amount of lying surrounding religion and spirituality.
  23. At many times in your life it will seem as if you have absolutely no energy or resources. But even then you can find something you can do that will marginally improve your lot or keep it from getting even worse than it would have naturally.
  24. If you are not making any progress on your big dreams, the very bigness of the dreams may be paralyzing you. Think instead, What could I do today that would marginally improve my lot. Focus not so much on where you want to go, but where you could go immediately from here.
  25. When you have dry congested nose, just snort up a bit of water to clean it out.
  26. Boiling water is a remarkable cleanser for kitchen or bathroom. It dissolves dried on muck, kills germs, deodorizes  leaving no residue or perfume or caustic chemical odor.
  27. The human body is only designed to last for forty years in the wild. You must take extraordinary care of it over your whole life if you want it to last you in comfort the eighty or ninety we humans live now. Don’t buy into the religious notion it is wicked to look after your body.
  28. stop-signWhile chasing after riches leads to an empty life, chasing after poverty also leads to misery. Neither extreme is as pleasant as the fairy tales make it out to be.
  29. Winning the heart of someone much more physically attractive than you can lead to misery by several routes.
    • Others will compete to woo them away.
    • You may become too besotted, and allow yourself to become psychologically enslaved.
    • Chances are they are flawed in character or some other way otherwise you would not have been able to win them. You may find you have got yourself quite a temperamental handful.
    • You can start feeling unworthy.

    You are better off finding someone more evenly matched in beauty who enjoys the same activities you do.

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