Now before I begin, I know that there are many traditions to Halloween, just as any holiday has. I don't need to be educated on what Halloween was, is and could be in the future. I probably know more about Halloween then I know about any holiday really, and that's because I think of it more than a holiday. It's an all year-round thing for me.
All I will say is personally what I feel Halloween is about, and why I believe these make good criteria when you are trying to pick a theme. I don't mind people doing any kind of costume individually, but if you want me to participate in a party, I want to feel like I'm celebrating my holiday. Not just yours. So when you consider doing a theme party, ask yourself the following:
1) Halloween is a time for darkness, horror and fear. It's about winter coming, the harvest, and the spirit world. The veil is thinner, the nights are longer, the sun is less seen. We celebrate to either ward off fear, embrace it or to just face it and realize we can be stronger. Some of us celebrate it because it's the one night of the year we can be as weird-as-fuck and no one bats an eye. I would call this the spirit of Halloween, or the atmosphere. Consider if your party's theme ties in all this, and not just in a shallow way. This is why the Tim Burton-themed party I went to this year worked. It had all of this, even the harvest parts, because Burton understands and loves Halloween.
3) Does your theme technically fall into another genre more than horror or dark? Are you doing this theme for the sheer love of your fandom and don't care what any of the other guests feel about it? While I am all about the idea of throwing a party for your fandom, especially if the fandom thing you enjoy is already in the spirit of a season, just remember that not everyone likes what you like. Make sure everyone is on board with the idea and agrees it fits as a Halloween theme. Otherwise you might alienate folks.
As you can see, picking the right theme for a Halloween party is only the beginning. You need to consider all these things if you want to have a good turn out to your party, and you want your guests to have fun. Halloween is about transformation, but themes are about coming together in groups of like-minded souls. So bridging the gaps between can be difficult if not done with care and thought.
Anyone going or have gone to some awesome Halloween-themed parties yet? How about some terrible ones?