We don't want to be total sticklers here -- we're talking about Halloween parties, after all -- but we have to lay down the law with costumes: They're nonnegotiable. Any stick-in-the-mud who arrives without a costume and with a bunch of sorry excuses should face the consequences. We won't be so cruel as to say you should bar entry to any costume-free guests, but we're not above some light humiliation -- perhaps a big sign that says "I was too lame to wear a costume."
Any Halloween party, no matter how ho-hum the décor and food, will be a hit if everyone gets into the spirit with outrageous getups. So why not create some incentive for your guests to go all-out? Whether you're hosting a costume free-for-all or letting a theme dictate things, it's always fun to present awards -- you can do one grand prize or reward a variety of categories.