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In my family, Jack Skellington is synonymous with Halloween. There are tons of movies that get people into the spirit of the season, but Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is at the top of our fall movie list. We love the colors, the characters, and the music!
We plan a big Halloween party every year, and since we’ve been watching The Nightmare Before Christmas as of August, it seemed fitting to throw a party with Jack, Sally, and the whole gang.
When throwing a bash, there’s no need to sweat over creating everything from scratch. Our annual party easily came together using some store-bought decor and a few simple DIYs—from Jack Skellington Sandwich Cookies to a ghostly Zero Pumpkin! And our family and friends absolutely loved everything. I would say, it was simply meant to be.
Follow along for my tips and tricks.
An Entrance Worthy of The Pumpkin King
I set the party scene from the very start with some front porch decor. Our doors were decked with black, white, and orange wreaths, and our walkway was lined with character luminaries, including Jack and Sally.
To really get into the spirit, we honored The Pumpkin King and placed an assortment of gourds around the porch to emphasize that “this is Halloween”!
“What’s This?” Painted Pumpkin
This pumpkin comes together in a pinch—just follow our tutorial for how to add freehand calligraphy of Jack’s famous words.
Jack Skellington Pumpkin Carving
No Nightmare Before Christmas-themed porch is complete without our main hero, Jack! This pumpkin looks like it was made by a pro, but can easily be pulled off with our printable template.
Zero Pumpkin Carving
This might have been my favorite pumpkin. Zero looks adorable on any pumpkin, but that glowing orange nose adds an extra touch of magic!
- Zero Pumpkin Carving template
- Large pumpkin
- Spray adhesive
- Marker or pencil
- Carving tools
- Mini orange or red LED balloon light
- LED tea light candle
- Download, print, and cut out the Zero template and attach it to the pumpkin using spray adhesive.
- Using a marker or pencil, trace around the template to create an outline on the pumpkin.
- Starting in the center of the design, carefully carve out the pieces. It’s also easier to work on the smaller or more detailed ones first.
- Carve a small hole for Zero’s nose and add the mini balloon light inside.
- Add an LED tea light candle inside the pumpkin.
What’s This? What’s This? There’s Black and White Everywhere!
The color palette of the film is very much black and white, with some pops of color here and there. So, I matched this theme for the decor. I placed a few mini black tinsel trees around the house, decorated with plain ornaments. I hung Jack lanterns around the food table to help create a focal point while guests dished out treats—not to mention providing artistic Nightmare-themed plates and napkins. And black and white pumpkins were the perfect last-minute addition, sprinkled throughout the party.
Nightmare-Themed Photo Booth
A black and white backdrop with props provides the perfect setting for family and friends to capture their fun-filled moments.
You can even add masks, like these featuring Lock, Shock, and Barrel.
Jack Skellington Sandwich Cookies
Everyone loves a cutout cookie and this Jack Skellington version was a definite guest favorite. They take a bit of time, but the end result will make your guests speechless!
- Store-bought or homemade sugar cookie dough
- Small round cookie cutter
- Reusable straw
- Craft knife
- Buttercream frosting
- Black, orange, purple, and teal food coloring
- Small paintbrush (optional)
- Roll the cookie dough to 1/4″ thick.
- Cut out circles using the cookie cutter. You’ll need 2 per cookie.
- Using a straw, cut out Jack’s eyes in half of the cookies.
- Using a craft knife, cut out Jack’s mouth in half of the cookies. Make stitches with toothpicks and open his smile with the straw.
- Cut out Jack’s nose using toothpicks. Wiggle it back and forth to create oval-like slits.
- Place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and add to the freezer for 7 minutes. (This will help them keep their shape while baking.)
- Bake the cookies according to the recipe. Let them cool.
- Separate the frosting into 4 small bowls and color each. To achieve these saturated colors, use a minimum of 30 drops of each color. (You may need to add more depending on the amount of frosting being used.)
- Assemble the cookies by frosting the solid circles and placing the Jack cutout cookies on top.
- Using a paintbrush or toothpick, trace over Jack’s stitched mouth using food coloring to match the icing.
Treats without Tricks
I gave store-bought goodies a little customization to create something spooky and cute! These semi-homemade recipes saved time and money.
Jack’s Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Fingers
Pretzel rods looked chillingly similar to Jack’s fingers after they were dipped in white chocolate. Create his “knuckles” with toothpicks and melted dark chocolate. Then display your creations on a frightfully fantastic tray.
Spiral Hill Pie
You can’t have a Nightmare Before Christmas party and not incorporate the Spiral Hill. A pie crust was the perfect way to display the eerie setting for all to see. (And how cute are these dish towels?!)
- 2 sheets store-bought pie crust
- Berry pie filling
- Pastry wheel
- Egg wash (1 egg plus 1-2 Tbsps water)
- Fill a pie pan with the bottom pie crust and top it with your favorite berry pie filling.
- Using a pastry wheel, cut out the Spiral Hill design from the top crust. Use a butter knife to trace a slight indentation in the crust as a guide before cutting.
- Gently place the crust on top of the pie filling, brush with egg wash, and bake according to the pie crust instructions.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is full of all kinds of skeletons, monsters, ghouls, ghosts, and more! Add some spooky decor that nods to the film’s characters, color palette, and storyline that everyone will love.
Monster Wreath Candy Dish
Party guests will have to risk their hands to snag a piece of candy with this monster wreath hanging out around the candy bowl!
- 1 (3-inch) foam ball
- Black construction paper
- Hot glue
- Large green wreath
- Red bow
- Large bowl for candy
- Using a knife, carefully cut the foam ball in half to create the eyes. Make pupils by cutting mini circles out of black construction paper and gluing them to the foam halves.
- Add a small dollop of glue to the flat backs of the foam balls and place them at the top of the wreath where the eyes should be.
- Attach the bow by placing a small dollop of glue onto the back of the bow and pressing gently onto the wreath.
- Place the wreath around the rim of the candy dish. (Make sure the bowl is slightly larger than the inner rim of the wreath.) Either rest the wreath on the bowl at a slight angle, or simply place it flat on top.
You don’t need much to create a wicked mantel. Start with stacked books and pumpkins for a little height. Add candles in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Drape some gauze for added drama. Then add mini black tinsel trees channeling Christmas in a Nightmare way. Finally, hang a banner for the finishing touch.
Customize Store-bought Decor
Get a little creative by personalizing items for your party needs. It’s not only budget friendly but also adds a unique flair.
“Pin the Santa Hat on Jack” Activity
I turned a Jack decal into a fun game—and guests had a blast taking their turn! Simply cut out a Santa hat from red cardstock and glue a few fluffed cotton balls to the edges.
Jack’s Berry Punch
Makes: 10 cups
- 1 (1-L.) bottle club soda
- 2 Cups blackberries and strawberries
- 1 (15-Oz.) container frozen berry concentrate
- 1 (2-L.) bottle lemon-lime soda
- The day before the party, combine the club soda and berries in a large plastic bowl and freeze.
- Just before the party, remove the frozen club soda and allow it to slightly thaw.
- Add the frozen club soda and berry concentrate to a punchbowl. Then pour the lemon-lime soda on top. Gently stir, add more ice, and serve in small cups.
All carving, cutting, gluing, and baking should be done by an adult.
Head to Party City for all of these frightfully fun Nightmare Before Christmas party supplies.