I LOVE Halloween! Every since I had my own place to throw a party, I threw a huge Halloween party every year. I even throw a Halloween part in the middle of March. My friends start bugging me about a party just around this time, and I get all excited with all the different magazines and stuff I have to plan a great bash. But last year we ran into some horrible drama, which I would rather not discuss, and I realized with two toddlers, whose bedtime means my sanity; it doesn’t quite fit with throwing a Halloween party, that ALWAYS runs late. But I DO love Halloween, and I assume some of you might be throwing your own bashes, so I thought I would offer up some of my best ideas.
First off. I love Evite.com. They have the best invitations, and it forces people to RSVP. (Yeah, you know who you are that didn’t RSVP to any of the birthday parties.) It also keeps a running count on those RSVPs. Of course, I have also hand delivered invites. They were written on brown paper sacks that I had spilled coffee on, burnt the edges, and wrote in red, sealing with wax. It looked awesome.
Next the food.
I apologize for stealing any recipes. My computer died last year, erasing all the sites with recipes. Besides I modified most of them for my guests’ tastes.
My favorite: Witch Hats
Get the Snackwell’s Devil Food cakes (the original recipe called for the chocolate covered Oreo’s but they were too rich. And I have a high tolerance for rich and sweet) and Hershey kisses. Melt a few kisses to “glue” the kisses on the cakes, leaving some melted chocolate spreading out from under the kiss. Sprinkle some colored sugar or nonpareils as decoration or frost a head band. (These go fast!)
Get Twinkies, white frosting and chocolate chips. Frost the Twinkies and add the chocolate chips for eyes. (Simple, rich, sweet, and everyone LOVES these. Correction, the women love these! The men eat the salsa.)
Dirt and Worms
Get Oreos and gummy worms. Crush the Oreos and add the gummy worms. (I love this. The kids love this.)
Make a meringue (beat 2 egg whites with 1/8 t of cream of tartar until you have small peaks then gradually add 1/2 c of sugar as you beat into stiff peaks). We added chocolate spinkles to give it a darker look. Pipe a milk bone shape on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for an 1-1/2 hours at 225 degrees. Store in air tight container or they get a little soggy. Be careful because if one side of the bone breaks they look a little “adult.”
Sea Serpent Sandwiches
Get the Pillsbury refrigerated French bread and sandwich toppings. Make the French bread into an “S” shape, cut triangles with scissors for scales, and make a mixture of Italian seasonings and melted butter for an extra kick on the bread. Pillsbury recommends cutting a mouth, but it’s pretty difficult. And for a good “S” shape, we shaped the bread around two glasses (glass, not plastic) as it baked. When the bread is cooled, Cut it and make the sandwiches. Use pimento olives and toothpicks for the eyes. We cut it into slices once people get there. (These go amazingly fast.)
Get chicken wings, food coloring, and bar-b-que sauce. Dye the sauce black. Marinate the wings, and grill them. (Depending on the years and the guests, they go fast. Sometimes they don’t.)
Halloween Salsa or Brochette
Substitute orange tomatoes for red. Be cautioned orange tomatoes are juicier.
In the front yard, we have chalk body outlines (the cop, aka my dad, thinks it’s crazy because in thirty years on the force, he never had to do a chalk outline. Thanks, Dad, but it’s STILL spooky.), cemetery with soil topper as fresh mounds, and real police line tape (Ok, I cheated.). We also spray painted a couple tiki torches and have them line the walk way to the house.
Inside we have fog machines and a dozen black lights. There are candles everywhere. I cover the furniture with white sheets from a second hand store. We literally take down everything that isn’t Halloween. I am an artist with fake cobwebs; a little goes a long way.
In the bathroom, I use the cheap red paint from Wal-Mart to leave hand prints and “help” on the mirror. I also let a few drops run down the sink. This totally got a friend of mine, who thought I actually did cut myself. Don’t worry about the paint; it’s easy to clean up the next day.
My favorite is the Halloween Tree, which we did for two years. It’s just a branch I would find and drag home. I decorate the tree with those plastic Halloween rings, black light Christmas lights (green, purple or blue lights work too), and fake barbwire. Last year Martha Stewart had a Halloween tree that she put treat baggies on for kids. I thought that was cute, but I haven’t tried it. As entertainment, I ask people to bring a gift for a gift exchange around the Halloween tree.
What we did try was cutting pumpkins to hold ice and beer bottles. Instead of finding a bowl to fit in to it like Martha (I bet I could if I had assistants and a prop room), we lined the pumpkins with plastic wrap. I also filled latex gloves with water to make finger ice. I also filled one with ice and fruit snacks to float in the punch bowl.
If you have little goblins coming, you HAVE to have entertainment. The first year people brought their kids, one of the kids went half way down the laundry shoot. Great. Now that I’m a mom I feel guilty giving away candy right before Halloween, so last year I gave away pirate coins that they could turn in for prizes at the end of the night.
The favorite: Halloween Egg Hunt
I’ve tried this several different ways. You could spray orange reflective paint on hard boiled eggs, and draw jack-o-lantern faces. Of course, no one will eat the eggs, so I found it a waste. You can spray paint plastic Easter eggs. A little bit of a pain because you have to coat them with the plastic paint and then the reflective paint. But they look cool. Use glitter Easter eggs. Or we found plastic jack-o-lanterns and coffins (original use: to hold candy for class parties). We hid them everywhere. When it gets dark, we let the kids find them with flashlights. So the coffins weren’t the best idea, and you have to remember where you hid all the “eggs” or make a map for yourself. I told them first person to 6 (or whatever number) would get a special prize, that way all the kids have a chance of getting a few. But the kids love it. Just remember to tell and remind people to bring flashlights. And have a few ready to go.
Drawing on your head
Have the kids draw a jack-o-lantern on a piece of paper on their head. Last year we had the kids vote for who they thought did the best.
Have the kids lie down like they’re dead. They can’t speak or move or they are out. I used to use this game when I was a babysitter. The kids LOVE this game. It is a good game to mellow them out or to give you a break.
Donut eating race
You know hang the donut from a string. Have several hanging from a pole, allowing some people to hold it. Make the kids eat without their hands first, and then half way let them eat with their hands.
Candy corn in a jar
Guess the candy corn. Don’t forget to count as you fill the jar, and put the number somewhere safe.
I painted Styrofoam balls black. (No spray-paint because it’ll eat the Styrofoam.) Give the kids eight pipe cleaners cut in half to stick in the body for legs. Bend the pipe cleaners at the “knees”. Glue goggley eyes and jewels to decorate.
Have a vote
Matching Game (for the adults)
My husband loves this game. We find like twenty or thirty pictures of villains: living, dead, fictional. We have people write down who they think they are. You can either give them a list of the names or make it challenging and force them to guess.
We used to show Attack of the Body Snatchers or Jaws on mute, but now they are kids, so we show a Nightmare Before Christmas. My baby brother mixes me some really cool CDs. ‘
So I hope that helps. If you have any questions, let me know. I’m sure I can give step-by-step instructions if asked. And if this stuff works for you or you have other suggestions, please let me know.