We've already told you how to play the hostess with the mostess, and now we're ready to apply that to Halloween! Whether you're into throwing a spooky cocktail party or ready to put your party planning skills to the test and arrange a full-fledged sit down dinner this Halloween, we're here to help you out. See below for a few ideas to help you get your spook on...
The Cocktail Party
This might come as a shock to you, but I'm really not much of a cook. I love and deeply appreciate good food, but the thought of creating an amazing meal for over four people in my tiny Manhattan kitchen stresses me out more than a Christian Louboutin sample sale. That being said, my best parties are often the easiest to put together, where the focus is on the drinks, the finger food, and the décor. Here's what you need to know when throwing your own haunted cocktail party (which follows the advice of our Hostess with the Mostess guide):
1. Choose Your Theme: You can go with Halloween in general (think black, orange, green, purple, graveyards, haunted houses, pumpkins) or get more specific and make the focus on ghosts, spiders, or vampires. We like super-specific themes and would go with something that plays off of True Blood, Twilight, or the concept of Trick-or-Treating.
2. Invites: We know that electronic ones are always the easiest to send out, but you could always put a little more effort into it and send handwritten invites on dirty scrolls written in dark (blood) red ink and sealed with an old-fashioned wax seal. You also might want to plan on having your party the weekend before Halloween to avoid scheduling conflicts.
3. Food & Drinks: Keep the focus on the cocktails and create a few different kinds for guests to sample. Pier 1 suggests making bloody goblets: Dip the goblet rims into a mixture of corn syrup and red food coloring, then turn upright and allow the goo to drip down the sides of the glasses. After the “blood” sets, fill goblets with red ice cubes (extra points if there are insects inside) and cranberry juice. Or forget the ice and go with a nice Chianti.
A few fun, festive drinks we love: Champagne with a peeled lychee at the bottom (which will look like an eyeball but still taste good); blood orange bellinis; bright green apple martinis. Of course you could also make a "witches brew" (a Halloween-version of jungle juice) and serve it out of a black caldron. And as much as we like getting our drinks on, we can't forget the finger food and munchies. Set up different glass bowls around your space filled with different kinds of popular Halloween candy, serve fried calamari tentacles (if you're fancy), or maybe even go bobbing for apples!
4. Decorate: Now, this is Halloween we're talking about so you might want to go all out. Candles are a MUST for Halloween parties of any type, so get a bunch (you can pick up 100 tea lights for less than $5 at Crate & Barrel, IKEA and other places) and set them all over! Focus on your theme and be creative, but make sure to use your whole space without compromising the safety and comfort of your guests. Having a ghostly event? Make everything white and layer up old, ripped sheets as table cloths and hang from the ceiling. Focusing on vampires? Go with blood red, hang garlic and crosses in the corners of the room, decorate with cracked mirrors, etc. As the hostess of this party, you should bare your fangs.
5. Create a playlist: We'll be supplying you with a haunting mix created by our favorite girl, DJ Mia Moretti soon, but you can always increase the spookiness of any party by playing the theme music of classic horror films or buying a "creepy sounds" cd at your local costume shop (which we recommend playing at a very low volume so it doesn't drive guests crazy).
The Dinner Party
A bigger undertaking, but totally manageable for parties of 4-8. For a dinner party you'll obviously need to focus more on the food than you would for a cocktail party, but a lot of the other elements are the same...
1. Choose Your Theme: See above. We really enjoy the formality of a dinner party (which is a rarity these days) and suggest going with a more sophisticated, yet equally appropriate Halloween theme. Think opulent and enchanted.
2. Invites: For dinner parties, we prefer sending out physical invitations and yes, you still have time to do so this year! With cocktail parties guest come and go, but for dinner parties they are expected to stay for a certain period of time, which means that you really should consider planning your party for a Saturday evening. Go with October 30th or consider feasting on the equally creepy eve of the full moon: Saturday, October 23rd.
3. Food & Drinks: You'll never go wrong serving your tried and true signature dish (if you have one), but have fun and play with the theme! Maybe try serving red beet blinis with beluga caviar (or another black one) and sour cream as an appetizer. Go with squid-ink pasta served with a soft-boiled egg – tasty, but also a little creepy because when you cut into the egg, the yolk will spill onto the black pasta. We also love the idea of serving an entire baked or steamed fish (yes, with the head still on) over a bed of bones, surrounded by soft-shell crabs placed upside down. But what's Halloween dinner without the treats? A trick, that's what! Be sure to have a yummy selection of drool-inducing desserts from Red Velvet or Black Forrest cupcakes, decorate a simple chocolate tart, or a classic pumpkin pie. And when it comes to drinks, make sure to choose ones that compliment the food first and foremost.
4. Decorate: Place the decorating focus on the table rather than on your entire space. Build an interesting and elaborate centerpiece that will spark conversation within your guests. Create bloody candles by dripping melted wax from red candles onto white ones. Cluster artificial trees and plants around the room for a Blair Witch Project feeling. Use fake spiders and rats to creep things up a bit and startle guests throughout the evening.
5. Create a playlist: Having music play throughout dinner can be nice as long as it doesn't interfere with table discussion.
Other kinds of Halloween parties we love?
Horror film viewing parties. LOVE hosting these!! We suggest going with the cocktail party ideas and suggestions, but to also toss pillows all over the floor and have guests relax, while watching your favorite horror films together. So much fun and pretty easy to throw together.
Costume Parties. Less formal than a cocktail party, you'll really just need good drinks, a killer playlist and space for people to dance and get a little crazy.
Masquerade parties. Usually less intimate than dinner or cocktail parties, masquerade parties are great for large groups. The element of mystery here will be so appealing. Also, more people are comfortable wearing masks than wearing complete costumes.
Will you be hosting a Halloween party this year? Share some of your ideas below...
PS – All images here courtesy of Pier 1, where we always get LOTS of design and entertaining inspiration.