Halloween just so happens to be my all time favorite holiday, even inching out Christmas. Perhaps it's because I'm not pulling my hair out with thousands of other shoppers in pursuit of the perfect gift, or it may also be due largely to the fact that we don't have to deal with the stresses of holiday travel. Regardless of the reason, come October 1, my excitement kicks into overdrive and the buckets and boxes of Halloween decor come down from the attic.
Each year to commemorate the season Alex and I throw a costume party, complete with special touches to make the event one to remember. Last weekend, after a fair amount of prep, we hosted our 10th annual Halloween costume party. I must say, we, along with our guests, had a lot of fun.
As you're probably well aware, there are a million articles, magazines, books, television shows, and blog posts out there that can give you insight on how to throw the perfect Halloween party. Rather than trying to outdo those outlets and give you a full rundown of how to host your own Halloween soirée just like ours, I'd like to share a few of our most festive ideas and party tips that help make the event truly spook-tacular.
It might be a bit old school of me, given today's digital age of e-communication, but there's still something to be said for sending paper invitations. I'm of the opinion that sending out paper invitations provide that little bit of added personality to a party. Typically I use online printing services like Vistaprint in order to produce cost effective yet professional looking invites, and this year was no different. I really love how this year's invite turned out and will be proudly adding it to our album that contains our invitations from the previous nine parties.
Specialty Cocktails and Themed Beverages
Halloween is one of those holidays where you can really have some fun with what you're serving. In addition to supplying expected beverages, I try to make our refreshments work toward the theme of the event. I'll include pumpkin or Octoberfest beer in our offerings, and many wines have names that work well with the holiday spirit, like Ravenswood or Vampire Pinot Noir (this year's choice for red). Cute vampire capes for the wine take the idea one step further.
In addition to the festive wine and beer selection, I like to make one specialty cocktail to offer to our guests. The official cocktail of our Halloween party each year is our "boo-rbon" slush (known as a bourbon slush the other 364 days per year. If you're interested in the recipe and how we make them, I divulged my family's secret recipe last year. It's always a major hit of the party and something our guests tell us they look forward to every year!
Creative Menu Cards
For many reasons, dietary preferences and allergies included, people like to know what they're being served to eat. For this reason, I make an effort to label the dishes at our party as clearly as possible. However, this doesn't mean that I have to be boring about it. To put a fun Halloween twist on it I print out menu cards on orange paper, present them on the table using a festive table card holder, and try to come up with a name for the item that lends a spooky/festive twist. Favorites of Halloweens past have included "guaca-moldy" and chips, putrid pumpkin bread, devil's food cupcakes, and of course, "boo-rbon" slushes.
Part of throwing a memorable party is setting the right mood. Our home is fully decked out from top to bottom. Festive touches even include altering our lampshades with temporary coverings...
...or adding new "pets" to the house.
This year, "Roger the rat" as he's lovingly known, was perched on our new kitchen shelves, overseeing the bar. He's still not quite over the trauma of having his ears gnawed off last year by our resident pug-shar pei crew member, Lulu, but I think he looks a little more rough and tumble this way. We'll consider last year's incident as a lesson learned.
Playing Dress Up
Each year, at my absolute insistence, our Halloween party isn't just a weekend get together in October, it's a true Halloween party, complete with costumes! Costumes are strongly encouraged for all guests, and I'd even go as far as to say that I may have told some of our closest friends that if they happened to show up in their street clothes they'd be more or less dead to us. Hey, that's just the way it goes in this household, we take this holiday seriously.
I do think it helps that we set the example for our party guests and never put anything less than a significant amount of through and effort into our costumes. If you'd like, you can take a look back at a few of our past get ups that we shared last year.
This year we decided to do a couples costume. We found a great little black spider costume for Lulu that she really seems to love wearing. With Lulu's costume decided, I played off of that idea by becoming a black widow. Given Lulu and my costumes, Alex felt his costume was an obvious choice...the Orkin Man. He went all out, even finding a used Orkin shirt on eBay.
This year we also had a great showing from our friends. We like to take everyone's photo as they arrive so we can always look back and remember the great looks everyone had. Here are just a few of our favorites from this year's party.
Every year we hold a little costume contest where party goers can vote on their favorite outfits of the evening. On this particular night, three of our friends came dressed as "DIY blogging team, Alex, Wendy, Lulu, and Mel." We had no idea we would have true doppelgangers here at the house, but when they arrived we thought their costumes were both awesome and hysterical.
Faux Wendy arrived with essential Wendy tools, a wine glass, painters tape, and a paint brush and roller. She even did a few paint touch-ups around the house where she felt it was necessary.
To be quite honest, this is more Alex's realm of expertise, but it's something I know he looks forward to every year. Rather than setting up a standard party playlist, or just putting on a Pandora station, Alex likes to make the whole event a little bit more interactive. We put our whole house audio to good use during our parties and let our guests take control of the music if they'd like.
This year Alex setup a "Party" on Spartify.com. He also created a QR code and a shortcut URL that he printed out and hung in the kitchen. Using the QR code would allow any one of our guests with a smartphone to go to a website where they could request music and vote on what should play. Using our Spotify account and the Spartify service, our guests were able to choose their favorite music for the night and ensure the party wasn't stuck with a lame and boring playlist.
As you can see, we attempt to go to some pretty serious lengths to ensure our parties are fun, memorable, and offer a unique experience each and every year. Hopefully you can adopt some of our tips and tricks to help make an event you are throwing just a little bit more fun. But most importantly, if you're throwing a Halloween Party, just remember to let the inner kid in you come out, and let your creativity (and freak flag) fly. Do you throw entertain friends or family for your favorite holiday? Maybe you have a special recipe or creative touch that you're known for? If so, I'd love to hear about it.