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How to Host the Perfect Halloween Party!

  • Oct 21, 2011
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As I get ready to host a combination Birthday/Halloween party, I find myself getting a little obsessive and really excited. I love throwing parties and Halloween gives everyone an excuse to dress up and let loose. I've compiled a list to help us both host the perfect Halloween party! If you have any tips I'm missing- feel free to make your own list or leave some tips in the comment section.

Note: due to to keep costs low, I only wanted to purchase a few liquors, so I limited my menu because of that. If you are looking for great Halloween drinks, check out this complete list of Halloween drinks! Food recipes from Martha Stewart and Food.com. Dessert recipes from: Good Housekeeping and Celebrations.com.
You can also use real invites for a more formal affair. I prefer Evites because it's easy and you can send reminders to your friends (if they lag on RSVPing like mine do lol). They have a great selection for all sorts of Halloween parties and they even have tips on entertaining. You can ask guests to bring food, booze, games, or whatever you want. To get a better idea of what your guests want to eat, drink or do, you can poll them as well.
What is Halloween without Jack O' Lanterns? You could even have your own Pumpkin Carving Party! Once you get all that gooey wonderfulness or as my mom used to call it guts out of the pumpkins- you have all you need for some of fall's most delicious recipes. The best part of carving a pumpkin? There are no rules- get as creative as you want! You don't even have to carve one, you can just decorate it with whatever you want- glitter, ribbons, paint....
Halloween Costumes
This one is self-explanatory, no? Would you really show up without a costume and want to be known as THAT guy? Nando once wore a white T-shirt that read "I'm the [jerk] that shows up without a costume" (I don't think the real word he used is appropriate!). Everyone thought it was hilarious except for the actual jerk that showed up without a costume. Don't be that guy or girl. Have fun! Halloween is the one time when you really get to be whatever you want and, no, you're not that cool no matter what your mom says.
Halloween Hits
Music is essential to any party but, a Halloween one really gets fun because you can add spooky sounds along with some cheesy songs. With everything on this list, this is always the one that takes me the longest to prep for, perfectionist that I am with my party music selection. Here's my go-to Halloween playlist. Whatever your style, make sure that it's both spooky and fun- you don't want your guests spending the entire party hiding in the bathroom or there to be that awkward record scratch silence throughout the whole night.
Vinyl Wall Decor and More
It's easy, cheap and makes a world of difference to your decor. You can get vinyl cut-outs of witches, ghosts, full moons, black cats, etc and put them on your walls and windows to really set the scene. OR for a DIY option and if you're feeling artsy, you can cut out the outlines on black construction paper and tape it to your walls and windows. They have cool stencils at Michael's that will get the job done.
Spider Web
I have no clue what the technical name is for it....maybe cotton? But, that white fluffy stuff that you can stretch to make it look like spider webs is a must for any Halloween decor. Put it in doors and windows but, you don't need to overdo it. A little goes a long way.

This is my favorite drink to make at parties and everyone usually raves about it. This is the perfect dark blood red to compliment the Halloween theme. I plan on putting it in a witch's caldron with some dry ice and a couple of floating ice hands to make it look really creepy. If you are a little sketch on using black plastic, which is what's used most, they have some fun punch bowls at Safeway or Target for a pretty decent price.

Here's my recipe:

2 bottles of red wine (the cheap kind works just fine)
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of club soda
1/2 cup of Brandy (cheap stuff is fine here too)
Dark fruit or whatever fruit you want

Mix it all together in a pitcher, cauldron or whatever you want. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. Serve.
Vampire Ritual
1 1/2 to 2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. triple sec
1 1/2 oz. blueberry-beet syrup (recipe below)
10-15 blueberries
3/4 oz. lemon juice

Makes: 1 drink

Muddle blueberries and syrup together, then pour mixture and all other ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into martini glass. For garnish, use a lemon slice colored with beets.

For syrup: Boil equal parts water and sugar along with several slices of raw beet and small handful of blueberries. Strain out solids and let liquid cool before use.

I'm going to call this one True Blood at my party- we all love the show and just look at it!

Eyeball Highball
14 medium radishes
7 pimiento-stuffed olives, halved crosswise
16 ounces gin or vodka
1 ounce vermouth

Makes 4 drinks.

Trim stem and root ends of radish. Use a paring knife to scrape red skin from radish, leaving just enough to give a veiny appearance. With a small melon baller, cut a hole in radish, about 1/2 inch in diameter. Fit an olive half, cut-side facing out, into hole. Place radish in ice-cube tray. Repeat with remaining radishes. Fill tray with water; freeze.

Mix vodka or gin with vermouth; stir with ice. Divide eyeball ice cubes among four glasses. Strain martini; pour into glasses, and serve.

I plan on swapping out black vodka for regular vodka to make this extra creepy looking martini. I guess I'm the first to think of that because I couldn't find any pictures to share with you. I'll have to take some when I make the drinks!
Recipe makes one drink:
1/4 cup ice
1/2 cup orange or tangerine juice
1 1/2 ounces black vodka
1 black licorice twist, for garnish

Place ice in a highball glass. Pour juice into glass. Pour vodka over the back of a cocktail spoon into glass so it sits on top of juice. Slice ends off a licorice twist and use as a straw.

I love the festive look of orange and black plus, it's a basic drink that both sexes can enjoy.

Well, you're going to need to keep these drinks cold. You can use the radish eyeballs from the Eyeball Highball, insect ice cubes or you can make the frozen ice hand. I plan on putting Sangria in a bowl like this with these spooky hands. I've included all options so you can choose which one you like best!

- Vinyl gloves without powder
- Water
- Food Coloring
- Rubber Band

Add the food coloring to the water, mix, and pour into the glove. Tie it off tightly with the twisty or rubber band. Place on a flat surface (that will catch any drainage) and freeze the glove until it's solid. Remove the glove and place in the punch before serving.
This option is simple but it's going to match the color of your punch -- because all you need to do take some actual punch and freeze it in the glove. This option is tastier than frozen hand recipe #1 since the punch will not dilute when the hand melts.
Another variation of this is to simply freeze some Squirt or Mountain Dew into the glove, which adds a more realistic look to the hand. Make sure the flavor compliments the punch.
Dry Ice

Dry ice is cheap and makes for some great ambiance for Halloween parties. It's cheap and easy. You won't need more than 2-3 pounds depending on how big the area is that you want to decorate. For my condo, I'll probably only get around 2 pounds, at the most. There are some dangers to keep in mind:

-Just be sure to never touch bare dry ice with your hands, you can get a severe freezer burn.
-DO NOT drink it, put it in foods or eat it, you can get carbon dioxide poisoning.
-Don't use too much. A little goes a long way and you don't want your guests breathing in toxic levels of the stuff.
Yummy and impressive if a bit time consuming! I love Candy Corn and you can only find it around Halloween, so it makes sense to have Candy Corn Jello Shots at any Halloween party. Make sure you get clear cups to show off your artistic genius!

Here's the how-to:
Mix the white layer first and fill your Jell-O shot cups about 1/3 full (about ¼ inch deep on a 2oz cup), then chill till firm. Mix the orange layer and fill the cups till they're about 2/3 full. Keep in mind that you'll need a little room at the top because you won't be filling the cups to the brim with the final layer. After the orange layer has chilled, mix up the yellow layer and top off the shots.
White Layer
1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup canned, unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Vanilla Schnapps
Sprinkle the gelatin over the coconut milk and water in a saucepan and let sit for a few minutes. Heat over low heat, stirring, until the gelatin starts to dissolve. Add the sugar and stir till dissolved. Cool till just warm. Stir in the vanilla schnapps.
Orange Layer
3 oz. pkg Orange Jell-O
1 cup water
4 oz. Orange sherbet (about one scoop)
1/2 cup Vanilla schnapps
3 Tbsp Butterscotch schnapps (optional)
Orange food coloring (if desired)
Bring the water to a boil. Add to Jell-O and stir till dissolved. Add sherbet while still warm and mix thoroughly as it melts. Allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla and butterscotch schnapps. Add a few drops of orange food coloring to make the color more vivid if you want to.
Yellow Layer
3 oz. pkg Pineapple Jell-O
1 cup water
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup Vanilla schnapps
Yellow food coloring (if desired)
Bring the water to a boil. Add to Jell-O and stir till dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in coconut milk and vanilla schnapps. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring for more vivid color.

For me, the quintessential Halloween game is bobbing for apples. This could have something to do with the nice neighborhood lady who always went all out on Halloween and us kids would go bob for apples in her yard, leaving with caramel apples. Nowadays, she'd probably get sued but, I still remember her fondly all these years later and always bobbing for apples on Halloween Eve.
Deviled Eggs
6 Hard Boiled Eggs, peeled
3 tbsp of mayo (my fave is Olive Oil Mayo-healthy & delish!)
1/2 tsp of ground mustard
1/8 tsp of salt
1/8 tsp of pepper
Black olives for the spiders- whole olives
1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Slip out yolks and mash.
2. Stir in mayo, mustard, salt and pepper.
3. Cut whole olive in half.
4. Put one half on mashed yolk for the spiders body.
5. Thinly slice the other half for the spiders legs. Put three legs on each side.

Halloween Brain Dip
Serves: 20

2 large fresh cauliflower
4 radishes, bulbs with root left on
4 pimento stuffed olives
2 banana pepper, slice
2 slices purple onion
2 cups your favorite vegetable dip

1. Wash Cauliflower
2. Cut florets from the top of the cauliflower until you have a cauliflower 'bowl'.
3. Remove greens from bottom. Cut stems from radishes, leave the root which will look like an optic nerve, and remove skin but leave a little to resemble blood shot eyes/veins.
4. Hollow out the cut end of the radish with the tip of a knife so to stuff with olive. Use a toothpick to hold everything together
5. Line your "bowl" with aluminum foil or a clear cling wrap so dip doesn't escape.
6. Fill cauliflower with dip, garnish with radish 'eyes', pepper nose and onion mouth, and serve with veggies and crackers.

Pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
Extra-virgin olive oil (I love California EVOO)

1.Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
2. Roll out dough, and use a paring knife, scissors, or cookie cutters to create features (we used crescent, football, and diamond shapes).
3.Brush with oil, and sprinkle with salt.
4.Bake until "ghoul-den," 10 to 12 minutes.

Perfect pair for the brain dip or any other dip you might make!

Black Bat Wings
Serves: 8 to 10
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1/4 cup black bean sauce
1 teaspoon black paste food coloring
20 large whole chicken wings with tip

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, black bean sauce, and food coloring. Set 1/3 cup soy sauce mixture aside.

2. Place chicken wings in a large resealable plastic bag and pour remaining soy sauce mixture over wings; seal bag. Turn bag until wings are well coated. Refrigerate, and let marinate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight, turning chicken wings every 30 minutes to coat.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

4. Remove wings from marinade, shaking off any excess; discard marinade. Place them in an even layer on prepared baking sheets, arranging them so that wings are extended.

5. Bake until juices run clear, 20 to 25 minutes, brushing with reserved soy sauce mixture every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with any remaining soy sauce mixture. Let cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.
Cured Epidermis- clever Halloween presentation of Prosciutto makes this the perfect treat and you can pair this with the goblin flatbread.

Serves: 8 to 10

24 1/8-inch-thick slices prosciutto

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels; set aside.

2. Line baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat; lay prosciutto slices flat in an even layer on baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack set over baking sheet lined with paper towel to drain off fat; serve.
Eerie Bloodshot Eyeball Cake Pops

1 box cake mix (any flavor), prepared in a 9x13 pan, cooked and slightly cooled
1 can frosting (any flavor)
White chocolate candy melts
Lollipop sticks
Red candy pens and/or decorative gel
Brown and/or red milk chocolate M&M's

1. Take slightly cooled cake and begin gently crumbling it into a large bowl using two forks.

2. Add frosting in with the cake crumbs and continue working both together until the icing is no longer visible and the mixture is evenly combined.

3. Roll the mixture into balls – about the size of a quarter –place on a sheet of wax paper, and insert lollipop stick into the top of each.

4. Place cake pops in the freezer, uncovered, for at least one hour (they will need to be firm before coating).

5. Place candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high in 20 second intervals until melted (usually about 1 minute).Dip each cake pop into melted chocolate, thoroughly coating the entire ball.

6. Place each pop back down onto waxed paper and immediately press an M&M onto the side to make the eyeball.

7. Use the red decorating pen and/or gel to pipe wavy lines downward from the pupil, creating the look of bloodshot eyes

Ghosts and Goblins Pudding Cups
Easy and you can pre-make them plus, they're cute! Serves: 4, so you'll definitely need to multiply the ingredients for a party!

1 box instant pudding, prepared as directed on package
Crushed chocolate cookies (Oreos are great!)
Frozen whipped topping, thawed
Chocolate chips
Plastic sandwich baggie
Clear plastic cups
1. Divide pudding evenly amongst 4 plastic cups and top with crushed chocolate cookie crumbs.
2. Snip the corner of a plastic sandwich baggie and fill with thawed whipped topping.
3. Create "ghosts" in each cup by swirling the whipped topping up into a cone shape.
4. Add chocolate chips for eyes and a mouth.
Cobweb Cookies
Easy is really important for me when I'm hosting parties because I'll be catering the whole thing myself. So, food that adds to the scene and easy will always win.

These are the store bought sugar cookies just done up to their spooky best. You can also bake your faves from scratch.

Buy a tube of Wilton's white royal icing and Wilton's black paste food coloring from a cake-decorating or crafts store.

Bake the cookies as directed.

After the cookies cool, cover them with white icing, mix up your black icing, and use the black icing for decoration. For the cobweb cookies: Start at the cookie's center, pipe circles of black icing; create cobwebs by alternately dragging a toothpick from the center to the edge, and from the edge to the center.

Pear Ghosts and Apple Jack O'Lanterns
You'll need "ghostly" shaped pears, such as Bosc, and squat round apples, such as Granny Smith, ice-cream-bar sticks, candy coating such as Candy Melts* in assorted colors and candy corn. (*Candy Melts are available in craft stores or from Wilton Enterprises; to order, call             800-794-5866       or go to wilton.com.)

To melt candy coating, combine 2 cups disks with 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening in microwave-safe bowl; heat in microwave on Medium 1 minute. Stir, then heat on Medium in 15-second increments until candy is melted and smooth. Insert stick into top of fruit. Dip pear in white candy and apple in orange candy, tilting bowl to coat fruit completely. (If coating hardens, reheat in microwave on Medium 10 seconds.) Place fruit on waxed paper; let set.

To decorate, use choice of melted coating in small self-sealing plastic bag with corner snipped for a small opening for piping. Attach candy decorations with a dab of melted coating. Chill 5 minutes to set.

What did you think of this list?

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November 01, 2011
AWESOME list Samantha!! I know your party had to have turned out fabulous - you thought of everything!!
November 01, 2011
Thanks sweetie! It was fun, I did go a little overboard but, at least I learned my lesson from it ;p
November 01, 2011
At least you have lots of friends that you obviously know how to entertain and you had a good time.....geez I wish I could have been there for sure!!
November 01, 2011
Well, that was the problem- hardly anyone showed up LOL so it was definitely overdoing it but, it was still fun! I love hosting and I wish you could've been here too :)
November 01, 2011
Oh no Sam I'm sorry -- I didn't realize that....well what a damned bummer!!! I'm glad you still had fun though, and believe me, if I lived where you are, I definitely would have been there!!
November 01, 2011
Of course you couldn't know that and the people that were here seemed to have fun. It's also a blessing because our place isn't that big ;p
November 02, 2011
Well then that's all that counts -- the ones who didn't come missed out!!!!
October 31, 2011
Really, really, really, really cool list you got here, djevoke! I love the fact that you included recipes and being the candy corn fiend that I am, I'm definitely going to make those Jello shots! I've been on hiatus for the past week, but there's no rule saying I can't make this stuff next weekend! Once again, REALLY COOL LIST!!!
October 31, 2011
Thanks Kendall! I don't think there's anyone who would have a problem with you making this stuff this weekend. Dia de los Muertos is on the first, right? Well, who says you can't celebrate Halloween and Dia de los Muertos the weekend after they happen? I'm glad you like the list :) Let me know if everyone likes the treats. A side note: the Sangria was a huge success, so much so that my friends have decided to rename it Samgria lol and it does come from the word for blood. I added the ice hand and floating eyeballs.
October 24, 2011
Lots of sugar and alcohol... Now I know why the Jack-O-Lanterns are always smiling!
October 24, 2011
LOL...that could be why ;p
October 23, 2011
WOW. What great food ideas!
October 24, 2011
Thanks! I hope everyone enjoys them!
October 22, 2011
These are very well thought out. Just be careful to scrape the chicken wings so that there are no protruding bones which could result in a problem.
October 24, 2011
That's a good tip! I'll be sure to do that, thanks!
October 21, 2011
nice list, Sam...and yes, Figs do taste better for # 21. Your list is making me hungry. Can I come looking like a zombie....?
October 24, 2011
LOL! Glad my fig call was right :)
October 21, 2011
I love all of the treats on this list! Very creative. May just have to consider some of these for a couple of Halloween shindigs that I'm attending... :)
October 24, 2011
Feel free to, Dev! That's why I added all the recipes here, to make it easier to share with others.
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Samantha ()
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