This is the busiest week around the Manor, and I'm sure it is for you too! So here's a few pre-party checklists to help you breeze through your week. Hop on the old broomstick and let's get going....
Food and Drink
Candy and loot bags.
Set out glass jars loaded with different types of candies and mini scoops, and let guests fill their own goodie bags to take home. Go to candywarehouse.com to stock up on a variety of treats, from gross gummy body parts (feet, ears, and eyeballs) to classics like Pixy Stix and Bazooka.
No Halloween party would be complete without a spooky punch. Serve one that’s blood-red, ghoulish green, putrid purple, orange, or black and use dry ice to create an eerie mist.
Napkins, plates, utensils, and tablecloths.
Keep a stash of these essentials in colors and patterns that match your scheme. A festive covering will make your everyday tables party-ready in an instant. Party-stores have a wide selection of Halloween-themed goods, along with supplies in basic colors, so make a quick trip to see what they've got in stock.
Count your platters beforehand to make sure you have enough space for all your party treats. Make a list or label each dish with a Post-it note or masking tape to keep track of which food goes with which platter.
Beverages and cups.
If you’re serving alcoholic drinks, plan on three to four cocktails per guest for a two- to three-hour party. And don’t forget to include something alcohol-free and fun for the teetotalers and kids in your group. Make sure to have heatproof cups on hand if you’re serving anything hot, like mulled cider.
Serve plenty of savory items to balance out all that Halloween sugar. For less stress, make as many items ahead of time as you can.
Cupcakes and cookies are easy for guests to eat and fun to decorate for Halloween (for example: cookies shaped like ghosts and cats and cupcakes topped with orange frosting or mini pumpkin candies). For even more holiday spirit, make pumpkin cupcakes and decorate them with candy corn. Or try using Halloween candy in creative ways: Serve a Twix cheesecake pie or make chocolate bark decorated with candy corn.
Setting the Scene
Greet guests with a lineup of these lighted hosts on your stoop or porch.
Pumpkins and decorative gourds.
Display these in clusters around your home. Try different ways of dressing up your pumpkins—spray them with metallic paint for a golden glow or use chalkboard paint to make faces or write messages (a great project for the kids).
Fake cobwebs and spiders, paper bats, balloons, and other decorations.
Hang cobwebs and spiders in the corners of your room, let bats and banners dangle from the ceiling, and go all-out with festive or frightening décor to create the right atmosphere. Shop for supplies from OrientalTrading.com, which has a wide selection of creepy goods—bags of bones, ghosts, and tombstones. Halloween is one holiday when it’s OK to be over-the-top.
Scatter lots of votives throughout your party and group pillars of varying heights and sizes together. Display a candelabra for dramatic flair. Please don't forget, if you'll have little kiddos at the party, please keep all candles out of reach!
Put together a playful playlist of favorite songs, such as The Doors’ “People Are Strange” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” or invest in a soundtrack of creepy sound effects. Try Martha Stewart Living’s Spooky Scary Sounds (which includes knives being sharpened, thumping heartbeats, and howling winds) or Halloween Horrorscapes, which features tracks titled “Blood Hunt” and “Alone at the Cabin” (including thunder, screams, snarling monsters, and chainsaws–definitely not for the faint of heart).
Play classic horror films in the background (on mute if you don’t want the sound to be distracting) to get guests in the mood, such as Friday the 13th, The Exorcist, or, naturally, Halloween. For less frightening movies that still set the tone, try The Addams Family, Beetlejuice, or—the best feel-good Halloween flick ever—It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
Whether you’re hosting a costume party or not, it’s always fun to have some extra dress-up items around. Set out some masks and wigs, plastic fangs, hats, a cape, a tiara, a feather boa—whatever suits your fancy—and let your guests get creative.
Don’t forget to charge your phone/camera (or recharge your batteries and clear space on your memory card) before your Halloween bash. Designate a friend or family member as the party photographer so you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
And for more great, last minute ideas check out Real Simple!