Halloween is a time for celebration—for sugar-fueled giggling, for face paint-covered revelry and for otherworldly fun. It’s pretty much the perfect time for a party. To help you conjure inspiration for a ghoulish gathering, here are a few apparitions of our own. Bob for apples next year; this Halloween, it’s all about chic yet casual ways to spend time with friends and family and to celebrate the fact that you perfected your Farrah hair for your Charlie’s Angel costume.
Trick or treat Pre-Party
We all know it takes a lot of energy to scamper around the neighborhood for countless hours. Start the Halloween fun early by inviting your kids’ friends and their parents over for a Trick or Treat Pre-Party. Why would you want a pack of rambunctious Transformers running around your house? With hope, you can serve them healthful (or at least something that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup) snacks and get them set for tricking and treating.
- Start the evening with some non-candy treats to give your little ghouls and goblins the energy for lots of trick-or-treating. Make pigs in blankets (we call them “monster fingers”) with crescent roll dough and cocktail sausages, leaving one end exposed. Put out bowls of ketchup and mustard (labeled “blood” and “bile” if you’re not easily disgusted) for dipping.
- Have a face paint station. Let the adults take care of the painting.
- Give out cool flashlights as party favors.
- Make cupcakes and let the kids decorate (pictured above: Tee & Cakes cakes).
Baking and decorating tips from Kim Boos at Tee & Cakes
- Use candy in unexpected ways to decorate the tops of cupcakes: black licorice ropes for spider webs, marshmallows for ghosts, fruit leather to cut out shapes, strawberry jam for blood, oval shaped cookies cut in half for tombstones.
- Red velvet is really popular nowadays for cupcakes. Make them more holiday-focused by adding orange or green dye to the batter instead.
- Make cupcake flags by printing your favorite Halloween images, cutting them out and wrapping them around toothpicks with double sticky tape and placing them in the tops of the cupcakes.
- For you or older kids, use a piping bag to get a more professional look for your cupcakes. You can make one by cutting the corner off of a Ziploc bag.
- Have fun! Be creative!
Think outside the (cupcake) box. Visit teeandcakes.com for more info.
The best part about being an adult at Halloween is watching the kiddos parading from door to door. Make the most it by hosting a costume-watching-and-candy-handing-out party…we call it Horror D’Oeuvres. Serve a few spooky—yet sophisticated—treats to your grown-up friends and let the adorable spooks and specters that come to your door be the evening’s entertainment. A digital camera, photo printer and a corkboard make a quick way to display and vote on the best costumes of the evening.
- Blue corn chips with mango chutney
- Toss warm, toasted pumpkin seeds with a little olive oil and pumpkin pie spice, or a mixture of cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper and sugar.
- Take bite-sized fresh mozzarella balls and hollow out a small hole in each. Cut pimento olives in half and insert into the cheese to make spooky eyeballs.
- For a sophisticated take on deviled eggs, gently tap one side of the boiled egg to create a spider-web crack. Soak the cooked eggs in a strong tea solution or soy sauce until completely cooled. Peel the eggs; you should see a lovely spiderweb pattern on the egg white.
- Make a specialty cocktail or three. Sage Swink, bar manager at The West End Tavern, 926 Pearl St., made us two screamingly good cocktail recipes to ensure your Horror D’Oeuvres has a kick (see below). Plus, check out her recipe for black, flavored ice cubes (pictured above).
2 oz. pumpkin spiced vodka
1 oz. pomegranate juice
1/4 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
Add ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, shake and strain into a chilled cocktail or old fashioned glass with a red sugar rim. Garnish with a black ice cube. Check out thewestendtavern.com.
Pumpkin Spiced Vodka:
Cut the flesh of one small pumpkin into 2″ cubes, and put into an infusion jar
Add: 2 liters of vodka
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice seasoning
1 vanilla bean, split open
Let infuse for at least 24 hours and up to five days. Strain, and discard solids.
Vanilla & Anise flavored black ice cubes:
4 cups water
1 tablespoon anise seed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 to 4 drops black food coloring
Boil water and anise together. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and let cool 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve then add food coloring. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
Harry Potter Happy Hour
With Potterheads hitting their 20s and 30s and still loving Pottermania, this is our favorite idea for a late afternoon get-together. Ditch the sexy schoolgirl costumes and use a little Ravenclaw brainpower to come up with your attire: With a brown long-sleeved shirt, a grass skirt and a little gold face paint, dress as your favorite broomstick; or a tea-cozy hat and bed-sheet toga make a convincing house elf with some green face paint and a pair of Spock ears. Decorate with candles, house banners made from colored felt and large glass jars filled with colored marbles, beads or stones to serve as the house-point counters from the films.
- Pumpkin Pasties: Put squares of frozen puff pastry in muffin tins to create individual pie crusts. Pour in pumpkin pie filling (made from your favorite recipe) and bake.
- Cauldron Cakes: Bake slices of polenta and top each with your favorite flavors.
- Wizard Wands: Roll pre-made pie crust as thin as possible. Sprinkle the dough lightly with grated parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. Cut the dough into inch-wide strips. Twist the strips several times. Bake until lightly browned.
- Butter Beer: Recipe below, created by the mixologist James Lee at The Bitter Bar.1 oz. Maker’s Mark Bourbon
1 oz. Butterscotch Liqueur
1 tablespoon of butter
4 oz. Cream Soda
0.5 oz. lemon juice
In a sauce pan, add butter, soda and lemon juice and heat until hot. In a beer mug, add bourbon and butterscotch. Pour the heated cream soda/butter/lemon juice into the mug. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Visit happynoodlehouse.com for information on The Bitter Bar.