Ghoulishly Grown-up Halloween Party Tips

Halloween is known mainly as a children's holiday - but that doesn't mean you should let the kids have all the fun! For a Halloween that's all treats and no tricks, throw a fiendishly fabulous fiesta with a grown-up twist.

Invitations
Paint the party details on a huge pumpkin (or line up three smaller ones, each bearing a different piece of the information, such as date, time, or place). Take a close-up photo of the "invitation" and send copies to guests in bright orange envelopes.

Atmosphere


Monster Hands

Make an artistic front-porch pumpkin display. Hollow out pumpkins of various shapes, sizes, and colors. Drill small holes in them to create spiral or bull's-eye designs. Add votive candles and arrange in a cluster near the door.

Hide a boom box on the front porch to play scary Halloween sound effects or horror movie music as the guests arrive.

Cut out bat, ghost, or pumpkin shapes from black construction paper. Tape cutouts to the inside of light-colored lampshades for an eerie shadow effect. Replace the light bulbs with orange ones (available at most hardware stores).

String fishing wire over the buffet table and hang orange paper lanterns. Scatter Halloween confetti over the tablecloth.

Clear out your fireplace and fill with orange and black pillar candles in various shapes and sizes.

Menu
Serve black bean soup in small hollowed-out pumpkins. Use a pastry bag to top each bowl with a ghost-shaped dollop of sour cream just before serving.

Don't just carve and decorate pumpkins - eat them! They're delicious in recipes like Pumpkin Gratin and Roasted Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Salad.

Halloween Pumpkins
Pumpkin Picks
RIP Glows in the Dark
Glow in the Dark
Make a graveyard cake for dessert. Cut sugar cookie dough into tombstone shapes and bake. Use icing to write R.I.P. on the cooled cookies and personalize them with guests' names. Stick the tombstones into a chocolate cake to resemble a graveyard.

Fun & Games

Ask everyone to bring a carved pumpkin to the party (B.Y.O.P.). Set up a special table to display them (this will also enhance your party décor!) and provide paper and pens so guests can vote for their favorites. (Use a plastic jack-o-lantern as a ballot box.) At the end of the night, count the votes and award a sack of Halloween treats to the winner.

Make a tape or CD of spooky songs (think "Thriller", "Werewolves of London", or "Bad Moon Rising") and do the monster mash.

Have a "Last-Minute Costume Contest". On the invitations, instruct guests NOT to think about their Halloween disguises in advance. One hour before the party begins, guests must throw together costumes using whatever they can find around their homes. (The key is to think creatively. Why not come as your teenage son, a made-up superhero, or the Avon Lady?) Give a bottle of champagne to the guest who comes up with the best last-minute costume.

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