Around my house we take Halloween pretty seriously. We have more Halloween decorations than Christmas, we start planning costumes in July, and we always have a big adult Halloween party. We really look forward to some rare alone time with our friends sans kids. It gives us a chance to laugh and talk without being interupted and allows us to have tons and tons of fun!
My husband and I have been throwing this party for about 11 years - so we have this down to a science! I want to share a few of my tips to inspire you to spend some adult time with your friends and to bring people together.
Everyone has their own decor style and you should embrace it. I've been in homes with cute crafted decor, homes with scary decor, homes with modern decor, and homes with eclectic decor - and I love how they represent the people who live in the home. I tend to decorate with a little bit more of a modern touch. The crafted decor is to a minimum and so is the scary. Here are a few of my favorite pieces from this year:
Whatever your style, a touch of festive Halloween items will add to the ambiance of your party.
The Invitation and Guest List
The rule of thumb is that about 50%-60% of the people you invite will attend. So keep that in mind when you are creating your guest list.
I really love using evite. Your guests can RSVP, leave comments, and even sign up to bring something! They have CUTE seasonal designs to coordinate with any party theme - check out these ones I was debating between this year.
A good party has to have good food! Right? We have had a traditional menu for years with things our guests look forward to. Every once in a while I throw in something new, or create a twist on a classic, but for the most part we stick to what works for our budget and what makes our guests happy. Today I wanted to share a few beloved recipes that always make an appearance at our annual Halloween bash that won't break the bank while feeding a crowd. I also select items that won't require me to be in the kitchen all day long which cuts down on my pre-party stress level. One tip I take from Ina Garten is that your guests won't have more fun if you make everything or spend the entire day slaving away in the kitchen. So sososososo true!
First up - I ALWAYS make my Grandma's Chili. It is simple. Delicious. and EASY. Each year I receive compliment after compliment on this chili. I love seeing huge crock pots of this stuff disappear at our party. What I love about this recipe is that it doesn't require a lot of prep but delivers stellar results. One shortcut you can take to make your kitchen time the day of a party minimal is to brown the beef and onions ahead of time. Store them in a freezer bag and freeze until you need them. Then toss everything together in a crock pot the morning of and let it simmer all day. You can even freeze the entire recipe and warm just before the party. This is a great dish to serve to a crowd because you can feed lots and lots of mouths for very little money!
I use a 7 quart crock pot and double the recipe. I also set out the small 10 ounce styrofoam bowls for my guests. Using smaller bowls will stretch the chili further at your party. Let's face it - if you set out large bowls, guests will serve themselves a large bowl. If you don't have a large crock pot - here are a few to check out:
Toffee Apple Dip. This stuff is so dang good that I could eat it without the apple, ha ha! And quite literally the bowl gets scraped down at our parties. So simple - 3 ingredients. My make ahead tip for this one? Slice your apple the day of your party and place in a gallon sized bag. Squeeze some lime juice over the apples and refrigerate. The lime juice will add a tart kick and will keep your apples from turning brown.
Kaye's Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Sugar Icing. Such a fall tradition. Always a hit. I always get asked for the recipe. What do I love about serving these at my party? They freeze like a dream!!! I make them about a month before and freeze them. One hour before the party I take them out of the freezer and arrange them on a platter to thaw. By the time guests arrive they are thawed and perfect. I promise no one will know you didn't bake them the day of!
And then there are these babies...Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes. I make these up the day before and store in an airtight container until party time. Man oh man...it's a good thing I don't make these babies often because they are GOOOOOOOD!!! They are moist, chocolatey, and oh so rich! This is probably the most time consuming recipe I make for our Halloween party, but it is worth it!
Over the years I've collected lots of serving ware for hosting parties - platters and tiered serving trays are my tried and true favorites. A beautiful presentation is just as important as a tasty dish. We eat with our eyes first! One item that keeps my tables cape looking nice and neat is a silverware caddy - I highly recommend one for hosting parties.
I always try to serve breadsticks, a veggie tray, punch, and lots of chili toppings in addition to these recipes I've highlighted. And keeping with Ina Garten's tip - I always buy my breadsticks. I get them from a local restaurant and serve them alongside the chili. The same goes for the veggie tray! Sometimes is is less expensive to buy a veggie tray and it will save you from chopping veggies all day.
One item that has gotten a ton of use are my beverage dispensers! I put a punch in one, and water in the other. That way guests can serve themselves.
First off is the Costume Contest! We always encourage our guests to dress up and it is ALWAYS a fun fun conversation starter. I usually set out pens, small pieces of paper, and a jar for guests to cast their votes. At the end of the evening my husband and I tally the votes and give a small prize to the winner.
We always have a group game or some sort as well - family feud and the newlywed game have been our favorites.
And of course - good ol' fashioned mingling.
Now go out and plan a party! ;)