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The Newsroom: Articles

Trick and Treat 'Em

by Leah Gliniewicz

Online at "The"
October, 1999

Throw a frightfully wicked Halloween shindig that will spook your guests, not your wallet.

You can host a horribly good Halloween party with tips from our ghoulishly great experts. And here's a treat: you can do it cheap!

Halloween décor is the fastest-growing segment of the home decorating industry, according to the Halloween Association in Ellicott City, MD. What's more, pumpkins, greeting cards and other party staples will account for as much as $2.5 billion in sales, says the National retail Federation in Washington, DC.

Let the Halloween festivity planning begin!

Masquerade Madness

If you want to carry out a spooky theme party at low-cost, Diane Warner, author of "Diane Warner's Big Book of Parties," suggests that you let your costumed guests be the main attraction, and keep the lights dim. Indulge in some inexpensive decorations such as jack-o-lanterns lighted with black and orange candles. Buy a spray can of fake spider webs, a string of small white Christmas lights, and fake spiders.

At the entryway of your house, Warren suggests placing your fake spiders in a web made of the Christmas lights. For your dimly lit livingroom, she recommends spraying it with fake spider webs and dispersing the jack-o-lanterns.

If you want to go hog wild, how about a haunted house, a retro disco or a hippie Halloween party?

For the haunted house, Wendy Moyle, president of Shindigz, suggests using eerie music. Lining the walls with black gossamer material, hanging glow-in-the-dark spider webs, setting up the entrance with mock cemetery gates and black mylar curtains, and creating a maze with the furniture.

For a flower-power flashback, Moyle says decorate with tye-dyed ghosts, skeletons wearing bandanas, and darken the room. Instead of decorating with scary things, hang glow-in-the-dark peace signs, and use a few black lights for a trippy sort of trick.

Double, double, toil and trouble

A creepy presentation of your Halloween food and fixin's can add to the decorative atmosphere of your party.

Concoct a cauldron of witches brew: Rinse a rubber or latex glove inside and out. Then fill it with a red juice or punch, secure it closed and stick it in the freezer. Once frozen, cut the glove off and peel it from the ice hand. Then put the ice hand in the punch bowl. For the foamy, bubbling brew, Warner suggests combining pineapple juice with scoops of orange sherbet. Top the look off with the frozen hand.

To add a foggy spin on a witches brew, Jyl Steinback, author of the "Fat Free Living" cookbook series, recommends taking a black bowl and filling it with a cider or orange-tinted champagne and dropping in some dry ice.

If you've got a sweet tooth or always wanted to serve a "meathead," has a list of ghostly recipes ranging from cobweb cupcakes to "rancid" food.

If you plan on serving a buffet-style meal at your party, make your tabletop come alive. Warner suggests making a ghost or skeleton tablecloth. To make a ghost, take a white sheet, fill it with white tissue paper to give the ghost a head, arms and a puffy body and cover the table with it. Then place the buffet on the ghost: one dish on the face, one on each of the ghosts hands, and the main dish in the center of the ghosts midsection. Or make your tablecloth with a skeleton. Buy a five or six-foot long paper or plastic skeleton. Lay the paper skeleton on the table, and set the food dishes on top or put the plastic bones among the buffet spread.

When it comes to food presentation, Moyle suggests serving nothing but black and orange food - anything from grilled cheese sandwiches on pumpernickel to carrot sticks to olives. Other ideas that Moyle suggested include using styrofoam tombstones lined with cellophane as food serving trays. For the food table, she suggests a black table cloth on which you place patches of fake green grass, then dot it with mini-tombstones and fake cobwebs.

It's The Great Pumpkin

Don't forget the million-and-one uses for our favorite gourd, the pumpkin. Hollowed-out pumpkins are great as a means to serve dips or soups, Moyle says. She adds that carving out mini-pumpkins (called Jack-be-littles) and using them as candle holders is a great way to make a great centerpiece for the table. Moyle also recommends taking dead tree branches, spray painting them black, and inserting them into a hole made in the top of a pumpkin, then hanging ghosts from the branches.

It's a dead man's party

If your costumed guests are acting like zombies, get some party games going to bring them back to life. Have a pumpkin carving/decorating contest or even a tombstone decorating contest, Moyle suggests.

Warner points out that guests who go through the trouble of concocting a Halloween getup should be rewarded with a costume contest, judged by either the host or the other guests.

Now there's no excuse not to get yourself and your "crypt" decked out in ghoulish garb for Halloween.

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