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Tricks and Treats: How to Host a Scary Halloween Party

Oct 22, 2013 12:11AM ● By Erin Frisch

Creating your own haunted house isn’t as scary as it might sound! All you need are a few basic craft supplies, a little kitchen creativity, and a howling-good Halloween playlist. Read on for the basic steps to making your night the most ghoulish ever.

Decorating is the most important part of throwing a Halloween party. First , make sure the entrance to your house is terrifying. Cover rocking chairs, your mailbox, bushes, birdhouses, and anything else that is standing upright in your yard with old sheets. Next, draw or paint big ghost eyes and a ghost mouth on them, or create monster faces. Along your walkway or in the yard leading up to your door, plant fake gravestones, available at party stores. Finally, on the night of your party, light a candle in a small glass lantern or votive and position it near your door. Paint a small piece of wood with dripping red paint and a scary message like “BEWARE” or “POINT OF NO RETURN.”

Inside your house is where it will get really creepy! Keep the lights dim, or opt for flickering candlelight. In the entranceway to your house, in all the doorways, and over chandeliers and lamps, stretch large, ratty pieces of fake spider web (also available at party stores). It’s inexpensive and gives your house a decrepit, Miss Havisham atmosphere. To get the vibe of a haunted lagoon, fill a bucket with dry ice and water to release “ghostly vapors” (just be sure to use gloves when handling dry ice, as it can cause burns). Throughout your house, scatter plastic critters such as bats, rats, insects, spiders, or ravens. Your house should be crawling!

There’s only one way to do Halloween party food—go gross or go home. All of these recipe ideas produce treats that are as horrifying as they are delicious. Fill a large punch bowl with a mixture of one part orange juice, one part cranberry juice, one part pineapple juice, and two parts Sprite or seltzer. In the punch bowl, float ice cubes and gummy worms. Your guests will get a kick out of the slimy, sweet surprise to be found at the bottom of their blood-red punch!

A classic ghoulish dinner is spicy meat chili, and it’s an easy, one-pot main dish that serves a big crowd. To accompany it, make ghost dogs: unthaw several packages of frozen, uncooked dinner rolls and let them rise on a baking sheet. When they have risen, skewer cold hot dogs vertically on wooden skewers. Then stretch a dinner roll over each hot dog in a ghost-like form. Spray or lightly oil a second baking sheet and bake the ghost dogs in a preheated 350° oven until the dough is cooked. Let them cool just a bit, and add eyes and a mouth with a little black gel icing, if you wish. Serve with ketchup and mustard for dipping.

Dessert is the most creative part of any Halloween party fare, so unleash your inner Morticia Addams here! For a devilishly rich dessert, try a chocolate graveyard cake. Bake a chocolate cake in a rectangular pan. Ice with vanilla icing dyed green, and then sprinkle a path of crushed chocolate graham crackers across the cake. Next, break regular graham crackers into small rectangles and insert in the cake randomly. Decorate these “gravestones” with “RIP” in black gel icing. Finally, place mellowcreme pumpkins between the graves and insert a gummy worm in each “grave.”

To make sure your guests are scared out of their wits, keep a creepy Halloween playlist running. Use songs like “The Monster Mash,” “Thriller,” “Werewolves of London,” “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” “The Time Warp,” and “The Number of the Beast.” Any gothic punk music will set the right mood. If you follow these steps, your hauntingly happy Halloween party is sure to be the talk of the block!

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