Planning a trick-or-treat party for big kids only? These fun and festive ideas -- from creative invites to classic decor '- will turn an ordinary gathering into an über-stylish and splendidly spooky Halloween party.
Something Wicked This Way Comes...
The invite is the party's aphrodisiac, so sidestep the standard pumpkin-shaped card and set a mysterious mood with something simple and ambiguous. To make your own, begin with a heavy stationery-grade card stock; we suggest the eternally stylish hue, black. Hand-write your message in red or silver ink (try metallic or glitter gel pens), replicating a Victorian-style font. A tempting teaser such as "a haunted evening requests your presence..." with minimal details '- just the time, date and place '- will keep the guests in anticipation. A plain, unmarked envelope sealed with red wax will finish off this creepy yet classy invitation. Dying to try something over-the-top? Tape the invite on a CD, à la The Ring and mail it in a simple black envelope, or if your guest list is small enough, have each invite hand-delivered by a hooded mystery man.
A Fancy Feast '- of All Things Sugary
Save a little time and cost and go with an opulent dessert spread in lieu of loads of expensive, gourmet bites. Drape your buffet and side tables with black or scarlet linens, set out dry ice to give the room a ghostly aura, and use glass blocks, antique silver trays and other old-fashioned serving pieces to create tiers of decadent treats like fudge, candy apples, chocolate champagne truffles and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Fill silver and glass canisters with classic candy such as toffee, caramels, candy corn, licorice and jaw breakers. To ensure that your guests do not feel "unfed," announce the dessert buffet on your invitation and call the party a bit later to encourage guests to grab a pre-party bite. By 7pm or later, your guests will be ready to dance off their dinner and munch desserts late into the night. Offer just a few savory hors d'ouevres, plus toasted pumpkin seeds and cheese fondue with bread, apples, pears, figs and various dried fruits, to curb guests' munchies.
The Chill Factor '- Classic Halloween Drinks
A signature drink is an absolute must at a Halloween party. It serves as both a great memory for your guests and as a fabulous icebreaker. So, embrace the intrinsic darkness of the holiday and consider something like a black martini and of course the essential witches brew.
Dark and Lovely Disguises
Darling, costumes, of course! Anything else would simply be criminal. As the hostess, you may even want to give your guests some direction in the way of costumes. Develop a theme, perhaps popular people of the '80s or famous couples throughout history. For a more intimate soiree, a murder mystery party is a great option. Simple to prepare, this party theme will make your guests feel properly engaged and entertained and eliminate the dreaded "what will I dress as" trauma.
Cozy Home Turned Haunted Mansion
The look of your space is arguably the most important element in the success of any party. So ditch the hanging-sheet ghosts and paper skeletons in favor of more elegant haunted mansion decor. To make your guests feel ensconced in the experience, fill the room with silver and red glass votives, old-fashioned candelabras and beautifully carved jack-o'-lanterns. Place fans intermittently throughout the space to help the wicks flicker and create natural shadows. To maintain this sensory overload, set up projectors playing classic horror films such as Hitchcock favorites, The Blair Witch Project and Halloween. Place dry ice throughout the house to keep things hazy. For that "I'm all alone" feeling, create smaller more intimate spaces by draping heavy burgundy and black fabrics throughout the house. And burn musky incense to tap the olfactory sense.
Ghostly Fun and Games
The always classic bobbing for apples is a must, but for those who don't like the idea of dunking their "dos" in a bucket of fruit-filled ice water choose something a bit less messy. Try a costume contest or bust out that old Ouija board and set up a séance circle. Want to end your party with a bang? Ask a friend to serve as a palm reader or (if your budget permits) hire a professional crystal ball reader or medium.
The Sounds of Blackness
Ease into the evening with haunting instrumentals. But before guests fall asleep to tunes of howling winds and crackling witches, bring out the dance beats to get them moving. Don't worry about going totally Halloween. A little "Monster Mash" and "Thriller" will keep your fete lighthearted and spark guests' memories of Halloweens past.