I’ll let photos do the talking here. An account of our Halloween party of which I’m quite proud. Creative, fun and already over!
Maybe it should be a musical, because as Hot Chocolate once said (nearly); “it started with a list”…
Innocent enough; just a load of ideas of my own and found online; added to, modified, developed and filtered. But before you know it this single sheet of paper becomes a full scale party production.
It’s a while since I’ve produced one of these extravaganzas and before long I’m reminded exactly how much work is involved. Having loads of ideas is one thing; executing them is quite another. Accept upfront that not everything will happen and also recognise that you need time and help to pull everything together. Ask for help from reliable friends and use it wisely. And make it clear to your helpers that you really need their services, it’s not optional!
Unusually for me, the girls are on hand for Halloween this year and thank goodness they’re willing to help a lot, amid all the other exciting possibilities of half term. I also have invaluable help and extra creativity from Danny (oh please can it be Donny) and Marie, without whom this party wouldn’t have happened. Certainly not with as much panache and possibly not at all.
Danny’s brill-o carving. Perfectly evil!
The theme this year is revolting. Revolting Halloween that is. We’ve done cute and funny Halloween, now it’s time to get down and dirty, though remembering that we will have guests as young as two, so no gore fest thanks. But revolting it is. A theme with ageless appeal, even for teenagers hopefully!
Food is at the centre of this revoltingness. I want to mess with people’s heads about what they see on their plates and put in their mouths. The food should be emminently edible, delicious even, but definitely offputting and with more than a touch of humour and niftiness about it.
The decor will vary from room to room, but hopefully reflect a more grown up approach to Halloween than in years gone by. In any event it will, as always be based on the principle of “more is more”. I have tried “less is more” on many occasions, honest I have, but I just can’t seem to get the hang of it.
The devil IS in the detail.
Top left: a new addition gargoyle for a whole 99p
Top right: shrunken heads made from apples last week
Bottom left: my favourite wax tealight holders, about 5 years old
Bottom right: Danny’s 30 year old mangy cat. I love him.
Over the years I’ve collected Halloween decorations that come down from the loft annually to get used and re-used and each year I add a few new bits from my high street expeditions. In this World of Online-everything I still rely on and love a few real foraging trips to find the unexpected.
Red candle wax dripped onto white candles makes for a sinister effect, as do dead roses from the local florist. All draped with spider web. The lace mats were my Grandma’s. She’ll be turning in her grave, bless her.
So here it is; a pictorial account of it all, with ideas and useful tips. Wherever possible I’ve credited original ideas but many are repeated widely (once you look!) and I’ve been unable to trace back to the original idea. If anyone can find original sources please let me know, otherwise the particular references I used are all on my Pinterest Halloween board. So, enjoy and don’t hesitate to ask if there’s anything you want to know.
Decorations begin outside with bags of Autumn leaves borrowed from our roadsweepers, thanks chaps – we’ll bag them back up after, plus pumpkins and chinese lanterns, all artistically arranged by Marie.
Autumn leaves – free and abundant!
Once over the threshold, guests are greeted by our undead Victorian children…
“Welcome… to our humble abode”
..who open the door with a self-penned script and deadpan expressions. They had to practise not laughing. It took a while to perfect.
The hall is hung with little body parts, skulls and skeletons, all swinging at irritating heights so guests can’t help but walk into them. We don’t want their entrance into the house to be easy, now do we.
Black ‘web’ and dim lights create a sinister atmosphere
Then into the kitchen for some suitably tempting snacks.
Key to success here is suitable crackers and as the idea hails from the U.S. I cant use the ones they recommend. So after some searching (!) I found these Sky Flakes crackers in our local Tesco World food aisle which are also available online. Or maybe you can find something different/better.
Anyway a careful wipe of cream cheese makes an excellent wound dressing, topped here with ketchup blood. For others we used barbecue sauce which produced a darker and I think better, blood red. Then to something sweet…
Ear wax never tasted so good!
Delicious but revolting, these cotton buds with ear wax caused howls of disgust – hooray! Mini-marshmallows are simply pushed onto rolled paper lolly sticks and dipped in caramel and a box of ear buds on the plate completes the scene perfectly. I tested various makes of caramel and after my survey can recommend Bonne Maman caramel for the best deep colour and just the right texture for authentic, thick ear wax. Mmmm…
Other splendid opening snacks included…
- Meat and quorn sausages on sticks – well, 4″ nails actually. Cooked in a honey and sweet chilli sauce glaze.
- Cockroach carapaces – halved dates. These particular dates had shiny ‘shells’
- Bloody (non-alcoholic) cocktail: a mix of red grape and cranberry juice with a hint of pineapple juice, served from a drinks fountain. It frothed and foamed perfectly. Revolting.
- Popcorn: two varieties – ectoplasm – with green ice cream sauce drizzled over and goo – delicious if supremely unhealthy popcorn topped with melted marshmallows, butter and brown sugar.
Oh blimey, I almost forgot the edible ashtray. Crushed Oreo cookies mixed with icing sugar make great cigarette ash that really looks the part when served with candy stick ‘cigarettes’. It has to be presented in the perfect ashtray of course and guess what, I already own it! It’s a coughing lungs ashtray given to me by my luverly brother many moons ago, which coughs when you put a cigarette down and is still I see, available on ebay. Perfect.
Pinterest has become an invaluable resource for me (and millions of others) to collect and collate ideas. Pretty much everything you could wish for exists online somewhere these days, but the skill is in knowing how to search effectively and how to find the really great things. For a party like this it’s about curating and picking ideas that will work really well together, to create a whole that is coherent and hopefully impressive. Good research skills are key, as is a tenacious (borderline obsessive) attitude, both to finding what you want and also discovering what you don’t know you want until you see it. It takes effort, but it’s worth it I think!
The kids are the coolest
Decs should work with their surroundings. Our kitchen is modern and bright, so here, large skeletons and fantastic new white webs from our local 99p Store set the scene – very different to Miss Haversham’s parlour in the front. But on to that in a mo.
The green skelis are old but given a lick of paint. The brilliant masks are new and from Wilkinsons.
We provide a few games on the night; apple-bobbing of course and most notably a revolting food tasting game. Eat, if you dare from jars of mysterious and yukky (but edible) halloweeny substances.
We stuffed strange looking food stuffs, mostly from Asian supermarkets (strange tinned and dried fungi, fruit and noodles) and a few edible insects into jars and bottles of all shapes and sizes and Alice spent a whole morning writing suitably gruesome labels (onto tea stained paper) with her new quill pen. I disguised the jam jar lids with covers made from coffee filter papers also soaked in tea.
Well done Alice!
And then we let our jars of horrible edible body parts loose on our unsuspecting guests. Deep joy! The desiccated zombie brains (a mystery Vietnamese dried fruit) won the prize for most disgusting taste, while the Cyclops vomit (sandwich spread) went completely untouched, it looked so wrong. Science teachers’ intestines (wide, floppy noodles) caused a stir and the innocent children’s fingers (pickled asparagus) slipped down all too easily. It was mainly the adults who tucked in with gusto and special awards go to Jeff and Chris.
Can I tempt you with a slice of teenagers lung? Or how about a warlock’s diseased finger? Or maybe some belly button fluff from a ginger kid? No? Oh.
Of course Halloween isn’t Halloween these days without trick or treating, so a few (ir)responsible adults were despatched with our gang of 20 or so kids, big and small to roam the local streets in search of sweets, while Marie and I finalised the main food. We could’ve done with them getting lost (!), but an hour later they were back brandishing their treats.
You better watch out…
First, a little surprise for their return…
Yay! UV heaven in the kitchen. Last year we installed blacklight in our kitchen, I’m not sure why – my mind on an overexcited decorating ramble I think, but I’m very glad we did and of course now it’s the perfect backdrop for a halloween spectacle.
Those 99p Store webs glow in the dark beautifully and glowsticks taped to them add little dashes of colour all over the room. My old green skelis have been overpainted with green UV paint (thanks Elsa and Myrtle) and UV spiders and bats hang everywhere, many of those handpainted with UV markings. The whole room is transformed into a glowing Halloween wonderland and I’m very excited!
The atmosphere here is completed with a suitably spooky Spotify playlist we assembled that includes a few lesser known but perfect spooky tracks – try the Tiger Lillies out for starters. Snip, snip… A brilliant addition now that Alice is old enough not to be frightened of their songs!
Meanwhile down the hall in Miss Haversham’s parlour the atmosphere is quite different. Endless candles and judicious use of spider web makes for a dusty, old and gloomy atmosphere to perfectly match the hosts!
We are delighted…
And after Chris scared off the last of the trick or treaters at our door, with plastic rats in the bucket of sweets and a well-timed shriek to send them running (brilliant Chris), it’s time for the centrepiece food and so we bring you…
For the first time this year Danny used wood-carving tools and they’ve transformed his pumpkin carving, though of course the talent is his, not the tools.
I found several versions of this via Pinterest and while I left the real artistry to Danny I focussed on making the guacamole as lumpy and sicky as possible. Roughly chopped skinned tomatoes and some barely chunked avocadoes give the perfect texture.
Then alongside, for your delectation and delight…
..a mini dustbin overflowing with ‘rotting’ food. The main constituent here is potatoes interspersed with all manner of other, ‘rubbish’ food spilling out of the upturned bin, including:
- cabbage leaves (wilted first)
- ‘worms’ made from hotdog slivers
- black beans, green lentils and gravy to provide a slimy, oozing base
- a few sprats cooked whole and stripped back to the skeleton with head and tail attached
- a whole roast quail and another stripped of its meat
- dollops of sandwich spread and hummus
- a mini pizza cooked with green food colour added to the topping
- I meant to make some cooked rice maggots, but forgot amid the chaos of the day. Would be worth it though.
- a mini coke can
- a few date ‘cockroaches’
- mini dustbin
Once the coke can, quails and sprat bones were moved aside guests could move in and eat up. And we served these two delights alongside spare ribs and chicken pieces, all sticktious and hot from the oven. Oh and a plate of worms and dirt (veggie hotdogs & smushed up black beans) for the vegheads, courtesy of Martha Stewart as well as a platter of hummus vomit with chickpeas and tiny cooked diced carrot pieces mixed in. Turkish flatbreads complete the spread.
The whole edible ensemble causes delight and disgust in equal measure. My barometer for success is my friend’s son Fergus, who LOVES his food. Once this lot comes out he slopes off upstairs and proclaims himself unable to eat ANYTHING. It’s all TOO disgusting. Sorry Fergus, but hooray; mission accomplished!
And to end this celebration there has to be cake and of course it has to be revolting. So without further ado, I present…
Cat litter tray bake
I think it speaks for itself really, though this pic really doesn’t do it justice. It’s a point to note – that when you’re hosting a party like this, ask someone to be court photographer to capture everything properly. It’s so busy that it’s difficult to do yourself. Anyway the cake was a resounding success and very delicious too, for those who could get beyond its physical appearance that is. Sorry Carole. Sorry Albi. Tee hee.
I think I’ll write a separate post about how to actually make this cake – I’ve got lots of tips and ideas and of course you’ll all be wanting to make one now, but suffice to say here that it was a perfect end to a perfectly revolting evening.
Next year I think we’ll be heading down Mexico way, for a Day of the Dead celebration. Maybe we’ll see you there or here or maybe you’ll be holding your own Halloween party. If you do just remember to stay within the boundaries of what you can achieve and enjoy it!