Not much time left to go all out for a last-minute Halloween party? Give specialty drinks a spooky name. Photo via DIY Network.
By Ashley Steel
As much as I wish my house was party city, procrastination city is a much more apt descriptor. With Halloween just around the corner and a last-minute party on my hands, I’m finding myself in a bit of a jam. Constrained by time, budget and picking through the last of the Halloween goods at the store, I turned to some expert party planners to help me scrape together for this shindig.
Eat, Drink and Be Scary
The crux of any party — food and drink — are the first items to consider and, when under a time crunch, it’s necessary to flex your creative muscles. Take traditional food items you can buy at the store or throw together quickly and give them Halloween-themed names, says Bill Parkinson, owner of event planning company William Parkinson Events in Stratford, Conn. “For example, you can name a specialty drink ‘Poison Punch’ or ‘Vampire’s Essence.’ Scallops wrapped in bacon can be ‘Enticing Eyeballs,’ salad can be ‘Gruesome Greens,’ etc. Let your imagination run wild.”
For beverages, an easy trick is to serve drinks that are already the right color for a fall party, says Denise Blasevick, CEO of ad agency S3 Agency in Boontown, N.J. Apple cider, cola and Bloody Marys are rich in fall colors that help capture the spooky essence of this holiday.
Another great option for adult parties, “infusing bourbon is a fun way to make a signature home cocktail without spending the evening playing bartender,” says Alicia Rutherford, founder of event consulting firm Untangled Events. “At least four days before the party, combine 750 ml of bourbon, 2 packets of dried cherries and five strips of orange peel. Shake occasionally and then strain through cheesecloth and enjoy.”
When it comes to desserts, Blasevick says, “save yourself the time and trouble of baking by buying good-quality cookies at the store and decorating them with icing. Make fun, easy to draw pictures like spiders, ghosts and pumpkins.”
And don’t underestimate the power of food coloring on ordinary, traditional foods, says Sunny Ravanbach, event planner with White Lilac Inc. Take a traditional fall treat like caramel apples and color the caramel black to create “poison” apples. “It’s a creepy take on the classic, sweet treat,” he says.
Moving on to the décor, think minimal shopping for maximum impact, says Rutherford. For example, you can use acrylic paint to douse pumpkins in a bold and colorful hue that matches your existing décor.
Since food and drink are a central part of your party, you’ll want to emphasize any eating and serving tables. “Run to your local fabric store and browse the Halloween-themed fabric options for a new tablecloth or runner,” says Parkinson. “There are also a plethora of sheer fabric options available that can easily be trimmed and thrown over your everyday tablecloth to create a festive overlay for a fraction of the cost of a new tablecloth.” Best of all, there’s no sewing required for this quick and easy DIY fix.
To outfit your table, try placing candles in glass containers and anchoring them with candy corn for a spirited look, says Andrea Correale, celebrity caterer and founder of Elegant Affairs. “Another idea is to cut the top off of a pumpkin, empty the seeds, and fill it with ice and bottled drinks. And if you don’t have time to cut open a pumpkin, try tying old stockings around the pumpkin or wrapping the pumpkin with gauze and adding googly eyes to create a unique display.” In your haste and excitement, don’t forget the individual place settings — plastic vampire teeth make great napkin rings!
As for the rest of the house, Parkinson suggests hitting up your local party supply store. “Drape cheesecloth from chandeliers, mirrors and tall furniture,” to contribute to a spooky, cobwebbed look. To adorn tables and surprise guests, sprinkle plastic skulls, bones and spiders around. Old books, unpolished vases, dusty bottles and apothecary jars also make a nice touch, says Parkinson.
And last but not least, don’t forget the materials you can find in your back yard. Twigs, leaves and acorns all contribute to festive fall décor and can be used to create items like a witches broom, wand or mask.
Party prep doesn’t require months of careful planning. You can throw together this polished party look on a dime — and in a snap.
Ashley Steel is staff writer/editor for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.