Halloween usually means costumes, candy, and juvenile pranks. But for those who feel they’ve outgrown the trick-or-treating phase of their life, the holiday often provides several opportunities to host or attend ghoulish parties. Whether you prefer the simple or the outrageous, the cute or the terrifying, there’s nothing more satisfying than decorating your home for a Halloween party without going over budget.
I’ve found that the best place to start when creating a haunted house is the cobwebs. A good fabric to consider is cheesecloth because it’s cheap and easily draped around the room. When you begin ripping the cheesecloth into strips, remember to rub the fabric in your hands in order to fray the edges and. Infesting the area with plastic spiders is also a good idea and almost a necessity for a Halloween. When you’re done, the cheesecloth is easy to tack or tape to any wall. And if you want to add that extra spook to the room, buy a small fan and hide it in a corner so the cobwebs will flutter in the soft breeze.
Another cheap idea for the outside of your home is witch’s curtains. All it takes to make these are black trash bags. First, lay the trash bag flat on the ground and cut along the sides to make one large surface. Next, cut the plastic into strips, leaving about an inch at the top edge of the plastic. Lastly, stretch the plastic strips at different intervals to give the curtains their creepy texture. Witch’s curtains can be made quickly and are surprisingly effective for decorating during the Halloween season.
Something else I like to make for Halloween that costs very little is a decorative tree. A take on Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, all you need for this is a bare branch, some black spray paint, and Halloween themed ornaments. Simply spray paint the miniature tree black and hang your ornaments from its branches.
After you’re done, you can either push the branch’s end into the grass outside your home or place it in a vase for indoor display. And if the ornaments are out of your price range, you can buy some orange and white construction paper to cut out ghosts and jack-o-lanterns. Another helpful hint is to paint some popcorn orange and hang popcorn garland around the tree. The Halloween tree is not only cheap, but it’s easy to make and can be a fun activity for all ages.
If you’re going to have a haunted living room, then you’ll definitely need ghosts. By inflating a white balloon and pulling it partly through a small hole in some cheesecloth, you can make a more realistic looking ghost without having to spend the extra money. Depending on what type of face you draw on the balloon, you can have a friendly ghost or a menacing apparition. And for glow-in-the-dark ghosts, simply crack a glow stick and put it inside the inflated balloon.
And no haunted house is complete without the proper lighting. Jack-o-lanterns are one way to go about it and painting the pumpkin black before you carve it allows for a nice contrast to the usual orange.
In addition to jack-o-lanterns, dark colored pillar or taper candles give the room a nice touch as the wax melts throughout the night. Also, well-placed white or yellow Christmas lights would help balance the room.
There are also many helpful websites dedicated to helping you create that perfect Halloween environment, whether you need to print a stencil for carving your pumpkin or you want to learn how to cut a paper spider web. Don’t forget to add any personal touches you can think of and create a mix of Halloween music and you’ll have the perfect environment in which to host a great party.
After the decorations, the next thing a party planner will need is the food and the best place to start is the punch. When preparing the punch, any recipe will do, but the perfect touch to any beverage is gummy critters frozen in ice. For the punch, it’s best to freeze the gummy critters in a lemon-lime soda, but for all other drinks, gummy eyeballs in the ice works fine.
Another important food item is the chips. Instead of simply buying a bag of tortilla chips, it’s easy to make your own Halloween-inspired chips using flour tortillas and cookie cutters. After cutting out the shapes, coat the chips with cooking spray, salt, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
For the main course, I like to make twice-baked potatoes that look like mummies, but it’s easy to make a burger that looks like a monster or even ghostly pancakes for those who prefer to dine on breakfast food.
Finally for the dessert, my favorite thing to make is spider cupcakes. You can use any recipe for the cupcakes, but after baking and frosting, coat the cupcakes with black sanding sugar and add red and white candies for the eyes and mouth. To finish, use licorice to act as the spiders’ legs.
After you’ve created a meal to die for and a spooky place to dine in, the last step of party planning to prepare for the games.
There are many websites containing information and ideas on Halloween-themed party games and of course, Halloween charades is a simple and easy idea for a party. But the biggest part in planning the games is planning the candy prizes.
Candy prizes can as simple as throwing a mixture into a paper bag and decorating it, but I like to make colorful candy crackers. Modeled after British Christmas crackers, these prizes are made by wrapping orange or black crepe paper around toilet paper tubes that are filled with candy.
After tying the ends with twine, you can decorate the candy crackers however you wish and your guests will surely have a great time opening them at the party. I also like to make fake prizes out of a few candy crackers so guests will never know if they’ve won a trick or a treat.
With the right combination of décor, food, and fun it’s easy to entertain guests for the holiday. And if you manage to spook them in the process, it makes the Halloween event even more rewarding.