Hallowe’en falls on a Monday this year.
This means that Sunday is the perfect time to have an ‘All Hallows Eve’ potluck party.
Make the planning easy and the party cheap. Use what you have on hand, buy from a discount store or borrow from a neighbour.
Have youngsters cut out ‘tombstone’ invitations and hand-deliver them wearing spooky masks.
Ask your guests to bring party food disguised as something else. Everything must be wickedly named.
Have one family bring ‘Beast’ to the table. These will be thick hot dogs sliced into 10 arms to three-quarters of the way up. Cook them in boiling water so that the ‘arms’ curl to portray Peter Benchley’s Architeuthis (giant squid).
Blue food colouring and large cloves for the eyes will give the giant squid an eerie cast.
Kids love anything grotesque. Pour salsa into a large but shallow bowl. Add a colouring of your choice and call it ‘Vomit’.
Mix in shredded cheese for an authentic look. Have nachos nearby with a few splashes of red for ‘blood’.
Other partygoers could bring purple baked beans, brown or black sauerkraut ‘worms’ and green ‘Witches’ Brew’ cider.
Family and friends can build on these suggestions with concoctions of their own. The youngsters are sure to come up with some great ideas for the naming of these ‘delicacies’.
For decorations, cover your windows with black trash bags. Add lanterns shaded by green cellophane to give the darkened room a scary glow.
Play haunted music and add a canned cackle for effect — or get the kids to make a horror tape with ghoulish laughter, moans and screams.
String black wool in corners and hang plastic spiders from the ‘webs’. Turn pictures upside down, or make them crooked.
Create a ‘vampire’ on a slab by pushing two card tables together. Place a hat at one end. Roll pillows to look like a body, and place shoes at the other end.
Cover with a black cloth with a smaller section of white material mid-way. Position a large cross there, as if it were a stake through the heart.
Splash red food colouring on the white fabric so that it looks like blood where the cross enters the ‘body’.
Collect small and large pumpkins onto which paint downturned mouths.
Place dead Bermuda greenery about them and have the kids make black tissue paper roses.
Add the spookiness of fog with a homemade fog machine. Heat water in a slow cooker, and once the water warms add pieces of dry ice. Wear gloves when handling dry ice. It burns.
Have everyone come in a costume. Organize the children and adults to dunk for apples in ‘blood’.
Use water, red colouring and food thickeners to make the liquid more awfully blood-like.
Create a ‘slime’ with lotion, water and gelatin. Have the kids plunge their hands in to get a quarter or some other prize from the bottom of a pail.
Read ghost stories, or take turns acting them out. Have your guests make up creepy stories and then ask everyone to vote for the best one. Give the winner a dollar.
With the end of daylight savings time, evening comes early.
Have everyone arrive just after dark so it’s shadowy enough inside to complement your All Hallows Eve décor.
Have hot drinks ready — blue hot chocolate for the kids, and a hot toddy of warm milk, vodka, cinnamon and colouring for the adults.
Position the food around or near the body of the ‘vampire’. Add place cards to the dishes so everyone knows which is the ‘Beast’, ‘Vomit’, ‘Witches’ Brew’ and so on.
Enjoy the night before Halloween, but make it an early leaving. This mixed group still has to go to school and work in the morning. Happy Day of Frights!