Tired of the same old Halloween? Whether you’re an empty nester thinking of throwing your own party, or a parent looking for something that doesn’t involve kids dressed up like Frozen characters (again), there are plenty of ways to do Halloween like an adult.
For a holiday that is all about kids and candy, it’s time for the grownups to find a way to enjoy a little fall fun. We spoke to local experts for some tips on how to throw a Halloween party that fits your lifestyle (think of it more as a fall party than a Halloween party and you’ll be off to a good start). Just remember, if you’re going to TP the neighbors’ house, make sure you don’t invite them.
If you’re all about Halloween, and dressing up is your thing, then don’t hold back. Throw a good old-fashioned Halloween bash. But if the thought of costumes and kitschy decorations makes you recoil in fear, consider throwing a seasonal party instead. In other words, call your event a fall party instead of a Halloween party.
Amy Leferink, owner and designer at Interior Impressions, suggests giving your party a rustic feel. “Bring in more of a natural autumn backdrop and décor and give it an elegant touch,” Leferink says.
A good way to do this is by focusing on natural elements. Reclaimed wood or barn wood is popular right now, and an excellent way to create texture with softer colors to give your home an outdoor feel. Leferink suggests incorporating things from your own backyard to save money and bring in the colors of fall. Natural grass or pumpkins can make some of the best decorations. “I like the idea of bringing in nature because you can grow it in your own yard,” she says. “You can simply clip branches or some rocks or plants from the yard.”
Those backyard offerings can make for great DIY projects, too. If you want to add a little color to the party, you can paint pumpkins or even have a pumpkin painting station for the kids (if you haven’t kicked them out of the house, of course).
One of the best ways to make your party more elegant is with the food. By staying away from ghost cookies or foods shaped like jack o’lanterns, your party will fit right in with your mature motif.
Rachael Perron, culinary director at Kowalski’s Markets, suggests focusing on seasonal foods that will slide right into place with the natural décor you’ve arranged. “The main thing I say with Halloween parties is to avoid too much chocolate and candy because candy is everywhere,” Perron says. “You will always have candy around, so go with something that is a candy alternative and chocolate alternative.” Perron suggests a caramel corn cookie recipe to please all those sweet teeth. It’s the perfect mix of a seasonal treat, without the feeling of Halloween kitsch.
Another easy tip is to avoid anything that requires too many utensils. By going heavy on the finger foods, you make it easier for people to mingle and chat. You’ll also have fewer dishes to deal with and make it easier for guests to walk, talk and eat all at the same time.
A simple meat, cheese and cracker board can be a great option as an appetizer. It fits the finger food criteria, plus it creates a gathering spot for guests and can be a fun way for kids to stay involved in the party. They’ll love making their own mini sandwiches, which will keep them occupied while the adults celebrate.
For the main course and drinks, you can’t go wrong with warm options. Soup makes for a great main dish, as you can serve it in mugs or bowls, and it only requires a spoon. It’s also a dish you can prepare ahead of time and keep warm in a crock-pot, so you can worry about hosting or other distractions rather than cooking. Plus, with the cooler autumn weather, everyone will be craving something toasty. Pair that with a nice warm drink to guarantee your guests will have a good time all night.
There are plenty of Halloween-themed activities and games, but sometimes it’s nice to let your party be its own entertainment. One of the simplest ways to create the right atmosphere for mingling is making sure your home is conducive to guests. “It’s all about the party setting,” Leferink says. One of your first steps should be rearranging your furniture for easier flow. You want guests to be able to chat and grab food without being impeded, and that can be as simple as moving a couch or placing a table in a different spot. If you plan the space ahead of time, you’ll have the perfect party setting.
Leferink also suggests creating little spaces for guests to gather. By spreading the food out and having separate tables for each dish and drink, guests will be required to get up and move around, creating a better atmosphere and more interaction.
Another great option is to have DIY stations for crafts and decorations. These keep both kids and adults entertained, and the projects can become part of your party or your guests can save them for a party of their own. Simple projects such as creating candleholders or having stations for people to paint mini pumpkins can keep guests entertained while sticking with your theme.
When it comes to your Halloween party, you definitely have options. Whether it’s your favorite time of year, or you’d rather skip straight to Thanksgiving, there are ways for everyone to enjoy a party. So send the kids out trick-or-treating, get your party planning committee together, and put on your witch or wizard brainstorming hat, because it’s time for the adults to take back Halloween.
Let’s face it: the food and drink are often the highlights of a party. Make your fall gathering one to remember with these simple recipes for a grown-up soiree. Best of all, they can be made ahead, ensuring that you can enjoy your party as much as your guests will.
- ½ gal. apple cider
- 2 cups no-pulp orange juice
- ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 12 whole cloves
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Stir together all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 15 min. Discard the whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. Serve hot.
KOWALSKI’S CARAMEL CORN COOKIES
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- ¼ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ½ of 8 oz. pkg. caramel corn, chopped
- 1 cup smoked almonds, chopped
In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In electric mixer, beat butter with sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat just until well combined. Add dry ingredients; beat on low just until you no longer see flour. Fold in caramel corn and nuts. Drop 20 rounded spoonfuls 2” apart on parchment-lined baking sheets; flatten slightly with back of spoon. Bake pans one at a time in preheated 325˚ oven until barely set/slightly puffy (about 15 min.), rotating pan halfway through. Cool cookies on pan 2 min.; move to wire racks to cool completely.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 large onions, diced
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 3 carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 ½ cups crushed tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups lentils, soaked, rinsed, drained
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 7 cups chicken stock
- 1 sprig fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ tsp. paprika
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. In large stockpot, sauté onions in oil until they are glossy. Stir in garlic, paprika, celery, carrots and sauté 10 min.
2. Stir in tomatoes, chicken stock, lentils, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir well, add wine and bring to a boil. Slowly reduce heat and cook on low to medium until the lentils are tender (about 1 hr.).
3. Ladle soup into bowls; sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan before serving.
Décor styled by Amy Leferink of Interior Impressions
Food provided by Kowalski’s Markets
Floral design by Gary Paone of Kowalski’s Markets