Pump'kin up the volume.
One Halloween a few years ago my husband drew loud laughs when he opened the door to give out candy to trick-or-treaters. He was wearing a white turtleneck and brown corduroy slacks - nothing that stood out, really, until he flashed a wide smile complete with Austin Powers fake teeth.
"Yeah baby yeah."
Even without Powers' signature black glasses, the get-up worked every time.
Costumes can be like that: simple, but evocative of whom you're going for. One year I floored my mom by dressing up as Miss Piggy for a Halloween party. I came around the corner in a dress and high heels, my blonde hair crimped, a feather boa around my neck and a pink pig nose I'd crafted from an egg carton cup.
She still talks about that costume. To which I say, "Who, moi?"
Some costume trends this year, according to Value Village's annual national Halloween survey, include Lady Gaga for fans of celebrity and Prince George, son of Prince William and Kate Middleton, for fans of celebrity children. Movie favorite "Frozen" is bound to inspire plenty of young girls, as is "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" for boys. And with Halloween fast becoming a home-dcor favorite - more than 50 percent of Americans plan to decorate their homes for Halloween, the survey finds - why not deck your halls with some ghostly, ghastly spirit?
Even more enticing: Halloween is on a Friday this year, with a full weekend following it, giving us plenty of time to plan for all manner of All Hallows' Eve fun.
Whether you dress up to greet trick-or-treaters, plan to decorate your yard in spooky finery or throw a themed party, we've got your gourds in this all-Halloween issue of Weekend, oozing with party and costume ideas, fun crafts, tasty recipes and lots of things to do locally, including dancing with zombies.
As for my costume this year? I'm still working on it.
Follow Christine Sherk on Twitter @CSherkRG. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Smartphone app for ... Halloween
Ghost Locator - Flip on the radar and find spirits seemingly all around you! Touch the ghost and see when it died and how. The technology is "based on a detection method dating back to the Middle Ages," presumably before Wi-Fi was readily available. iOS, free, www.smyapps.com.
- Rob Romig
Scare up party-themed fun
This party theme is intended to work with a mix of adults and younger children.
Theme: Traditional Halloween with a bit of the eclectic thrown in.
Colors: Orange and black are the new orange and black, of course.
Decorations: Pumpkins, witch hats and bats, oh my. From outside to inside, these classic motifs allow for decorating creativity.
Line the driveway with easy-to-make luminaries out of brown paper bags with cut or punched jack-o-lanterns or bats, or line the porch with several pumpkins scooped out, drilled with holes and then set with lit candles for another luminary effect. (For more ideas on how to craft luminaries, go to Page G6.)
Inside, sprinkle glittery pumpkins, witch hats and bats on the table with traditional orange and black party supplies.
Hang an artful arrangement of bats or witch hats from black threads or festive ribbons of varying length above the table (find an easy paper witch hat pattern at firstpalette.com; for bats, listotic.com).
Also, fill a few witches' cauldrons with wrapped candies or other treats with baggies beside so guests can bag up treats to take home.
Costumes: Anything goes at The Classic - anything that's kid appropriate. Consider book characters (think "Harry Potter" or "The Wizard of Oz"), super heroes, fairy tale princesses and Halloween classics such as ghosts, witches and zombies.
Food: Decide whether you want to serve guests a meal or only snacks, or a mix of both.
If leaning toward serving a meal, cook up a big pot of chili on the stovetop and serve with cornbread cut in the shape of witch hats, bats or ghosts, or serve spaghetti and meatballs (with black or green olive eyeballs, of course) for spooky, tasty fun.
Classic Halloween party treats on the savory side include seasoned popcorn, roasted pumpkin seeds, pretzel mixes, mummy hotdogs and dead finger sandwiches. Classics on the sweet side are cupcakes (these can be decorated with frosting to look like brains, or topped with witch hats made from muffin liners - see cakeblog.com), popcorn balls and caramel apples. For no-bake cookies, consider Witches' Hats (southernliving.com), which are simply fudge-stripped shortbread cookies topped with a Hershey's Chocolate Kiss and "tied" with an orange frosting bow. Drinks: Nonalcoholic classics include mulled cider and fruit punch (a mix of apple and cranberry juice with ginger ale). For something richer and fun try Witch Potion Shakes (ladybehindthecurtain.com), which mix orange sherbert and vanilla ice cream with blueberries and blackberries. Or try Candy Corn Halloween Drink, which looks just like it sounds (fastdrinkrecipes.com). Games/Activities: Plan to do a handful of these. Bobbing for Apples Hanging Doughnuts (this one is great for little kids) Do the Limbo - under a witch's broomstick Pin the Wart on the Witch's Nose
Pass the Pumpkin (use mini pumpkins for this; in relay style, team members have to pass the pumpkin tucked under their chin to their partner without using their hands and without dropping the pumpkin)
Mummy Wrap (the team that wraps its designated mummy up fastest with a roll of toilet paper wins)
Musical Witch's Hat (like musical chairs but participants pass around a witch hat instead)
Tell some ghost stories (not too spooky, however)
These party ideas are intended for adults only.
Theme: Sophisticated and metropolitan are the buzzwords for this party idea. Think worldliness. Think glamour and elegance.
Colors: Black and red - black is the ultimate sophisticated color with red its complement.
Decorations: The tone here is really more glamorous than anything, but there is a hint of creep, too.
Set a creepy mood by putting fake bloody handprints on windows at the front door (online recipes mix Elmer's glue and red food coloring to great effect).
Place bunches of black roses in red vases and surround them with a mix of silvery glitter and fake black spiders.
Hang a black spider over the main entryway, much like a mistletoe at Christmas, for guests to make of it what they will.
Cover white pumpkins with black lace tied at the top with red ribbon or paint pumpkins black and red.
Make bloody candles by dripping the hot wax of red candles to run down white or black candles (how-tos at marthastewart.com, among others)
Costumes: Anything goes at The Cosmopolitan as long as its classy and dressy, with styles such as Old Hollywood or Roaring '20s, for example. Or go for a more modern cosmopolitan look la "Mad Men" or "Sex in the City." Local vintage and thrift shops, such as Value Village and St. Vincent de Paul, are great stops for putting together a chic ensemble or for gently used and/or new costumes. Nobody's Baby in Eugene also rents all kinds of costumes (nobodysbaby.com).
For women, consider dressing up a fun gown with lacy gloves up to the elbows for a faux ballroom look. Don a long-hair wig (they come in all colors, including black, at Scream on River Road, for example) and fake eyelashes. Or dye your hair any color with temporary spray-on dyes.
Guys can wear dark suits with colorful accessories, such as bow ties or cravats; think "The Great Gatsby" or even steampunk could work.
Masquerade masks would add an air of mystery to an elegant costume.
Food: A mix of appetizers would work well here. On the savory side, consider making Mummy Baked Brie (babble.com), Spooky Spider Deviled Eggs (deliciousasitlooks.com) or Shrimp Cocktail with Green Goblin Dressing (myrecipes.com). For sweets, red velvet cupcakes are a natural, or try something a bit more fancy such as the Vamp Attack Halloween Cake (butterheartssugar.blogspot.com.au), which oozes red blood raspberryness.
Drinks: Spook up an assortment of nonalcoholic beverages with spider ice cubes simply by dropping small plastic spiders in the ice cube tray before filling them up to freeze. For alcoholic drinks, the signature drink for this party should be Cosmopolitans, what else? Other fun drinks to consider are the Black Widow Cocktail (liquor.com), Dragon's Blood Punch (barnonedrinks.com), the Black Cat (food.com) or Bloody Marys.
Games/Activities: Adults play games, too. Some fun ideas are Black Cat Got Your Tongue , Truth or Dare, or Halloween Movie and TV Trivia (check out ghoulfriday.com for a list of trivia questions). Or, with quite a bit of preplanning, roll out a "Whodunit?" mystery for guests to solve.
The Nerdy Hipster
These party ideas are intended for a mix of teens and adults.
Theme: Celebrate your inner geek. Everything from science fiction to cosplay works here.
Colors: Orange and blue - because orange screams Halloween and blue is the color of Dr. Who's time machine, TARDIS, don't you know?
Decorations: Even though it's Halloween, dcor for this party easily can transcend the holiday.
Paint pumpkins with super hero logos; or carve out math formulas or periodic table elements; for a more traditional pumpkin, carve faces with toothy grins and anchor nerdy glasses on carrot noses (buzzfeed.com).
Hang a garland of flash cards along the mantel or in long rows from the entryway so guests pass through them on the way in.
Place stacks of old books in artful arrangements throughout the party area and wrap with orange Halloween lights. Or strew a few Rubik's cubes on the food table. Everyone gets glow sticks, too. The perfect candle? Try a hand-sculpted brain candle (thinkgeek.com) to set the brainiac mood.
Costumes: Anything goes at The Nerdy Hipster as long as everyone's thinking smartly and imaginatively. Think book characters, campy TV shows, movies, comic book heroes and math and science heroes. Think Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" or "Austin Powers." Even the clichd school geek, complete with suspenders, bow tie and pocket calculator, would work well.
Food: Teens love to snack, so a mix of finger foods, chips and dips and sweets would please most grazers. Keep it simple and easy to refill.
Include a traditional veggie plate with a scooped out mini pumpkin in the center filled with dip, or make a cracker graveyard, with crackers lined up in rows in a tasty bean dip. Other party stand-bys are deviled eggs, seasoned popcorn, pretzels.
For sweets, decorate sugar cookies in the shapes of test tubes and beakers, or in the shape of a book with favorite titles. Your teens can help you make up a plate of candy sushi, which is all the rage, or make Jell-O cubes to add fun color and to ensure silliness.
Drinks: "Mocktails" will satisfy both teens, who won't be having alcohol, and adults, who can add a splash of liquor if desired. Mix up a batch of Witch's Brew Mocktail (wilton.com), or Bloody Apple Cranberry Cocktails (offbeatbride.com) or Halloween Candy Corn Punch (celebrations.com).
Games/Activities: Hang a geek-themed pi[+ or -]ata and give the teens plenty of room to whack away. Set up the classic Dr. Gross' Lab (parentingteens.about.com), with teens having to dip their hands into covered boxes to guess what's inside (cold spaghetti, pudding, peeled grapes, ewww - you get the idea). Break out group party games such as Twister, Scattergories or Trivial Pursuit. Or play the parlor game Fictionary - all you need is a dictionary and creative thinking to bluff on word definitions. Later in the evening, set the mood with creepy music and dimmed lights to tell ghost stories (for teens, the spookier, the better).
- Christine Sherk
Blogs that go boo
Here is a sampling of some Halloween-related blogs and sites, with inspiring themes and content:
Pumpkinrot: pumpkinrot.blogspot.com; this engaging blog features vintage-like photography, plenty of Halloween-related fun, including spooky props and horror film recommendations.
LollyJane: lollyjane.com; features Halloween food and craft ideas, with tutorials, appropriate for young kids, perfect for younger-set parties.
My Ghoul Friday: ghoulfriday.com; Canada-based blogger's "Art Ghoullery" has lots of how-to projects, tutorials and party planning tips complete with themes for adult parties.
Tatertots and Jello: tatertotsandjello.com; includes tips for decorating your porch and for creating a haunted house; with lots of party ideas under the umbrella of do-it-yourself decorating and crafts.
Scary for Kids: scaryforkids.com; features scary stories and scary games just right for all ages.
Emma Rae's Halloween: emmaraeshalloween.com; this blogger is all about costumes, providing ideas for individuals and for couples.
- Christine Sherk