How to....LifestyleRecipes

How to….throw a Halloween party

Children and silhouettes in the woodsRegular readers will know that Natasha and I are big fans of Halloween. Although, this wasn’t always the case. When I was growing up, Halloween just wasn’t a thing. Scary movies, yes. Parties, trick’or’treating and costumes? Not so much. That was for our cousins over the pond. Nor was it big whilst I was at uni (geeez, I must be old…). In fact, I think I can speak for both of us in saying that it wasn’t until the pitter patter of tiny feet arrived on the scene that the sheer fun of the whole occasion became apparent. And now, well, we’re completely raving Halloween bonkers mad and are desperate to turn our pads into haunted houses for one night only. If were to throw a Halloween party (and unfortunately, I can’t this year) this is how I’d do it…

The Pumpkins

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Come on….who doesn’t love a nattily carved pumpkin? And quite frankly, Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without one. While I am no expert when it comes to carving, I know a woman who is. For a quite frankly jaw dropping guide to pumpkin carving, check out Martha Stewart’s guide. I tell you, the woman is a genius….

I think this is a brilliant idea. Cut shapes out of black card and position them in front of a candle inside your pumpkin. Beautifully spooky.

I think this is a brilliant idea. Cut shapes out of black card and position them in front of a candle inside your pumpkin. Beautifully spooky.

Fancy a go carving one like this?

Fancy a go carving one like this?

Of course, you obviously won’t want to waste all those juicy pumpkin innards. If you have time on your hands (and I know that pumpkin carving, house decorating, costume buying is a serious commitment) then how about making Jamie Oliver’s pumpkin and ginger soup or Ottolenghi’s delicious sounding pumpkin, saffron and orange soup? Or Nigel Slater’s lentil and pumpkin stew? Followed up with a slice of Nigella’s pumpkin pie?

The Decorations

pottery barn halloween garland

Give me any excuse to decorate and I’ll grab it. Halloween is quite clearly the only time of year when spider webs sitting in the corner and bats fluttering around your ceiling are remotely acceptable. So, go all out. I’m loving these so-easy-even-I-can-master-it Halloween balloons. Just grab a sharpie and draw on a face OR if you want to be even more creative, take a leaf out of my current obsession Martha Stewart’s book (she really is the Queen of the ‘Ween) and throw a glow stick into the balloon before blowing it up. Spoooooky!

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I love these home-made mini spider votives. Just scoop out a mini pumpkin, use pipe cleaners for the legs, add a tealight and voila! Alternatively, grab a pair of scissors and some black card and cut out bat shapes to hang in doorways or the corners of your room.

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These ghostly jars are hilarious. Just wrap old jam/pickle/food jars with loo roll, stick on a pair of googly eyes and a light a candle inside...

These ghostly jars are hilarious. Just wrap old jam/pickle/food jars with loo roll, stick on a pair of googly eyes and a light a candle inside…

Rip up cheesecloth, throw over your mantelpiece or side table and add plastic spiders for effect...

Rip up cheesecloth, throw over your mantelpiece or side table and add plastic spiders for effect…

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Plastic spiders, £3.50 for 50, Edamay; Spider tealight holder, £3.50, John Lewis;Halloween lights, £5.99, Lights4Fun at Amazon.co.uk

Decorations (part 2)

Of course, you might not want your house to resemble an explosion in a pumpkin factory. If you’re planning an adult party and would prefer a more sophisticated look, then how about going all Beetlejuice and following a monochrome theme?

Spook up a vase of white roses by sprinkling some creepy crawlies all over them.

Spook up a vase of white roses by sprinkling some creepy crawlies all over them.

Just wrap some black lace trimming around a small votive for a beautiful Halloween candle.

Just wrap some black lace trimming around a small votive for a beautiful Halloween candle.

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Noir candle £35, The White Company (I love this, it smells divine); Silver skull candle, £3, Asda; Set of 30 straws, £3.60. Notonthehighstreet.com;

Halloween Food

Halloween table page 20 - credit David Loftus 2012

On first thoughts Halloween party food is all about sugar highs. But, with a little imagination there’s plenty of other tasty treats you can make. How about these brilliant burgers? Or these super-healthy banana witches and satsuma pumpkins? Then there’s these almost too realistic Witches’ Fingers. If you are after a sugar high then try making Kirsty Allsopp’s fabulous skeleton-shaped chocolate biscuits…Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a little cupcake every now and then. These gingerbread tombstone cupcakes from Lily Vanilli look particularly delicious. And, if you don’t feel like making them, you could always buy this giftbox from The Hummingbird Bakery.

Witches' fingers with almond nails

Witches’ fingers with almond nails

Easy peasy Halloween cheeseburgers

Easy peasy Halloween cheeseburgers

Mini ice cream cones create the perfect witches' hats.

Mini ice cream cones create the perfect witches’ hats.

Ghostly chocolate cupcakes

Ghostly chocolate cupcakes

I'm loving this healthy alternative to all that chocolate and cake. These banana ghosts and satsuma pumpkins are so sweet, they might even convince the fussiest child to eat them.

I’m loving these healthy alternatives to all that chocolate and cake. These banana ghosts and satsuma pumpkins are so sweet, they might even convince the fussiest child to eat them.

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Halloween cake pop making kit, £17.99, Notonthehighstreet.com; Halloween paper plates, £1.50 (for 8), M&S; Party tableware (for 12), £12.95, Little Baby Company

Halloween Cocktails

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Whether you’re throwing a children’s party or an adult’s one, you’ll be pretty much guaranteed to need a drink by the end of it.  Harvey Nichols’ Fifth Floor Bar has created a series of Halloween themed cocktails such as Haunted Ghosts, made with banana, vanilla and chocolate liqueur mixed with a splash of cointreau and lemon juice. Or try Vampire Kiss, made with Havana Blanco, lime juice, sugar and pomegranate. Pop along for a drink or mix one up at home….

Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without something to wear. Check back tomorrow for Natasha’s round-up of the best Halloween fashion (we promise it won’t give your guests too much of a fright…)

IMAGES: Tim Walker; Apartment Therapy; Martha Stewart; David Loftus; Sainsbury’s; Harvey Nichols

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