1. Get baking, ‘Pinning’, or reading around the subject!
Even if you’re not having a party, you can still get into the spirit - and if you are and you need to plan a menu, it’s also great research for those guests who have an dietary requirements! Once you’ve decided on your theme (if you’re having one!) It’s also a great way to look for last minute ideas if you’re struggling to pull something together in time! – There are ideas for all levels of Halloween and time commitments! I've just started an 'Autumn Bucket List' which sounds strange - but having a plan to 'carve out' some time to do fun things is sometimes the only way you feel as though you're enjoying the seasons - life can so easily get in the way!
Shop displays are my fave! My absolute favourite are the Betty’s Tearooms (especially the ones in York) They always sell the cutest Halloween treats, (It’s all very British and they’re over 100 years old!) and I try and make it a personal mission to get there for Halloween. Failing that, you may find something on your doorstep - It may be a local coffee shop or pub who have decorated for the occasion!
If it’s something you love, it will show to your guests! If you pick a style or theme you like, it will mean a better focus for you, and as party planning and creating can be a timely exercise, you’ll enjoy the experience a lot more if you love what you’re working with. Putting in those extra hours and the fact you know the source material will make a better party for any other fans who will definitley appreciate the extra effort!
Don’t feel as though you have to buy all new stuff, especially if you’re changing up your theme every year! Some of our most effective props have been made from playing with paper, cutting and sticking! Whether it’s invitations with wax seals to get the party started in advance; party décor; games (see our tea leaf reading below); or quirky paper labels for your food. Keep it simple, don’t set your self up with a task that will mean that you’re not happy with the result. Something doesn’t have to be exclusively Halloween to add to the space. Just think about your favourite films and tv shows – they’re various items and colour palettes pulled together to give an overall effect – with a few effective details. Display simple things in interesting ways. Sweets in jars with unusual labels, old photographs cut out and displayed in existing frames; drinks you were going to supply anyway displayed on a ‘spooky bar’ or just simple cola and lemonade bottles given a facelift with simple shop-bought labels. It’s about using what you have, just as much as investing in your favourite new pieces, which brings us to our next tip…
Big or small. You don’t have to spend a fortune. Halloween is more mainstream than ever and so you can find items way more cheaply and easily than ever before. If there is something a little more pricey that you love, nobody wants to be the richest ghoul in the cemetery - if you can afford it make your Halloween heart happy! With the season lasting longer than ever, you’ll get a better return on your money! For us it’s usually investments in signs that we love (that will also look great in our kitchen where we bake our treats!) At the moment we have a lot of items up on walls so we can look at them all the time! We’ve also just decorated for the season. Our Autumn wreaths (which we made during our Halloween Crafternoon Tea event in October!) are permanently on our studio door!
This can prove fantastic inspiration for your party planning, as well as making the season seem like it’s lasting a little longer and giving you something to look forward to even months in advance! About three years ago we did the Witch Museum in Cornwall and we even hit up a Halloween market at a Pathology Museum in London (in a room with body parts on the shelves!) I made it a mission to seek out interesting places that were only a short journey away. What’s on your spooky bucket list?! Whitby – the UK seaside town famous for Dracula was on mine previously, and it's somewhere I've gone back to, I loved it so much! I had decided that I’d better suss out what was a little closer to home before investing in visiting a visit to a Transylvanian castle! Have a search, I bet you could find interesting places in your own town! It could even just be to your local amusement park – they often decorate and provide fireworks for the season – I so wanted to be a ride decorator!
7. Get people Involved!
Get your mates involved! - This doesn’t have to be a big thing, and it could also share the burden, after all - it's for them too! Whether it’s asking them to bring the booooze; providing them with little dressing up bits or having them be involved in party games – this will add structure to the party and if they don’t want to join in, then they don’t have to! Our Tea Leaf Reading game for our Wizard Party was just for a laugh – we provided a little menu of symbols and one person pretended to be the witch! It was such a simple idea, originally intended for pure décor, that proved really effective! (We still laugh about our resident witch and how her accent changed the more she drank!) Or if you're not a massive party person - whack on a classic Halloween movie and revolve your evening around that! Practical Magic and pumpkin pie? Hocus Pocus and Halloween candy? Go as big or small as you want!
Our favourite part of any party! keep it simple! If you’re confident, do a twist then you could make it your thing, but it’s so easy to become overwhelmed with all there is to do. Our menus involve super simple food done well (we like to think!) with a couple of seasonal variations. If there’s a recipe you’re excited to try go for it! If not, people will never complain if you’ve provided some basic, firm favourites. If ‘themed’ food is a little OTT for you, then paper labels are your best friend! Scones with jam & cream? Add some red food colouring and edible glitter and you’ve got yourself some ‘Philosopher’s Scones’, got some chocolate and green food colouring? Swirl the food colouring around the melted chocolate and place on a baking tray in the fridge and you’ve got ‘melted witches’. Breadsticks dipped in chocolate? – Nah, wands obviously!
After all that effort, you’re going to want to make the memories last! Create a makeshift photobooth with a few basic props or have a styled shoot to make photo gifts for your friends’ birthdays later in the year! You could also provide goody bags that incorporate any left over food! Breakfast cake anyone?! Everybody loves a party bag!