Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tips and Tricks from Our Halloween Party

With the Frankenstorm raging on the east coast, we thought we'd give you a Frankenpost...are you ready for this?

Last night was our Halloween Party extravaganza. It turned out well and we had a lot of fun with our friends and family. When we decided to do this party we naturally started pinning ideas and recipes. We tried out pins, tweaked pins, got rid of pins, and then created some of our own ideas. We'd like to share some of those with you and some tricks and tips that we figured out along the way. 

The Original Pin
We were pretty excited about these. We had Sprite, clear Koolaid, and water as our party beverages so that the color change could be noticed. The night before the party Cameron and I set out all the cups on the counter and dropped in the food coloring. We tried for just one drop a cup (the instructions called for 2-3 drops, but that just seemed like more than necessary), but a few got 2-4. I figured that would be enough time to dry, and it was...for the red and the yellow. The blue and the green hadn't dried out yet by the time the party started. So lesson number one...prepare these cups probably at least 2 days in advance so the food coloring has time to dry out all the way
Then when the party started going, I got filling the cups with ice and people wanted to come help...but I knew they'd look in the cup and see a "dirty spot" and think the cup wasn't good so I finally just had to pick one or two people to help ice up cups so the surprise wasn't spoiled for everyone. With the ice in the cups, you can't see the food coloring spot on the bottom. We started to take drink orders and bring them their cup, but the drinks started changing color so fast that by the time we handed them the drink the color was already changing...so lesson number two: just ice the cups and let people pour their own drinks. We got the drinks served and watching everyone's reactions was fun. It was a hit with everyone, adults, college kids, teens, etc. 

The Original Pin
Witchs' broomsticks.
Our Version:
 Em followed the directions and very carefully tried to poke holes in the Reese's mini cups with a carving fork, but the cups kept splitting. So she got creative and just made small indentations and then stuck the pretzel sticks to the Reese's cups with orange frosting. In the end she added orange frosting to all of them because we liked the look of it better than just the plain broom. They're not identical to the original site, but we made them work and they were a hit. We probably could have warmed up the carving fork and it may have made better holes without breaking the Reese's, but this ended up working just fine. 

The Original Pin

These actually were really easy to make. Em got all the supplies listed on the site and put these cute cookies together. They came out just right. The most annoying part? Unwrapping all those kisses. 
Our Version:

The Original Pin:
One of our friends wanted to bring something, so we assigned them the skeleton veggie platter. 

Our Version:
This looks really cute until people dig in, then it just looks like an odd assortment of veggies. But...it was a huge hit...I've never seen a veggie tray eaten as fast as this one was. 

The Original Pin
I looked through page after page after page of myfoodlooksfunny.com and never did find this picture, but every link I've found online takes me to that site...so it's probably there somewhere. 

I know...this is gross...but it makes me laugh so hard.  
Our Version:

We just had to go off the picture for this one...but there really isn't much to explain. The instructions would go something like this. 
1. Carve a small pumpkin (pie pumpkins are the perfect size). 
2. Prepare/buy your favorite guacamole. 
3. Arrange so it looks like the pumpkin is vomiting the guac. 
Those are the steps we followed at least. My guacamole isn't normally very creamy or green...I like more chunky guac...so I tweaked my normal recipe for my family who likes creamy guac...but then it was pretty much white and red from the sour cream and tomatoes/salsa. So I added some green and yellow food coloring to help it out. 

The only tip I can really think of for this one is to choose your container wisely. I didn't really have a platter/dish that was quite the right size and shape, so the pumpkin head kept sinking into the guac as there was only room for it to sit on the edge. So the mouth was kinda hidden, lessening the vomitting look a little. A cake pan or cookie pan would have worked better (but by the time we were putting this together people were showing up, so we just left it at this). 

The Original Pin
Chicken Fingers
Chicken Lady Fingers with Romanian Romesco Dipping Sauce. Well..that's what the inspiration was. This one ended up being our most tweaked Pinterest inspired food item. First off...we didn't want to try and buy enough chicken to serve as many people as were coming...that was just going to be too much. So we nixed the chicken fingers and decided to go with bread sticks instead (this recipe was easy and super super yummy). Even though we changed the chicken to bread, we knew we wanted to try that sauce. Em bought the supplies and we put it together and it made about 1 cup of sauce. There was no way that was going to stretch to feed the crowd. It tasted yummy...but it just wasn't going to be enough. Not having enough supplies to make multiple more batches of the same sauce, we looked through the cupboards improvised. 

Our Version:
We ended up throwing in 2 cups of canned tomatoes (ours were whole and packed in water...but it didn't matter in the end because they got blended up), 4 oz. cream cheese, 1 TBS red pepper flakes, about 1 TBS minced onion, and about 1 1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning. We blended that up, warmed it up on the stove and served it hot with the bread sticks. Yum yum yum!

The Original Pin
Fall Cheese Ball
This cheese ball was easy and SOOOO YUMMY!!!! I think it was the first thing to completely disappear off the table. Just follow the directions and you're set to go. I can't think of anything I'd change with this or any tips that aren't given in the recipe. 

Our Version:
We served ours with the remaining chips and then Wheat Thins. 

The Original Pin
I have been DYING to try these out and they lived up to the weeks of anticipation. They were so yummy. I tried this with the Snickerdoodle recipe given on the site and with my cousin's Snickerdoodle recipe (which I love) and they both tasted the same, but they looked different. The cookies from my cousins recipe looked like the cookies in the picture above, but the cookies from the website I followed came out way more puffy. Neither was better or worse...they were just different in shape. 

Our Version:
I do have something to say about making these. If you're wanting a fast and easy cookie to make for a lot of people...this probably isn't the one you want to make. It is a little time consuming. I was glad when the filling ran out and I could quit the whole process. But...they were scrumptious and worth the work. I'm just warning you that these don't throw together fast and easy like sugar cookies or chocolate chip cookies. 

On the tier above the Snickerdoodles are mostly-regular brownies. I was one egg short of the 4 the recipe called for, so I substituted 1/4 c. of plain yogurt. The brownies stayed soft (and slightly gooey), but they tasted great!

The Original Pin
While looking for the marshmallows I thought we had (to make the party favors we didn't end up having time to make) I found a mostly full bag of dum-dums in the cupboard. I was just going to stick them in a bowl, but then we remembered a pin we'd seen and decided to make a dum-dum topiary. I rummaged through my craft supplies and found 1 Styrofoam ball and started stabbing the dum-dums in it. Well...I ran out of dum-dums before I ran out of Styrofoam ball. So I found a small bowl and we had a half topiary instead. 
Looking back I should have tied a ribbon around the top of the bowl and put a bow on it...but this served the purpose just fine.You'd think this would be a really easy thing to throw together, but it didn't take too long before I had a hard time stabbing the dum-dum sticks in and not hitting another sucker's stick. It took some work to get some of those in...I can't imagine how impossible it'd start to get near the end had I had enough dum-dums to fill the whole Styrofoam ball. So if you're going to make this...get 2 bags of dum-dums and be prepared for some frustration as you try to get all the sticks to align. 

Our decorations were a mix of pinspiraions, creations of our own, and items pulled from our own personal stashes. 

For the front porch:

The Original Pin
Our Version:

The hardest part? Getting the tea-lights lit. I didn't have one of the handy dandy furnace lighters...so we pinned 3 clothespins together, and stuck a match on the end. We then lit that match with another match (since there wasn't time to light the match, then stick it in the clothespin) and we lit the candles that way. We tried lighting the candles and sliding them down...but that didn't work. They looked really cute lit up on the porch. We had 10 of these all lit up (but I didn't think to get a picture once it got dark...we were too busy enjoying the party). 

Then I also pulled out these from my stash from last year's Halloween party:
My sister sent me a picture of these on Facebook last year and I put them together with shoes from the thrift store, spray glue, glitter, and stuffed stockings. I used a spatula to push the leg ends under the little crack so it would look like they really were sticking out from under the house. 

Decorations inside the house:
From bottom to top:
Bloody Candles: Pinspired Project.
Dried Corn: WalMart
Troll (by the corn): Gift from Cameron's brother from his time in Norway.
 Black and White Photos: Photos my Great-Grandfather (Em's Grandfather) took.
Quidditch Photo: Personal photo project
Boots: From a local thrift/antique/consignment store. 
Framed Leaf: Melted Crayon Project
Yucca Ball: DIY
Metal Kaleidoscope: Gift from a friend. 

Em had the white candles already, so we bought two red tapers and dripped the wax as they burned onto the white candles. From this idea: http://www.marthastewart.com/272746/creepy-candles

More detail on the boots. I saw these in the store for $10 and had to have them. They are WAY to small for my Sasquatch sized feet, but I knew they'd make a fun table decoration. 
From left to right...
Witch's wreath: DIY from last year 
Mummy head topiary and Ghost: DIY from last year 
Necktie Garland: DIY from last year
Leaves: Walmart. I put them in an orange vase we found in the house when we moved in. The vase is being held up in a bowl we got for our wedding by 4 dried ears of corn. 
Halloween Silhouettes hung on a ribbon with clothes pins: DIY from last year

And then over the food table I had this:
Inspired by: http://jenikaslensblog.com/anatomy-of-a-halloween-party

A Batmobile...bahahaha, I'm so punny. I used bats from last year's porch decorations and 3 different sizes of embroidery hoops to make this bat chandelier/mobile. It cast some fun shadows at night with the light on. 

And then finally...our costumes. We were both pretty excited about our costumes. We kept them a secret from each other...it made it more exciting to not know (and mine had to be a secret or it just wouldn't have been as effective...you'll see). Last year I set up my photo booth, but the room we set it up in still smells slightly of mouse death...so we opted out of the booth and just took pictures in front of a small blank wall. Not as pretty of pictures, but hey...who cares? We don't need pretty photo booth pictures to remember how much fun we had. 
 Emilee and Chip as Tron and Quorra. I thought they did an EXCELLENT job at making their costumes. They looked super. The reflective tape they used looked awesome in the normal light, but the flash from the camera just really made it shine. 

 I made Cameron a Gentleman Pirate costume. I found the coat at a thrift store in town. It was a little torn up and plain, so I mended the tears, sewed on a collar, found awesome pirate buttons at one of the fabric shops in town and sewed them onto the sleeves, collar, and sides. I put together his pirate hat using this tutorial, and then made the sash from fabric from my scrap bag. He just wore the pants and shirt from last year's costume (tucking the troll tail in a pocket so it wouldn't show). Me? I was Emilee. And it was awesome. She had no idea. I told her I was going to be a pirate along with Cameron...had to throw her off somehow. We were hanging out one day and while she went to run some errands I raided her closet for clothes,jewelry, and the hair flower so I'd be authentic. I added the belt, the leggings, and even made a little hedgehog to go on my wrist in honor of Emilee's pet hedgehog. It took an entire can of red hair coloring to get my hair that color...but it was perfect. The look on Em's face when she realized I'd dressed up as her was hilarious. 

We had to get a picture of Em and I with her "normal hair", and not the black wig. 

So there you have it. Our Frankenpost of our Halloween Party. I hope some of our tips helped and that this helped give you ideas for any last minute party planning you're doing today! We sure had a great time and hope that you have a fun and safe Halloween. 


  1. So many great ideas! Makes me want to have a party next year! I pinned almost everything...lol. Glad you all had such a great time!

  2. next time you need to light something in a tall votive, light an uncooked spaghetti noodle!

  3. That looks so awesome :D And I love how you dressed up as Emilee!

  4. Looks like a blast! I second the use of an uncooked spaghetti noodle to light candles.

  5. You did a great job with everything! ~ Diane S.

  6. awesome! so fun to see so many projects at once. Makes me want to have a party next year!

  7. You better believe that I am making those mummy candle holders! I am having a small gathering at my house to hang out and give out candy and it felt a little strange to not have any decorations. I am operating on a budget of $0 this year, so a few decorations on the porch made of scavenged home materials will have to do.

  8. Love all the ideas! A thought on the Dum Dum topiary-cut the sticks a bit shorter then not as much of a problem inserting them.

  9. When I saw the "broomsticks" with orange frosting, my first thought was, "HOW did they get the pretzels through Reese's pieces AND cups?" I thought the frosting was Reese's pieces. Anyway, they look fun. I also did the skeleton veggie tray for a party this past weekend, altered a bit, but my friend hasn't shared her pictures yet, and I failed to take one myself. I ended up having another tray of veggies since there really wasn't enough on that skeleton to feed everyone at the party, even when we tried to beef him up a bit, haha.

  10. Great work! I'm impressed.

    One note on your guac. Guacamole does not have sour cream in it. So that's probably why yours doesn't have that really green vomit look.

    Try this recipe or something similar: http://www.avocado.org/recipe-details/view/31435/best-guacamole-ever

  11. I would rate this an overwhelming success! Way to go, girls :-)

  12. Looks like a fantastic party!
    I made a slightly different version of the mummy jars~ I love how they turned out! I used the battery operated tea-lights & they worked perfectly.

  13. To lit tealights you can use a spaghetti next time. It works! ;)

  14. i think the foodies are not so bad.... mines are more ugly....

  15. ^_^ My wife had us doing the witch's brooms for our party. After breaking a pretzel stick, I came to the realization of needing to poke a hole (I used a phillips-head screwdriver, which was just about the right diameter). Thing is, she missed the "mini" part, so we had regular Reeses Cups, yielding what look more like a janitor's broom. :-P People liked them, though.


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