Tag Archives: Halloween

The Making of an Elegant Halloween

Elegant Halloween

The easy way to make your Halloween Party an elegant event.

If you know anything about me, you know that I love this time of year.  It’s the best season for home entertaining.  The absolute best time to have parties – as many as you like!  And, the first party of the season is always Halloween.

Halloween parties come in all sizes and shapes.  A friend of mine is a film art professional.  He, his wife and their grown kids get together and turn the family home into the perfect haunted house complete with strobe lights, sound effects, props of all kinds and huge dry ice fog pumps that lay an entire blanket of “fog” over the back yard.

In Southern California we have a lot of theater and film people, so the costumes can get quite elaborate.  Last year, another friend of mine went to a costume party as the Headless Horseman – complete with a horse!  And, another friend (a professional body builder) came to the same party as a very convincing Captain America.

I always aim for elegant sophistication for my parties – large or small – casual or formal – and this goes for Halloween as well.  After 20 plus years as a restauranteur, I always have a plan – lists and everything on my calendar – but the point of any party to is to have fun so I make sure there’s plenty of that! For instance, a Halloween party is the perfect excuse for adults to dress up like crazy.  If you want a costume party, pick a theme – favorite cartoon characters, TV characters from your favorite TV show, et cetera. Keep the focus on the fun.

Think about the drinks you can serve.  A great Halloween “welcome” cocktail is a Black Widow – mix black vodka (yes there is such a thing) and cranberry juice over a large ice cube in a highball glass and have them at the door so that when guests arrive the party gets started immediately!

Plan the décor and keep it elegant. The best way to do that is to keep it simple and consistent.  Black is a great background for any pop of color – think orange or “old gold”-  and it’s perfect for the holiday!  I use black chargers, black metal candlesticks with black candles, and silky gold napkins.

Don’t forget your centerpiece for your table whether it’s buffet or plated dinner.  Find black twig pumpkins, dark colored vines, maybe even some real pumpkins (small and in different colors) and column candles (these can be black or white) in different sizes.  Add in a skull or two and you have your “set.”  Just remember that some electronic props – you know, like the ones that laugh hysterically if you get close – will get VERY old as the evening progresses.

Keep it simple, keep it black with pops of color, and have fun!

7 Best Places to Pick Pumpkins for Halloween!

photo-jocelyn-maloney_pumpkin_1b

America’s Best Pumpkin Patches

For many of us Halloween means carving pumpkins.  But the problem starts with where do you find the absolute BEST, most perfect pumpkin ever to showcase your carving talents?  Here are my 7 best suggestions across the country to help you find the pumpkin of your dreams.

  • Didier Farms, Lincolnshire, IL. You will find not only pumpkins at this pumpkin farm but also snacks and activities for the whole family.  This farm is just outside of Chicago and they host an annual Pumpkinfest with hayrides, kettle corn and tons of other fun stuff to do.
  • Tanaka Farms, Irvine, CA. This is 30 acres of pumpkin paradise!  You actually choose your pumpkin while it’s still on the vine!  Just for fun, they have a “pumpkin cannon” on the weekends!
  • Bob’s Corn and Pumpkin Farm, Snohomish, WA. Besides a 30 acre pumpkin patch (with over 50 (!) kinds of pumpkins) they have a 10 acre corn maze.  I’m not sure I’d want to get lost in 10 acres of corn but they do have fire pits inside the maze so it must be fun!
  • Apple Dave’s Orchards, Warwick, NY. This pumpkin patch just north of New York City isn’t just for pumpkins.  They have 10 different varieties of apples along with the pumpkins in their fields.  It’s also a winery so you can take some wine home to help you with all that pumpkin carving into the night.
  • G&M Farms, Livermore, CA. Located in the East Bay of Northern California G&M has a famous corn maze that stretches over 6 acres.  If you make it through the maze you can pick your pumpkins!
  • Boston Hill Farm, North Andover, MA. Boston Hill Farm offers not only pumpkins but apples as well.  If you get there on a weekend they also have ribs and ice cream.
  • Middleton’s Cedar Hill Farm, Waldorf, MD. Close to Washington DC – in order to reach the pumpkin patch here you take a 30 minute hayride.

So, no matter where you find your perfect pumpkin, don’t forget to toast those pumpkin seeds for the best snack all year!!

Let’s Talk About Halloween!

Pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin!!

Halloween is not just for kids!

Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays (just after Chanukah – presents – duh!). It’s been that way since I’ve been old enough to go Trick or Treating.  Oddly, even though I’m not a sweets person per se, I can’t get enough of the miniature candy that shows up this time of year.  Almost any type of candy, I’ll even eat black licorice. Incidentally, if it’s licorice, I always prefer Red Vines, in case anyone is curious.

I went Trick or Treating all the way through my High School years.  There’s nothing like a pillow case with holes cut into it (you gotta be able to see!) for a quick costume solution. I can’t say that I’ve been Trick or Treating since those High School days but I do love a good Halloween party and it’s that time of year again!  There’s a couple of rules that need to be followed if you’re going to plan one too.

The very first thing you have to decide is what kind of party are you having.  Every other rule follows from this one decision.  Is it a party for friends with children and everyone is going out to Trick or Treat together afterwards or is it just for the adults?  Just know that if you want to have an adult party on Halloween and the friends you are inviting have children that will be going out Trick or Treating – they probably won’t be coming because they have to take their kids out!

So here are my rules for a successful Halloween party with the kids:

  1. It has to start early enough for everyone to get to your house, eat something and still get out into the neighborhood before it gets dark. Little ones get scared and they have bed times! Or at least at my house they did.
  1. Always make the food easy. You could do potluck but, if you’re like me at all and a bit of a control freak then – NOT!
  1. Do bulk food – you know the kind that basically is easy to serve like a big pot of Chili on the stove with all of the fixings on the counter for everyone to help themselves, or a big platter of deli sandwiches and salads. Something quick and easy to eat.  Definitely nothing that requires plating and sitting around a big table.  The whole point is to get SOMETHING into the kids’ tummies before they are faced with all of that inviting candy.
  1. Use paper plates, cups, etc. You want to have fun too.  No cleanup is seriously the only way to go here.

And here are my rules for a successful Halloween party for adults:

  1. The best day to have an adult Halloween party is the Saturday BEFORE Halloween – for a couple of reasons. For one thing, nobody is excited for Halloween AFTER Halloween – only before! You can set up on Friday, party on Saturday, break down and recover on Sunday. Even if the adults that are invited have children they won’t need to take them Trick or Treating on the Saturday BEFORE Halloween.
  1. There are so many places to find ideas for really cool food for Halloween. Look to Pinterest first.  You will find a lot of fun and easy recipes for finger food in particular.  One of the funniest I saw was a take on Pigs in a Blanket – still using hotdogs and crescent rolls but in a very clever way.
  1. Be VERY CAREFUL if you’re planning on using dry ice for anything (it’s the usual way to get “smoke” on a drink). Dry ice – which is much colder at -109.3 F than regular ice – can cause serious burns due to frostbite if you don’t handle it properly with insulated gloves.  I’m not using any dry ice in any drinks I make.
  1. Find fun things to put in your drinks – I went to Amazon and found “eyeball” ice cubes. They’re shaped and look like bloodshot eyes that you can freeze and then use as “ice” in your drinks.
  1. To Theme or Not To Theme – That is the question! Themes and costumes are fun but just know that you may get a few people that won’t come because they don’t want to “dress up” (sad but true) and even some who will come but show up in street clothes for the same reason. NOT FUN!!  There are so many themes – some of my favorites are: Your favorite ghost – TV or otherwise, dead celebrities, a character that starts with the first letter of your first name, movie monsters, etc.

So the question is, what are you doing for Halloween and will it be as fun as you want it to be?