It seems like there are generally two kinds of Halloween parties — the ones for children, that are all too family-friendly, or a high intensity, no-holds-barred party with naughty costumes. We can’t do either now, thanks to COVID-19, but we’re in love with a new option: the sophisticated Halloween dinner party.
It’s way more elegant and classier than the other Halloween options out there — gone are the days of fake spider webs and dry ice. You can do a spooky theme if you still want people to dress up, or the food itself can have a theme.
1. Pick a theme
You can opt for anything from vampire themed (thinks lots of crimson shades and blood-inspired touches…bloody chocolate fountain, anyone?) to goth or tarot cards. You can even do a movie theme, like Annabelle or another homage. Frankenstein is also a popular choice.
2. Details, details, details
Choose a date and time. Unless Halloween is on a weekend, make sure to check in with people beforehand. You might not be able to throw it on actual Halloween, so find a time that works for everyone. If activities are going to be happening along with dinner, start the event on the earlier side. Decide if you want to casually invite people, or create invitations to send out.
3. Think up those entrees, but think small
Get creative with food. Everyone knows the classic Pinterest Halloween tricks like “dirt” cupcakes or hot dog mummies, but if you want to elevate your dining experience, stick with. A range of appetizers or small plates. You can also do a massive charcuterie spread, so people can graze on a range of cheese, meats, fruit, crackers, and whatever else you can conjure up. A Halloween themed charcuterie board sounds amazing, to be awesome.
4. Host a brunch instead
Even though we’re suggesting a dinner party, there’s no rules against having a brunch party instead. After all, October and autumn generally were practically made for brunch — pumpkin spice pancakes, apple strudel, hot spiced cider, and champagne cocktails…we’re already dreaming about it.
5. Plate well, and practice
You can add decorative skulls to plates like ribs and other tiny touches on the dishes that make the guests smile or shudder. You can also frost a cake with black icing and do a bloody drip down the side, or frost on cobwebs and add little fake spiders. Always do a trial run of recipes you haven’t tried before, because you don’t want the day of the party to end up looking like an episode of “Nailed It!” There’s also no shame in pre-made food — we all have lives to tend to! You can also suggest potluck style.
6. Add some games into the mix
Don’t try all of these — maybe a maximum of two or three. Murder mystery challenges are loved by many, as are escape rooms. You can also hire a tarot card reader (or ask a willing friend) or recreate an episode of Fear Factor with creepy Crawley (but safe) challenges. And of course, there’s nothing more classic than a costume contest, if that’s the route you’re going.
7. Creepy cocktails are key
Don’t get afraid to play around with spooky cocktails, and try to buy skull-shaped cocktail picks, or something similar if possible. This Blackberry Thyme Prosecco Fizz blends a deep blackberry syrup with a blackberry and thyme skewer. Lastly, if you want a really bloody look, the blood orange margarita is easy and has the perfect aesthetic. You can even serve drinks in vials or test tubes.
8. Get chic with place settings and decor
Stay away from Fall cliches like orange pumpkins everywhere. Spook up your every-day pumpkins with white paint instead or another minimalist color, making expressions out of the orange negative space. Going for a white minimalist look in both place setting and decor can have a very sophisticated effect. Think all handwritten calligraphy on cards, white cobwebs, bare branches, skulls, and candles.
9. Keep the menu short
We really do believe in the small plates rule, and keeping a variety of foods available, so vegetarians, vegans, and meat lovers all have something to graze on. Instead of super elaborate dishes or crowding your menu, get imaginative with spicing up classics, or serving appetizers. If you’ve invited over a small group, you can prep each dish perfectly without feeling overwhelmed.