Candy? Costumes? Creepy stuff? What’s not to love? Halloween is no doubt one of your child’s (or yours?) favorite holidays. Why not make this year’s fright fest extra special, and well, spooky? Picture an old witchdoctor’s laboratory with apothecary jars filled with unicorn horn dust, toadstool clippings, and werewolf fur. Think pumpkins painted black and glowing-in-the-dark. Candles burning, skulls churning in giant glass domes, and mean-looking crows perched carefully on old bones. Yes, Swoon Soirees‘ Brenda Wilson knows how to put on a bewitchingly good party. Here, she spills all the gory details on how to throw an unforgettably freaky fete.
The Big Picture
Grand Entrance: Hang a distressed gauze cloth over the doorway and as guests near, have a soundtrack of the worst Halloween noises playing. Add a fog machine for the perfect amount of drama when the curtain is pulled back.
Dinner Delight: At dinner, greet each guest with a little black box on their plate. Inside the box? A witch’s severed finger wearing a gothic skull ring (party favor, anyone?). Try drinking goblets made from a skeleton hand gripping a champagne flute filled with a magical, yet poisonous, concoction made from the breath of a dragon (and red Snapple!). Add spider web chargers atop a dusty grey gauzey tablecloth, and use black plates with cooper webbing, and black utensils to complete the look.
Lighting is Key: Put candles of different heights everywhere. Glue glow sticks into thin, black witches’ hats and then suspend them like chandeliers floating over the dining table and buffet.
Movie Magic: For entertainment, have the old original black and white 1931 Frankenstein film playing in the background. How hauntingly perfect!
Buffet Backdrop: Print out scary themed images from from Swoon Soirees’ Halloween Screams Pinterest board in black-and-white.
Frame it: Hit up Ikea for inexpensive wooden black frames in myriad of sizes.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Print a particularly creepy image, like a skeleton, on a clear sticker sheet, cut out, and stick onto an ornate black frame. Make this your focal point on the buffet table backdrop.
Spell Books: Every witch’s lair should have them. Simply print some creepy book bindings on A3 or A4 paper. Soak a few of your favorite black tea bags in about 1/4 cup very hot water. Let cool. Using the tea bag as a paint brush, rub the bag all over the paper. It will probably break. Good! More black tea leaves to rub around your very wet paper. If you want it darker in certain places, like the binding, get a fresh tea bag and repeat. Let the paper dry overnight and be amazed how great it looks in the morning.
Black Pumpkins: There is nothing magic here. Just paint them black! If you live in Hong Kong, buy your pumpkins on October 22nd at the HKIS Pumpkin Festival in Tai Tam. (Don’t buy them too early as they don’t last!) The craft store at 68-76 Hennessy Road stocks black paint.
Filling Apothecary Jars: Oh, this is the fun part. Ever wonder what to do with all that excellent (and super smelly) dried stuff you see in wet markets in Wan Chai? Now you know! Apothecary jars can be sourced from several vendors in the Flower Market, Prince Edward MTR, Hong Kong.
Fingers, Frogs, Snakes, and Other Slithering Stuff: Take a quick trip over to Pottinger Street for fun party props. You’ll find a bag of severed fingers, witch hats, rubber rats, snakes, and assorted other body parts ideal for creating just the right amount of gross.
Floating Witches Hats: 1) Tie a long piece of fishing line to a medium size kid’s necklace bead. Put the bead inside the hat then pull the fishing line through the tip of the hat. 2) Hot glue an extra large / long glow stick inside the tip of the hat. Using the fishing line, suspend several hats over your door, dining room table, buffet tables, etc by taping the line to the ceiling. 3) Crack the glow stick moments before your event to maximize its glow time. Tip: try to find the cheapest, thinnest hats to maximize the glow through the material.
Realistic Skulls: Available on AliExpress — but buyer beware! Shipping is often unreliable. Don’t wait until last minute to order them.
Create Vignettes: Unless you have an unlimited budget, focus your decorating efforts in concentrated areas. Create mini vignettes with old suitcases, candles (H&M has a great collection of black candles right now), old jars or wine bottles, old sheets or black fabric from Sham Shui Po that you can rip up and drape across lamps, end tables, etc. Create a centerpiece for your dining table by collecting a few dead tree branches and crumbled leaves, add a few black pumpkins in different sizes, and a couple of candles. Bam! You have just mastered the art of the vignette.
Brenda Wilson is an event stylist and the founder of Swoon Soirees — an online boutique where you can find stylish partyware for the modern hostess, including Halloween tableware and all of your party needs.