Hosting an Adult Halloween Dinner Party

Studio 5 Party, Holiday and Ideas Contributor Alisa Bangerter shares ideas.

Setting the theme and creating the atmosphere for this party is essential. An overall classy vintage – yet old and creepy feel is important. Decorate using a color scheme that includes black, shades of white, grey and silver. You could add an accent color if desired such as deep plum, olive green or deep rust. Avoid bright “cutesy” colors. A motif carried through the party from invitations to favors is also good. Choose a damask pattern, a chandelier motif and/or monograms. Avoid gory with this party – just add a few creepy or spooky items.

The following are specific ideas for this theme party:

• Create invitations on a computer or by hand. Make the invitation be very formal and use old language and script fonts. Distress and age the invitation if desired using tea, dye sprays, ink, chalk, etc. Use stamps or Photoshop electronic type brushes to add cool embellishments or use old sheet music, book pages, vintage letters, etc to create a background. Use the same image for place cards, tags, favors, or on the menu. Fold or roll invite and wrap with a ribbon and attach a crystal, prism, rhinestone, etc.

A link to a free downloadable vintage looking background is:

Some sources for my favorite chandelier images/stamps: (Tim Holtz chandelier stamp) (chandelier stamp) (chandelier stamps) (chandelier electronic brushes)

• Ask guests to come dressed in colors to match your party or in period costumes.

• Create a backdrop for a wall in your home or behind a window using an enlarged photo (check with your local copy center). Take a photo of an old home, cemetery, forest, etc. or purchase a stock image online. Change image to black and white if needed and enlarge. Hang from your wall or behind a window so it creates a realistic setting.

• Place spider webbing and white bed sheets on some of the furniture to make your home look old and uninhabited.

• Place candlesticks along the sidewalk to your home. Purchase flickering battery operated candlesticks for safety.

• Play eerie music as guests arrive and during your party, especially during the meal.

• Ask someone to greet guests at the door dressed as a formal butler.

• Have a fog machine on your front porch.

• Drape walls with torn cheesecloth, gauze, netting or other sheer or textured fabrics. For an extra eerie glow, place strands of tiny white Christmas lights under the materials.

• Wrap a large strip of fabric or net around the back each dining chair. Attach ends together with a rhinestone pin or hang a crystal prism with a name card attached. Make each chair different and unique.

• Cover table with old lace linens, gauze, torn netting or even spider webbing to create a vintage look.

• Set table with a mix and match of black, white, silver, pewter, and crystal dishes. Each place setting can be different. Use silver charger plates (often used during Christmas holidays) or platters under dishes. Use crystal or silver goblets.

• Tarnished silver bowls, vases, pitchers, goblets, etc. can make great accent, decorating and serving pieces as well as centerpieces. Attach ribbons, rhinestones and crystals to the pieces. Place tight bunches of real roses (white sprayed lightly with black or silver Design Master floral spray paint available at craft stores) in the containers.

• Sprinkle glittered items (bones, spiders, bugs, etc.) down a serving table along with rhinestones, crystals, etc.)

• Take small ornately framed mirrors and place face up on short candlesticks or vases and use as trays.

• Place old frames with vintage photos down the center of the table or around the room.

• Place old silverware on the table or in vases with rhinestone or spider embellishments.

• Use candlesticks and candelabras generously on the table or as part of the party décor. Remember that items picked up at thrift stores can be turned into perfect coordinating pieces by using spray paint.

• Hang old looking ribbons, prisms, black or silver Christmas ornament balls, crystals, bones, etc. from a chandelier or lighting fixture over the eating area. Lightweight glittered cardboard chandeliers and candelabras can be purchased inexpensively as well (Wal-Mart sell a candelabra for $4.00 and Martha Stewart sells a package of two chandeliers for about $15.00 available online or at Michaels Crafts).

• Napkin rings can be simply wrapped with a piece of gauze, netting or a ribbon (I like velvet ribbons) and a rhinestone or crystal attached or a small frames monogram.

• An upscale place card could be the monogram of each guest. Tie to a bone for extra creepiness.

• Edible meringue bone cookies make nice place cards. Dust the bone cookies with edible silver or iridescent luster dust powder (Wilton makes a variety of this available where cake decorating supplies are sold). See this link for recipe:

• When serving food, give guests a menu printed with fancy or altered names for the food being served.

• Regular menu items can be served for the meal but focus on the presentation, serving dishes or garnishes to add the creepy feel. Add a parmesan cheese web to a salad or a gummy candy eyeball mixed in the salad for the guest to find. Serve breadsticks with several of them shaped like bones. Have the filling in a meat dish (tomato) or dessert (berry), ooze like blood when cut into. Try to create an upscale feel but not distasteful. Serve items out of unique dishes, and even a glass lab specimen jar would be fun to serve condiments out of.

• Clip a small crow to the side of a serving dish or platter.

• Sugarcoat the rim of a goblet with white chunky sanding sugar to create a crystallized look (dip rim in water or corn syrup and then sugar).

• Make bone servers for a salad by inserting metal serving tongs or spoon ends into plastic bones. Secure with non-toxic glue.

• Set and decorate a focus area that includes a punchbowl and appetizers. Set items on different levels and cover with spider webbing. Float items in punchbowl or freeze in an ice ring (make sure the items are non-toxic). My favorite thing to freeze in an ice ring is a plastic snake. Try to find a thin black one to coordinate with the colors of the party. A frozen black plastic bat would look cool frozen in the punch.

• Send home a small “specimen” jar full of coca powder and a label of moon dust. Or maybe some petrified butterflies or life renewal potion (go to Love Manor at
for really cool free downloadable jar labels for your home décor or for favors).

• Purchase clear rock candy on or off strings and send home as “broken chandelier glass” treats for each guest. Available at

• A fun game for guests, is to divide them into groups from 3-5. Give each group a silver tray with vintage or spooky looking items on it. Give each group about 20 minutes to come up with a quick skit using the items on the tray (tray included). Videotape these skits if desired for a fun favor for guests.

• Have eerie open ended questions in a bowl for guests to answer. Questions such as: Is there anything dangerous you would like to do if you know you would be okay? Would you dare hold a snake – or have one as a pet? Is there a historical time period you would like to visit, why? You could also have all guests write an answer to: What is the scariest thing you have ever done? and have everyone try to guess who it might be.

• Have a “potion” tasting station. Place various beverages and edible liquid into the same type of jars. Cover the jars and attach a number to each one. Use liquid such as: orange juice, black cherry soda, pomegranate juice, lemon juice, passion fruit nectar, etc.) and have guests taste each one. Make some hard and some easier to guess. Give each guest a sheet to list their guesses on and give a prize at the end to who ever guesses the most correct.

• Create an eerie wall photo station. Take a piece of plywood and paint, cover with wallpaper (damask or something that looks very old and vintage) or fabric. Purchase a variety of unique frames at thrift stores and paint if necessary. Place frames on wall with vintage photos to create the look of a family photo wall in an old mansion. Have one large frame with nothing in it. Cut the plywood away behind the large frame and hang a piece of black felt over the opening. Have guests stand behind the plywood with their faces in the frame draping the felt behind them. Have them pose so they look like they are in a portrait on a wall. Take a photo of them cropping so the edges of the plywood do not show. A fun favor and activity!

A very favorite store of mine to find vintage and new (items such as old mirrors, silver goblets and serving ware, old silverware, lace, tons of old rhinestone and vintage jewelry, etc.) is Just a Bed of Roses in Farmington, Utah. It has décor perfect for this type of party. Check out their blog at

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