Halloween is my absolute favourite time of year, well all of Autumn is, really! The colours in the trees are stunning at this time of year, rusts, russet’s, browns and greens, there’s a lovely smell in the air and you get to take out your favourite cozy outfits, snug cashmere’s and scarves and just be generally cozy!
Halloween in 1980’s Dublin was really tame, not half as fun as the Americanised Halloween we have today, and I’m so grateful to the Americans for that. Costumes are better, people go all out with decorations like this ‘Hallowindow’ that one of my friends is working on doing at his house(video may not appear on tablets and phones):
Here, I’ll go through buying budget decorations and getting the max out of them, setting an atmosphere, planning your menu and some recipes.
After missing out on Halloween last year due to being on holidays in Orlando, I am sure to make up for it this year and bought Martha Stewart’s Halloween special magazine last year and visiting Halloween Horror nights in Universal Studio’s gave me loads of food for thought! I also used to work as a Visual Merchandiser and window dresser, so this is right up my street.
Decorations have started to appear in shops since August, my first stop was in the €2 store, you’d be surprised what you could get for your money in a euro store..
‘€uro 2’ Store
I love lanterns, €1.50 for a pair in the €2 Store. The Pumpkin ones I got don’t have a little stand for tealights or even LED ones inside but I will be using these in my buffet table backdrop. I also bought Spooky Window Netting for €1.50 you get about two long pieces, One shall be used as a buffet table runner, and the second, hung from the ceiling as the backdrop, attached to removable damage free clear plastic hooks by COMMAND 3M hooks which you get for €5.29 in Woodies DIY, stick them to your paint work or ceiling and they won’t damage it, however….I still wouldn’t put these on wallpaper, no matter what they say, I just wont risk it.. Because the window netting is a sort of very sheer and woven and will sit on your hooks, easy-peasy, just put your finger through it and pull! Aside from also using this as a table runner too, another thing you could use this for is making ghosts, all you need is small balloons, inflated to make a mould, a can of Robin Spray Starch which you can get in the laundry section at the supermarket (it’s a red aerosol with a picture of a lady in a 1920’s dress), Just cut a square of it and drape over the balloon, and spray loads and loads of starch on it and allow to dry, when you remove it from the balloon, you should have a curvy ghost that keeps it’s shape, either apply felt eyes or googly eyes and you have ghosts, ready to hang from your ceiling, hide a fan behind a sofa -and they’ll move, terrifying kids!
There are so many things you can do with these rats and critters, from peeking out of holes in Pumpkins, to laying down a sheet of black tulle, the length of the stairs (it also sort of deters guests from wandering upstairs, kids etc) and get as many rats as you can and pile them on the stairs to look like they’re running down. You could also hide them at the bottom of bowls of popcorn so people get a nasty fright when one appears.. I wouldn’t put them in drinks containers etc as a lot of them have harmful chemicals that could bleed out if put in wet food. You never know what the paint is made from. If you’re putting them in the popcorn, it would be a good idea to sterilise them first with an anti bacterial spray and wipe down with a cloth. If people are going to be walking up and down your stairs, forget the rat idea because you don’t want someone falling and breaking their necks after slipping on a toy rat. it would sort of dampen the fun.
With these bones, you could just scatter them in the table, I have a bell jar (pictured), which I bought when I worked for Laura Ashley but I think Meadows & Byrne also sell them cheaper and boxed too. I have a tulle belt from a skirt I recently bought at Folkster, I’ll bundle it up and use it to rest the bones on, under the bell jar, tie a ribbon and tag on it with something like “SPECIMEN” on it.
I’m toying with the idea of filling the spiders on the mould with black Isomalt and putting them in drinks and my Green Lemonade which will be served in a glass decanter, labelling it ‘ Witches Brew’.
Visiting TK Maxx one day I came across a packet of these cupcake toppers and cases for €2.50, absolutely delighted, black treacle cupcakes will be perfect in these!
Getting the Atmosphere Right
I just love this place, my favourite thing in store is the mannequin with the foliage dress, which is for a local fashion show fundraiser, stunning! Be sure to check out the Autumnal wreaths too!
|€5 each at Floral Art|
In the same centre as Floral Art is a small Heaton’s Department store, I found some amazing Autumnal candles in there and at €6 each, they beat Yankee Candles down at about €28? The frangrances I bought were Pumpkin Splendor and Butternut Pumpkin, you can buy them on the Heatons website too. They’re sweet and spicy and for anyone who’s familiar with Michael’s craft stores in the USA, its the sweet spicy smell you get in Michael’s at this time of year, gorgeous, reminiscent of toasted marshmallows and treacle tart! The €2 have a very small Pumpkin candle which I also bought, not as good as these though.
If like me, you don’t have a projector and are handy with the pencil and Stanley knife, you could try out these window decorations, put them in the window, cover the windows with white sheets and leave the lights on, you can get stencils all over the internet like on the Makezine website!
|Image via Pinterest|
|Image from Pinterest|
Food & Drink
In the one above, you can see the window netting that I am using as my runner, start with high items against your backdrop like birch branches, Autumn flowers or leaves… Many supermarkets have disposable aluminum platters which look like silver or steel ones, they can be really effective on a black tablecloth, stales can look great too as you can use chalk to write what’s on them, think old world opulence in blacks, creams and greys, stick to a three colour palette for your theme -and use those printables!
|‘Blood & Guts filled Pepper Pumpkins’ (Image via Pinterest)|
|Toffee Apples with black Gel colour|
Poison Toffee Apples
by Simply Delicious
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cups water
- ½ cup liquid glucose/light corn syrup
- few drops black gel food colouring/Sugarflair Gel Colour ‘Extra Black’
- 6 Granny Smith apples (or 12 small apples)
- Grease a piece of baking paper and place on a tray/baking sheet.
- Insert bamboo skewers in all the apples and set aside.
- In a medium pot, combine the sugar, water, glucose/corn syrup and food
colouring and stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and
the mixture feels smooth when you rub it between your fingers.
- When the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up and wash the sides of the pot
down with a pastry brush dipped into clean water to prevent crystals
- Allow the caramel to boil until it reaches the hard crack stage (150°c/310°F).
- Carefully dip the apples into the hot candy mixture and place on the baking paper
to set and cool for approximately an hour before serving.
Harry Potter Butterbeer-HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
2 Pints of Vanilla Ice Cream
1/4 Cup Monin Butterscotch Syrup
2 Litres Cream Soda, the traditional ones on the brown bottles that are an amber colour, you can use the clear ones that come in Irish Supermarkets but might want to add a little orange or brown food colouring to give it a beery appearance).
1. Place 4 (16-ounce) glasses in freezer and chill for at least 20 minutes
2. Mix ice cream and cream soda in a blender until combined
3. Divide between the frosted glasses
4. Top each glass with whipped cream and syrup, definitely recommended!
5. Serve with spoons and straws
The flavour of this brought us right back to Orlando, drinking it in the cool afternoon rain shower on a hot summers day… It was great!
Mulled Apple Punch
- Place Cinnamon and cloves in the muslin bag.
- Place all other ingredients into the slow cooker /saucepan
- Simmer for up to three hours
I love to add Smirnoff Cinnamon Vodka to this, as as much as you want until it tastes right to you, it’s also got gold leaf in it so it’ll sparkle in your drink. Or else offer guests a shot of a cheeky wee nip in their punch as you serve, so drivers have a choice of non alcoholic too- it’s nice to be thought of and I know most at my party will be driving.
For Paper Straws to match your theme, I love Layercake Shop, you can get paper straws in every theme, colour and pattern, they’re in the States but so worth it!
My Top 10 Spooky Movies
On a Final Note:
Please be safe this Halloween, be sensible if using fireworks and keep a close eye on your pets, there are horrible people who think it’s hilarious to traumatize animals in different ways, also keep them indoors where they can’t be afraid of fireworks and bangers, if you’re having a party, perhaps keep them in an upstairs room with the radio on with some classic music to soothe them and a bone or toy to keep them busy!