With Halloween fast approaching it's time to plan the perfect party. 'Halloween is increasing in popularity every single year in Australia," says Alison Barrett from My Perfect Party Planners. "We're doing more and more Halloween-themed parties. The timing is ideal for us in Australia too because daylight savings and warmer weather are perfect for parties -- even seriously scary Halloween bashes." So whether you're catering for kids or prepping for a scary soiree for the adults, we've got your ba-ha-ha-ack (sorry) when it comes to food, drink, decorating and trick or treating tips...
Surely one of the most enjoyable parts of a Halloween bash is transforming your normally comfortable, tranquil home into a den of dread, right? Dean Salakas from The Party People says that adding killer decorations will really make your party pop. "Giant spiders, light up pumpkins, skulls and animated decorations are super popular this year. My favourite is a candy bowl with a hand inside it and when you put your hand in it grabs you." According to Allison Barratt, this year, decorating your party is all about going over and above. She suggests:
- Replace ordinary light bulbs with coloured light bulbs – red is especially effective. Light outdoor areas with candles inside old jars. The kids can even paint spiders or cobwebs on the jars for extra eeek!
- Spider web netting goes a long way and often comes complete with plastic spiders -- or you can add your own. It's super spooky and available from most supermarkets. Or make your own webbing with a cheap roll of cotton wool.
- Skulls are a key decoration item -- buy paper or plastic ones in different sizes and hang them around the house. You could add a battery operated LED tea-light candle inside to light them up.
Clearly, no Halloween party worth it's salt is complete without games. While apple bobbing is always fun, a modern twist is to bob for eyeballs instead (lychees stuffed with blueberries in cranberry juice.) Or if bobbing for apples is too tricky for the little ones, get them to bob for strawberries instead. For other game ideas, Allison Barrett suggests:
- Set up a treasure hunt in the garden. Older kids might love getting a fright when mum or dad dressed up as a ghost jumps out at them!
- Get the kids to collect twigs or sticks and tie them together with string to make your own broomsticks for broomstick races.
- Younger kids love a -- less scary -- themed party. A Harry Potter theme or dressing up as spooky animals -- owls, bats, spiders etc -- are good options.
Trick Or Treat Tips
Halloween fan Chris Raynor from Halloween-Australia.com.au suggests letting your neighbours and fellow trick or treaters know that you're a Halloween friendly home by hanging an orange balloon from the letterbox or leaving an outside light on. "Halloween is getting bigger and bigger in Australia each year – but not everyone's into it so if you're celebrating be considerate."
As for treats, she says offering wrapped lollies is best. "No one wants to grab a banana lolly that's been handled by 15 kids before you!"
If you want to avoid the sugar overload, you could give out Halloween themed glo-sticks or glow in the dark goodies instead.
Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without treats -- and there are delicious ways to cater for all ages. Food blogger Aoife McGee suggests serving up:
- Traditional Colcannon side dish. "I grew up in Ireland where Halloween is a big deal and colcannon is a must. Mash potato with steamed cabbage and a little softened onion. My Mum added some coins wrapped in foil."
- Sausage fingers: "Wrap chipolatas in strips of puff pastry, Overlap around the sausage, leaving a gap for a face. Cook in a 200c oven for 25 mins. Leave to cool and then dot American Mustard on for eyes."
- Crazy cupcakes: 'Whip up a simple cupcake batter then ice with chocolate frosting (or a bloody red or gruesome green thanks to food colouring) and top with spiders made from licorice strings with icing dots for eyes.
- Jelly cups with lolly snakes and bugs floating in the goo look great too
Best of all, these snacks can all be made in advance -- and the kids can help. However, Halloween treats don't all have to be dastardly. Chef and nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin says your Halloween party can be healthy too. "It's good to have a few savoury options on offer" she says. "A beetroot and feta dip is delicious and looks very Halloween too.' You could also serve up Zoe's deliciously decadent -- but still healthy! -- Dark Chocolate Figs for dessert.
Dark Chocolate Figs
- Ingredients: 10-12 dried figs , 150g dark chocolate (70-90% cocoa), broken into pieces, ¼ cup coconut cream, ½ cup flaked almonds.
- Method: Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or melt in the microwave), stir in coconut cream. Stick the figs on skewers and dip into the chocolate mixture, roll in almond flakes.Place the skewers on a baking tray lined with baking paper, repeat with remaining figs.Transfer figs to the fridge until set.
Easy to overlook, a creative Halloween beverage can impress your guests as much as that perfectly carved pumpkin. Allison Barratt says adults will love a naughty Black Magic cocktail.
- Method: Pour quarter cup of lemonade in a clear glass. Put in half cup of chopped up set jelly. Top with Sprite.
Ah, Dressing Up. Whether those two little words mean an opportunity to showcase your creative prowess or produce waves of fear and confusion, we've got your back. When it comes to emerging costume trends for Halloween 2016, inflatables are where it's at says Sakalas."You can buy a huge selection of inflatable Halloween costumes - from pumpkins, ghost or witches that inflate with a small fan," he says. Illusion costumes are popular too. "I have one where it looks like a gorilla is standing behind you and you're trapped in a cage, it's incredible," he says. As for trends, these days vampires are out and zombies are in. "Twilight-inspired vampires are so 2009," says Dean. "Thanks to the popularity of things like The Walking Dead and Zombie Walk, everyone wants in on the zombie look now." You can DIY or buy a decent costume -- even your local supermarket stocks creepy costumes these days. Easy!