Has 31st October crept up on you? If you’re keen to celebrate but have left it to the final hour to pull together a spooky party spread, read our cheats and tips to creating a speedy ghoulish gathering.
Anyone who says Halloween should be the reserve of teeny children in ghostly bed sheets just hasn’t been to the right grown-up party. Bowls of grog, novelty playlists, clever canapés and the opportunity to wear a wig are just some of the reasons why we love throwing a proper party on 31st October. But organising a suitably impressive costume is a feat alone, so it’s all about choosing spooky décor and freakish fodder that’s simple and quick to achieve. Read on to find out how to put together a monster bash in super-quick time.
Firstly, tackle your decor...
Perk up your pumpkin...
7pm on the 31st October is no time to practise your sculpting skills. Keep things simple by using one of our clever templates as a guide. Choose from a bat, witch or haunted house design, tape it to your gaud then mark the outline with a skewer to get a head start on the carving process. Simpler still, our hole-punched lantern can be achieved in minutes. Just use an apple corer to create an instant lantern. Add a candle and dim those lights.
... Or bowl with it
Slash your pumpkin in half horizontally - a serrated knife may make this easier - and use it as a decorative bowl. Hollow it out so there’s enough space in the crevice to fit a glass bowl to provide a protective layer, then fill it with nibbles or iced water for drinks.
Then, attack your snacks
We’d never turn our nose up at a bowl of crisps, but as the occasion is all about excessive displays of bombast, choose popcorn instead and use it to create weird and wonderful sculptures. Pop the kernels in a pan as normal, then add the cooked corn to a melty cheese and mustard mix, before moulding into ‘brain’ shapes – the process should take you less than 20 minutes. Leave them to cool before serving.
Wrap it up
Create shaped crisps by picking up a pack of soft wheat tortillas. Use a pizza cutter or small paring knife to cut out simple triangular witches hat shapes, then brush with oil and sprinkle with poppy or black sesame seeds. Bake for 15 minutes until crisp and serve with dip – slime-coloured guacamole is a good choice.
Go with the dough
For savoury bites, pick up a packet of instant dough. These mummy dippers don’t need any time to rise – just use a tube of ready-to-roll croissant dough, sliced into strips and arranged around chipolatas in a bandage shape. Adaptable pizza dough can be shaped into balls rather than a flat base. Get creative with olives and herbs to create dippable bread eyes.
Make a storecupboard centrepiece
Resist the urge to create a complicated dish as your main meal and go for a quick pasta pot instead. This cheap and effective dustbin dish uses maggot-shaped orzo combined with storecupboard staples, frozen vegetables and a ready-made sauce. If you have time to pick one up, a novelty cauldron makes a great serving vessel.
Create your drinks menu
Join the punch bunch
It’s not a Halloween party without a drop of something potent. Big bowls of punch will save you time pouring individual drinks for guests. Choose gloomy shades of blood-like red. This rumberry punch takes minutes to make and with a few added extras it’ll look the part – try eyeball-ish grapes, lychees or fang-shaped sweets. We also have a spooky mocktail for those after something non-alcoholic.
Ramp up the kitsch factor by choosing a particularly lurid spirit as one half of a simple 1:1 ratio punch. Melon-flavoured Midori is greener than a Granny Smith, and Bols Blue takes artificial colouring to a whole new level. Team them with a sweet, clear mixer such as lemonade or apple soda.
A sanguine brew
No drink is more suited to a gory occasion than the bloody Mary. Take yours to the next shade of haemoglobin by adding plenty of rust-red cayenne pepper or smoked paprika, plus a dash of red grape or pomegranate juice to make the colour palette even deeper. Making the tomato juice mix in big jugs will save you the bother of individually mixing cocktails - just pour onto vodka on ice. To serve, add a modish rasher of crispy bacon propped up next to the straw, plus a liberal sprinkling of black pepper around the rim of the glass.
Don't forget the sweet treats
Candy is dandy
White candyfloss and Halloween work together in perfect harmony. Use tufts of the sweet stuff to create spider webs atop cakes or biscuits. If you have time to make your own cakes, add hundreds and thousands to the cake mix to create an eye-catching speckled effect, otherwise buy in shop-bought muffins or sponges. Add a plastic spider to complete the look.
Show love for the liquorice
Liquorice Catherine wheels can offer instant assistance in the cake decorating stakes. Snip them into lengths and arrange as spiders legs around cupcakes or circular biscuits. If you want to add other features to your edible arachnid, use writing icing or sliced liquorice allsorts.
And finally... throw together a costume
Reach into your kitchen cupboards to create a last-minute costume. Black bin liners can be used as a gothic poncho, while a sprinkling of flour in hair gives a ghostly frosting. Just make sure you brush it out thoroughly before washing it - nobody wants to start November with the beginnings of a pizza base in their hair...
Are you a grown-up with as much enthusiasm for Halloween as us? We'd love to hear how you celebrate... We have plenty more tips on our Halloween hub page too.