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Joanne Eglash

By: Don't get spooked by lack of preparation this Halloween: by planning your festivities early, you can

Don't get spooked by lack of preparation this Halloween: by planning your festivities early, you can guarantee that your October 31 will be filled with treats, not tricks!

Halloween traditions range from apple-bobbing games to costume contests to pumpkin-carving challenges to haunted houses to old-fashioned trick-or-treating time. If your to-do list acquires a length more scary than a witch's brew, take a page from an event planner's cauldron of advice: ask friends or family to help!

Event Planner Brews Up Tips on Preparation
"Get others involved -- family or friends," says Phyllis Cambria, an award-winning event planner in Cocoanut Creek, Florida, who has authored several party planning books. If you want to make decorations and/or decorate your home, you can even turn this phase into "the party before the party."

Other tips from Phyllis include:

  • To choose which areas of your home to decorate, focus on where your guests will congregate and roam. Your bedroom closet is out – but don't forget a witch dangling over the toilet! If there are spaces that you want to keep private, "have a little fun with it and put up signs that say "Entrance Forbidden," "If You Enter, You Will Die," and so forth. Most guests get the hint!" says Phyllis.
  • Plan something bewitching to get your guests in the mood as they enter the house, such as "a spider or a skeleton that drops when they come in the door, or ghostly sounds or an electronic "talking" door decoration."
  • For safety, it's probably best to use lights, keeping them low or using colored light bulbs. But if you can't resist giving your Halloween party by candlelight, be sure to place the candles "only in areas where they can't be jostled by guests or near flammable objects such as costumes or decorations," cautions Phyllis.
  • Choose seasonal invitations to get guests in the spirit. And say "yes" on costumes: a Halloween party "should be a costume party. I know they traditionally are, but I've seen hosts tell guests that they don't have to dress up. Coming in costume not only adds to your party's fun, but then your guests become part of your decor which makes the party more memorable," Phyllis adds.
  • Want to serve traditional party foods, such as spinach dip and chips? "Even more traditional party foods take on a Halloween note if you serve them on theme-related platters and bowls. Hollowed-out pumpkins are a great serving bowl for soups, stews and things like spinach dip. Hollowed-out gourds are great for serving dip and keep guests in the mood. You also can find inexpensive, plastic witches' cauldrons at most costume or party stores which work well to serve food or punch," Phyllis suggests. "Float peeled, green, seedless grapes in your punch and it will look like eyeballs. If you freeze the grapes and use them in place of ice cubes, you won't dilute your punch."

Sugar Cookies

3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Click here to view the Sugar Cookies recipe.

Autumn Fruit Swirl

2-1/4 lbs. Jonathan or Macintosh apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. water
1 oz. sugar
1/2 lb. canned unsweetened blackberries in fruit juice, drained
1/3 cup plus 3 Tbsps. plain yogurt

Click here to view the Autumn Fruit Swirl recipe.


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