Follow these tips for spooktacular fall home entertaining

  • Sep. 7, 2017 2:46 p.m.

Now that the mysticism and wonder of the eclipse has passed, what is there to look forward to?

If mystery, spookiness and intrigue are your jam, we have party planning ideas for the entire fam. From scary to supernatural, there’s something for everyone to take advantage of this fall.


There’s nothing like the spooky silver screen to inspire a perfect fright night for friends and family. Take the lead from Greg Jenkins of Bravo Productions ( and build a theme from a favorite film or TV series.

“One of my favorite television shows is HBO’s ‘True Blood,’ and one of my favorite Halloween genre movies is ‘Interview with a Vampire.’” Jenkins says. “In tune with the feeling vampires invoke, think about a New Orleans type setting.”

To create a vampire-inspired atmosphere, Jenkins recommends creating a dark, balmy atmosphere with sparsely lit candles and Spanish moss hung from the trees and perhaps a makeshift cemetery.

“Add some exotic props such as a Voodoo woman, wrought-iron fences, canning jars filled with all manner of icky things (fake blood, eyeballs, etc.) and, to up the scary, place labels on the jars with guest names on them.”

Old lanterns and dusty, antiquated books on end and side tables make for perfect decor accents.

What better drink to serve than a Vampires Kiss cocktail, courtesy of cola, red wine, gold leaf and Gold Lustre Dust over a couple of cubes of dry ice.

For vamps in search of sustenance, there are no shortages of creepy creations that can be made out of BBQ ribs (like attaching them to a fake skull!), or, you can always go with a platter of spaghetti a la eyeball (made out of meatballs, jack cheese and black olives).


For some, scary may simply equate to having enough food for everyone, or the time in which to prepare it all. If that’s the case, a color-theme may be the way to go. Orange, black and purple is a fun color combo to apply to all Halloween festivities.

“Stock up on black and orange spray paint,” recommends Jeanine Boiko, DIY blogger and Etsy shop owner (Okio B Designs). “Anything can be spray painted to add a spooky touch to your decorations. My black wine bottles were a big hit last year. I simply painted each bottle black and then dripped white candle wax on the bottoms for a creepy look.”

Boiko also suggests hitting up thrift stores for other types of glass and wood ware that can be repurposed and upcycled to create an eek-factor.

“Home Goods also has a good selection of creepy candles in black, orange, purple and gray,” Boiko says.

To make an entrance (literally), Lowes has a step-by-step Scary DIY Halloween Window Screen project. With the help of a hot glue gun, heavy-duty stapler, utility scissors, roll of aluminum or fiberglass screen, shelf liner and lattice strip ( a screen scene with black bats and a spooky old tree can greet guests. If possible, backlight the screen to create a light-purple hue.

Of course, no fall festivity is complete without pumpkins. The popular seasonal squash will definitely bring out the orange of any decorative arrangement.

But that’s not all — don’t forget their edible offerings: pumpkin soup, pumpkin alfredo pasta and as many variations of pumpkin spice that guests can handle.


Although haunted houses, ghosts and ghouls are surely all-time frightening favorites, they can be unnerving, too — especially for little ones. In the event that literary classics such as “Frankenstein” and “Dracula,” or more modern tales such as “Twilight,” “Shadow Hunters” or even “Harry Potter” are too scary for a younger crowd, there’s a spookily sweet alternative.

Check out “The Nocturnals” (, about three unlikely, albeit likeable woodland creatures that collectively experience adventure and mystery through relatable life experiences. What better backdrop to a party than the woods?

And, while constructing a forest backdrop complete with pinecones, owls and elements made from a pallet or other reclaimed wood, refer to the website for all kinds of Halloween-themed activities such as building a tent (equipped with lots of flashlights!), face painting, discussion questions, matching and fill-in-the-story games and bingo.


Simply because a spooktacular event is family-oriented doesn’t mean parents need not partake in a few fun-filled libations. Take, for example Bernzomatic’s smoke-inspired Chicago Fire Extinguisher (recipe below). Enjoy!




2 ounces scotch

{ ounce Luxardo Abano

{ ounce Fugit Creme de Noyaux

2 dash Angostura bitters


Bartender’s smoking gun

Handful cherry wood chips — Bernzomatic ST2200 Detail Torch

Build all ingredients over ice, stir, and strain into a small circular globe or mason jar. Place cherry wood chips into the compartment of the smoke gun and light with the torch. Place the end of the smoke gun’s tube into the circular globe vessel (or mason jar), fill with smoke and top with a cork or lid to capture the smoke inside. On the side, place a big ice cube into a double rocks glass, uncork the globe and pour over ice.

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