Entertaining,  Holiday

Staging A Fab Impromptu Halloween Bash on a Budget

Halloween is almost upon us, and if you’re anything like me, you are hankering for a good excuse to dress up and celebrate the occasion with your friends.

It may seem impossible to throw a fab Halloween bash so late in the game, but it’s not. Here are some easy tips, with pointers from style maven and ultimate party hostess, Carolyne Roehm.

Step 1: The Invitation

For a charming last-minute invite, consider the web…Not a spider’s web, but in fact the worldwide web. Nothing beats the immediacy of email….Download this free custom evite with ease and send to friends. Step 1? Done!


Step 2: The Decor

It’s so easy to get festive on a budget with Halloween decor. All you really need is a few bags of cobwebs from your local craft store and a low-lit room. Stretch the cobwebs everywhere. The thinner you stretch them, the cooler it will look. Check out Carolyne in her haunted mansion, below.

ball gown prom dress

Of course, if you want to get really macabre the sky is the limit. I love full-body skeletons propped around the room or hanging in a doorway. Buy some owls or black ravens and perch them around the party scene. Pick up whatever suits you and go with it.


Carolyne Roehm painted her jack’o’lanterns with silver spray paint for an eroded sort of desiccated decadence…awesome idea!


“Instead of making this a black and orange color scheme, I worked with a palette of silver, gray, and black,” she stated. “I wanted my party table to resemble Miss Havisham’s decaying banquet room in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. Cobwebs, fog, and a look of disheveled splendor became the theme.”

I’m telling you, this lady is so clever.

For the look of fog, pick up blocks of dry ice from your grocery store. Dry ice, in case you did not know, is simply the solid form of carbon dioxide–which is used to keep food cold in the absence of refrigeration. It is very inexpensive ($1.49 a pound at Safeway) and creates a maximum of moody ambience by producing vapor as it melts.

Place blocks of the ice in buckets hidden around the room. As the ice melts it will create a swirling fog and set the tone for your spooktacular soirée.

Step 3: The Food

Your Halloween buffet should look toxic, but taste tantalizing, and should be easy to prepare ahead of time so that on the day of the party you are not frazzled. Check out the fun fare below that you can make in advance.


This grinning Black Cat Cheese Ball is sure to put a smile on every guest’s face, and can be made ahead of time and refrigerated up to 24 hours before your event.


Another savory make-ahead morsel is this Scary Cerebrum, which elevates ordinary shrimp cocktail into something that is both fancy and frightful.


This Blue Cheese-Ricotta Dip takes 10 minutes to make, looks great stuffed into a hollowed-out squash or mini pumpkin, and tastes delish with Boo chips from Whole Foods.


If you have never had Oozing Brie with crackers, you haven’t lived yet! There is almost nothing better than this delicious party treat, trust me!

And now for the sweet…Pick up some candy skulls from your Mexican grocery store, or follow some of these easy recipes that will no doubt delight your friends.


You can buy the cupcakes ahead of time and decorate them like these Vampire Bat Cupcakes, or make them from scratch with this easy recipe.


I love these spooky finger cookies, clawing from the grave. Martha Stewart makes them every year for Halloween, using blanched almonds dyed with red food coloring for fingernails! How creative is that? Plus they taste divine and are super easy to make. A must for your buffet.


Bones, Sweet Bones. These crisp meringue bones can be made three days ahead and require only two ingredients! But remember that when making meringue, technique is everything, so start early!

Step 4: The Costume

Looking for a last-minute costume? Get yourself to any uniform supply store and pick up a plain white nurse’s uniform. Pair it with white fishnets and glamorous makeup for a Naughty Nurse. Or take a hint from our story on cool costumes here.

Step 5: Rest in Peace

Congratulations, you have thrown an incredible and memorable bash! Don’t even worry about cleanup until the next morning. After all, tomorrow is a new day.

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