Halloween in the only American calendar holiday that I can get into. I don’t remember when I first began to celebrate the Celtic festival of Samhain, maybe 6 or 7 years ago, (I have a couple of theories as to why I’m drawn to Celtic Pagan traditions ;) ) but every year I have to have a celebration of some sort. I’ll always love a good old Halloween costume party, but this year I wanted to do something a little classier and intimate. I knew I wanted it to be less about party, and more about a gathering of curated energies. I love dinner parties, so I decided that would be the perfect base for my gathering.
For décor, I tried to stick with the theme of vintage, with a séance feel. Antiques make great props for this time of year. Some found animal bones in a faux mercury glass votive, and an Edward Gorey book, give an eerie touch to the classy gold and black motif of my coffee table. I also had old Horror films playing on silent. I picked up a DVD collection of 100 classic horror movies for $5 at a grocery store some years back, and they never fail to be entertaining. No party is complete without music, so I curated a list of fun, adult, macabre songs. I began the evening with lively songs from The Dresden Dolls, Electric Swing Circus, and This Way to the Egress and more, then slowed things down to haunting and dark instrumental music during dinner. Post dinner music included Valerie Broussard, Tailor, and lots of Jill Tracy who sings songs about poisoning lovers.
I had many intentions for this party that I didn’t follow through on, but my aim was to greet every guest at the door, smudge them with sage, and hand them a cocktail. There are plenty of creepy/macabre looking cocktails that can be crafted for your event, but I was working on a tight budget, so I used what I already had on hand. I served prosecco with elderflower lemonade in vintage champagne glasses and coupes.
Another one of my intentions was to use this antique Drinking Fortune Teller game. It’s missing the original glasses, but basically each guest has a number on the bottom of their glass, so they read the “fortunes” that go to each number on the board. At least that’s what I assume.
For appetizers, I served spicy hummus with pita chips and veggies, a cheese and fruit board with seasonal fruits such as, apples, pears, blackberries, and dried figs.
For the main course I served a butternut squash risotto, with black sesame seed garnish, to make it look “Halloweenish.” I also served a salad and a vegetable dish of haricot verts, potatoes, mushrooms, and onions. Funny little side story: While I was slicing onions earlier in the day, I had the thought that someone might be allergic/sensitive to onions. I almost reached out to ask everyone, but didn’t, and hoped that someone would have told me if they had any dietary needs. It turned out that one of my guests IS allergic to onions, which I had no prior knowledge of! This is a great reminder to always ask before preparing your menu, and to always listen to your intuition. Being psychic means listening to your intuition….sigh. I had also prepared a pear and apple crisp to serve with vanilla ice cream as dessert, but I was so engrossed in good times and conversation that I completely forgot about it.
I kept the table decorations simple and elegant, yet dark and gothic. I kept the theme of gold and black, from the rest of my decor, in my color scheme, and added in touches of green and white. I added antique touches to the table as well with the silverware and napkin rings. I’d like to think Morticia Addams would have approved.
After dinner, we attempted tarot cards without the instructions, divination, and tried our luck at the Ouija board. I’m not sure if it was us or the spirits that had too many spirits, but the messages that came through were very confusing and not well spelled.
This has probably been my favorite October celebration that I’ve ever thrown. I also left a treat basket for my guests to help themselves to when they left, and my guests brought me fun treats as well. I wish I had taken photos of my guests, but we were all busy enjoying the present moment!
I put this gathering together within a week, and on a very tight budget (less than $50). Luckily, I happen to have inherited most of the decor and antiques, but I did buy fresh flowers (white cala lillies and dark purple flowers) and some white pumpkins. The flowers only cost $6 from a local discount produce center, and the pumpkins were .99 each from a local grocery outlet. I planned the menu around food I already had in my kitchen, but bought organic bagged salads from Aldi. The hummus, chips, fruit and cheeses also came from Aldi and the discount grocery stores, and all the food combined cost me roughly $20. Like I said, I love Halloween, so of course I already own a Ouija board, tarot cards, etc. Although I don’t usually advocate purchasing from dollar stores for safety and ethical reasons, but they are great for some decorations like spooky, ripped cheesecloth, which I hung on my front door and dining room windows. You can definitely celebrate Halloween and/or Samhain on a budget, the most important thing is the company!