Trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving and an overload of candy typically dominate the Halloween season, but adults can get in on the fun, too, with a party planned just for them. Unlike family-friendly parties, these grown-up fetes can take a turn toward the spookier, lasting well into the witching hours, and feature some adult tastes and potent libations.
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Halloween Party Basics
Halloween is a busy night, particularly for those who have children and are committed to taking them trick-or-treating. Plan your party for the weekend before or after -- unless your social circle is nearly all childless -- so the adults don't have to make a choice about where to celebrate. Send out the invitations by October 1, so guests have plenty of notice. On the invites, include whether the party has a specific theme, whether it's a costume contest and, of course, party basics such as date, time and location. Ensure that you note that it's an adults-only party.
Skip the kid-friendly decor, the smiling jack-o'-lanterns and witches that are more funny than scary. Instead, choose a theme that will make guests a little uneasy, such as a Gothic soiree that features candelabras with lit red candles to set a dim, spooky mood. Other inspired Halloween themes include decorating each room in the style of one of the seven deadly sins, setting up the house as a murder crime scene or decorating with creepy spiders a la "Arachnophobia."
Fun With Food
One perk of an adults-only Halloween party is that you can skip the pizza, Halloween candy and soda that kids enjoy in favor of more flavorful food. For a Halloween dinner party, make a vampire-fighting 40-clove garlic chicken, which features roasted garlic over braised poultry. On the side, layer orange slices and black Kalamata olives over greens for a Halloween-hued salad. For a cocktail party or appetizers, put together deviled eggs and add some black and red caviar to the top for an extravagant and decidedly adult finish.
Halloween tipples can range from the not-so-spooky -- but still tasty -- to the eerily edible. For a tame themed cocktail, mix up a batch of spiked spiced apple punch, made with apple cider, spiced rum and slices of apple for garnish, or make pumpkin martinis to order with vodka, half-and-half, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spices. If you want something a little more themed, add dry ice to a red-hued punch -- try making it with cranberry juice -- so it looks as if the beverage is smoking.
Adults sometimes have a hard time finding the motivation and time to construct Halloween costumes. Encourage party-goers to dress up by hosting a costume contest and offering prizes in multiple categories, including "best overall costume," "scariest costume," "most creative costume," "best couples costume" and "sexiest costume." Prizes that adults really want include miniature bottles of wine or liquor or coffee-shop gift cards. As the host, you should set the tone with a well-thought-out committed costume; if you don't take the contest seriously, your guests are less likely to as well.