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Double, double, toil and trouble - a bewitchingly good party

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Picture an old witch doctor’s laboratory with creepy apothecary jars filled with unicorn horn dust, toadstool clippings, and werewolf fur.  Pumpkins painted black and washed with glow-in-the-dark paint to give a faint eerie look as the lights are dimmed.  Candles burning, skulls churning in giant glass domes, and black crows perched carefully on old bones making the experience far too real.  

This was the scene for an adventurous 10 year old's birthday party.  She is no ordinary girl and she didn't want an ordinary party.  When her mom called a week before Halloween (yes, one week), she requested a scary haunted house.  At first I wasn't enthusiastic.  Have you seen our logo?  It's all pinks and hearts, and dripping with cozy hugs and kisses.  But as I started to research it I grew more and more smitten with the idea of a spooky, eerie, black and white revelry.  This party was going to be a throwback to Frankenstein not Freddy Kruger.  So, off we went on the fastest witch's broom we could find.

We are big on entrances.  We love to create anticipation with sounds, peek-a-boo curtains, giant entry door signs creating excitement as guests get closer. And, this party was no different.

As guests drew near the party venue, they could hear what was awaiting them inside as a soundtrack of the worst Halloween noises were screeching from just behind the distressed gauze cloth hung over the doorways.  The fog machine added the perfect amount of drama once the curtain was pulled back.  Given time constraints, we focused on three areas for decoration: the main dining table, the buffet area, and a secondary scene near the flat-screen TV where the kids would be watching a movie.

Once seated for dinner, each guest was greeted with a little black box on their plate.  This was no ordinary box. Open it at your peril as a witches' severed finger was inside wearing a gothic skull ring (party favor, anyone?).   Drinking goblets were made from a skeleton hand gripping a champagne flute filled with a magical, yet poisonous, concoction made from the breath of a dragon (and red Snapple!).  Spider web chargers sat atop of a dusty grey gauzey tablecloth, black plates with cooper webbing, and black utensils completed the look.

Lighting is key for a ghoulish night of tricks and treats.   Candles abounded everywhere.  Glow sticks were glued into thin, black witches’ hats and then suspended like chandeliers floating over the dining table and buffet.  

For entertainment, the old original black and white 1931 Frankenstein movie was playing in the background.  How hauntingly perfect!

Looking to source Halloween decorations and tableware?  Visit Halloween Screams or contact us for the posters and stickers.   

10 tips for replicating this party at home:

  1. Buffet backdrop: to replicate the framed art used in the buffet backdrop visit Swoon Soirees' Halloween Screams Pinterest board. You can find a number of freebies ready to print at home or at your local printer.

  2. Frame it: to replicate the look above, visit your nearest Ikea for inexpensive wooden black frames in myriad sizes. They are very inexpensive and perfect for a framing Halloween art.

  3. Mirror, mirror on the wall: We love how Marie Antoinette’s corpse came out. This was a purchased image printed on a clear sticker sheet, cut out, and stuck onto an ornate black Ikea frame. It was the perfect focal point for the buffet backdrop.

  4. Spell books: every witch’s lair should have them and so shall you. Simply print some creepy book bindings on A3 or A4 paper. Soak a few of your favorite black tea bags in about 1/4 cup very hot water. Let cool. Using the tea bag as a paint brush, rub the bag all over the paper. It will probably break. Good! More black tea leaves to rub around your very wet paper. If you want it darker in certain places, like the binding, get a fresh tea bag and repeat. Let the paper dry overnight and be amazed how great it looks in the morning.

  5. Black pumpkins: there is nothing magic here. Just paint them black!  If you live in Hong Kong, buy your pumpkins on October 22nd at the HKIS Pumpkin Festival in Tai Tam. The craft store at 68-76 Hennessy Road stocks black paint.

  6. Filling your apothecary jars: oh, this is the fun part. Ever wonder what to do with all that excellent (and super smelly) dried stuff you see in wet markets in Wan Chai? Now you know! Apothecary jars can be sourced from several vendors in the Flower Market, Prince Edward MTR, Hong Kong.

  7. Fingers, frogs, snakes, and other slithering stuff: A quick trip over to Pottinger Street in Central, Hong Kong, will result in a variety of fun party props for your tables. We found a bag of severed fingers we used for the party favors along with witchy hats, rubber rats, snakes, and assorted other body parts ideal for creating just the right amount of gross.

  8. Floating witches hats: 1) Tie a long piece of fishing line to a medium size kid’s necklace bead. Put the bead inside the hat (found on Pottinger Street) then pull the fishing line through the tip of the hat. 2) Hot glue an extra large / long glow stick inside the tip of the hat (found in the Wan Chai market). Using the fishing line, suspend several hats over your door, dining room table, buffet tables, etc by taping the line to the ceiling. 3) Crack the glow stick moments before your event to maximize its glow time. Tip: try to find the cheapest, thinnest hats to maximize the glow through the material.

  9. Realistic skulls: ordered on Aliexpress in China…but buyer beware! They didn’t arrive until the clock struck midnight the day before All Hallows Eve (a common problem when ordering from Aliexpress or Tao Bao – suppliers and their products can be very unreliable).

  10. Create vignettes: unless you have an unlimited budget, focus your decorating efforts in concentrated areas. Create mini vignettes with old suitcases, candles (H&M has a great collection of black candles right now), old jars or wine bottles, old sheets or black fabric from Sham Shui Po that you can rip up and drape across lamps, end tables, etc. Create a centerpiece for your dining table by collecting a few dead tree branches and crumbled leaves, add a few black pumpkins in different sizes, and a couple of candles. You have just mastered the art of the vignette. Halloween tableware can be sourced from Swoon Soirees: stylish partyware for the modern hostess, www.swoonxoxo.com.

Happy haunting!



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