Leaves are falling and jack-o'-lanterns are making their debut -- it's time for a soiree to celebrate the fall season! Use these easy, colorful ideas to make it memorable.
Celebrate two festive occasions -- Halloween and harvest -- with one party, as seen in the home of former art teacher Jeanne Carmack. Use some or all of Jeanne's clever ideas for hosting a casual fall get-together.
Editor's Tip: Jeanne buys fresh pumpkins at a local farmer's market, looking for various sizes and shapes to stack by her front door and against the living room fireplace.
Create a comfortable yet festive place for guests to gather during the party. Reflect the fall season with plenty of natural elements, such as pumpkins around the fireplace and a shock of wheat in an aged urn. Arrange baubles in clear apothecary jars for an extra zing of color.
Suspend a trio of wreaths above your fireplace using bright ribbon. Look for interesting wheat or straw wreaths. For a DIY wreath, hot-glue unshelled peanuts to a wreath form (far right). Arrange driftwood on the mantel to carry the natural theme. This ensemble sports a Halloween message written out in glittery letters.
Halloween is synonymous with trick-or-treating, which is a sweet treat free-for-all. So stock your table with plenty of fun confections. Buy plain cookies and frost them with colorful fondant. Fill jars and bags with candy in matching hues. Use nonedibles for decorating purposes. Sew pleats into crepe paper to wrap around the edges of cake stands. Wrap purchased cupcakes in coordinating pieces of parchment paper.
Draw attention to your festive Halloween table with eye-catching ceiling decor. Cluster paper lanterns (available at party supply stores) around a light fixture. Make colorful garlands by folding strips of colored paper over lengths of ribbon and stapling into place. Drape the garland from the ceiling, making sure it (and the paper lanterns) doesn't get close enough to a light source to become a fire hazard.
Add some glam to Halloween basics by freehanding scrolls onto pumpkins using crafts glue, then sprinkling with glass glitter. Create pedestals to elevate your creations by attaching plywood squares to old balustrades and painting them white.
Cleverly disguise vegetables as dimensional art by poking baby carrots onto short skewers and sticking them into a real pumpkin with a painted face.
Line your stairway with legions of gourds marching up and down the treads -- a look that carries through to Thanksgiving.
Make chili as the main dish if you want your party to include food beyond appetizers and sweets. Use carved-out pumpkins for extra Halloween serving dishes.
Editor's Tip: Decorate a planter just for Halloween by decoupaging pumpkin faces to the surface.
Pay tribute to Halloweens past with a memory board of trick-or-treat costumes labeled with the years they were worn. Remember to include those silly pictures of the family pet!
Editor's Tip: Use image-editing software to print images in black-and-white and add color with photo tinting products (available with scrapbooking supplies).
Hang decorated canvas bags filled with orange tissue paper as Halloween wall decor. Print out free vintage clip art on iron-on transfer paper and adhere to bags according to the paper manufacturer's instructions. If you use black-and-white clip art, use an orange fabric marker to add some color. Hang your works of art on hooks where they can be admired by guests.
End the party on a sweet note with a colorful candy bar. Fill burlap bags with colorful candies, placing unwrapped favorites, such as jelly beans, into cellophane bags first. Give guests sacks to fill with their favorite confections.
Editor's Tip: The mirror above the candy bar sports a message written in acrylic paint, which can be scraped off when Halloween is over.