Night of Terror
Set the literary theme for the horror party by welcoming guests with a vignette that pays homage to Edgar Allen Poe, a spooky story master. Write this familiar line from Poe's "The Raven" on a blackboard (or black poster board). Set the sign on a table with volumes of Poe's work, a length of tattered cheesecloth, pumpkins, and any other Halloween-appropriate accessories. A vintage typewriter also helps set the literary theme.
Provide a spread of wine, cheese, breads, crackers, and black fruits for guests to nibble before dinner. Stemless Cinderella pumpkins work well as pedestals to add dimension to the buffet table. To dress up the buffet even more, incorporate tarnished silver pieces, aged mirrors, a few fall leaves, and another black sign with a quote from "The Raven."
SOURCE Raven (one of a set of three): olystudio.com.
Stand tree branches, spray-painted white, in tall glass vases filled with polished black rocks to create a textural element that casts spooky shadows. Stack different pumpkin varieties on surfaces throughout the space, such as mini pumpkins on candelabras and multicolor pumpkins on a triangular pot stand.
Simple labels identify food and wine selections. For the cheese picks, cut out rectangles from black cardstock and write the name of each cheese on a rectangle using a white marker. Cut bamboo skewers into short lengths and tape them to the backs of the rectangles; insert them into the cheeses. For the wine labels, cut lengths of black cardstock to fit around the wine bottles, adding an extra 1/2 inch for overlapping. Write the name of the wine on each label (or go with party-theme names like "Raven Red"). Wrap the labels around the bottles and secure with double-sided tape.
Quote the Raven
What would an Edgar Allen Poe party be without a few ravens? Place raven figurines throughout the space to enhance the party's theme.
SOURCE Malta Lantern (large): Pottery Barn.
Arrangements of pumpkins, dried leaves, and wheat shocks add to the party's autumnal vibe. Visit greenhouses and pumpkin patches to find gourds beyond the standard orange variety. Wrap some of the pumpkins with grapevines for a textural look.
Have a Seat
Set an elegant harvest table with a bounty of pumpkins and gourds. Black and white chairs match the table and orange throw pillows add a pop of fall color.
Editor's Tip: Don't have black chairs? Adapt yours for the party by wrapping chair backs with inexpensive black fabric. Or drape the table with a black tablecloth.
A raven suspended from the chandelier looms overhead, keeping an eye on the table's literary conversation.
SOURCE Crow (19-inch open-wing No. 25019): grandinroad.com.
Stacks of black-bound tomes keep with the literary theme and vary the height of the centerpiece. Grab books from your shelves, or visit a used bookstore to find inexpensive ones. Books with terrifying-sounding titles are a good choice for this Halloween party.
Evoke your literary senses with a book-theme place setting. Make copies of pages from books and glue together for place mats. Stack white or gray plates with a folded napkin and a black dessert plate (paper plates will work, too). Top each setting with a journal and a page from a Poe classic. At dinner, ask guests to read a paragraph from their tale out loud. Then ask guests to write their own true-life scary tale in the journal to be read to the group for after dinner entertainment.
Editor's Tip: We picked Edgar Allen Poe as our featured theme, but you can adapt any favorite story or movie to fit this party's theme.
Identify place settings with white Baby Boo pumpkins (available at greenhouses and pumpkin patches) wrapped in dried grapevines. The name cards are hand-cut from white cardstock and decorated with letter and bird rub-ons (available at crafts stores), but you also could hand-letter your own using a black marker.
After Dinner Sweets
For dessert, clear away the appetizer platters from the buffet and replace with towers of sweets for guests to enjoy. Offer wrapped dark chocolates, cups of black licorice sticks, and black jelly beans.
Bid farewell to each guest with a favor box as a memento from the evening's twist of spooky events. Fill black mini take-out boxes with fall-motif cookies, a final Poe tale, and chocolates (hearts reminiscent of Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart," perhaps?). Tie the boxes with string and top with skeleton leaves (available at crafts stores).