We threw an awesome Halloween party, and brought all the Halloween to this place that hasn’t quite embraced it yet.
Most of our October was occupied by preparations for the party. Earlier this year, the plan was to again co-host a party at a friend’s house. We did this last year at VIM2’s house, and the plan was to co-host a party this year at the house we used to live at in Dickson. The party last year was great, though Pretty Boy and I didn’t get to do as much party planning and preparation as we wanted to (like the party didn’t have a theme beyond Halloween), because it wasn’t our house so we could only do and move so much there in the day or two before the party. Plus life, life keeps us busy always. Side note, last year we were a cos-play version of the Cheshire Cat (me) and a Mad Hatter from the 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie (Pretty Boy):
When we found out not too long before Halloween that our friend had too much going on to co-host a Halloween party with us, we were stuck. Our choices were: (1) no Halloween party or (2) put on our big-boy Halloween pants and host the party ourselves. I was hesitant to commit to option 2 since I knew it would be a lot of work and clean up and I thought our place wasn’t the best party house, but option 1 was pretty much not an option in Pretty Boy’s mind, so we decided to throw our first ever, real-life adult party for Halloween 2015.
And throw a party we did! I got right on the planning and organizing. There were 4 Halloween party planing tasks, each of which had subtasks. The main tasks were costumes, decorations, food, and entertainment. Some of the inspiration and ideas are collected on a pinterest board here. We decided on costumes (Zombie bride and groom) and food (Mexican) first which lead to our party theme: Day of the Dead Zombie Wedding. We made an invitation using picmonkey.com and got to making our vision for the party happen.
For costumes, Pretty Boy bought a button down and blazer from the second hand store and set to them with a metal grinder (not recommended), file (recommended), scissors, and a lighter to distress them enough to match his already-very-distressed work pants. I combined a cream skirt and linen tank top I already owned with “sleeves” made from tights with the feet cut off, a homemade flower crown veil and bouquet, and some jewelry. The flower crown veil was my favorite part. I tied tulle and dollar store, fake flowers onto a headband with fishing line, and hot glued in a few black plastic spiders. For the bouquet, I used black paint to painted the flowers from another dollar store flower bouquet, then hot glued some black painted gummy worms (called gummy snakes here) in among the flowers, and tied chicken bones around the base. The last part of our costumes was makeup. We did a makeup trial the week before Halloween, and Pretty Boy came up with pretty standard Zombie makeup with face wounds made from liquid latex and fake blood. I did a combination of lady Zombie makeup tutorials from the internet and the signature, under-eye blush from one of my favorite Minnesota burlesque performers: Musette the Mistress of Mischief.
Concurrently, we started working on decorations for our place. Even though we got an awesome care package full of American Halloween stuff from Pretty Boy’s mom (called mum here), we decided we wanted a really creepy Halloween vibe and a lot of the care package stuff was just too cute. I mean look at those socks and ghost lanterns!
There wasn’t a great assortment of Halloween related stuff for sale in Australia, so we mostly made our own decorations. They are still working on understanding Halloween, and the market is small, so Halloween stuff for sale is just different here. This for example:
Keeping with our creepy Zombie party vibe, we hung Christmas lights (called fairy lights here) inside and outside, decorated the windows with cut up and stretched garbage bag garlands inside and outside, and a black feather wreath for our front door. We put white spider webbing on the window glass and sliding glass door and brown spider wedding on the walls. Our normal wall art was covered with spooky skull art prints. We covered the inside flat surfaces with black or cream pieces of fabric and placed on top beef bones and a variety of glass bottles and jars with tea candles and long taper candles. Pretty Boy organized a fire pit and fire wood for our courtyard. A lot of the decorating ideas this year were sourced from Martha Stewart.
For food, I decided on Mexican food because I miss Mexican food so much and its so festive. This was the menu:
- Corn tamales
- Red rice
- Black beans
- Coffee caramel tres leches cake
- Tortilla chips and salsa
- Jarritos, Mexican Coca Cola, and Dos Equis beer
The tamale and guacamole recipes are my go to recipes for those dishes. I made the tamales with rendered beef tallow instead of lard and served them with the garlic, creamed corn but not the swiss chard (called silverbeet here). The recipes for red rice and black beans were new to me, but the Homesick Texan blog comes highly recommended from the Smitten Kitchen blog, so I thought I’d try them out, though I veganized both by using water instead of vegetable stock and vegetable oil instead of animal fat. The coffee caramel tres leches cake was another new recipe from a trusted source. The main reason for picking these dishes was to create a well rounded meal; the second reason was pre-cook-ability. I outsourced the guacamole to a friend and bought chips and salsa, but made the other things over the course of a week. I prepared and froze the tamales on Monday, cooked and froze the red rice on Tuesday, cooked the black beans Wednesday, and made the tres leches cake Thursday. On Friday, the day of the party, I used bamboo steamer boxes to cook the tamales and reheat the rice, heated the beans and kept them warm in my slower cooker, and make the whipped cream for the cake. Since I’d already placed the tamales and rice in steamer basket and the beans in the slower cooker pot, it mostly just took turning the stove and slower cooker on. Sourcing Mexican cooking ingredients and beverages was not easy and required at least 4 or 5 stores, but I got everything I wanted, even the epazote in the black beans, which I’ve never used before.
The food turned out great! The beans were much spicier than I anticipated , which some of our guest couldn’t quite handle but others were absolutely thrilled about. I’ve made the black beans and red rice again since the party because we loved them so much. The tres leches cake was good, but I like Martha Stewart’s plainer tres leches cake better. And with another Martha Stewart reference, I will acknowledge that none, I repeat none, of the recipes are used are from Mexico. Texas, Indiana, Minnesota, Georgia, but not Mexico. I wanted to find Mexican sources for my recipes, but I don’t currently have any trusted Mexican sources for Mexican recipes and I didn’t have the means or time to test recipes before the party (you know I don’t trust random recipes off the internet!). So here, when I say Mexican food, I’m talking about an Americanized take on Mexican food, though as I continue to cook Mexican food in the future, I want to find more sources from Mexico. Though admittedly, Americanized Mexican food is the kind of Mexican food I have a taste for, the kind I’ve eat in Minnesota. Its a struggle. Even Epicurious named an American-written Mexican cookbook in their Epicurious Cookbook Canon (I still want it and the Southern cooking cookbook on that list), though I’m interested in this one now too.
Lastly, there was party entertainment. This involved getting a DVD of the Rocky Horror Picture Show to play on the TV on repeat during the party, making a Spotify playlist of Halloween-ish/spooky/party songs we liked, and setting up pumpkin carving stations. We had a lot of fun putting together a really crazy and diverse collection of songs for the playlist, but it worked out. If you have Spotify, you can listen to our Halloween mix here, featuring everything from Michael Jackson to Modest Mouse, Nina Simone to Lady Gaga, and everything in between. The pumpkin carving stations went completely unused. Pretty Boy and I carved our pumpkins before the party, and no one brought pumpkin to the party to carve (even though I instructed them to), but that’s alright. Big orange pumpkins here are rare and out of season October, so they’re very expensive.
We had so much fun with all the party preparations. We put a lot into the party, but had so much fun doing it all that it never felt like work. If anything ever did start to feel like work, I crossed it off the list and we just didn’t do it. Here’s how the decorations turned out:
And then I think the party went great too. People came in waves throughout the night, as people will do at a party. I made way more food than was needed, and it was supplemented by tasty things brought by friends, like salad, homemade wheat tortillas, and hummus. I couldn’t stop saying “farty paux pas” when I was trying to say “party faux pas” about someone messing with the music. Many more people came in costume this year compared to last year, which was great, including some amazing homemade costumes and other creative get-ups. Someone did come covered in glitter with a can of silly string; the silly string cleaned up alright… we’re still working on the glitter. And here we are under the fairy lights in our courtyard with the party in full swing:
It was awesome. We might make a tradition of it. So until next year, Halloween Pretty Boy and Halloween Pretty Pie say, “RAAAARRR!”