Tips, tricks for celebrating Halloween with a party

By Pam McMurtry

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 15 2013 4:30 p.m. MDT

A glowing punchbowl for a Halloween party.

Pam McMurtry, McMurtry Ink

Celebrating the harvest is a tradition that may be traced back to ancient Israel's Feast of the Tabernacles. In modern times, Halloween can be spooky, but it's possible to sidestep the macabre and create a warm and happy celebration for family families. Here are some easy tips and a timetable for preparing your home or other location for company.

Go out to the street and walk up to the entrance. Notice the details as if you were a stranger approaching your home for the first time. First impressions will probably be of the door, lighting fixtures, window ledges and landscaping.

Make notes of necessary repairs, cleaning, decorations and updates.

A docent of a historical landmark house once said if the windows and light fixtures are clean, the house will seem clean.

In the month before

Hang pictures, clean coat closet and carpets and make repairs to house and yard.

Select a theme or motif. Be creative — think about favorite literature, history, movies, places, etc. Look for inspiration to start planning around; owls are big this year, you might add acorns and oak leaves. Advance planning gives you the advantage of time to gather items and recipes, but a good last-minute party can be pulled together if you have a basic supply of decor and some delicious food.

Plan the menu and start early preparations for activities.

Shop for paper products. Figure out your menu. What size plates do you need? What about bowls and cups? Plan for at least two napkins and two forks per person if you are serving dinner and dessert, it's better to have too many than too few. Deseret Industries and other thrift store might have candles, jars and costume pieces.

Mail, deliver or otherwise send out invitations for the holiday party.

Two weeks before

Purchase non-perishables, canned or frozen foods, ingredients for desserts and basics like rice or pasta and punch ingredients (except fresh fruit). By buying over a period of time instead of all at once, your budget won't take a big hit.

If you are using cloth tablecloths and napkins, these can be ironed in advance. Wrap a towel around around the bottom of a clotheshanger. Iron the tablecloth and drape over the towel then hang in an uncrowded closet. Napkins may be stored in a covered container.

Review menu, choose serveware, buy or borrow what you need.

Polish silver and wrap or put in an airtight container.

Clean your house and set up lighting and decorations.

The week before

Clean windows, remove cobwebs (maybe not for a Halloween party...) and oil cupboards. Wooden cupboards clean well by wiping with a cloth saturated with lemon oil or Liquid Gold.

Dust tops of fans and picture frames and “de-clutter” rooms.

Clean refrigerator and oven.

Prepare favors if using.

Three days before

Clean walls, bathrooms and floors.

Check coat closet for extra hangers for guests to use.

Two days before

Buy perishables, including fresh produce, meats and dairy.

The day before

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