Prepare foods. Most vegetables can be washed and cut up the day before they are served. Tear and toss salads, but don't add dressing, croutons or cut tomatoes until just before serving. Assemble casseroles or baked dishes and chill to cook just before needed. If making a main dish salad, cook ingredients like chicken or bacon and refrigerate to use the next day.
Clean guest bathroom and hang sign telling the family to “Use other bathroom.” Place guest soap and towels in bathroom.
Carve jack-o'-lanterns. Glow sticks or battery-operated tea candles can be used instead of real candles. Refrigerate to keep fresh.
Day of the party
Give house the “once over” in the morning and set up any last-minute decorations.
Set table, eating areas and beverage-serving areas.
Bake entree, side dishes and prepare last-minute dishes such as dessert and punch.
Rest and dress for the party.
Enjoy the party!
Fit a colored punchbowl or cauldron with a clear plastic bowl for a liner (check discount or party stores). Place several activated glowsticks in the punchbowl and set the liner on top. Fill the liner with your favorite punch or juice, adding a few drops of green food coloring if you wish. Wearing gloves, float chunks of dry ice for a bubbling, steaming effect.
Pumpkin Pie Cake
Many like this rich dessert better than pumpkin pie!
1 box yellow cake mix, with one cup reserved
½ cup butter, melted
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 29-ounce can pumpkin
1½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 12-ounce cans evaporated milk
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. From a box of yellow cake mix, remove one cup of dry mix and set aside for topping. Combine remaining cake mix with egg and melted butter.
Pat into the bottom of a 9-by-13 baking pan. Mix together four eggs, pumpkin, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and evaporated milk.
Pour over crust. Set aside.
Mix together reserved cup of cake mix, ½ cup sugar, 1½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ cup softened butter and the pecans until the texture of corn meal and sprinkle over pumpkin filling.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes or until pumpkin is set. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Pam McMurtry is a wife, parent, artist and writer. Her "A Harvest and Halloween Handbook" is at
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