image courtesy of Randy Son of Robert, via Flickr

This is it: make this is the year you do a little more for Halloween than simply carving a pumpkin and buying a few bags of candy. You can do it! And we’re here to help.

First of all, you’d have to be sequestered from all media to not know that Martha Stewart LOVES Halloween, so we have to give her props and confess that many of our ideas are Martha-inspired. (You can see all of Martha’s Halloween ideas on her website.) Other ideas are things we’ve learned over the years, as we’ve sometimes been called the world’s #2 Halloween fan (after Ms. Martha).

There’s still time to plan a Halloween Party.

Halloween Decorations

The first rule of Halloween decorations is that too much is never enough. The best Halloween décor is all about details.

  1. Dress your house with cobwebs made from cheesecloth that you’ve snipped and torn into shreds. Hang from the ceiling (especially in the corners, of course) and drape along banisters.
  2. Arrange vases of flowers (real or faux) and add plastic spiders or snakes to the arrangements.
  3. Cut out black cat silhouettes from black construction paper.
  4. Perch black crows (faux, natch) around your house, especially up in the chandelier.
  5. Hang black crepe paper in front of your windows to create scary curtains.
  6. Get an inexpensive fog machine, available at most party supply stores, and place it in a dark corner to ooze out spooky fog.

Frightful food

Since it’s a party, fun finger foods are the name of the game. Sure, you can take the lazybones way out and place bowls of Halloween candy around the house, but your guests will appreciate if you take the extra step and make a few spooky treats.

  1. “I Scream sandwiches” are easy to make using two Dutch cocoa cookies and filling with your favorite ice cream. (Soften the ice cream in the microwave to make spreading easier, then re-freeze the sandwiches before serving.)
  2. Candy corn! Candy corn! Candy corn! (Sorry, we get truly excited about these devilish little candies just once each year. It’s not a Halloween party without candy corn!)
  3. Offer guests a creepy cocktail with a Halloween theme. Food Network has a great collection of recipes, including blood-colored drinks, Bloody Marys and non-alcoholic punches (Vampire Blood – yum!).

Dress up

Here’s a novel idea: start thinking about your costume earlier than the day before the party. It doesn’t have to be fancy – unless that’s what you want. Seriously, the days of borrowing your Dad’s oversized shirt and pipe and calling yourself a hobo are long gone. If the only way you’ll dress up is to “do it right” with a professional costume, then do it. Get it done. But if you want to have fun and be a little creative, start thinking. Here are a few classics that never fail:

  1. Gypsy – long drapey skirt and top, lots of long chain necklaces, head scarf, flowing hair (get a wig, if necessary)
  2. Mummy – Dye paper towels or cheesecloth with coffee, let air dry overnight and then start wrapping! Add spooky dark make-up for a ghoulish effect.
  3. Toga – Remember those college parties? A great, well-tied toga is a fun costume for men or women. We like this plan for making a toga from a bedsheet.

This year, make Halloween even more fun. Gather friends (and fiends) for a traditional costume party!