For many of us, Halloween is the most looked forward to holiday of the year. The mystery and ghostly magic of Halloween attracts us, coaxing us to put on our best disguises and venture into the crisp fall air to mingle with the goblins and spirits that are about.
Halloween parties are a common part of October 31 revelry. If you’re considering throwing a spooky shindig this year, try conjuring up a vintage Halloween party, and let everyone else go ahead with creating a garden variety party.
To devise an old-time Halloween party, start by focusing on these key concepts: ornate Halloween decorations; keeping things spooky, but not gruesome; and parlor games (beer pong does not qualify).
Toward the end of the Victorian Era in America, Halloween became less frightening and more fun. At that time, everyone was trying to keep up with, and surpass “the Jones’” too. This lead to Halloween invitations and party decorations that were cute, only a bit macabre, and somewhat fancily decorated. You’ve seen the old fashioned Halloween greeting cards that show a cute child being chased by a not-too-scary ghost. These are colorful and fanciful. That’s the idea for your vintage Halloween party. Colorful (but not too colorful), fanciful, and just a bit scary.
Luckily, you can find some nice “vintage” invitations and decorations at specialty stores and online. Keep in mind that in Victorian and post Victorian days, people often went all out when decorating. You can find framed art, wall hangings, tablecloths and napkins, candelabras and chandeliers, dishes, plates, goblets and glasses, and other items to decorate with in stores, at thrift shops and yard and estate sales.
One interesting Halloween decorating idea would be to use mismatched china (or not china) and drinking glasses and goblets in black, white, brown, or orange. These Halloween colors will lend a seasonal appeal to your table, and the disjointed, mismatched nature of them will keep guests a bit off kilter.
And consider non-traditional Halloween decor, too. A black and white framed print of a full moon, or a picture of the old-time Man in the Moon would look great watching over guests. A black crow or two perched on top of a shelf or watching over the food table will add an air of ominous fun.
A vintage Halloween party won’t be vintage without some type of parlor game. Set up a Ouija Board, or have one of your guests read the future by looking into a crystal ball (or hire a fortune teller).
Because many parlor games from the Victorian Era were focused on when or who someone would marry, they may or may not work for your party situation. To predict when a party guest will marry, blindfold the guest and have her try to blow out a lit candle. If she blows it out in one breath, she’ll marry within a year. Two or three tries means she’ll have to wait a couple years. More than three breaths suggests that the player should give up on romance for the rest of the current year.
If weather permits, set up a few outdoor games that can be adapted to Halloweening, such as a large board painted with a jack-o-lantern face with the eyes, nose and mouth cut out–this makes for a fun ring or beanbag toss game.
You can set the scene for a thrilling and chilling vintage Halloween party by planning for fanciful fun, using only slightly frightful old style decorations; and by arranging for some fun games for your guests to entertain themselves with.