Have you ever asked yourself how we grownups can have fun on Halloween without feeling silly, because I have? Especially I wondered when I was single, with no kids, and no house, but much too old to trick or treat, or even to revel at a drunken, costumed bacchanalia. My friend, Dunia, provided a marvelous solution, which became the basis of my Halloween revelry every year.
Dunia had a house and kids and a husband. But most important of all, she had a warm fireplace and an equally warm heart to match it. She knew that I was confined to spending Halloween cooped up in my one bedroom apartment alone, waiting for some truly adventuresome and candy starved kids to climb the 3 flights of stairs of my building filled with all single professionals to find me, the ONLY person eagerly waiting to see their costumes and give them some sweets. (Have I mentioned yet how much I enjoy celebrating holidays?) Instead Dunia invited me over to her modest, cozy home to help her give out candy to trick or treaters.
I arrived at her house to find her fireplace lit, a few friends gathered, and a coffee table spread of wine and nibbles. The guys had banded together to take the kids out for the evening, while Dunia stayed home and had a girl’s night, I mean, took responsibility for the important job of candy distribution. Together we laughed and chatted, half watched televised Halloween specials, and took turns answering the door. I didn’t have to dress up myself, and I got to thoroughly enjoy the costumes of those who did.
Once I had my own home, I adapted Dunia’s formula to suit myself. I collected decorations I feel celebrate Halloween but welcome kids to the door without frightening them. Rather than trying to festoon my whole house with paraphenalia, I decorate the front door and a candy station I set up just inside it. More recently, I found a great, black feathered wreath at Target and a bust of Dracula on sale at Michaels, so I make my mantle spooky now, too, since I spend the evening in the living room by the fire.
Last year I got ambitious and cooked up a suitably creepy Halloween dinner for my family which could be made ahead, then pulled out and heated up in the evening. Martha Stewart’s Cauldron Curry looked like witches green glop, but tasted ravishingly delicious since you make the green Thai curry paste yourself from fresh ingredients. It also provided lots of healthy nutrition because of all the vegetables in it. Her Bloody Black Currant Punch looked darkly sinister in a clear bowl (I used my trifle bowl), and we used black goblets from the mantle to drink it. (We put the brandy on the side instead of in the punch so everyone could share it.) Then, I adapted a recipe for whoopee pies by adding orange coloring to the whipped cream filling to create a black and orange dessert. Add a bowl of guacamole, and some nuts for snacking, and you’ll have a disgusting looking, tasty buffet to last you and your family through the night.
Other years, I have brought in an assortment of hot and cold small plates to last through the night, like Lo Mein noodles from the Chinese restaurant, cheeses from the grocery store, and frozen appetizers to heat in the oven. I invited over single friends or friends whose kids were spending the evening with their “ex” and lit the fireplace. Together we have discovered good red wines, which look like blood anyway, with spooky labels or names.
For entertainment, I collected some of the quirky, tongue in cheek, macabre movies by Tim Burton like Corpse Bride, Sleepy Hollow, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. They make me laugh and keep the mood whimsical and celebratory. Also, we have a pact to call each other to the door when an especially cute or effectively costumed kid knocks at the door. And, get the good candy. You know, that treat you were hoping would land in your bag when you were a kid. We can do that for the little people and watch them smile.
So enjoy yourself this Halloween from home. Carve a pumpkin, and light your jack-o-lantern. Set dinner or small noshes in the living room where you can easily answer the doorbell. Put the candy station in a convenient spot. Invite someone else over who may need good company, and join in the revelry.