First, a post-mortem (small Halloween pun intended) on Halloween-themed parties thrown to date. Festivities started the first week of October with a reunion of the "Yah-Yahs" (last year's Junior Woman's Club executive board - name taken from my club year theme, "Young At Heart").
The potion theme of the invite neatly tied in to my party "concept," which was fairly simple - pumpkin pie martinis. As concepts go, I think that that's a pretty darned good one, don't you? The skeletons in the image also reminded me of my martini pitcher:
Yes, I have a skull-shaped pitcher. And a pumpkin-orange cocktail shaker. In my defense, my kitchen is pumpkin orange, so the shaker totally works 24/7/365.
The centerpieces, if you can call them that, are the coolest animatronic gizmos from Super Target. The mummy plays "The Cupid Shuffle" and does a passing version of the actual dance. The skeleton dude plays "Shorty Got Low," and he does, in fact, get low, low, LOW, LOW in time with the song. Both were total impulse purchases. This is how it went down:
"Mom, MOM, look, LOOK, MOM."
"Okay, put them down. We don't need those."
"Mom, MOM, listen."
"Seriously, we don't have time for this."
"Mom, MOM, he plays 'Shorty Got Low.'"
"Put him in the basket."
"And THIS one plays 'The Cupid Shuffle.'"
"Okay, he goes in the basket as well."
What can I say? I am an indulgent mother and a total sucker for impulse purchases, novelty songs, and impulse purchases involving novelty songs. But little Charlotte enjoyed their antics, as did Cynthia's granddog, so they were totally worth it.
Mid-October, it was time for this year's installment of the "Little Cooks Tricks and Treats Party," which we started hosting back in my Culinary Arts days (and continue to host for Culinary Arts members, alums and their respective families). More virtual stamps were consumed, and a number of electrons were highly inconvenienced, in the design and mailing of the Little Cooks invitation:
Paperless Post, you. Complete. Me. Concept for this party was derived entirely from this cool "Witches' Culinary School" banner that I scored at the Import Store in downtown Fort Worth, for FIVE DOLLAH . . . .
Cupcake toppers, masks and other party-specific decor were all stuff that I McGyver-ed out of a big package of scrapbook-ish Halloween-themed party decor that I bought off-season (from Super Target, natch) for cheap, then put up and ignored for a couple of years. As takeaways, kids got treat bags with various Halloween goodies in them as well as their choice from a selection of Halloween-themed rubber ducks, and the moms got to reach into the trick-or-treat jar and take out hot pink vampire teeth and pocket-sized "Halloween Treats" cookbooks (from the Target Dollar Spot; seriously, do you even have to ask?).
The little guests decorated cupcakes and mixed their own party snack mix, choosing from, among other items, . They also decorated witch hats (purple cone-shaped hats; do you know how hard it is to find solid-colored basic party hats these days? Sheesh!), attaching fringed construction paper for hair.
1) "Waiter, There's a Head in My Soup": Relay race involving two teams of racers carrying balloons (the "heads") on platters held aloft, waiter-style, and each racer had to keep his or her balloon on the platter at all times, or else they had to complete their leg walking backwards. It's as hard as it sounds - especially with a good crosswind. I found this idea on a Web site, the name of which unfortunately escapes me.
2) "Witches' Stew": This one I just made up. We collected ingredients from around the house, selecting items of which we had multiples. Unsurprisingly, given that we have boys, that list of multiples included blue dragons, red dragons, fluorescent rubber spiders, stuffed monsters, stuffed bats, plastic skulls, etc. We also threw in some of the plastic play food from Parker's room (chocolate chip cookies, halves of avocados) for good measure. The kids lined up in two teams, facing two large plastic cauldrons, with trick-or-treat buckets in front of them filled with all of the stew ingredients. I would call out an item from the list, the competitors would have to dig through the buckets to find the right items, and then they would have to run down to their respective cauldrons, add the ingredients, and return to tag the next folks in line. This one wasn't even close, because the big kids decided to team up against the little kids. Fortunately, the little kids failed to notice that the big kids won.
3) "Red Rover": Yeah, I realize that this game has nothing to do with witches or culinary schools. Parker picked it. It is his current favorite game. In his defense, it was loads of fun, because the kids insisted that the adults play.
Don't know if anyone got photos of the games - we were actually playing along, after all - but they were tons of fun. Did you notice the recurring theme of "make the kids run until they get tired, so they will pass out good and early?" Just one of the many services that the McGlincheys provide at their kid parties. We also learned early on that simple stuff goes over the best, and invariably you will only get around to doing half of what you planned, because the kids will go off and - well, be kids. They make up their own activities. And, within certain legal and safety-related boundaries, that's totally okay.
Here are some more pics of the Little Cooks in action:
The day after Little Cooks, I hosted a "Wicked" themed Keno night. Through several years of attending great parties thrown by great Woman's Club hostesses like June Hoffman, I have learned the benefits of the back-to-back party schedule. Bob Vila likes to talk about measuring twice and cutting once; I am a big believer in shopping/chopping/cleaning once and hosting twice. Bonus points if you can schedule event #1 on Sunday afternoon and event #2 on Monday night, when your maid schedule contemplates a Monday AM housecleaning.
The "Wicked" theme just sort of fit our Glee/Broadway loving group. Also our love of shoes - hence the "prize awarded for the witchy woman with the most fabulous footwear" gimmick in the invite below:
Winner of the shoe contest:
Points were awarded for the skinny black glitter heel, but our winner earned top prize for actually glittering her own flats - and making spiders to go on top of them.
I was ineligible to participate, given that I was the one awarding the prize, but I do think very highly of my red suede booties, AKA "my salute to Michael Jackson via footwear":
Yes, they are actually comfortable.
Didn't have to do much in the way of decorating, since the house is already lousy with witches:
I busted out the pumpkin pie martinis again, and a great many of them were consumed - resulting in a VERY LONG (but thoroughly enjoyable) game of Keno, during which a number of costume concepts were floated and abandoned in preparation for the upcoming Junior Woman's Club "Dress Like Your Favorite Eighties Icon" party. Very funny concepts - some of which, no doubt, will be featured in an upcoming post, if/when they are actually executed. (Translation: If people actually remember them. Did I mention the martinis?)
For dessert, I served "brownie bites on steroids" topped with fudge icing, chocolate chips and brickle bits:
Here's a photo that I took of Monday night's Keno crew, all hopped up on sugary martinis and equally sugary desserts:
Here's a second photo with me in it, after we figured out the timer feature on my camera (it's more than a bit blurry, but quite frankly I'm just impressed that we all ended up in frame):
Friend Robyn gets credit for this great idea. We already have a tradition of trick or treating with Friend Ashley's family, but - since we don't have time in a crowded October schedule for our traditional "frimily brunch" - it just makes sense to open up Halloween night to the whole frimily crowd. We are keeping this one very simple: