Don’t you love Halloween? It’s a time when you can be whatever you want, the one day when no one is confined to his or her circumstances, not even a contemporary women’s fiction author who fancies her house to look like what she thinks Anne Rice’s should.
What better way to celebrate than a Literary Halloween Party? It's not too early to start your planning.
Here are a few suggestions for a frightfully fun evening.
Decide on a theme. A few of my favorites include Great Couples of Literature (Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Caesar and Cleopatra, Catherine and Heathcliff, and one of my all-time favorite duo costumes, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale from The Scarlet Letter), Come as Your Favorite Author, and the always fun Dead Author party. Or how about Literary Monsters, but not just Frankenstein and Dracula, but centaurs, sirens and cyclops as well?
Invitations. Set the tone right off the bat (no pun intended). A few years back, I attached pulled and stretched cheesecloth to black card stock, then glued the famous picture of Bela Lugosi coming down the stairs. Inside, I put a quote from Dracula plus all of the other pertinent party information.
Decorations. For me, it’s all about creating a home that looks like a vampire family lives there. Not the Twilight ones, though. They are too contemporary and clean-looking. I mean the old-school goths with black, gargoyles and skulls. A few traditional pumpkins for carving are great, but I prefer the white ones or the faded, misshapen greenish-gray ones for a more ghostly feel.
Cheesecloth is great for creating an old, worn fabric texture for spider webs or tablecloths. Simple push your finger through the middle and rip. Keep pulling until the piece is sufficiently web-like.
On your serving table, use unpolished silver pieces. Mix in gourds, small pumpkins and candles. Put dead roses in a vase and cover them with spider webs. Creepy, right?
Activities. Read “The Raven” or another classic Poe tale. Tell ghost stories, or create a running story, where each guest contributes a line.
Food and beverages. Why not re-name traditional Halloween food for the night? Serve some eerie punch with a block of dry ice in a cauldron courtesy of the three witches from Macbeth, or meat pies from Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. What about Dutch apple pie in the spirit of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Tales by Washington Irving?
Music. Greet your guests with Danse Macabre, Op. 40 or Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. There are many more magnificent, creepy classical pieces on iTunes, but these are two of my favorites.
What are some of your favorite literary Halloween party ideas?
(This piece originally ran on Writer Unboxed.)