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Halloween Entertaining Essentials

Published in Gourmet Live 10.26.11
Go beyond peeled-grape eyeballs and cold spaghetti brains with our 10 tips for hosting the ultimate black-and-orange bash

Take your Halloween party to the next level with easy but ghoulish treats, games, and gifts that will have your guests haunting you to have another party.

Finger-Friendly Food
Boost the gore factor of your party spread with cream cheese and jelly “fingers.” After removing the crusts from slices of white bread, flatten the bread slices with a rolling pin, spread them with cream cheese and raspberry jelly, then roll them up. Serve the fingers on a cutting board smeared with leftover raspberry jelly “blood.”

Bite Me
Add a functional edible garnish to your cocktails and mocktails: straws made from red and black licorice sticks snipped at both ends. Toss the snipped bits into the bottom of the glass, if you like, for a sweet treat in the final sip.

Stress-Free Feasting
Whipping up a slow cooker full of chili or stew is the easiest way to entertain on Halloween. It’ll stay warm long into the rounds of trick-or-treating, so guests can serve themselves when they wish and circle back later for seconds.

An Ode to Orange and Black
Stick to the holiday’s classic colors by featuring foods in similar hues. For appetizers, offer pumpernickel toasts spread with pimento cheese, or sweet potato chips paired with black bean dip. Trays of chocolate-dipped dried apricots and peaches make a sweet and festive finale.

Craft Beer
Create something sanguine out of light-colored beer by swirling in a drop or two of red food coloring. Serve the blood-stained brew in tall, clear glasses wrapped with white electrical tape, and then toast to all the mummies in the (haunted) house.

Lend Yourself a Hand
Add a creepy cooling element—an icy hand —to a bowl of blood-red pomegranate punch. Simply fill a cleaned latex glove with water, secure the end, and freeze it. Once it’s frozen, snip off the glove and plop the hand into your cocktail cauldron.

More Treating, Less Tricking
Make the most of bulk candy purchases by setting up a candy jewelry-making station for children and adults alike. Stock it with sturdy string and easy-to-assemble candies, such as Lifesavers, or Milk Duds with pre-pierced holes.

Stick(y) to the Basics
Caramel apples are a classic Halloween treat. But softball-size fruit on a stick can be unwieldy for any partygoer. Opt for fresh apple slices doused in lemon juice (to prevent browning) served with a homemade caramel dip. Or to stay true to the food-on-a-stick fun, dip smaller apples (plentiful at farmers’ markets) in caramel for a more manageable snack.

The Competitive (Spooky) Spirit
Here’s a party game for kids of all ages: Ask guests to submit their best estimate of the weight of a prominently displayed pumpkin. The person who guesses closest to the actual weight wins a prize of your choice.

A Sweet Send-Off
It’s hard to say good-bye, so usher your guests out the door with a parting pouchful of homemade granola. It will be a welcome breakfast treat the morning after your ghoulish gathering.

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