Special Nonexistent Furniture

by Matthew Mead

Matthew is a stylist, writer, author, photographer, lifestyle editor, and noted style expert. Matthew is the official food photographer for the Associated Press and is a regular contributor to Better Homes and Gardens, Real Simple, and Oprah.com. He has also written several books and produced countless magazine spreads and ad campaigns for companies such as Pottery Barn, Dove Chocolate, Target, and Stonewall Kitchen.

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  • Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
  • I have lots of tricks to make this year's Halloween party a real treat! Everyone loves dressing up, and dressing your party is an easy way to impress boys and ghouls of all ages.
  • Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
  • If you're planning a party for adults only, I love the idea of a masquerade ball with a dessert buffet. Ask guests to wear black with face masks to add mystery to the night (and keep extra masks on hand for guests who didn't bring a disguise).
  • Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
  • Jazz up pre-made desserts to cut back on prep work. Get a cheesecake from a local bakery and pipe melted chocolate into a spider web. Top it with a decorative spider and you're good to go! Use silver trays and candlesticks as serving pieces, as well as garden urns and decorative birds to add interest. Battery operated candles are topped with black sanding sugar and can be used to illuminate all of your food and decorative tableau.  Store bought cream puffs are piled high in a small planter.

    Try setting a table by first topping the surface with black velvet.  Use a black and white decorative edged plate for a place setting and then a glass plate with the drawing of a spider web sandwiched in between (download the spider web here) make special place cards for all of your guests.
  • Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
  • I think disguising store-bought food is a great way to streamline a party. Coat cookies in white royal icing, allow to dry, and add eyes in black icing to create easy and fun ghost shapes. For a tasty dessert dip I mixed peanut butter and cream cheese and formed into a ball that I then rolled in chopped peanuts. Add some sugar icing eyes and a ring of chocolate and gingersnap cookies and you have an instant scary treat.

    Serve special cocktails, play spooky music, and start your party later in the evening; it adds to the spooky flair!
  • Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
  • For a family-friendly gathering, throw a DIY pizza party. Simple ingredients can be gathered at the grocery store and the activity of making personal pizzas is a great way to engage every member of the family.
  • Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
  • Set the scene with a buffet table to serve the food. Hang lanterns, decorate with pumpkins, and accessorize with Halloween decorations. Have a family friendly drink ready by the pitcher-full… like blueberry juice mixed with seltzer water flavored with lemons.

    Assemble a kitchen island with naan bread or prepared pizza dough. Layer on sauce and have parents help cut fun shapes to make faces. Peppers, summer squash, zucchini, and pepperoni all make interesting and tasty decorations. A pumpkin icon takes shape easily by the manipulation of cheese and the right face cut-outs from orange peppers. An owl perches proudly in the center of a sauce covered pizza crust  with squash eyes and pepperoni details. Guest will let their creativity soar when you supply alfredo sauce to top crust or pesto which is a great green background to create a pizza monster.
  • Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
  • Ice cream cones, cookies, and "make your own sundae" are other engaging activities and fun treats for guests. Ice cream cones are topped with Halloween sprinkles and placed in a metal cone holder for the most tempting presentation.
  • Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
  • Store bought cookies are dipped in candy corn colored coating to make a great accompaniment to milk while and ice cream sundae is the ultimate treat topped with hot fudge and Halloween candy.
  • Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
  • Ice cream sandwiches are made with chocolate wafer cookies, orange sherbet, and orange and black sprinkles. Holiday plates are made by affixing vintage Halloween icons to the back of glass plates with double-stick tape.

    Kids of all ages love treats and gatherings and special celebrations that are memorable and fun. Simple meals and dessert parties are truly easy gatherings to share the spirit of the season... so keep it simple and throw a party.

    Looking for more Halloween ideas and inspiration? Be sure to check out my new book Halloween with Matthew Mead!

    - Matthew
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