By Erica Friedman
ericaBoo. Let the friendly witch hop on her broom so she can spread love, delicious food, touches of elegance and fun and laughter throughout your haunted home.

When hosting a Halloween party, it is always important to figure out for whom you are entertaining. Often times, it is equally for the kid in all of us as it is for our actual children. If you have toddlers, you are going to want to make sure the ghosts and goblins are funny and inviting (think Caspar the Friendly Ghost). But, if you are hosting teenagers, do not be afraid to make it as scary as you can! Either way, the food, drinks, lighting, place settings and décor can all be a lot of fun – fill them with handmade creativity and personal touches.

From the moment your guests arrive, you will want to have elements of surprise. The front yard should be set up appropriately – with oversized pumpkins, graveyards and cobwebs. Place speakers in your front windows so scary, haunted music emanates from your house. Or if you prefer, try scary sounds haunting your front door. As your guests open the door, you can have it trigger screeching sounds.

Décor is key. Keep in mind that with children, safety should always come first. With this being said, have fun stringing lights and spider webs across the tables, doorways, etc. Have a graveyard filled with haunted sounds or hire a person dressed as Frankenstein to do magic tricks.

An easy way to achieve the vibe of the holiday is through lighting – change out light bulbs in the ceilings and the chandeliers with warm colored light bulbs instead. Lighting has a very strong effect, especially if you decide to accent with a smoke machine. The combination is perfect!

I personally love to have themed-drinks available when my guests arrive. Smoking cocktails and floating eyeballs add the perfect touch to any Halloween party. Each drink can be the color of blood or orange for the holiday color. Regardless of what you choose, it is always fun to start the evening with a specialty cocktail.

For the little ones, a virgin version always works (think appropriately decorated juices). In order to get the smoking touch, you have to purchase some dry ice. For individual drinks, you place a tiny amount at the bottom of the cup. For the large punch bowls, you will need more. Remember to always wear gloves when working with dry ice so you do not get burned.

Next is the food. It can be fun because the weather is just starting to get cold outside. So a great pumpkin soup would be nice. Or warm mac and cheese always wins everyone over. If you are going for the more informal event, try specialty pizzas with a great salad, or turkey chili with all the sides. Regardless of what direction you choose, the holiday is all about the spider webs on the tables, insects and the element of surprise.

Although I haven’t mentioned it yet, never forget the candy. And if you decide to go trick or treating, pass out glow sticks to all of the children (and even the parents too). This way you can find each other and see where the group is going. Be safe and have a Happy Halloween.

Erica Friedman is a party planner who prides herself on producing a wide variety of events, including private parties, non-profit benefits, and corporate events. She is dedicated to being innovative and providing her clients with the best possible service. She can be contacted at erica@eventsbyerica.com.