How to throw a costume party

Fuse great food and lip-smacking libations with hilarious costumes and you’ve got the recipe for a legendary fete
By Jen O’Brien and Grace Toby
halloween pumpkin Masterfile Halloween is not just for kids – why not get in on the fun? Throw a costume party your friends will be talking about until next October by combining clever costumes with delicious appetizers and devilish cocktails. The key to throwing a good costume party is to start planning early. Send your invitations out at least three weeks in advance to allow your guests time to get their outfits together. Include a list of nearby thrift stores and costume shops so your guests aren't left floundering for shopping ideas. There will always be a few people who grumble about the hassle of dressing up – planning a theme gives your guests some direction while still leaving plenty of room for imagination. Try these costume party themes:
The Halloween Olympics
Ask your guests to dress as Olympians from whichever decade they like. You can suggest anything from '70s track stars, complete with knee socks and headbands, to '80s figure skaters – think tights, sequins and heavy make-up for the ladies.
Spooky superhero shindig
Dressing as a superhero doesn't have to mean mandatory Lycra and spandex. Ask your guests to get creative with it. A cape, some high boots, a Zorro-esque eye mask and an homemade paper emblem affixed to the chest can transform just about any outfit into a superhero costume. You'll end up with a house full of people in dressed as everything from Wonder Woman to Superdad.
A fall masquerade ball
Costumes for this type of event are extremely easy to pull together, all you need is a mask – the more creative, the better. Dollar stores stock up on festive gear and masks both fancy and plain (DIY alert: Grab a glue gun, feathers and sequins and go crazy). Ask everyone to arrive in formal attire. Depending on your numbers and budget, stock up on masks and display them by the door so each guest can put one on as they walk in.
Creepy couple celebration
This is a fun option if you know a lot of couples. For those who love pulling out all the stops, suggest dressing as a fictional couple such as Frankenstein and his Bride, Tarzan and Jane or Hansel and Gretel. For twosomes interested in last-minute ideas, a contemporary option like Britney Spears and Kevin Federline would be simple (a few jogging suits, two packs of cigarettes and a couple of Red Bulls and this costume is complete). Opt for handheld snacks that aren't too sloppy. Try these simple appetizers: Chili-coconut shrimp Black magic toast with orange pepper salsa Spiderweb cupcakes Right before your bash begins arrange your munchies on the kitchen or dining room table with a few bowls of chips and Halloween candy. For some extra festive pizzazz, add a jack-o'-lantern and a few groupings of gourds to your hors d'oeuvre display. Of course no Halloween party is complete without cocktails. Impress your guests with these tailored libations: Bobbing for apples This drink is a take on the classic martini with a Halloween twist. - 3 oz vodka or gin - vermouth - pomengranate seeds Shake and stir the vodka or gin in a martini shaker filled with ice and add a splash of vermouth. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a few fresh pomegranates as your "mini apples." Blood & guts - 1 ½ oz raspberry vodka - 1 ½ oz cranberry-raspberry juice - grenadine Shake equal parts of the vodka and juice with a splash of grenadine in a martini shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a gummy worm. Drunken jack This drink can be served hot or cold. - 1 oz vodka - 1 ½ oz amaretto - 1 ½ oz apple cider - 1 tsp pumpkin puree (canned) Shake all ingredients well over ice. If serving hot, pour the warm apple cider over the other ingredients at room temperature. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.


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