Halloween is coming up soon, and for many of you witches and ghouls, that means hosting a fantastic party. I’ve seen a few great Halloween parties in my day, and they all had pretty much the same theme — scary. It’s hard to throw a party that is different and unique on a holiday with such a narrow focus, but if you’re looking for something different, I’ve got just the idea for you. Why not throw a superstition party?
This idea first came to me a couple of months ago, when my friend, Michelle, was planning her 40th birthday party. Her birthday fell on Friday the 13th, so she wanted to go all out and have a huge superstition-themed party. She asked me to help her plan it, and it was so much fun both to plan and to attend. When the party was over, I realized that the same idea would be great for Halloween, too!
I’m going to share with you all the goodies I created for the party, including the invitations, centerpieces, decorations, party game, and menu ideas. These can easily be used for a Halloween party, or if you have patience, you can wait until the next Friday the 13th on the calendar (which isn’t until May of 2011).
If you want something for your guests to do that’s casual and not too difficult, and that also serves as a great icebreaker, then you’ll like this idea. I made up a “How well do you know…?” game that had two parts. First, it asked questions about the guest of honor, to see how well the guests knew Michelle. Then, it asked questions about superstitions, to see how well the guests knew what was lucky and unlucky.
Guests filled out the quiz as best they could, and put their answers in a box. Every half hour or so, Michelle drew a sheet from the box, and if the answers were all right, that person won a prize. The prize was a lottery ticket tucked into a Chinese lucky money red envelope. It was the perfect prize to really encapsulate the ideas of luck and superstition. Unfortunately, nobody came away a lottery millionaire, but one guest did win $20!
Here is my game template for you to download if you want to have it at your party.
This template is a Microsoft Word doc that you can easily edit and customize. Once you’ve got the questions suited to the party host, just print a bunch out and let your guests have fun with it.
The decorations were so fun for this party! To start off, I got the biggest ladder I could find and put it outside the entrance. Guests were encouraged to walk under the ladder in order to get to the party. This definitely set the tone for the evening, and guests knew what they were in for the second they arrived. (Note that this event was held at a large, old house… this isn’t where Michelle lives!)
Near the entrance, I played a looped recording of the song “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder which welcomed the guests in a humorous way.
Once guests entered the building, they saw a table adorned with several items for the party. The most obvious thing on the table was the party game I told you about, with a stack of sheets and a bowl of pens. I took a cardboard box and wrapped it with paper, and stuck a slot machine cutout on the front. This served as the box for people to put their completed game sheets into. Then I put up a sign with the game instructions. (Don’t worry — the instruction sheet is included in the party game download I gave you above).
Also on the table were a couple of fun “good luck” items to make guests feel comfortable in a party full of superstition violations. I put a big bowl of rabbit’s foot keychains for guests to take as favors. I also put an assortment of glass vases and bowls that I filled to the brim with Lucky Charms cereal. (I will admit that I snacked on plenty of the marshmallows while setting up!)
In the foyer of the building, the huge staircase served as a great place to put a bunch of open umbrellas. These were the first sign to guests that this we really were casting all superstitions aside at this party and letting it all go! We had each guest pose in front of the umbrellas for a photo, which we collected for the party scrapbook Michelle will make.
One final touch for the party space, which was a subtle one, was the number of tables and chairs. In keeping with the lucky/unlucky theme of the night, we had 13 tables for guests to sit at and each table had 7 chairs!
You may have noticed the centerpieces on the tables shown in the pictures above, and wondered exactly what they were. The centerpieces were my favorite part of the whole party, and each table had a different one. I did a bunch of research and found as many superstitions as I could, and brought them to life as centerpieces. Every table had a collection of items that showed both a “good luck” superstition and a “bad luck” superstition. Here are close-ups of the 13 table centerpieces I created.
(You’ll also notice a bunch of tiny “40″ confetti on all the centerpieces, which were there because it was Michelle’s 40th birthday. You obviously wouldn’t do that for Halloween!)
Each table also had little signs next to the centerpiece that told the guests what superstitions were being shown. I did this by creating small cards with “good luck” or “bad luck” written at the top, and with the details of the superstition below. I put one white “good luck” card and one black “bad luck” card on each table, displayed in a menu card holder. And of course I’ve got the cards in a handy downloadable template for you!
These centerpieces were not only fun to create and shop for, but they ended up being a great way to get guests to mingle. Everyone at the party traveled around the rooms throughout the night, wanting to see what was on all the tables. It really kept the crowd moving around and everyone got to see everyone else!
The food served at your party should fit the superstition theme as well, and anybody who has ever eaten black eyed peas on New Year’s knows that some foods are considered lucky! Here is a list of traditionally lucky and unlucky foods to consider:
These are some lucky foods:
- greens (cabbage, collards, kale, chard) are considered lucky because green symbolizes money
- legumes (black-eyed peas, lentils) are considered lucky because their round shape resembles coins
- pomegranates are linked to abundance and fertility
- citrus fruits are associated with luck and wealth
- grapes are considered lucky for a sweet year
- round breads and cakes resemble a ring and symbolize continuation of life and new beginnings
- long noodles represent long life; the longer the noodle the better
- pork symbolizes progress and prosperity
There are some unlucky foods:
- lobsters are unlucky because they move backwards, symbolizing setbacks
- chicken is unlucky because birds scratch backwards, symbolizing regret
- anything with wings is very bad because your good luck could fly away
- white food is bad because white is the Chinese color of death
At Michelle’s party, the caterers turned this list of food ideas into a wonderfully superstitious menu, which included:
- roasted pork sliders (lucky pork served on lucky round buns)
- spaghetti pasta salad (with lucky long noodles)
- coleslaw (lots of lucky cabbage)
- homemade potato chips (more lucky round food)
We also concocted a special drink that we dubbed “Lucky 40 Punch” that was a mixture of white grape juice and pomegranate juice, garnished with orange slices. Besides being full of lucky fruit, it was also very tasty!
For the birthday cake, we opted to play up the idea that round cakes are especially lucky, so I created an arrangement of cupcakes that spelled out “40″ in several colors of icing. We put them on a round table which made a really great presentation. Tiny chocolate letters spelling out “Happy Birthday” adorned the cupcakes on the edges. (I made them by piping melted chocolate onto wax paper, then sticking them upright in the icing after they hardened.)
Oh my goodness, this post is long enough already without getting into the invitations, too! They were pretty amazing, though, so you’ll need to check out my separate tutorial for Friday the 13th party invitations for details. To tempt you, here’s a look at what a stack of 50 invites looks like!