Sometimes I’m on the ball with the whole planning and implementation of the idea that forms in my brain. Other times…not so much. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some people call it lazy. Heather calls it procrastination. I prefer to use the phrase “seat-of-the-pants.” According to that bastion of truth, the World Wide Web, “Seat-of-the-pants” is defined as: Done by feel, guess, or trial and error rather than by careful planning. Yes! That last part…sooo that last part. I guess I got caught up in the whole commercialization of the most pagan of holidays. There is just so much stuff out there for All Hallows’ Evening. Cutesy, scary, spooky, vintage, glam, and glitzy. How does one choose?
Well in my case, I didn’t. I just bought stuff, a lot of stuff. Totally with the right intentions, mind you. A purple glitzy candelabra from Michaels, some plastic vermin and snakes from various stores, a black pumpkin from Target, etc. I appeared to be stuck in accumulate mode. If partners, in life and in business, are good at tacking on more work, they are equally adept at snapping you out of such modes. Heather had asked, “So how’s all this going coming together?” I believe my answer was to change the subject each and every 8 times she asked me that. So with this blog post, like my table design, I’m just gonna dive right in.
I didn’t know where “exactly” I wanted to go with the design, but I did know that I wanted to use some of those vintage medical illustrations. Like these:
I always found them to be creepy, and if anything screams Halloween, it’s creep factor. We ultimately went with the skeleton. If only because it’s a skeleton and not a severed head. Skeleton = creepy = Halloween, while severed head = scare the crap out of the little neighborhood kids. And seeing as how they were our target audience, yeah you get the picture. No pun intended.
Speaking of our target audience. Hello My Sweet was commissioned to do a dessert table by one of our biggest fans, my family. I feel like I need to give a bit of back story about my mother and step-father. Very kind and warm people, they’ll do anything for you (and at times have), but damn are they competitive when it comes to holidays. They are a proud pair. Hopefully proud of their son, proud of their grand-babies, of their lawn and flower beds, but most especially of their displays during the holidays. It doesn’t get any more competitive when you hand craft out of wood, a historically accurate Viking sword and shield, and fashion real leather leggings to use as accessories for you costume. So in the game of Halloween one-ups, we proposed doing a dessert table for the neighborhood kids that would come by Trick-or-Treating. Because everyone can just hand out candy from a bucket, but not these two, and not this year.
Designing the Table
So with our backdrop picked out and spooked, I set out to design a table that was spooky, but not gruesome. Dark, but not too Gothic and foreboding. I do believe I had struck the proper combination.
Skulls: One particular embellishment I was proud of were some fairly plain paper-mache skulls purchased from Michael’s. After hiding that cardboard color under a layer of Rust-Oleum’s gloss antique white spray paint, I then let the skulls dry for about an hour. The next thing I did was to take some ground cinnamon; any variety/brand will do, and rub it onto the skull in all the tiny cracks and crevices. Making sure to pay close attention to areas such as the teeth and mouth area, as well as the eye and nose sockets. Basically the effect you’re going for is to make it look dried out and sun bleached.
Fake Snake Fail: I attempted to spray paint the rubber snakes I had purchased black, but that did not work out so well. A word to the wise about spray paint and the rubber snakes from dollar bins. For whatever reason the paint would NOT dry. Not after one hour, not after one day…heck not even after 3 days. (Maybe a kind reader would let us know in the comment section why that is.)
Floating Eyeballs: I had some sticky eyeballs from Target that I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with. Those ended up going into some really neat looking green crystal candle holders Heather found at the dollar bins at Michael’s. Instead of using them as votives, I put three onto a silver platter along with a matching green glass bottle and filled them with a thick red concoction. I then poured it into the holders and let several eyeballs bob around in them. Definitely a conversation starter!
Heart in a Jar: We purchased a fake heart at the Dollar Tree and floated it in some yellow tinted water inside of an apothecary jar.
Silver Trays: We have inherited some real silver trays over the years and used all of those in this design. If you do not already have something like this, black serving pieces would work well. Or you can purchase fancy metal trays from the Dollar Tree that mimic the look of the silver as well.
Other spook-tacular touches included were some real Spanish moss pulled off of tress in Myrtle Beach, SC. That vacation destination was gold mine for free props! We picked moss and brought it home where we layed it out on our front steps and let it dry in the sun for a few days. (After Halloween we stored it in plastic bags in the attic. BIG MISTAKE. It molded and we had to throw it out.)
HOW TO MAKE THE TREATS
As for our treats, we had several ideas pinned to our Pinterest boards that we wanted to try out. Each of them were easy to execute in mass quantity and in-expensive as well. All of these treats are fairly easy to do and the ingredients can all be found at the Wal-Mart, nothing super special to buy.
- For our “Rest in Pieces” bone treats, we combined pretzel sticks with miniature marshmallows, one at each end, then dipped them into melted white candy coating and placed them on wax paper to dry.
- For the “Mummified Pretzels” we took traditional pretzels and drizzled on melted candy coating using a freezer bag, with a small hole cut in one corner. Before the coating hardened we added two red hot candies for the eyes and then added in a black dot of food coloring marker onto eat candy.
- For the “Peanut Butter Geists” we used Nutter Butter cookies (yum!) and again dipped them into the melted white candy coating, and added mini chocolate chips in as eyes before the candy melt dried.
- For the “Re-animated Marshmallows” we coated marshmallows in a green candy melt (Wilton), then dipped the tops into a bowl of black sanding sugar to create the hair. These didn’t turn out quite as nicely as we had hoped but they still tasted good. They were supposed to resemble Frankenstein. If you have experience doing pops, you will have much better luck!
- For the “Gooey Brains” cupcake, we baked chocolate cupcakes and then mixed up a batch of traditional butter-cream with some black food coloring to make it grey. (To make it like “grey matter”) We then piped it on top of the cupcakes using a wide round tip and our pastry decorator. This was no exact science as we were free-handing and looking at a photo for inspiration. Make two lines down the center of the cupcake, then fill in with swirls on either side and top with a little strawberry syrup “blood.”
- For the “Staked Hearts” candy apples we followed some very easy directions right here. This was our first attempt at candying anything, but we made it through with only one batch of burnt sugar. Just be sure to use a candy thermometer and watch it carefully, and you will be ok. These were a HUGE hit with parents and kids alike, so shiny and sweet and fun! For an added spook effect we used actual tree branches in our apples instead of Popsicle sticks.
Our trick-or-treater’s LOVED everything we made and the table was wiped clean at the end of the night. Most kids had a really hard time deciding what to pick. We also had some “Holy Water” bottled water for the parents and kids which was appreciated.
As for the printable decorations, we went with something simple, Gothic, and contemporary. Halloween decorations can be so over the top and awesome and we didn’t want our printables to compete with that, but just to add in a little something special. We used some old skeleton keys from a family member (they actually open things at her really old farmhouse) to anchor town our tags in case of wind and to add a little extra touch. A menu provided details for the food for everyone to see, and of course there were labels on the treat bags as well as wraps for the bottles.
This printable Halloween decor set includes all of the following items (and custom text) and is available for purchase in our Etsy shop here:
- 4” Food Tags (12)
- Treat Bag Labels (fold-over)
- Bottle Wraps
- 11x17” Menu/Sign (1)
- 10” Signs (3)
- 5x7” Invitation (or Thank You note)
- Poison Bottle Labels
- Cupcake Wrappers
- Skeleton Decor
We hope your Halloween bash is fun filled and spook-tacular!
If you decide to use any of these ideas we would love for you to come back and share them with us!