Old Fashioned Halloween Party

  • Old Fashioned Halloween Party
    by Brenda Hyde
    It's Halloween and you want to stay away from the big parties and door to door trick or treating with strangers. What do you do? Give an old fashioned party that will please everyone and get the whole family together! We can take some hints from The Modern Priscilla Magazine issue from October 1915. They advised the hostess to invite family and friends that are close to each other so everyone can feel comfortable dressing up and joining in.


    Invitations and menu cards should be adorned with witches on broomsticks, owls, black kittens and such. Menu cards aren't used much for family gatherings, but they are a fun memento for guests to take home. Simply cut cards out of stiff paper, decorate and neatly print the occasion, the menu, date, and even a little poem or quotation. Place one by each guest, or hand them out at the door.

    Decorations in the early 1900s were simple but fun. Jack-o-lanterns peeking from every corner, dried corn with branches of colored fall leaves would be suspended from chandeliers. Pumpkin shells can be scraped clean and used for soups, dips or casseroles. Dye cheese cloth yellow and attach autumn leaves, string popcorn spray painted orange, or a modern touch of black plastic spiders can be added. Faces were also painted on gourds and turnips to decorate the entire house.


    The food was rather light and easy, which fits in perfect with our busy lifestyles today. Egg, chicken or tuna salad sandwiches, cut into fourths with additions of thinly sliced cucumber, herb butter, tomato or watercress could be served on platters with colored toothpicks holding the bread in place.

    Nut sandwiches were a suggested treat. Bake gingerbread or poundcake in loaves and thinly slice. Toast nuts for a few minutes in a hot oven, then chop or crush. Mix with whipped cream or honey and spread on the slices of bread. In addition to the sandwiches serve brownies, fruit compote or salad, hot cider and salted nuts.

    Hot Spiced Cider

    2 quarts cider
    1 cup brown or white sugar
    2 sticks cinnamon
    6 cloves
    1 tsp. allspice

    Add the sugar and spices to the cider in a large saucepan. Simmer, do not boil, for 15 minutes. Strain and serve hot in small glasses or mugs. A little grated nutmeg may be sprinkled on each glass before serving.

    Halloween Bars

    1/3 cup sugar
    1/3 cup butter
    2 well-beaten eggs
    1/3 cup molasses
    1/2 tsp. orange extract
    1 cup flour
    1 cup crushed nuts

    Cream sugar and butter, add eggs, molasses, extract, flour and nuts. Mix and turn into a buttered and floured cake tin and bake in a moderate (350 degrees) oven for 30 minutes. Cut in fingers and serve warm or cold.


    Bobbing for apples, dancing, and door prizes were some of the simpler activities in the early 1900's. We can add some modern touches too. On the bottom of each plate tape a number. After everyone finishes eating draw numbers and give away adult and kid's door prizes. Bean bag animals, marbles, and card games are fun and inexpensive for the kids. Adult door prizes can be boxes of herb tea, jams, coffees, fancy cookies or crackers.

    Be sure to have some fun music such as the Chicken Dance, The Hokie Pokie, or songs from classic musicals like Oklahoma or The Sound of Music. Besides dancing, musical chairs is a great game to encourage the kids and adults to play together.

    A game of Pin the Stem on the Pumpkin can be fun for all ages! Draw and color a large pumpkin without a stem on poster board. Using another piece of cardboard or construction paper cut out a stem, and attach a tack to it with tape. Tape the pumpkin onto a cork board. Blind fold each guest during their turn while they try to pin the stem on the pumpkin. The kids will love seeing the adults playing right along with them!

    Old fashioned Halloween parties are a great alternative to door to door trick or treating. It's fun, and safe, plus it brings together family members of all ages to share in the memories.