Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fall Fare or Halloween Party Plan

Ah Fall, my favorite season and perfect weather for outdoors entertaining.  Who doesn't love a good bonfire?  If you are looking for outdoor party ideas for a Autumn/Fall or Halloween bash that hasn't been hashed and rehashed <pun intended> this post is written just for you.

It's the best time of year to view fall foliage, take a road trip to the cabin, lake house or cottage for a get-a-way weekend with an old fashioned corn and oyster roast.  The no fuss menu is perfect for your vacation home, even if you are renting.

Of course you can keep it close to home in your backyard if traveling isn't in your schedule.  It can be scaled up or down depending on your budget and the simple menu keeps the party enjoyable for you as well as your guests.  Perfect for a large group or keep it intimate with just a few couples and you can stick to the menu or add your own touches.  Either way remember to keep the menu simple to keep it fun!

Halloween falls in a Friday this year.


Use a lunch size paper bag printed with a great Halloween or Autumn graphic.  Print them out on your home printer.  Easily done in any word processing program by creating a document sized to the bag.  There are a lot of free holiday graphics available online just Google "Free Halloween Clip Art" and get your creative juices flowing.  On the side of the paper bag that doesn't have the flap print the invitation poem below (or something similar) arranged with your graphic, then hand write the address on the other side.  Print out maps and insert them into the bags.  Too cute and done.

Vintage Dennison Die Cut Black Cats click to see the listing.
We're having a party and want you here.
It isn't very far by car.
(Place) is really quite near.

We hope you'll say yes and want to stay,
The map will show you the way.

Aw Shucks we hope you come.
With corn, beer, oysters and a bonfire too,
There'll be fun for everyone!

Time     Date     Hosts

Menu and Roasting Directions

Oysters - Roasted and Raw Bar Style on the Half Shell
French Bread
Roasted Corn on the Cob
Roasted Hot Dogs or Chicken Tenders (if children are invited)
Soft Drinks
Bottled Water
Dessert:  Pumpkin Cup Cakes

If your friends have children offer a more a traditional protein substitute for the kids like hot dogs or chicken tenders.

Prepare the Fire:  If you don't have a fire pit, make one with cement blocks or bricks.  Size your square to so a metal screen will fit and be supported by the block walls.  Make sure to make it large enough to roast your corn too!  Be sure to use cooking appropriate wood.  Don't use any wood which has been treated with chemicals or is pressure treated.  Build a large fire about an hour before you plan to cook.  You'll need plenty of coals!

Roasted Oysters:  Wait until the fire gets hot about an hour and smooth the coals around the floor of the pit.  Place the screen(s) over the pit and put oysters on the screen(s) with a shovel.  Cover oysters with wet burlap until they pop open, which is about 30 minutes to an hour depending on how close they are to the coals and how hot your coals are.  You can open them and place them on a grill making sure to keep the liquid along with the oyster, they will cook much faster and are done when the edges of the oyster begin to curl.

Roasted Corn:  Place the corn in a large tub and cover with water add salt and let them soak for 4 to 5 hours.  Drain the water and wrap each ear with, husks on, with aluminium foil.  Place the foil wrapped ears on the coals and cover with more coals using a shovel.  Cook about 8 minutes, turn the ears and repeat.  Depending on the heat of your coals they'll be done in 16 to 25 minutes.

Cocktail Sauce:  For every 8 adults use one bottle of chili sauce, the ketchup kind, with horseradish and lemon juice to taste.  Place crocks filled with sauce along with baskets of saltines and french bread on the table(s).

Decorations and Serving Suggestions

SOLD - Click this to go to the listing.

Keep it rustic and playful!

  • Use a cast iron skillet sitting next to the pit to keep the butter warm.
  • Use galvanized metal tubs filled with ice to serve soft drinks and beer (save your cooler for the oysters!).  Galvanized metal tubs are worth the investment if you don't own any, you'll use them over and over for tons of things not just parties:)
  • Use brown paper to cover the picnic table for serving
  • Place bales of hay or straw around the bonfire or fire pit.
  • Use a vintage earthenware crock or bowl for cocktail sauce.
  • Use vintage mason jars filled with orange and yellow sunflowers for table decor along with some vintage paper homemade picks like the great antique witches shown below. 

Make your online purchases early; while writing this post my vintage Halloween tree sold!

Available from antiquelove22 on Etsy.


Make a sign out of poster board with your last name and the word party.  Decorate it with vintage die cut Halloween decorations like the fantastic black cats from antiquelove22 on Etsy and hang it from the mail box to let your guests know they're at the right house, cabin or driveway. OR make stands for them out of poster board to use them as table top decor along with pumpkins.

Antique die cut witches.  Click to view.


Antique Die Cut Witches like these, from the antiquelove22 shop on Etsy, make great homemade picks for cupcakes by gluing them onto Popsicle sticks or for flower arrangement glue them onto bamboo skewers and have them poking out all through the flowers in your arrangement. 

Fun and Games

The meal is really participatory and everyone loves a bonfire so if fun and games aren't your thing; think music and plan ahead with a great party mix cd.  Nothing too loud or brash, keeping the tone a relaxed one suitable for a country setting.

For those who want some added entertainment, especially if children are invited, traditonal outdoor and Halloween games are perfect.

Oyster Shucking Contest
Horse Shoes
Apple Bobbing
Pumpkin Carving Contest - The carved pumpkins can be lit after dark with the winning pumpkin taking the spotlight on the picnic table.
Pinata - Martha Stewart has a great tutorial on how to make a Flying Bat Pinata which also adds to the decor!  Hang it over the limb of a nearby tree and watch the fun!

The Game Plan

Two weeks before the party:

  1. Make and give out party invitations.
  2. Decide on your party table top decorations.
  3. Make any party decorations such as the giant spider pinata.
  4. Purchase any <vintage wink> decorations or serveware, especially if you are ordering online.
  5. Define your menu.
  6. Make two grocery lists, one to purchase one week before the party, the second list is the day before the party list.

One week before the party:

  1. Order oysters and corn.
  2. Purchase oyster shucking gloves and openers.  Make sure you have plenty if you are having a shucking contest.  Any unused ones can be returned.
  3. Purchase carving pumpkins.
  4. Purchase all needed supplies such as the galvanized metal tubs and bale of hay.
  5. Purchase dry goods such as cake mix and frosting if your not going to make it from scratch.
  6. Access your serveware needs including trays filled with ice to serve the raw oysters.  Roasted oysters can go on large stoneware (or like) serving platters.  If you don't have enough, use large roasting pans filled halfway with ice for the raw bar or just as they are for the roasted oysters and corn.

The day before the party:

  1. Purchase last minute items from the market like the french bread, oysters, corn, beer and plenty of ice.  If you don't have room in your refrigerator for the oysters keep them iced down in a cooler, draining and replenishing ice as needed.  Don't forget the butter!
  2. If you don't have a natural source of firewood, purchase firewood from a local wood cutter.
  3. Make cocktail sauce.
  4. Organize your serveware.
  5. Bake and frost cup cakes.
  6. Organize your party area.  Get your table and or chairs set up.  If you purchased bales of hay arrange those making fun conversation areas for adults and children.

The day of the party:

  1. Get the corn soaking first thing as it needs to soak for 4 to 5 hours.  Set this up close to the fire pit area so it doesn't have to be carried.
  2. Get the fire pit set up.  Make sure to remove any grass and dig about 3 to 6 inches into the earth for a safe fire area.  Keep the dirt which can be used to extinguish the coals when your party is done.
  3. Fill the tubs with drinks and ice so they are cold when your guests arrive.
  4. Have a large trash can close to the party area for trash.
  5. Cover the picnic table with brown paper.  You can use Loctite mounting putty to keep the paper from blowing away.
  6. Arrange your table decorations.
  7. Hang pinata.
  8. Hang or stake party sign so your guests can find you!
  9. Set roll of brown paper towels on the table.  This is a super casual party and trust me you'll need plenty, so much more fun than napkins!
  10. Put butter in cast iron skillet so it ready to set by the fire and melt.
  11. Organize condiments for the hot dogs if served.

This vintage party concept was tweaked from the vintage cookbook Party Potpourri written by the Memphis Junior League.  Because sometimes the best new thing is something old!  Enjoy!