Fall is in full swing. The kids planned their Halloween costumes back in August, but luckily, the annual neighborhood trick-or-treating party requires far less planning and effort. I keep it real on Food with a View, so I’ll confess: I don’t usually host the Halloween festivities. I have wonderful friends who have taken up that tradition. As resident foodie and party planner, I often lend a hand with the food. So of course, I have a view on Halloween party planning.
photo by jill111 via pixabay
Halloween parties are among the easiest parties you will ever host. They are a natural chance for neighbors to come together and mingle, there is built-in entertainment for the kids, and low expectations on food and drink. The key to enjoying the party yourself is low maintenance, self-serve food and drinks that are meant to be enjoyed throughout the evening. This allows maximum flexibility for trick-or-treating, whether you are heading out yourself or up and down answering your own door.
Warning: this is not another article about how to make everything you serve “Halloween-themed”. I’ll leave the ghost shaped cookies and the cupcakes with witch hats to the experts over at Pinterest. Partly because I am just not that into Halloween, but mostly because I just don’t have the time nor inclination for such themed creations. If I did suddenly decide to dazzle the crowd with themed treats, I’d outsource it to my fantastic neighborhood bakeries, such as Edo’s Cakes. For my kind of Halloween gathering, usually on a weeknight and therefore thrown together after at least a few hours of work, it needs to be simple. And because I love food, it has to taste good.
So here we go, your Halloween Trick-or-Treating Party Menu, served up simple and ready for some spooky fun.
Halloween Party Beverages
Consider a signature cocktail, like a mulled wine or fall sangria. I like this mulled wine recipe from Gimme Some Oven, or this Fall Sangria with pear and pomegranate. This Pumpkin Spice Martini from my blogger friend Michelle at Giraffes Can Bake could serve as a candy-alternative dessert for the adults with its sweet mixers and Baileys base. Stouts and Porters are perfect for fall, so it’s great time to try a few craft brews [check out my food and beer pairing post for ideas]. With all that chocolate around, I would stay away from most wines [there are actually incompatible tannin like ingredients in chocolate], but if you must, sweeter sparkling reds work, or consider a selection of ports and dessert wines.
photo used with permission from giraffescanbake.com
Halloween Party Appetizers
I like to stick to low sugar, ideally low-carb, healthy options here, because we know there will be plenty of treats. Some healthy protein will fuel everyone for a healthy walk around the neighborhood, or in my kid’s case, an all-out sprint. For little appetites, consider these grab-and-go combinations that encourage balance, such as:
- “Bugs on a Log” made with peanut butter, celery, and raisins
- Grilled chicken served on skewers, with dipping sauces (Thai peanut, barbecue, ranch)
- Peanut butter and banana sandwiches, cut into Halloween shapes
- Apple slices and cheese cube “bites” served on toothpicks
photo used with permission from vanillaandbean.com
For the adults, I continue with the high-protein, vegetable-based options, such as:
- Selection of cheeses and charcuterie
- Vanilla and Bean’s Smoky Roasted Eggplant Hummus and Brooklyn Supper’s Roasted Cauliflower Dip served with a mix of pita chips and crudité
- Sugar Spun Run’s Million Dollar Deviled Eggs, with their secret ingredient to make them truly million dollar, or for a little nod to the season, these little devils from Parenting Chaos
- For a heartier option, these Mini Chicken Bacon Spinach Artichoke Hand Pies from fellow blogger Mackenzie at Food Above Gold
photo used with permission from foodabovegold
Halloween Party Main Dish
Halloween is definitely not the time for a sit-down dinner around the dining room table. It may even be difficult to predict exactly when you or your guests will eat. That’s the beauty of a Halloween party — flexibility. I like to keep a simmering crock pot of a delicious vegetable soup, a protein-packed chili, or hearty stew ready for anyone who wants something more substantial before they head out or something warm when they return.
photo by foodiesfeed
A classic seasonal soup or chili always works, but I like a twist. This Crockpot Chicken Chili by Chelsea’s Messy Apron is rich and satisfying, with a little chili flavor for the adults but not so much heat that the little ones find it spicy. A cup of this is enough to fill those bellies for an evening of racing through the neighborhood or warm them up after an evening in the cool fall air. Kelly at Just a Taste recently published this recipe for Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken that looks just perfect to please any crowd at a Halloween party and beyond.
Halloween Party Dessert
It is Halloween, so there might be a little candy around. But if your kids are anything like mine, they might not look too kindly on you snagging a piece from their evening’s rewards. Consider an adult treat, like some high quality chocolate, a beautiful plate of truffles, or my personal favorite, these Rice Krispie Treats with Pumpkin Pie Spice from Amy in the Kitchen.
photo used with permission from amyinthekitchen
Pretty simple, right? The beauty of the Halloween party is you don’t have to do it all. Mix and match what works for you from the options above. Skip the chili and order a pizza. Forget the appetizers and throw out some chips and dip. And seriously, no one expects dessert. Your guests, young and old, are focused on the events of the evening, the costumes, the candy. As always with entertaining, the point is to gather your neighborhood friends and have a good time. If you are hosting, steal a few ideas from me and relax. Your guests will be happy and well fed with a deliciously simple Halloween party menu.
Looking for more seasonal party planning ideas? Check out more of my party planning tips for fall here. Follow me on Pinterest for more recipe ideas for any season, and my Always Entertaining board for plenty of party planning ideas and inspiration.