How to Throw a Sophisticated Halloween Soirée

BY SARAH ELIZABETH CLEVELAND | PHOTOS BY JETT WALKER PHOTOGRAPHY

As we all know, Halloween décor is often not the most sophisticated. If you are looking to add a little class to the most “spooktacular” holiday of the year, keep reading for a few of our favorite tips, tricks and treats.

An easy way to elevate your Halloween décor more is to keep things minimal and stick to a simple color palette. A classic black and white palette with a few pops of dark, moody colors will help set an air of mystery, while not going overboard. This was my inspiration for the tablescape. I stuck to black and white overall décor and then added a subtle pop of color with the floral arrangement. I chose dark magenta coxcomb, black calla lilies and scabiosa for their colors, and blue thistle and safari sunset for their texture.

I wanted all the pumpkins to look unique, but cohesive. This is why I chose to paint them all in a black or white matte paint with black or white accessories. These are all do-it-yourself projects and can enjoyable be done by the whole family. Also, these were done with craft pumpkins, but can be done with fresh pumpkins as well.

FRESH FLORAL MOON PUMPKIN

•Craft Pumpkin •Black Matte Spray Paint •Paper •Scissors •Pencil •Drill (and drill bits) •Fresh White Flowers

Spray paint craft pumpkin completely black and allow to dry. Draw and cut out a moon shape out of paper. Hold it against the pumpkin to trace it. Drill various size holes inside the moon shape. Trim flower stems down to 2” and fill in all of the holes.

LACY PUMPKIN

•Medium/Small Pumpkin •Painters Tape (Optional) •Black Matte Paint (Optional) •Black Lace Fabric or Stockings •Scissors •Rubber Band or Ribbon

If you are wanting a black top pumpkin then follow these steps, if you are just wanting to use the original stem then skip to the next part. Place painters tape around the base of the stem. Paint stem and allow to dry.

Stretch lace over pumpkin, make a small hole just big enough for the stem to fit through. Gather excess fabric at the bottom and place a rubber band or tie ribbon as close to the bottom of the pumpkin as you can get. Cut the access fabric from the pumpkin. Display with spooky, yet sophisticated Halloween décor.

BLACK MATTE STACKED PUMPKINS

•Miniature Pumpkins •Black Chalk Paint •Foam Brush •Tall Glass Cloche •Miniature Battery Powered String Lights (optional)

Pick out a dish and cloche for pumpkins to be displayed on. Figure out a favorite configuration for fitting pumpkins inside the cloche. Paint those pumpkins fully and set aside to dry. This might take a couple of coats. Once pumpkins are fully dry stack inside the upside down cloche and place the dish over the top. Flip over and display your new, easy, DIY Halloween decoration.

I kept the food and drinks fairly simple and sophisticated with a touch of fun since this still is a very whimsical holiday. Bring out your inner mad scientist and serve your cocktails in beakers and flasks like I did for the Sanguine Sangria. This blood red beverage can be the perfect addition to any party.

The “Poison” Apples are an eerie version of a regular ‘ole candy apple. The “spooky looking sticks” help to create the illusion of the apples being “poisoned” and like they came straight from the evil queen herself. I originally chose this recipe since the color went along with the overall theme and color palette. I am so glad I did because not only were they quite simple to make, they were also extremely delicious!

The Nutter Mummy Cookies are another way to bring in a little bit of whimsy without going over the top. These cookies are super easy and you can let your kids help out on the fun! Since they are topped with messy, squiggly lines of white chocolate, decorating these is pretty easy—I think the messier, the better.

“POISON” APPLES

•2 cups granulated sugar •¾ cups water •½ cup light corn syrup •few drops black gel food coloring •5-6 Granny Smith apples (Ensure your apples are fresh and haven’t been waxed) •5-6 sturdy, but spooky looking sticks

Grease a piece of baking paper and place on a tray/baking sheet. Insert sticks in all the apples and set aside. In a medium pot, combine the sugar, water, corn syrup and food coloring and stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture feels smooth. When the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up and continuously scrape sides down with a silicone spatula to prevent crystals from forming. Allow the caramel to boil until it reaches the hard crack stage (310° on a candy thermometer). Carefully dip the apples into the hot candy mixture and place on the baking paper to set and cool for approximately an hour before serving.

SANGUINE SANGRIA

•1 (750 ml) bottle of Merlot •4 cups cranberry pomegranate juice •¼ cup Cointreau, or any orange liqueur •2-4 cups fresh cherries •2 cups sparkling water •2 cups ice, if desired

Pour the Merlot in a pitcher, add the cranberry juice, Cointreau and the cranberries, stir well. Put the mixture in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Remove the mixture from the fridge and add the sparkling water. Stir well. Add ice if desired.

NUTTER MUMMIES

•Nutter Butter cookies •white chocolate candy melts •candy eyes

Melt candy melts according to the package directions in a medium glass bowl. Dip Nutter Butters in and shake off excess white chocolate. Place on wax paper and attach eyes. Repeat with remaining Nutter Butters. Allow to set up. Reheat leftover candy melts and pour into small Ziploc bag. Cut a tiny hole at the edge of the bag. Drizzle white chocolate onto Nutter Butters to make mummy.

SALTED CARAMEL STUFFED CHOCOLATE COOKIES

•3/4 cup salted butter, room temperature •1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed •1/2 cup sugar •1 egg •1 tsp vanilla extract •1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour •1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa •1 tsp baking soda •Mini Size Simply Caramel Milky Way Bars •Maldon’s Sea Salt Flakes

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla extract. Add flour, cocoa and baking soda and mix until well incorporated and thick. Make balls of cookie dough about 2 tbsp in size. Break balls of dough in half, add candy bar to the middle, then press dough halves back together and seal edges. Place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt flakes (regular sea salt is totally fine, too). Bake for 8-10 minutes. Center might look a little undercooked, but edges should be done. Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.