Friday, November 16, 2012

Halloween Party

Back in the day, Devin and I hosted a pretty mean Halloween party. For three years in a row, we'd put out some boozy punch and our neighbors would look the other way while our apartment building's courtyard filled up with impressively costumed, impressively drunk twentysomethings.  
Some kind of space girl
The annual Boo-B-Q, as it was called though no food was served, was a hostess's dream.   Minimal planning, massive reward, and cleanup basically involved shoveling solo cups off every surface in the apartment and into big black trash bags.  Ah, those were the days.  

Planning a Halloween party for babies, it turns out, is nothing like that.  

Inspired by a set of green monster PJs we found at Target, I decided to make Oscar a little monster.  Devin and I would be his monster parents, with the twist being that we'd dress as archetypal, mid-century nuclear family mom and dad.   Think Betty and Don Draper... but monsters.  I don't know, it made sense in my brain. 

As usual, I had big plans involving fun fur, fake teeth, the sewing machine... But whereas in the past I was able to pull off grand designs, no matter how last minute (see: the Kermit costume from two years ago, or "The Other Great Muppet Caper"), this year it just wasn't in the cards.  

I bet I know where you think I'm going with this.  I'm going to lament how I had no time to shop for costume bits or pull anything together.  Not so!   I spent many hours pacing the aisles of Halloween stores, Michael's and JoAnn Fabrics.  However, the universe was working against me.  I couldn't find anything I needed.  

JoAnn let me down, only selling fur in normal earth animal colors.  No orange or blue or green.  The Halloween store was full of demon horns, but no friendly monster horns.  I don't know what I expected.  And my intentions of Devin and I sporting some rocking underbite fangs went right out the window when I discovered the teeth I wanted were kept specially locked away in the glass case by the register and sold for $30 a pop.  

I was forced to improvise.  

I bought 2 sets of demon horns, one for me and one for Devin.  They are supposed to stay on your head with a little black elastic band.  I must be a conehead or something because they kept sliding off the back of my skull.  And since wearing the string under my chin, party hat style, seemed uncomfortable, I picked up a headband at Michael's to rework them.

The demon horns were a little too severe looking for my monster mom costume.  So I rummaged around in my craft supplies tub and found some silver paint.  I couldn't manage to locate a brush, however, so I finger painted.

Then I hot glued my not-yet-dry-but-I-was-out-of-patience horns to the headband.  I used some some extra fuzzy pipecleaners I'd picked up on one of my many manic trips to Target (more on that later) and they wound and wound around the headband for very easy application. 

As for Oscar, I hadn't been able to embellish his monster PJs with colorful fur since apparently non exists for purchase.  JoAnn, you ignorant slut.  The only thing I had been able to do was commission Becca to crochet him a monster hat.

I don't know, I guess we look like something. 

Further improvising, in lieu of fun fur, Devin sprayed green stuff in his hair and beard.  He also wore a dad-like sweater that stayed on for about twenty minutes because it was 95 degrees on the day of the party. 


Like many a party-thrower, I fell victim to the Pinterest/Martha Stewart trap.  The one where you get sucked in with ideas like this:

And drive yourself slowly mad attempting to replicate something you'd hardly be able to pull off if given a month to decorate your home.  But you've only got six hours.  And the baby will be awake for five of them. You know, that trap.


A closer look at a few details:

This took me, somehow, three hours to accomplish during the late hours the night before the party.  It was the culmination of a week's worth of lunchtime excursions to the aforementioned craft places as well as Target (thrice), during which I dashed through the aisles, for no particular reason, shopping like I had a gun held to my head, throwing anything in my cart that was orange and/or black and/or under $10.  I should've taken a picture of the stockpile in the dining room. 

Aside from this table, the only other decor I could manage was another vinyl table cloth in the living room -- that one was orange and black striped.  So, I have some unopened packs of streamers and sparkly garland and various other goodies for some future Halloween gathering when I come dressed as someone who has her shit together. 


Were it not for a gross miscalculation of time, this could've been the one category I got right.  

On the menu were Deviled Eggs (made to look like devils), Monster Mash (some concept I came up with for a mashed potato bar), Buffalo Chicken Barf (buffalo chicken dip spewing out of a jack-o-lantern's mouth), and Yummy Mummies (which were originally named Mummy Dogs). 

The day of the party I cleaned and cleaned, telling myself the cleaning cut off was 12 and then I'd have to focus on food.  Then suddenly it was 2:30.  The party started at 3. Crap.

I'd made the Deviled Eggs the night before, but ran out of steam before I could decorate them with red pepper and caper eyes to make them into little devils.  The next day there was no time, so regular ol' Deviled Eggs were served and there's a useless jar of capers sitting in my cupboard.

The Monster Mash actually went right.  Good thing mashed potatoes from scratch are really easy to throw together in a pinch.  Ha!  Set out in a crock pot to stay warm, they were served with bacon, sour cream, cheese and chives.  I forgot to take a picture so lets all pretend it looks like this:

The Buffalo Chicken Barf miraculously came together, though the presentation proved more off-putting than I'd envisioned.
As for the Mummies, I downgraded them to run o the mill pigs in a blanket and planned to shlap them together halfway through the party.  When I turned on the oven to heat it up, it set aflame the bacon grease hiding on the bottom of the oven and smoked out the whole party.  I turned the oven off, let it cool, cleaned it (yes, while wearing a dress and monster horns with a house full of people), then tried again.  Devin came into the kitchen, slicing through the thick haze of smoke, wondering what the hell I was doing.  The Mummies were scrapped.

Lastly, there were the snacks for babies, which were easiest to prepare.

For a week, Oscar was finding and happily eating discarded Cheerios in various nooks and crannies of the apartment.  I think he learned the very valuable lesson that when you encounter free snacks, you eat them, quickly and without asking any questions.


The biggest difference between planning a party for adults and babies is that babies, and their parents, do not care about any of it.  I don't mean they don't appreciate it.  They just aren't critiquing everything.  They are glad to be somewhere, to not be the ones having to host, and are too distracted chasing after their little ones to fuss over fancy decor and clever food names.

Everyone I talked to after the party said it was a hit.  So either they're just being nice... or I went overboard for no reason. 

Next time, I'm putting out a bowl of Cheetos and calling it a day.  Less flailing.  More playing.