We’d been wanting to throw a costume party for a few years and finally did it last year. We had no idea how it would go over, but about half of our guests really got into it (spent the whole afternoon getting ready like they were going to prom); the others enjoyed it even without costumes.
We made invitations for the party and handed them out to specific friends and groups of friends. The invitations told them what we’d be doing at the party, time and place, and explained that we’d have prizes for costumes, outlining a few basic ideas for friends who were otherwise unfamiliar with the idea of costume parties. There’s a picture of the invitation below; I’ve also pasted the text here if you’re interested in copying and pasting part of it:
请你来我们的万圣节派对! 十月三十一号 ｜ 晚上 7:30 ｜ Austin 和 Joy 的家
美国的小吃！ 万圣节的音乐！大家都穿万圣节服装… (可以扮成吸血鬼, 木乃伊, 医生，运动员… 什么都行，发挥你们的创造力吧!) 我们会根据你们的服装打扮，从中选出最好看服装造型，最吓人造型，最有趣造型和最具创意打扮！ 届时获奖者将会得到丰厚礼物！
At the party, guests mostly just mingled, played cards, listened to Halloween music, etc. Here are some ideas for things that worked well at our party:
- Download or stream Halloween songs or a Halloween music medley video. We played some music in English and then also had a student play some “scary” sounding Chinese songs. Here’s a link to one we liked.
- Have a costume contest. We gave prizes for the scariest costume, funniest costume, and overall best costume. Also for the top apple bobber.
- Have a place for students to take photos. We just threw a blanket over our bookshelf, hung a “Happy Halloween” sign with some friendly-looking bats, and took photos there.
- Decorate with anything orange and black. We used some black scarves and fabric scraps, orange paper from local shops, and pumpkins that we bought locally and used to cook autumn-y things after the party. I downloaded a free “Happy Halloween” banner, cut some black bats from poster board to hang from our fan (which we did not turn on that night), and also printed some labels for various drinks. (Some of our guests could read and appreciate them; others thought they were cool anyway and just enjoyed seeing an “American party.”) Here are some links where I downloaded my banners and soda bottle labels:
- Serve drinks with fun vampire-tooth straws made from cutting teeth and lips out of white and red craft foam and sticking straws through a hole punctured in the middle of them. Ours were thrown together fast but still totally appreciated and taken home as souvenirs by many an excited student!
- Bob for apples. We had a huge box of pre-washed apples and a big bowl filled with water. Our friends really enjoyed it. It wasn’t overly difficult with the small-ish bucket of water we had, but students still had a whole lot of fun getting their heads wet and getting to keep their apples. Change out the water every few rounds, and make sure to have towels handy!
- Serve autumn-y snacks and drinks. Here are some ideas from our menu:
- Crock pot spiced apple cider
- Crock pot hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows standing by. This was a huge favorite at our party with students asking for cups to take extra home!
- Pumpkin-shaped soft pretzels. I used my usual soft pretzel recipe but used food coloring to dye most of the dough orange and a small portion green. I then made spirals with the orange dough and added little green stems before salting and baking.
- Pumpkin raisin scones
- Zombie mouths. Apple slices lined with peanut butter and small marshmallows in between. If they brown a little as they sit out waiting for guests, that’s even better! One guest who we’ve had over for several fancy meals now still remembers these simple things as one of her favorites!
- Oranges (easy orange-colored food!)
- Oreos (easy black-colored food!)
- Caramel apples- We punctured these apples with chopsticks and dipped them into caramel made from slow-cooked condensed milk before rolling them in chopped nuts. I recommend cutting squares of parchment paper/ baking paper for each individual apple to stand on. Also, our guests weren’t quite sure what to do with these at first and seemed scared to grab them. We eventually did a demo of how to eat them and grabbed a knife to cut them into pieces for people who’d rather share one.
- Stovetop popcorn
- Autumn-spiced popcorn
- Pumpkin pie– This one has always been a crowd-pleaser here! The recipe I make is really lightly sweetened, which is good for our guests who don’t like things with such “strong” flavors.
And finally, here are just a few basic words and sentences that may be helpful in directing and discussing the activities from this post (Paste any of the characters into purpleculture.net to see them converted to pinyin):
- Halloween party 万圣节派对
- costume contest－化妆服比赛
- We will have a contest for the best costumes in several different categories.－我们将在几个不同的类别中分别评出最好化妆服
- scariest costume－最恐怖的化妆（服）
- funniest costume－最可笑的化妆（服）
- best costume－最好的化妆（服）
- to bob for apples- 咬苹果 (Literally just “bite the apple”)