My birthday was a few weeks ago. This one was kinda a biggie for me, it made me feel like I needed to celebrate! So I decided to throw a backward party with some seriously fabulous ladies. Being such a busy time of year, I ended up having the party the night before Halloween. I asked everyone to dress in their favorite cozy fall clothes.
I love wine, I’m pretty sure that’s not a surprise, so I decided to host a blind wine tasting party. I did this a few years ago and we all had a great time. Because this party took place the day before Halloween I wanted it to feel eerie, but not cheesy scary… kinda like the backyard at a haunted mansion.
For seating, I used what I had and supplemented with hay bales covered in burlap. I also put out tons of furry, cozy blankets to ensure my guests were warm when the sun went down. We had a fire pit, a million candles (all from my wedding 9 years ago!), twinkle lights, and some outdoor landscape lighting.
I pushed some of the hay bales up against the short retaining wall in the backyard so that those guests could lean back. But no one likes hard cement! So I rolled out Brady’s old crib bumper for some softness.
Expert tip: Do not get rid of those bumpers mamas! Use them at games on those hard, cold metal benches. The crib bumper rolls up in a ball and ties secure to make it easier for transport.
These are statues I already had sitting on stumps I already had.
But when they are set out all at once and lit with candles amongst the trees, they are pretty spooky.
A lot of the Halloween decor is stuff I already had inside, I just decided to bring it out, a lot of it came from my mom, some decor is repurposed from another holiday, and some was new or just new projects. I liked the idea of using old hard-bound books with names like The Accident or First Sacrifice and my mom had a ton of really old Nancy Drew Mystery books I used as well to prop things up on like the Fox and Serpent clock and the skulls.
For the bar, I used a sorter that I bought a long time ago at Target but we no longer use and attached a table top made from a board that I covered in burlap. I had been collecting things for the past few months to use for the wine tasting part of the event. Each guest brought a bottle of wine in a brown bag. When they arrived Nick took it and covered it in some cardboard adhesive paper, put a number on it, and put it in the crate. Under the table I stored glass wear for tasting and just for drinking, straws (for the NA beverages), napkins, and some spooky decor. I attached a cardboard sticker to the colorful drinking glasses so guests could write their name or initials on them. The artwork behind the wine is a frame without the glass that has a piece of cardboard cut to fit and wrapped in burlap. On top of that I printed pictures from Gray’s Anatomy the 1918 version that I found online. The images were printed in a linen card stock and affixed with a straight pin. And of course, above it all were my favorite floating chandaliers.
Kindra, a super fabulous expecting mama, offered to pour all the different tasting wines for us. Thanks so much Kindra! At the end of it all we all guessed a few things about the different wines.
I also had another game we played at the beginning. While Nick was taking the tasting bottles when guests arrived, he also put stickers on their backs with the name of famous people. The girls all had to ask questions to find out who they were. Two smarty pants mamas guessed theirs right away! They got my favorite blushes to take home as a prize.
Originally I wanted to have a palm reader and clairvoyant come to the party to entertain everyone and generally add an eerie feel. Unfortunately, I had no luck finding one. So, I had been working really hard to learn the ancient art of Tarot. Well, I couldn’t master it fast enough, even though I had been spelling with some of the cards under my pillow. But I had the turban, the crystal ball, and the Tarot cards so we had some fun with them anyway.
- Cheese plate with salami, blue cheese with dried apricots, Boursin cheese, olives, and Ritz crackers and Gold Emblem Abound Baked Rice Thins
- Sweet and Spicy Almonds (A spiced up version of this, made by me in the crockpot!)
- Raley’s Spanakopita
- Homemade brie and jam hand pies in a stick (a variation of this recipe)
- Pesto pasta salad with radishes
And for dessert: German Apple Cake made by my mom. One of my all-time favorites. It was a huge hit with everyone and they were all asking for the recipe.
Mom’s German Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup of salad oil (vegetable oil)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsps cinnamon
- 1 tsp (baking) soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 cups of chopped apples.
- 1 cup walnuts (we ALWAYS omit them)
- 6 ounces of cream cheese
- 3 tbls melted butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat your over to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan. Beat eggs until foamy, add oil beating gradually. Add sugar and vanilla – beat. Add flour, cinnamon, (baking) soda, and salt that have been sifted together. Stir in apples and walnuts (if using). Bake for 60 minutes or until a fork comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before topping with frosting.
To make the frosting: Cream the cheese (with a mixer), add vanilla and butter, then add sugar and top your cake.
I have to give a very very special thank you to the man that waited on us all hand and foot throughout the party. He took and labeled wine, put out dishes, refreshed, cleaned up, poured drinks, kept the tunes coming, told jokes, served dessert and champagne, and generally gave his all to ensure I was able to actually enjoy my party. He even cleared out the entire backyard at the end of the party because rain was coming the next morning. Love this man so much!