Today’s guest is Karen Wojcik Berner, who’s here to advise us all on how to throw a Halloween party with a book theme. Karen is the author of a series of books called The Bibliophiles, and has just released the second book in her series, titled Until My Soul Gets it Right. What’s the series about? The tumultuous lives of the members of a book club. From Karen’s website:
It all started with a hideous lime green flyer distributed around town by ex-high school teacher Edwina Hipplewhite. Dubbing themselves “The Bibliophiles,” this group of literature lovers meets once a month at the Naperville Community Center to discuss the Classics.
Heads up: Karen is currently running a contest on her blog, Bibliophilic Blather, where you can win a copy of the first book in the Biblipohiles Series: A Whisper to a Scream. Enjoy!
A Halloween Bash for the Books
Each year on the first weekend of October, my house changes. Usually a run-of-the-mill, suburban domicile, the front yard becomes a graveyard. Ghoulish creatures lurk behind bushes. Spider webs cover deformed gourds. Moving inside, books are the decoration of choice, surrounded by black candles, skulls and spiders, stacks of spine-tingling stories from classics to contemporary masterpieces.
Don’t you love Halloween? It’s a time when you can be whatever you want, the one day when no one is confined to his or her circumstances, not even a contemporary women’s fiction author who fancies her house to look like what she thinks Anne Rice’s should.
What better way to celebrate than a Literary Halloween Party?
Here are a few suggestions for a frightfully fun evening.
Decide on a theme. A few of my favorites include Great Couples of Literature (Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Caesar and Cleopatra, Catherine and Heathcliff, and one of my all-time favorite duo costumes, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale from “The Scarlet Letter”), Come as Your Favorite Author, and the always fun Dead Author party. Or how about Literary Monsters, but not just Frankenstein and Dracula, but centaurs, sirens and cyclops as well?
Invitations. Set the tone right off the bat (no pun intended). A few years back, I attached pulled and stretched cheesecloth to black card stock, then glued the famous picture of Bela Lugosi coming down the stairs. Inside, I put a quote from “Dracula” plus all of the other pertinent party information.
Decorations. For me, it’s all about creating a home that looks like a vampire family lives there. Not the Twilight ones, though. They are too contemporary and clean-looking. I mean the old-school goths with black, gargoyles and skulls. A few traditional pumpkins for carving are great, but I prefer the white ones or the faded, misshapen greenish-gray ones for a more ghostly feel.
Cheesecloth is great for creating an old, worn fabric texture for spider webs or tablecloths. Simple push your finger through the middle and rip. Keep pulling until the piece is sufficiently web-like.
Put a skull on top of a stack of horror novels. Add some gourds and maybe a plastic rat or mouse. Dress up your fireplace mantel with black wrought iron candelabras with black candles. Hang one of those fake portraits that changes to a skull head when someone walks by it. Here is another opportunity to use books. On mine, I add hardcover copies of “The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe,” “Frankenstein,” Evelyn Waugh’s hilarious riff on the funeral industry, “The Loved One,” and, of course, Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”
On your serving table, use unpolished silver pieces. Mix in gourds, small pumpkins and candles. Put dead roses in a vase and cover them with spider webs. Creepy, right?
Activities. Read “The Raven” or another classic Poe tale. Tell ghost stories, or create a running story, where each guest contributes a line.
Food and beverages. Why not re-name traditional Halloween food for the night? Serve some eerie punch with a block of dry ice in a cauldron courtesy of the three witches from “Macbeth,” or meat pies from Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” What about Dutch apple pie in the spirit of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Tales,” by Washington Irving?
Music. Greet your guests with “Danse Macabre, Op. 40” or Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor.” There are many more magnificent, creepy classical pieces on iTunes, but these are two of my favorites.
What are some of your favorite literary Halloween party ideas?