Hosting a Halloween party need not be a macabre affair with spiders, ghosts and other frights. Stephen Brown, celebrity crafter, judge on TLC's Craft Wars and author of "Glitterville's Handmade Halloween: A Glittered Guide for Whimsical Crafting!," decorates with smiling pink pumpkins and glitter — quite a bit, in fact. From how Stephen plans his Halloween costume and this year's popular trends to the party favors with which he sends guests home, we've uncovered everything you'll need to host your Halloween party.
Picking what I will wear for Halloween is never a simple task. I have racks and racks of costumes to choose from, but I almost always insist on making a new one every Halloween, since I do use them all year around for public appearances. In fact, I’ve worn costumes for so long now that there are many people I have known for years who have actually never seen me in my normal clothes.
My costumes are usually over-the-top characters that are more iconic than original, never scary and always in the colors of orange and black. Guests to my annual Halloween Party are required to wear these festive colors as well and are told in advance that if they show up in unrequested colors they will be turned away... because it is after all, an orange and black ball!
What trends are you seeing in Halloween party decor? Any popular decorations you want to disappear?
I think the holiday itself is becoming less scary and more family oriented so people are looking for more colorful statements that represent a happy celebration. This less threatening approach to Halloween has helped broaden its appeal and opened it up to a much wider audience.
I'm not a fan of decorations that are bloody or scary.... I know that's Halloween to some people, it's just not me. I’m also not a huge fan of the highly popular, in the South, inflatable yard decorations.
The key to telling any story is to make your audience feel like they are right there with you on whatever wacky escapade you’re talking about and most importantly, learn the art of gaging that you're losing your audience before it happens. If every eye and ear in the room is not on you, then you must UP the excitement or cut to the chase and finish up.
Any Halloween food you love to make year after year?
For me, having parties is all about making memories for my guest and that includes the food! I have always loved candied apples and in my new book, you can find not only my recipe, but how to craft them into a forest of fun for any table. I also make cotton candy wrapped onto handmade cones, caramel-coated popcorn balls dropped into corsage bags (bought from the floral supply store) and of course cupcakes decorated with whimsical pics.
What handmade party favors would you give at a Halloween party?
We start months in advance making things like chenille pumpkins, miniature witch hats and small candy boxes that are covered in glitter. But just about anything can be a favor — even the food, if it’s cute and crafty enough, can be packaged and handed to your guest on their way out. It’s also good to add a small card with the guest’s name on it, which makes them feel like their attendance was preplanned and appreciated.