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Planning an Old-Fashioned Halloween Party

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If you're thinking about planning a Halloween party, you might want to consider using the "old fashioned" theme.  With a little imagination, you can offer fun and games for your guests that were quite common in the early 20th century.  Of course, times have changed, so we updated a few of the elements and eliminated some dangerous ones.  Happy Halloween!



Halloween or Hallow-Even is the last night of October, being the eve or vigil of All-Hallow's or All Saint's Day.  No holiday in all the year is so informal or so marked by fun both for grown-ups as well as children as this one. On this night there should be nothing but laughter, fun and mystery. It is the night when Fairies dance and Ghosts, Witches, Devils and mischief-making Elves wander around. It is the night when all sorts of charms and spells are invoked for prying into the future by all young folks and sometimes by folks who are simply young at heart.


In planning a Halloween Party, everything should be made as secretive and mysterious as possible.


The following phrases may be useful as you prepare your invitations:


Witches and Choice Spirits of Darkness will hold High Carnival at my house, (add address)

Wednesday, October 31st, at eight o'clock.


Come prepared to test your fate--------------------Attire: Costume, Witches, Ghosts, etc.


Miss Ethel Jones will expect to see you at her Halloween Party Wednesday, Oct. 31st, at 8 o'clock. Please come prepared to participate in the mysteries and rites of All Hallow's Eve, and to wear a costume appropriate to the occasion.


On Wednesday, Oct. 31st, at 8 o'clock, I shall celebrate Halloween.  Please come and participate in the mysteries and rites of All Hallow's Eve.  Prepare to learn your fate.




The room or rooms in which most of the games are to be played should be decorated as grotesquely as possible with Jack-o'-lanterns made from apples, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, etc., with incisions made for eyes, nose and mouth and a lighted candle or flameless tealight placed within.

In addition to this, various forms of Jack-o'-lanterns should be placed around the room on tables, mantles or any flat spaces you may have.


A skull and cross bones placed over the door entering the house would be very appropriate. The hall should be in total darkness except for the lighted Jack-o'-lanterns.


Autumn leaves, green branches, apples, tomatoes and corn should also play an important part in the decorations. Black and yellow cheese cloth or crepe paper makes very effective and inexpensive decorations. The dining room should be decorated with autumn leaves, golden rod, yellow chrysanthemums, and strings of cranberries. For a table center piece a large pumpkin could be used with the top cut off and partly filled with water in which a large bunch of yellow chrysanthemums or golden-rod could be placed. Bay leaves can be scattered over the table.


Place cards representing pumpkins, black cats, witches' hats, witches, brownies, etc., are appropriate.  Many sites on the web offer free printable Halloween place cards, so there's no need to be artistic to fulfill this task.


Or, place a large pumpkin (a plastic pumpkin would be less messy) on a stand or table.  Fill it with ribboned cards equal to the number of guests you have.  Keep the ribbon long enough to be able to drape it outside of the pumpkin.  Upon each card, place a number.  As your guests arrive, have them draw a ribbon from the pumpkin.  Match their number to the place card at the table to determine the seating arrangement.


Fill the room with witches' hats, black cats and pumpkins...all created with colorful construction paper.  Or, once again, surf the web for neat images to print and finish with your own personal touches.


Any of your designs could be used as an invitation for a children's party.  Simply write on the reverse side:  "Will you please come to my party on Wednesday, October 31st".  Include the name and address of the little host or hostess, using white ink on black paper.


The dining room should also be in total darkness, except for the light given by the Jack-o'-lanterns, until the guests are seated and unmasked.  The supper could be served in this dim light or in bright lights. After the supper is over and while the guests are still seated, a splendid idea would be to extinguish all but one light and have guests tell ghost stories.


Another suggestion is to have the hall totally dark with the door ajar and no one in sight to welcome the guests. As they step in, surprise them by greeting your guests dressed as a ghost or some other scary figure.  Extend your wet, salt-covered hand for an added eerie effect.


The following games and tests of fate and fortune will furnish entertainment for small children and teenagers.


Of course, prying into the future with these tests at any other time of the year may not prove infallible.  But on the Eve of All Saint's Day, when all the elves, the fairies, goblins and hobgoblins are at large playing pranks and teasing and pleasing, they just may "come true."


Fun and Games



Open English walnuts, remove the meat, and fasten short pieces of differently colored birthday candles to each half shell.  Have each guest choose a shell.  Then, light each candle and set the nut shell afloat in a large pan or tub of water.  The behavior of these tiny boats reveals the future of those who selected them.  If two glide on together, their owners have a similar destiny; if they glide apart, so will their owners. Sometimes candles will huddle together as if talking to one another, while perchance one will be left alone, out in the cold, as it were. Again, two will start off and all the rest will closely follow. The one whose candle first goes out is destined to be the old bachelor or maid. These nut-shell boats may also be made by pouring melted wax into halves of walnut-shells in which are short strings for wicks.



Suspend apples by means of strings in a doorway or from the ceiling at a height that allows participants to capture them between their teeth.  The first player to take a bite from an apple receives a prize. These prizes should be Halloween souvenirs and can include purchased items or something personally made by the host in remembrance of the holiday.



In this game the seeker for a prize is guided from place to place by hidden notes offering hints.


Start the hunt with this rhyme:

"Perhaps you'll find it in the air;

    If not, look underneath your chair."


Now add the location to each hint that follows in order to lead the player to he prize.


Beneath the seeker's chair is found the following:

"No, you will not find it here;

   Search the (location 2) and have no fear."


Under location 2 the seeker finds:

"You will have to try once more;

   Look behind the (location 3) door."


Tied to the door-knob the seeker discovers:

"No prize yet, but if you're willing and able

   Seek beneath the kitchen table."


Under the kitchen table the seeker finds another note, which reads:

"If your quest remains uncertain,

   You will find it 'neath a curtain."


And here the seeker's quest is rewarded by finding the prize.



Pass pencils and paper to each guest with the following written upon it:

1 (A Dairy product.) 2 (A Vegetable.) 3 (A Country.) 4 (A Girl's name.) 5 (A structure.) 6 (A name often applied to one of our presidents.) 7 (Every Ocean has one.) 8 (That which often holds a treasure.) 9 (The names of two boys.) 10 (A letter of the alphabet and an article made of tin.)


Explain that the above describes ten different nuts, which they are to guess. The nuts described are (1) butternut; (2) peanut; (3) brazil nut; (4) hazel nut; (5) walnut; (6) hickory nut; (7) beechnut; (8) chestnut; (9) filbert; (10) pecan. A prize may be awarded to the first guest with the correct answers.



Place apples into a half-filled tub of water (if you plan this game for small children, provide appropriate-size apples).  Make sure you have plenty of dry towels handy to offer the participants.  With hands tied behind them, each participant ventures to pluck an apple from the water with their teeth.  Whoever manages to grab an apple from the water is a winner.  If more than one guest succeeds and you wish to reward only one winner, play rounds to eliminate all but one player.



One bowl is filled with clear water, another with wine, a third with vinegar, a fourth is empty. All are placed in line on a table. Each guest in turn is blindfolded, turned about three times, and led to the table.  They reach out with one hand to search for a bowl.  The prophecy of the participant is determined by the first bowl touched.

Water = a happy, peaceful life

Wine = a rich, eventful, noble career

Vinegar = misery and poverty

Empty = a bachelor or spinster life



Write a bit of "fortune" on dozens of small slips of paper.  Place the folded papers in bowl or basket.  Allow each guest to reach into the bowl or basket and select their fate.


A Few Suggestions for Fortunes:

You will meet your future spouse to-night.

Prosperity and love await you.

A lap full of money and a lap full of children.

Change your mind before it is too late.

You have made the right choice.

Your love is not returned.

Your face is your fortune, but poverty is no crime.

Fate has deceived you; you will be left in the lurch, waiting at the Church.

Your mate is true blue; what color are you?

A kiss in time may save nine others taking a chance.

You are well bred, but doomed to travel in single harness.

Your better half will be a silver one.

Your heart is like a street car - you carry many passengers, but there's always room for one more.


The fates decree

    You shall married be

        In the year of 2023.



Let several guests be blindfolded. Then hide nuts or apples in various parts of a room. The guest finding the most nuts or apples wins the prize.



Place a lighted flameless candle in the middle of floor; each guest takes a turn jumping over it. Whoever succeeds in clearing the candle is guaranteed a happy year, free of trouble or anxiety. He or she who knocks the candle over will have twelve months of woe.


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