Elegant Halloween Dinner Party Idea
Updated: Oct 6, 2019
Planning this year's Halloween soirée is underway! Mike and I have been giving a lot of thought to what type of dinner party we want to throw this year. We've hosted kid-friendly Halloween parties in the past and while mummy dogs are fun to make and eat, this year we're agreed on an adult-themed dinner party that sets a mood of elegant gore.
When throwing a Halloween dinner party, there's a fine line between 'playful macabre' and flat out 'unappetizing.' Consider the 'litter box' cake idea. You serve a German Chocolate Cake inside a never-before-used litter box tray, frost and top the cake with crumbled cake to resemble litter, and place melted tootsie rolls on top to resemble cat poop. Funny? Yes. Creative? Absolutely. Appetizing. Not even remotely.
We want to serve a sophisticated menu that has a few grotesque allusions, but nothing too over the top - the food needs to be approachable and mouth-watering. For us, a dinner party is all about the food - we want to serve our guests enticing, thoughtfully prepared entrees that tempt their taste buds and have them going back for one more bite.
Halloween Dinner Party Menu
Mike and I like to start each dinner party with a 'signature cocktail' - something fun and tasty that helps reinforce the night's theme. We keep the beer and wine flowing throughout the evening, but a dinner party signature cocktail helps set the mood for a festive evening.
Since this year's theme is elegant gore we were thinking a mulled wine or blood orange sangria would work well - either one would be delicious and could easily fit the dinner party theme, but we are planning on serving a French Burgundy with dinner and would rather not be too 'wine heavy' on all of the drinks. And, as much as I love chocolate martinis, I agree with Mike that it's a little too sweet of a drink to start out the evening.
I wanted a drink that tasted good, but also had a portent vibe. As we were rummaging through the liquor cabinet, the idea hit me: we should re-purpose the drink Mike created last Easter - the Eastertini - and use black food dye instead of pastels. Yes!
Folks, this drink is good. Damn good. It's one of those concoctions that everyone likes, even people who don't particularly care for mixed drinks. All of our Easter dinner party guests had a similar reaction when they tasted an Eastertini the first time. It went something like this "Whoa, this is delicious. Dangerously delicious. I can't even taste the alcohol. Can I have another one?"
Now dubbed 'Witches Black Brew' this whipped vodka and coconut run martini mixed with coconut cream and pineapple juice is going to be perfect! It's a tropical sipper that will disarm guests with a light flavor that starkly contrasts a bewitchingly somber appearance.
At first, I was looking for literal interpretations of gore like mozzarella eyeballs or bloody finger sandwiches, and I got overwhelmed with the idea of executing each of these appetizers. I don't want to slave over Halloween appetizers that most likely won't look anything like the thing they're supposed to represent.
To keep the menu simple and approachable, we agreed to start the feast with a Charcuterie board. Or, as my mom says, "a meat and cheese platter."
I love the ease and simplicity of Charcuterie boards - there's no right or wrong way of doing it. Simply add a few really good cheeses with some sliced salami, fresh baked bread, and fruit and voilà - you have an appetizer just about anyone will love.
When putting together a Charcuterie board, I try not to overwhelm guests and my pocketbook with too many fine cheeses. I usually use 3-4 different types of cheeses:
1) a spreadable cheese like a brie
2) a universally liked cheese like cheddar
3) 1-2 cheeses that are a little more daring like Manchego (a Spanish cheese made from sheep's milk) or Sartori Reserve's Espresso BellaVitano (cheese rubbed with coffee)
One of the fun things about hosting dinner parties is introducing guests to new flavors.
To support the elegant gore dinner party theme, I'm thinking of using an Irish porter on the Charcuterie board. Mixed with dark porter ale during the cheese-making process, Irish porter has a black and white marbled look, which will be perfect for Halloween.
I also spotted a green Sage Derby cheese at the grocery store last weekend that would work well - the cheese is infused with sage to produce a green marbling effect. Green cheese will look great on the board.
With a few black grapes and some spooky decor surrounding the board, I think the board will nigh's theme and will wow our guests.
I struggled at first with the main course. I promised our friends the next time they came over for dinner, I would make my Bologonese, so I tried to force it into our Halloween dinner party menu by using squid ink pasta. I think this would have been fine, but I struggled to find sides that would support the theme. How exactly do you make a Caesar salad fit elegant gore?
I finally gave up trying to force Bologonese into the menu. Next, Mike and I considered making ribs, and while I think they would be ideal visually, I don't want to make our guests eat with their hands. And, I don't really want to be gnawing on ribs at the dinner table.
The next best thing to ribs is bone-in short ribs, and I just so happen to have a fool-proof recipe for wine-braised short ribs! It's one of those dishes that makes the entire house smell amazing and the meat bursts with flavor. And the best part? It's so dang easy to make!
I have a recipe for Cabernet whipped potatoes that is equally as simple and stunning, which will go perfectly with the wine-braised short ribs.
And, as far as the vegetable goes - I'm still working on that. It will most likely be a roasted vegetable of some sort.
We have to have 'boo berries'. The first time I made chocolate covered ghost strawberries was in 2014 and once I discovered how easy they are to make, we've made them every Halloween since. These will definitely be part of the dessert menu. In addition to the boo berries, I'm thinking we could make 'witch finger' sugar cookies with a fresh raspberry dipping sauce. I just need to see how well the cookies hold up overnight and taste the next day since I like to keep baking to a minimum on the day of a party.
It looks like I have some more planning, shopping, and cooking to do!
Stay tuned for more updates on our Elegant Gore Halloween Dinner Party!