House + Home

How to set the table and the mood for the bloody cool festivities at your home

Updated: 2009-09-13T13:56:36Z

By STACY DOWNS

The Kansas City Star

Creep chic is the theme of Halloween.

With a little imagination and inspiration, spooky can be sophisticated, and wicked can be whimsical.

For decorating tricks, House + Home picked the brain of Debbie Dusenberry, who works Halloween magic on a grand scale inside and outside her Prairie Village home furnishings boutique, Curious Sofa. We loved last season’s (doll)house that had fallen on a witch, leaving only her striped-stocking legs showing. “Freak Show” is the style at the store this year, and we can’t wait to see what that will look like.

For entertaining treats, we spoke to event planner Julie Blanner of Coordinately Yours in Prairie Village. She thinks Halloween is fun no matter what age you are. We agree.

Open this guide and you’ll find their ideas and lots of other goodies sure to thrill both big ghouls and little goblins.


SHOW US YOUR SPOOKACULAR DÉCOR
In the next few weeks as you decorate for Halloween, send us photos of what you create. We’ll show some in an upcoming House + Home section and on KansasCity.com/home. E-mail us at home@kcstar.com with “Halloween” in the subject line. Tell us your name, city and details about your decorations.


THREE WAYS TO DECORATE PUMPKINS: CARVING KNIVES OPTIONAL
Curious Sofa owner Debbie Dusenberry suggests:

•Disguising them with masks (like these from Curious Sofa, 3925 W. 69th Terrace in Prairie Village).

•Stenciling and filling in the designs with glitter puff paint (like this glass one we found).

•Rubber stamping your address numbers.


BOO ON A BUDGET: TWO BIZARRE WREATH IDEAS
•This grapevine wreath was $2 on sale at Hobby Lobby. “The horizontal oval is unusual,” Dusenberry says. Plus, you can tuck in a Halloween-themed postcard or sign, then take it out and use the wreath until Thanksgiving.

•Spraypaint an old broom — the bristles and the handle — black. You might have to angle the broom or shorten the handle.


STEAL THIS IDEA: MAKE A PUMPKIN OUT OF OLD CLOTHES AND LACE
We confess, we found this pumpkin already made at a store. You can make it by balling up an old T-shirt, wrapping it in black lace and tying ribbon to make the little stem.


WICKED WINE
Sure, you could make your own, but Martha Stewart’s new Halloween collection for Grandinroad includes 12 haunted wine labels to “make your Pinot really noir” with “Arsenic Cider Mix,” “Effervescing Tonic” and “Poison” decals that create a crackled effect on glass or plastic.

Martha Stewart Halloween Mad Scientist Labels (4 of each design), $12, www.grandinroad.com


MACABRE MANTEL
Fill clear glass jars of different shapes and sizes with creepy candy, says Dusenberry, including black licorice and gummy worms. Eat the goodies after trick-or-treaters take your peanut butter cups.


ALARMING ACCENTS
Dusenberry thinks there’s something sinister yet sophisticated about:

•Feathers in tarnished silver vessels.

•Black and white pictures (perhaps Poe?) in a baroque frame

•Monogrammed black perfume bottles (bonus if you can find a ‘B’ and two ‘Os.’ $10 each, Hobby Lobby)

•Gauzy scarves thrown over lampshades.

•Spider silhouettes taped inside lampshades.


LOCAL ART
All from Curious Sofa:

•Original lettering and hand-cut silhouettes by Diane and Madeline Tompkins, $85

•Handcrafted feather crow on vintage pedestal by Lesa Daily, starting at $45

•Shadowbox theaters with vintage ephemera by Greg Johnson, $25 to $65


BOO ON A BUDGET: A BAT-ACULAR SIGN
Paint this cardboard bat or turn it into a family découpage project with leaves and twigs from the yard. (Bat form, $2, Hobby Lobby)


SPOOKTACULAR SHOW
“Halloween Block Party” at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 on HGTV: Three Halloween parties on one neighborhood block. Party designer Mickey Russo will create a sophisticated Halloween fete that leaves tradition at the door and focuses on a “grown-up” gathering. Kelley Moore will pull together a creative party for children and adults to benefit the “trick or treat for UNICEF” campaign. And designer Eddie Ross will host a neighborhood party on a budget.


BOO ON A BUDGET: BROWN-BAG VASES
Event planner Julie Blanner likes using things around the house for parties. Brown lunch sacks (75 cents for 50 at grocery stores) can be wrapped around potted mums and placed on the table as centerpieces. Then they’re ready to go home with guests at the end of the evening


GRAINY INVITATIONS
Use inexpensive thin wooden boards and iron-on transfers, both from craft stores, for Halloween invitations. The wooden patina creates an instant autumnal look and works well as décor at the party.


CARNIVAL LIGHTS
Give your clear-glass votives a new look by wrapping them in vellum. Bonus if it’s blood red.


PUMPKIN PLACE CARDS
A shallow slit in a mini pumpkin + a piece of paper with a guest’s name = easy elegance.


TREAT: PUMPKIN GOOEY BUTTER CAKE
Blanner is from St. Louis, where gooey butter cake is king. This Paula Deen recipe is good for Halloween.

Cake:

1 (18 1/4 ounce) package yellow cake mix

1 egg

8 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 16-ounce bag confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the cake mix, egg and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Put the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch cake pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla and butter, and beat together. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and mix well. Spread the pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake, as the center should be a little gooey.


SHOCKTAIL
Mix your favorite Bloody Mary recipe and pour into a cocktail glass. Here’s the twist: Float two green olives (eyeballs) and place two boiled shrimp on the rim. Looks gross, tastes great.


BOO-NILLA SHAKE
Martha Stewart gives us this ghostly milkshake for kids of all ages

Makes six 8-ounce servings

1 cup whole milk

2 pints vanilla ice cream

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Melted semisweet chocolate chips

Make the faces with melted chocolate painted inside the glass.

Blend milk and 1 pint ice cream in a blender until smooth. With machine running, add remaining pint ice cream, one scoop at a time; blend until smooth. Pour milkshake into six 8-ounce glasses decorated with chocolate faces, filling them 3/4 full.

Put cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add confectioners’ sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 -inch plain round tip. Pipe spiral mounds of whipped cream on top of milkshakes. Serve immediately.


SERVE THIS SALAD?
Halloween salad is not for the faint of heart: Spiders, creepy-crawlies and fingers are mixed together. You can jumble it together with novelties from U.S. Toy and Hobby in Leawood. Or Curious Sofa sells them, too. Display your salad in a metal bowl or cauldron.


BLOODY-GOOD PARTY FAVORS
Blanner declares Halloween shouldn’t be all about orange, black and sometimes purple. “Blood red is a good Halloween color.” She suggests mixing cherry jelly beans and red hots as take-home gifts.


PERSONALIZED COUNTDOWN HOUSE
With your family, count down the 31 days until Halloween. Door No. 31 reveals a surprise. Crafted of felt and appliqués. Allow two weeks for the “screamstresses” to personalize. $68, www.chasing-fireflies.com


A FRIGHTENINGLY FUN FRONT PORCH
•Use mannequin legs from a thrift store or stuff striped socks (about $4 at Hobby Lobby). Use black shoes and make buckles out of tin foil. Stick them in an urn.

•Make a sign or use this one “The Witch Is In” (“Out” on reverse side) from Curious Sofa, $32.

•Tuck a mask into a wreath.

Enjoy 31 ideas from our mad scientist lab (including lots of boos on a budget). Three are on this page and the rest are inside. | E4 & 5

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