Halloween 2020: Autumnal dinner party ideas!

Check out our Autumnal dinner party ideas with a sustainable and budget-conscious spin!

Halloween is set to look very different for all of us this year which means we must put extra thought and planning into how we can celebrate in style while still staying safe. There are many benefits to spending Halloween at home from saving on expensive nights out and costumes to having more time to relax and engage with close friends and family. Also, unlike ‘normal’ dinner parties you do not need to worry about a ‘guestlist’ as your guests live with you, although if you are holding a virtual dinner party you will, of course, need to invite people to join you on zoom. If you still want a spooky dress code then go for something simple like a colour theme that way you will find you probably already own something you can wear for the evening, saving you money and extra work looking for a costume.

Now with local restrictions affecting us all in different ways, the ideas provided in this blog should be looked at against the guidance given in your local area. We do try to give as many alternative options as possible which take into account the stricter guidelines. There are really two options:

  • Holding an in-person dinner party for your household where you could split the courses between guests, which will relieve the pressure from one individual having to cook all three-course, as well as adding an element of mystery into what everyone’s takes is on a specific course – come dine with me style

  • Virtual dinner party if you live alone or want to include people from different households. You could prepare a hamper with the main ingredients and decorations included which everyone invited can use to recreate the evening in their home but still share together over zoom.

Spooky Starters

Although the obvious choice, pumpkin soup ticks all the boxes when it comes to an autumnal starter. From a single pumpkin, many portions of soup can be made (depending on the size) which can then be saved for future meals. Once hollowed out the pumpkin can also be used for decoration which we talk about under decorations. As pumpkins are very much in season at the moment, they can also be a sustainable option if locally sourced. There are lots of benefits to eating seasonally including less transportation used along with the associated shipping cost. To add that extra Halloween twist why not also try your hand at making an eyeball to go in your homemade soup.

If you are not a fan of soup but still want to stick with the theme and incorporate pumpkin into your starter then why not try an alternative pumpkin recipe: pumpkin cheese fondue or pumpkin chowder. These recipes are great as the base sauce can be saved and interchanged between dishes to create additional batches or leftovers.

Writer Recommends: Gordon Ramsay: Gordon Ramsay’s Pumpkin Soup With Wild Mushrooms

Magic Mains

The buffalo chicken dip recipe contains only 6 ingredients and is sure to please all of your guests, let’s face it who doesn’t want Halloween style dough balls and dip? You can also choose to change up some of the ingredients such as the buffalo sauce for alternative sauces you may already have in your cupboards to save on money and waste.

If you are wanting to create a simple autumnal recipe without the extra Halloween flare, then why not go for one of the slow cooker recipes mentioned in the recommended video below. There are some great ideas for creating tasty mains that use seasonal ingredients and are cheap to make for a diner party.

Writer Recommends: Sopherina: 5 EASY AUTUMN SLOW COOKER RECIPES 2020 | Budget AND Family Friendly CROCKPOT Recipes

Devilish Deserts

This Pumpkin cake recipe is deceivingly cute as it doesn’t look edible but tastes amazing. If you are not a huge fan of pumpkins, you could alternatively make a carrot cake version as it will give the same colour effect just with a different taste. If you choose to not make a pumpkin cake as pumpkins have been used in other areas of the dinner party, you could still make the pumpkin cake anyway to save wasting leftover ingredients and would be a nice extra treat for yourself.

Melting green tea chocolate into a chocolate fountain can also create a shock factor, not only from the initial look of green slime looking liquid but also as it has an unusual taste which creates a talking point amongst your guests.

Tip: If you want to add extra level interactivity to your virtual dinner party then why not make the dessert a challenge for everyone to make and then judge the winner. You could do a forfeit for the loser and/or a prize for the winner if you’re feeling extra generous.

Writer Recommends: CupcakeJemma: Halloween Special! Chocolate Orange Layer cake

Scarily-Good Snacks

There are so many varieties of snacks, some of us have a sweet tooth (guilty!) while others prefer a more savoury snack. Both are incorporated into the recipes below with 2 savoury and 2 sweet options that are simple to make and look scarily-good!

Cornbread muffins are a hearty, autumnal snack that complement a soup or chowder if you choose one of those for your starter. The beauty of this simple recipe is that it can be tailored to your theme and palette, so depending on how extra you want to go with the rest of your menu this recipe can be altered to match. Adding autumnal spices such as cinnamon or using food colouring in your mixture will help it stand out as a Halloween themed snack. Another simple savoury snacks are spider or bug bites. This recipe is great as there are only 3 ingredients which are common in most kitchens; Olives, crackers and cream cheese.

Now for my personal favourites the sweet snacks!

The first recipe, although not traditional Halloween style is a great way to play a ‘trick’ or a ‘treat’ on your guests, it is a surprise chocolate frog. This recipe is easy to make and adds an extra level of mystery around who will get a nice surprise inside the chocolate or not…

The second sweet option is more traditionally Halloween themed as well as being super easy and cheap to make by the re-using of similar ingredients to create multiple different snacks. These no bake treats will not only save you preparation time but they can also be used to decorate the table with guests not knowing if they are edible treats or not!

Tip: If you are sending these treats to a friend consider putting in a note so that the person knows what they contain (allergy purposes) but also suggest decorating their table the same if they wish to match the theme even if they can’t be there in person.

Writer Recommends: Kin: Halloween Menu: A Witch’s Feast

Boo-tiful Beverages

Everyone loves, and no doubt needs a drink to celebrate Halloween this year. So, whether you are celebrating with friends and family in person or via zoom the drinks we have found should be easy for everyone to make at home.

There are tonnes of creative and wacky cocktails out there for Halloween but not all of them are easy or cheap to make, so we chose ones that are simple yet effective to make at home on a budget without compromising on taste or spook factor.

Much like the recommended video many Halloween drinks contain similar base ingredients including: Cranberry Juice, Orange Juice, pineapple juice and lemonade which can all be combined with food colouring and your choice of alcohol to create a Halloween themed look to your drinks.

Another good trick for any drink you make is to put your glass in the freezer until frosted to create a foggy effect. This is a cheaper alternative and more sustainable option to buying dry ice with it having the added benefit of setting any icing designs you may have created to decorate the outside of your glass. Concentrating on the visual of your glass will still give you a Halloween theme but without having to spend extra on specific ingredients for the drink itself.

Tip: If you are sending these beverages to a friend then ensure they are in a sealed bottle. However, as many of the drinks/cocktails require accurate pouring as to not mix liquid colours it may be better to send exact measurements of the ingredients (to avoid waste and overbuying) to allow guests to make their own drink and present it in the way it is intended.

Writer Recommends: Tipsy Bartender: Halloween Hacks

Dead-good Décor

Pumpkins are a great natural decoration which will add a spooky edge to anyone’s home, and if you plan on cooking pumpkin for any of your dishes then you have already purchased your decorations too!

Don’t overbuy a large number of plastic decorations if you know you will not use them again. Either choose specific items you know will work every year or attempt to make your own with general household items you probably have lying around E.g. cardboard boxes/ bottles / fabrics. Alternatively, if you don’t have lots of materials around why not go to a charity shop and see if they have anything you can do up or craft into a decoration that can be used year on year. This way you are supporting your local charity shops, getting creative and living a more sustainable lifestyle.

Another great DIY décor idea inspired by Lone Fox youtuber is to create candles from glass jars with hot glue. Now to give it more of a sustainable take instead of buying the glass save and collect old jars or bottles from around the house as they can be reused year on year and don’t cost anything extra.

Tip: If your party is virtual then include some of the homemade decorations in the party box but make sure they don’t get swashed in the process. Although you may be tempted to include everything think carefully about what each person would appreciate or suits their personality best. This way your guests will still get to experience the decorations but it will show that you have thought about each individual and therefore they are more likely to keep the decoration, and it will save you time and money creating lots of decorations for each person.

Writer Recommends: HGTV Handmade: 10 DIY Halloween Decoration Ideas 

Ghoulish Games

If you are able to have others in the room with you then the blind taste test game is a great way to with play a ‘trick’ on your guests or give them a ‘treat’ so go hunting for that suspect jar from the back of your cupboard for this one.

When it comes to games via Zoom, we couldn’t not mention a good quiz but Halloween style! It is simple yet effective and very on theme, you can choose to have a single quiz master who writes all of the questions or everyone can write a round each, whichever you prefer. Some suggested Halloween themed rounds could include:

- Famous Halloween characters in Films / TV (Picture Round)

- Halloween Film Soundtracks (Music Round)

- Halloween Words (Anagrams)

- Halloween History (Events which took place on Halloween)

Another popular zoom game which can be modified into a Halloween theme is the grab items from around your house and bring them back first game. Now this may need to be adapted depending if the people you are playing with have Halloween decorations up or not so an alternative to a pumpkin could be something round or orange in colour for example.

Tip: Create a poll with a few game ideas and send it out to your guests before the evening.

Writer Recommends: ShawnMHowell: 10 Halloween Games To Play On Zoom | Fun Virtual Games To Play With Friends and Family

Blog post author: Jasmine Wilson

Jasmine is a recent graduate of the University of Chester and a YouTube enthusiast. She believes technology is great tool for learning and what they didn’t teach us in school we can find out for ourselves!

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