How to Set a Spooky and Colorful Halloween Party Table

Halloween is second only to Christmas as the most-decorated-for holiday. Party planners can throw ever more enjoyable events on October 31 by carefully mixing colorful dinnerware and spooky themes for their holiday buffet and banquet table settings.

It is not surprising that dishes and dinnerware patterns produced specifically for Halloween are becoming easier to find.

Vintage china favorites are also easy to use for this purpose, especially dishes in colors that work based on your chosen color palette or theme, but were not specifically produced for seasonal table settings.

Orange and black are the traditional colors. Boomers remember yards of orange and black crepe paper streamers, along with carved pumpkins and individually-wrapped peanut butter kisses. Purple twinkle lights came along years later, and now lime green dishes, candy bowls and similar items have joined the Halloween color array.

Your white or black dinnerware pieces are also ideal to use. Ghosts will always be white, and a black night will always be eerie.

Whatever your theme, October 31 (on Saturday in 2009) is a terrific time for a party, for kids, adults or both. Here are some tips you can use to create and refine your table setting:

  • Set your theme.This is the single most important decision that will help you bring your table setting together.
    • You can choose a contemporary movie franchise, such as Twilight or Harry Potter, and use colors, motifs and items that support the theme visually. Vintage movies or television series can also be fodder for ideas. Did you love The Addams Family television comedy? Are your guests horror movie buffs?
    • Halloween parties can also feature a more generic fall theme using pumpkins, scarecrows, apples, hay bales and corn shocks as the design elements. These elements come from the agricultural history of America, and many of us grew up with these motifs.
  • Choose the main colors. If you mix all four of the main colors, that would likely make an unfocused setting. Make one or two of the colors your primary choice, and use other colors as accents. Certainly the four popular Halloween colors are available, but others can work as well, and white will give the eye a rest, or set off bold tones of orange or purple.
  • Determine the food. Almost any fall dish can work for a Halloween party. Foods such as apples, pumpkin and corn are often associated with fall. Any foods in season are candidates, or to mix with old favorites. A casual gathering or buffet might just need snacks, and perhaps a large cauldron of stew, chili or spaghetti will keep the trick or treat crowd fed during their evening wanderings. An in-house party might require more dishes for a sit-down dinner followed by games or movies at home.
  • Select the tableware. Your table setting should be designed to make serving and eating the food enjoyable. Once you know what food you will have, the plates, glasses, bowls, dessert cups or other piece suited to serving the food will usually be obvious. But do not be afraid to be creative, and serve food in unusual ways. A bread bowl on a plate can be used for stew and thick soups. A deep cereal bowl can be used for a gooey dessert. Colorful tumbler glasses or punch cups can be used for cider or a “witches brew” drink.

Halloween is a favorite holiday for many people, because it opens up so much opportunity for creativity. With a little advance thought and planning, the fun can run right down to choosing the tableware and dishes.