Want to get into the true vintage spirit? Host a Twenties Halloween party! Whether you plan a large gathering or merely entertain your own household, you can throw a Twenties Halloween party to delight your vintage-loving heart.
Halloween gatherings were hugely popular from 1910 through the 1950s. Some were simple, others more involved, but all provided a delightful evening of fun. Informal food, games, and decorations ruled the night.
When you recreate the Halloween parties of yesteryear, you bring vintage quirky, light-hearted entertainment into today’s drawing room. Or dining room. How do you host a Twenties Halloween party? First, the decorations.
Decorating for your vintage party
Some parties took place over an entire house, but more often the living room and dining room were set apart for the festivities. Then as now, the Halloween party colors were black and orange. You can also throw in some ghostly white, but here are some additional suggestions for Twenties decorating flair:
- Red or brown autumn leaves
- Corn stalks
- Crepe paper decorations
Crepe paper was everywhere. Revelers used it for decorations, costumes, and party favors. Crepe paper used to be available at every five and dime store for party creations. Not so much anymore, but you can still find an assortment of colors at Amazon. Or, if you like, you can also substitute decorations made from card stock in the relevant holiday colors. Card stock is available from every craft store and online.
The table can be as elaborate as you like. In the photo above, the centerpiece is made from popcorn. First you pop a large quantity of popcorn, using salt or flavored salt and seasonings to flavor it (garlic, dill weed, etc — not all at the same time!). If you include butter flavored oil or butter with the popcorn it will become greasy as it sits. Best to make this one simple.
Once you have 1 – 2 gallons measure in popped seasoned corn, wrap it in clear cellophane. Again, Amazon to the rescue. You should be able to find this locally in a party store or craft store as well. Your goal is a ball about a foot in diameter.
When you have the popcorn properly contained in the sealed cellophane (I have no idea how they did this before the advent of clear tape!) you can decorate it. A simple set of round eyes, triangle nose, and smiling mouth are cut from black paper or crepe paper and taped or glued onto the ball.
For the hat, use a large sheet of paper to cut a half circle and roll a cone hat. A sheet of white poster board would work well. If you like you can cover it with crepe paper and use crepe paper for the brim. Since you form the hat from a half circle of paper, you will probably want to make the brim separately and staple it on. Here’s a simple YouTube video that shows you how to make the cone if you’ve never done it before.
Attach the hat at a rakish angle for the full effect of your popcorn head centerpiece.
You can break open the cellophane and share the popcorn at the end of the party.
The dolls that appear in the second photo are all made from crepe paper and a little card stock. And candy. Did I mention the candy? The doll in the apron and the one in the clown suit both have limbs filled with stick candy. You can use any long thin candy that you like: Tootsie rolls would work well, using two stacked for the leg and one for the arm. Or you can use the stick candy if you can find it.
Snap headed dolls
Originally these dolls would be made with a paper snap, like a Christmas cracker. The snap would be attached between the head and the body. You’d glue the head to one end of the paper snap and a body piece to the other end. Then after the meal all the guests would hold onto one part of the doll, their neighbor the other, and give a pull. Snap! The head comes off with a pop and everyone giggles.
If this idea appeals to you, you can still get cracker snaps from Amazon.
Heavy paper or card stock makes the owl and the heads of the dolls. Draw a circle or oval and sketch the facial features. Then small pieces of crepe paper make up the rest of the dolls. Roll the candy in the crepe paper and tie the ends for arms and legs. The witch is made from a long thin piece of crepe paper that’s gathered at the neck, with a smaller piece gathered for her cape. Hats are cut from paper or crepe paper.
If you want a simpler favor, cut a circle of orange crepe paper 6-7 inches in diameter. You can use a 6-inch plate as a pattern if you have one. That’s what a vintage host would do.
Cut the circles from the crepe paper. Place something to weight the favor, such as beans, nuts or rice (M$Ms are good!). Gather up the edges of the pumpkin like you see in the illustration, and tie the top with string, ribbon, or another strip of crepe paper. Place a stick of candy in it as a table favor. These can go at each place or around the popcorn head centerpiece. Little pieces of colored paper make the eyes, nose, and mouth.
If you want your pumpkin to be nice and fluffy, a bit of crumpled tissue (facial or gift wrapping) will fluff the top out. You will still need something to weight the ball, though, or the candy stick will make it fall over.
Keep the lights low and set candles around. These add an atmospheric flicker to your room and enhance the vintage spookiness of it all. Your party will be just as nice if you opt for battery-operated candles instead of the real thing. It will also be a lot safer. Although real fire would be truly vintage, the truth is that the Twenties partygoer routinely interacted with flames more often than most of us do. Flameless candles will work just fine, and you can use them again next year. Double win.
Next time: food
Decorating for a vintage party is relatively simple, but it does require some hands-on crafting since none of the original store-bought decorations are still available. In the next installment I’ll give you menu options. Stay tuned, and have fun with that crepe paper! When you host this Twenties Halloween party, people will remember it.