We are knee deep into the month of October. Which means two things have most likely happened: you’ve already maxed out on pumpkin spice lattes (iced, because SoCal); and you haven’t solidified plans for Halloween yet, even though it’s been circled on your calendar for months. If the idea of wading through a bar of Sexy Witches in a last minute “Dust Bunny” costume (pieces of lint taped to a black turtleneck + rabbit ears) doesn’t sound all that appealing this year, maybe switch things up. Maybe try doing something really scary.
Like throwing a classy Halloween party... like an adult.
If your first instinct was to google “easy Halloween party ideas” and immediately perspire over the level of effort those Pinterest suggestions actually require, take a breath. Like most responsible adult things, throwing a good party isn’t really all that hard. Just do a cursory sweep of your apartment so it appears that you keep a clean home; grab a pumpkin and some plastic spiders for Halloween decorations; set a Spotify playlist of classic Halloween jams and you’re set. After all, it’s just your friends coming over, not Meghan Markle. You got this.
But just in case, here are a few other clutch hosting tricks to make it seem like you’ve really outdone yourself:
Get a friend involved
Having a co-host helps take some of the pressure off, making you feel less responsible for everyone else having a great time. You can split duties, bounce decoration ideas off of each other, and if all else fails and the party’s a dud it was totally Jennifer’s fault. (It's always Jennifer's fault, and she knows it.)
Lead with the good stuff
Grab 2-3 nicer bottles of wine at Trader Joe’s - something in the middle-to-top-shelf range. Then fill the rest of your basket with 3-Buck Chuck. Set the good stuff out first, so when friends arrive they see you’ve spared no expense for their entertainment. Once they’ve tippled a little they’ll hardly notice (or won’t care about) the switch to the cheaper stuff. As long as their glass stays full!
Make cooking part of the party
Instead of spending hours in the kitchen (or, tbh, spending $$$ in the prepared foods section of Gelson’s), make the theme of your party about making the food itself. In fact, here’s the subject line of your invite email: Hell Yes We’re Making Caramel Apples At This Halloween Party. Costumes Optional. Clothing Mandatory. (You know how Jennifer gets.)
Here’s how it works: grab a bag of your favorite apples and a few simple ingredients for easy homemade caramel from the grocery store (full recipe below). Get a fondue set and place it on a table or kitchen counter where everyone can access it. Do some very easy prep work the day of the party, then just as your guests start to arrive, fire up the fondue set and listen to everyone coo and squeal at the idea of doing something that’s “OMG, so fall, I love it!” As everyone dips their apples, crack open the good wine and enjoy.
That “Best Host Ever” costume looks good on you.
8 to 12 small apples, refrigerated until cold 1/2 cup water 1 1/3 cup sugar 1 teaspoon kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, chilled 1 bottle chocolate sprinkles 1 bowl crushed graham crackers 1 bowl crushed peanuts
Making the Caramel:
Skewer the apples with sticks, place on a tray in the fridge to chill. Apple Facts: Choose an apple that is known to be crisp, like a Gala or Granny Smith. (Granny Smiths are our favorite, as the semi-tart fruit compliments the sweet caramel perfectly.)
In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, and salt over medium heat. Stir with a fork until sugar is fully dissolved and syrup comes to a boil, about 4 minutes. Simmer, without stirring, until syrup is honey-gold, roughly 9 minutes. Immediately add cream (the mixture will sputter) and reduce heat to medium-low, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula, until caramel registers 250°F on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes. Transfer to the fondue pot and cool to about 212°F.
Line a plate or tray with parchment paper. Tell guests to dip a cold apple in the caramel and transfer to plate. Cover apple with desired toppings. Let stand at room temperature until fully set, about 10 minutes.
If your friends are getting anxious, simply cut the apples into cold slices and fill a plate and let everyone dip them into the caramel directly with the skewers. Enjoy carefully (the caramel maybe be bit hot).