A Widow’s Ball is the ultimate, gothic-themed night. Don your black and lace attire and get ready for a Halloween dinner party to remember. All the elements that go into planning a successful Widow’s Ball are the same as a regular dinner party, just darker, spookier, and much creepier. To learn how to throw a memorable Widow’s Ball event this Halloween, keep reading for great tips on invitations, decorations, and menu and gothic costume ideas.
A Gothic Theme Party – The Invitations
Bring your gothic theme into your party at every opportunity, starting with the invitations. To achieve a dark and eerie look, try distressing and aging the invitation paper. To do this, follow these simple steps:
- Print off your invitations on a heavy paper stock.
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
- Crumple up each invitation into a ball and then smooth them out.
- Lay the invitations out on a standard baking sheet.
- Pour about 1/4 cup of steeped tea over the paper, spreading it around with a sponge.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of instant coffee over the invitations, allowing the crystals to splatter out.
- After a few minutes, dab up the remaining tea and coffee with a paper towel.
- Put your invitations in the oven, “baking” them for about five minutes. Keep a close eye on them so they don’t catch fire.
Your “antiqued” paper invitations will have a truly gothic feel and look to them. Put a few strings of fake spider webbing inside the envelope with your invitation to get your guests in a morbid mood.
With your invitation remember to include directions to your house, costume guidelines , the date and time, and your contact information for RSVPs.
Decorating the “Ballroom”
Give your house a spooky and eerie feel by dimming the lights, draping the staircase in black gauze, running fake cobwebs from the ceiling, and covering the tables with tattered lace.
Feel free to add dramatic touches like a fake graveyard on the lawn, creepy music, dry ice cauldrons on the snack table, and Halloween props that are dark and scary, but not cheesy or overdone. Think ‘gothic lace,’ not ‘fluorescent jack-o-lanterns.’ If you’re a DIY carpenter, try making props like a coffin shaped dining table (easily done with inexpensive plywood), or gravestone covers for the stereo. You can also purchase great tombstone props and fake skeletons.
A Morbid Menu
Whether it’s for a full and formal dinner party or a simple snack table, planning a theme menu will help bring your Widow’s Ball theme into the food, but also give you focus.
For simple party snacks, try these fun hors d’oeuvre;
- Puss and Dried Scabs (melted Brie with dried cranberries)
- Creepy Cheese and Crackers (use a small Halloween-shaped cookie cutter to cut your sliced cheese into ghostly shapes)
- Crispy Bat Wings (spicy chicken wings)
- Gravestone Cookies (use food coloring pens to write your guest’s names on gravestone-shaped cookies)
For a full dining experience, try creating a themed menu. Here’s an example of a morbidly macabre meal:
Appetizer – Witches’ Cauldron Soup
For a broth based soup, put a dime-store miniature broom or witch (wash them first) in each bowl, and sprinkle fake cobwebs or plastic spiders around the plates below the bowls. For a creamy pumpkin soup, you can serve the soup from a hollowed-out pumpkin “cauldron.”
Main Course – Brain on a Plate with Flesh of Man
For the Brain on a Plate, make mashed potatoes that are either set in a mold or will be molded by you. To set your mashed potatoes in a brain mold, chill them overnight and then reheat them in the microwave before serving. For the flesh, serve your roast inside a skeleton (oh, come on, it’s a fake one!). Get a fake skull (or full bucky skeleton) to place at the head of your roast. Surround the roast with rib bones either picked up from your butcher or culled from the rest of your fake skeleton.
Dessert – Coffin Cake
Cut a pound cake into a classic coffin shape. Slice a 1/2 inch top layer off to make your lid and set it aside. Now, scoop out the inside of the cake to make your coffin. Fill the coffin with brownie crumbs, jelly worms, and candied insects and set the lid on top and slightly askew. Serve it on a wooden cutting board surrounded by dirt (chocolate cookie crumbs) and a shovel (a teaspoon).
Your Own Costume
Don’t forget your own costume. A Widow’s Ball is about gothic glamor. For women, pick a costume that combines the regal look of a Victorian ball gown with the dark morbidness of blacks, grays, and a splash of zombie make-up. For men, the classic vampire, undertaker’s uniform or simply a ghoulified suit should do the trick.
For hair and makeup, create an undead appearance with a pale face, dark circles under your eyes, streaks of gray in your hair, maybe a fang or two, and black fingernails. Have fun . . . but not too much fun. This is a morbid affair, after all.